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Political parties are ‘public authorities’

The Union Cabinet has cleared the proposal to amend the RTI Act by stating that declaring political parties as 'public authorities' will "hamper their smooth internal functioning since it will encourage political rivals to file RTI applications with malicious intention." How does the element of 'intention', with or without malice, affect the substance of information asked about their funding sources?

The live debate on one of the prominent TV channels on the issue of nullifying the CIC's June 3 decision (August 2), in which spokesmen of the Congress and the BJP vigorously participated, was, to say the least, 'depressingly dismal'. How can we debate an issue if we brazenly deny the basic proposition that political parties are not 'public authorities', inasmuch as they are not substantially funded by the State?

Another reasoning advanced by the proponent of amending the Act was that since political parties are answerable to the Election Commission of India for every penny they spend at elections, there is no need of their being questioned at all by all and sundry. Such an argument has been editorially (and rightly) termed as merely "specious" (editorial, "A retrograde move: Parties unite to weaken RTI Act," August 3). Pursuing this line of reasoning, the editorial sums up the issue, albeit with a lament: "Political parties, which swear by democracy, are ready to submit to scrutiny by a toothless EC or pliable tax officials but not by the citizens of this country. Strange!"

PROF VIRENDRA KUMAR (retd), Chandigarh


With this week (August 1-7) being observed as Breastfeeding Week, all new mothers should be made aware of the technique and benefits of breastfeeding. In the modern age, women are becoming too much figure-conscious and feel that breastfeeding will spoil their physique. This is a mistaken notion as nothing like that happens. Rather the more the mother breastfeeds her baby, the earlier she tends to lose weight and get back in shape. Also, breastfeeding mothers face lesser chances of developing breast cancer than those who do not. The bond between mother and child is also strengthened. Breastfeeding gives many benefits to babies. So, all new mothers must be taught the benefits of breastfeeding.


Strikes in Canada

All immigration work and issue of visas to students, visitors, spouses and others, even if they have completed the formalities, has come to a standstill in all Canadian embassies and high commissions all over the world due to the ongoing strike for the last two months.

Earlier last year, bus drivers in a town in Nova Scotia province of Canada had resorted to a strike that lasted over two months putting local commuters to a lot of inconvenience. The current strike in the embassies has left the visitors high and dry all over the world. We too have strikes in India but never so prolonged. My elder daughter who lives in Canada speaks very high of the Canadian work culture. Should she revise her opinion?

This is not to meddle in one's internal affairs but if a matter begins to impact the lives of the people outside a country, it no longer remains its internal matter. The strike has everyone, including Canada itself, on tenterhooks. One hopes that it is brought to an early end and pending visas are cleared promptly even if the staff has to work overtime to clear the backlog.


Health hazards?

There is no denying the fact that anaemic students badly need health supplements like iron and folic acid tablets and the government is providing these free of cost to them. But given the rising incidents of students falling ill after consuming the iron tablets, it will be appropriate to recall the scheme for the time being. The Health Ministry should investigate the real cause behind this health problem.

If the tablets are found to be outdated or spurious, these must be destroyed and the culprits given exemplary punishment. Recently, hundreds of students were taken ill after taking the tablets in many schools of Haryana, which is a clear warning that there is something wrong with the supplements. One fails to understand why the government is unable to do something in this regard.


Dearness relief

The Punjab government has so far not released the dearness relief (DR) instalment of 8 per cent, which was due to the pensioners from 1.1.2013. However, the Central and Haryana governments have sanctioned the same. Earlier, the Punjab government would release the DR instalment soon after it was announced. Four months have elapsed and the pensioners are still awaiting it. At a time when spiralling costs of essential items have made daily existence a difficult proposition, one hopes the government will release it soon.


IAS officers sidelined in HP

This refers to the news item 'Exodus of young IAS officers from the state' (July 29). The situation is alarming and unfavourable for IAS officers in Himachal Pradesh. Such officers are sidelined due to the undue influence of state cadre officers who have easy access to political bosses and leave no stone unturned for pleasing them. Even crucial appointments meant to be held by IAS officers in the state are held by the state cadre officers since the number of Central cadre officers is inadequate.

Moreover, local state cadre officers take advantage of the whims and fancies of political bosses for their local political gains. Under such circumstances, no superior cadre officer would like to stay in the state when better options of service with status are available elsewhere. The state cadre officers have no such options available to them and therefore have to please the local political bosses throughout their service life. This is harmful for the state in every way.




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