India Insight

Little public outrage as politicians unite against transparency

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

India’s political parties are united, for a change. It’s not over women’s safety or how many poor people the country has. They have closed ranks against moves to make parties accountable under the Right to Information (RTI) law.

The Cabinet has asked for changes in the RTI Act that, once approved by parliament, would exclude political parties from being covered by it. In other words, the Congress-led government wants to amend the very law that it once championed.

The government also opposes a recent ruling by India’s Supreme Court that bars jailed politicians from contesting elections and disqualifies them if convicted. A senior government minister told reporters on Aug. 1 that leaders of various political parties criticised the court ruling, which is seen as an affront to the supremacy of parliament.

Apart from a few reports in the media, there has been little public outrage over political parties scuttling attempts to bring in more transparency ahead of the 2014 parliamentary elections.

“These issues do not directly affect the people, partly because the information does not reach ordinary people,” said Yogendra Yadav, an expert on election results aligned with anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (common man’s party).

Game over for sports VIPs in India?

The rules of the game in India’s multi-million dollar sports industry are set to change with the sports ministry’s decision to bring back a key 1975 regulation.

A commuter walks past the New Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 mascot in New Delhi October 3, 2009.

The regulation, capping the tenure of sports bosses, has pitted the ministry against National Sporting Federation (NSF) chiefs, who have threatened that the ministry’s actions might invite a ban on Indian sports.

The central government’s move is seen as part of a ‘clean-up drive’ of the country’s sporting bodies that have long been riddled with controversies, and allegations of mismanagement.

from Global News Journal:

Giving in to Ali Baba

I once paid a cop 30 ringgit (about $10 then) for making an apparently illegal left-hand turn in Kuala Lumpur. Scores of drivers in front of me were also handing over their "instant fines", discreetly enclosed within the policeman's ticketing folder. It was days ahead of a major holiday and the cops were collecting their holiday bonus from the public.

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim holds a disc he says contains evidence of judge-fixing in Malaysia 

I felt bad about this, of course. What I was doing was illegal, immoral and perpetuating an insidious culture that goes by many names in the East -- "baksheesh" in India, "Ali Baba" (and his 40 thieves) in Malaysia, "swap" in Indonesia (means "to feed").  But the policeman pointed out I would have to take off the good part of a day to go to court and pay 10 times as much to the judge. So I rationalised: "When in Rome..."

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