For a long time, we (the so-called middle class) didn’t have access to the ruling and administrative classes. We couldn’t ask them questions directly and they didn’t care about us. We were dependent on journalists to question politicians and politicians in turn to question the bureaucracy. It never worked for us. Journalists never worked for us. We were never their customers (our fault?) and I don’t have to say anything about the ruling class.
With RTI, we got that access. Just like a top journo, I could question the Prime Minister and demand answers. But like how any other set of laws were used, RTI’s first success stories were very personal. I think even today RTI has been used in a very personal way to get answers to personal questions.
But then there are a set of people who are asking public-interest questions. Answers to which are very useful to the vast majority. Hence the use of AskYourGovt, where I plan to build a comprehensive database of Public Interest RTI requests and responses. The idea is not just to aggregate the responses. It’s to build a community around “Questioning the Govt” which includes asking more questions, demanding answers, commenting on the responses, building stories and larger public awareness.
This seems to be a huge task. But I don’t have to succeed, As an individual, there is no pressure on me. I am just going to give it a good try and hope that you will help me.
Alpha website is out :)