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RTI Act has helped curb graft: Pachouri

The minister held a series of meetings with his British counterparts over the last three days on good governance.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2006 13:30 IST

The Right to Information Act has helped reduce corruption and increase transparency and accountability in the country's administration, Union Minister Suresh Pachouri said in London on Wednesday.

"The Act has become one of the finest ways of combating incidents of corruption," Pachouri, who is heading a four-member Indian delegation to the UK, said.

Comparing Britain's Freedom of Information Act with the RTI Act, Pachouri, who is Minister of State for Personnel, said the latter "covered a much wider area of administration and included legislature and judiciary, making it more open for citizens".

The minister held a series of meetings with his British counterparts over the last three days on good governance and improving transparency and accountability in administration.

During his meeting with Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of UK Department of International Development (DFID), Gareth R Thomas, Pachouri expressed gratitude for the 6.5 mn pounds assistance extended by Britain for improvement in governance in areas of Public Administration reforms in India.

He also highlighted the need of its expansion in the field of transparency and accountability.

Pachouri discussed with Thomas the issue of technical support and assistance being given in the field of developing capabilities of citizens and civil societies so that the RTI Act is used in a meaningful way.

Thomas suggested that a formal proposal might be drawn up in consultation with the country's office in New Delhi. 

Pachouri also held discussions on issues of common interest with Commonwealth Secretariat Deputy Secy-General Florence Mugasha.

He enumerated steps taken under the RTI Act to enhance public service delivery system to poorer sections of society by strengthening transparency and accountability mechanisms through e-governance and social audits.

Lauding the contribution of India in administrative reforms, Mugasha said it has a good pool of resource persons which could be used in other developing countries as well.

She said the Commonwealth Secretariat could cooperate with India in vigilance mechanism to contain corruption in public service, where India has statutory organisations like Central Vigilance Commission, the Election Commission and has experience in handling civil service reforms.

Pachouri on Tuesday called on Baroness Ashton, junior minister in Department of Constitutional Affairs, to share experiences in the field of public access to information.

According to Ashton, this would enhance the capacity not only of the administrative ministry but also pave the way for better implementation of the Act, thus achieving its real objective of increased transparency and accountability.

Pachouri said that his UK tour had been "a successful visit and the response has been very encouraging."

The other members of the delegation were Additional Secretary Rahul Sarin, Joint Secretary C B Paliwal and AR Rizvi, Personal Secretary to the Minister of State.