Right to Information and probity in governance – UPSC Ethics

Critically examine the relationship between citizen’s right to information and probity in governance. Also examine how does information empower common man. (200 Words)

Right to Information Act 2005 is an statutory procedure to ensure a citizen gets a correct and timely information from any govt administered or government participatory authority. It also indirectly ensures that citizens must have all the required information of the policies, funds, steps and measures authorities are taking. Hence it ensures transparency and participatory note for citizens toward effective Governance. Probity in Governance means honestly executing the policies by governing body. It involves Transparency, Openness, people participation, Accountability, Power decentralisation, Mechanisms for grievances redressal. But all the characteristics sighted can only be achieved if citizen knows about what authorities are doing. Hence transparency through RTI plays a key role. Making RTI available for one and all at free of cost is a great and exemplary move by Indian Govt. RTI as Right to raise questions and get answers for it within 30 days not only gives information and confidence to Citizens but also a sense of accountability and probity maintenance to government authority. Information obtained is not mere a piece of data but a complete insight with facts and figures for the question raised, Hence it makes citizen aware of all details about the funds allocation, progress made, quality and quantity of work done, policy implementation, position and situations of regulations etc. by govt authorities. But with the rise in RTI usage there is also rise in attack on whistle-blowers. Though there is already a law “Whistleblower Protect Act 2012” but implementing it in word and spirit is required to instil confidence and fearlessness among citizen.
Probity means honesty in duty. But, often vast powers and discretion given to officers are misused and impropriety is common. Right to Information empowers citizen to seek details about functioning and hence instil a fear of scrutiny among officials.
What do you understand by probity in governance? In your opinion, what measures are needed to be taken to ensure probity in governance? Explain. (200 Words)
Governance is the machinery throughout which Democratic functions of the state are ensured. Probity is the most important quality of governance that helps the later to perform its duties with due respect and sincerity. Probity keeps a strict view on governance so that the functions of the state are in accordance with law and delivery of public services have been performed retaining transparency and responsibility. Due to different anomalies like corruption; insensitivity ; red tapism ; irresponsibility; disrespect to office and law ; the governance system has lost its credibility in the eyes of people. A strong need is felt at present time to bring back confidence of the people to the government machinery.
Some measures that can be taken as follows
  1. sensitivity training for civil servant making them more people oriented.
  2. strong anti-corruption machinery with effective power to probe government officers and high level politicians instead of investigative body with little power.
  3. strict view on the behaviour and attitude of government servants.
  4. A frequent performance appraisal is necessary to assess their duty towards public.
  5. enactment of stringent and clear law in IPC and ICPC against corrupted officer.
  6. a high level intellectual and independent body to view the matter of transfer and promotion of government servants.
  7. inclusion of ethical code right from selection process to retirement day.
  8. provision of reward for dutiful public servants to boost their morality and spirit.
Good governance is the root of Democratic country. A good probity in governance can help the people to realise the Democratic values germinating respect and patriotism in their heart towards the state.
Probity is the quality of having strong moral principles. It is about being honesty and having decency. Probity in governance means doing one’s duty with utmost sincerity giving his best efforts.
Nolan committee defined standards of public life which serves as a foundation of probity in governance. According to him, 5 principles needed are:
  1. Objectivity
  2. Accountability
  3. Openness
  4. Integrity
  5. Honesty
(1). Sensitivity training
(2). Civil Services board



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