Did the Government really give in to public opinion? Was Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death the reason for the change of stance on the Right to Information Act, or was it just happenstance? We would like to think that the pressure of public opinion caused the change, but since I am a cynical old cuss, I have my doubts. In any case, all that the Government has said so far is that they will not push through the amendments without placing them for debate in the House. My fingers are still crossed.
Dilip D’Souza was the first to ask me what I thought about the proposed amendment to the RTI Act. The Government had apparently proposed that notings in files should not be revealed to the inquiring public. This was of course a Humphreyan master-stroke. I can just picture Nigel Hawthorne, eyebrows aquiver with indignation, explaining to Derek Fowlds that his views on transparency were “far from sound”, that revealing the origin of government decisions would herald the end of civilization as he knew it.
I, of course, have no views in the matter. As my friends and colleagues will testify (not!), I am totally faceless, colourless and void of opinions. If, however, I were so indiscreet as to venture an opinion, I might actually chortle with glee now that the proposed amendments have been put on hold. We have always been taught to write “speaking notes” (don’t ask me, it’s one of those phrases, probably a variation of the legal “speaking order”) that clearly explain the reasons for decisions. A lot of us still do that. In other words, what we write in file is meant to stand up to scrutiny. So how does it matter if the general public can see it? In my ‘umble opinion, the only ones who should feel insecure about this provision are the slack, the lazy and the ambiguous. Which would be a good thing, because then we have greater accountability and differentiation. But I’m preaching to the converted, Dilip …
One last thought on this issue. Our Course Director at Mussoorie, a
Forget the horrible mixed metaphor (emasculating transparency?). Excuse the confused jargon (“core competence” morphs into “core transparency”). Overlook the clumsy attempt to punch three sentences into one. (Strunk & White, Strunk & White .. Keep It Short!). They actually lost track of the relation between the subject and the conditional clause, changed “that would have emasculated” to “and emasculating” and thus totally reversed the meaning. As it now stands, the sentence means that the government’s present decision emasculates the Act
In Mahim and Dadar, thousands rush to drink sewage. The Mithi Creek turns meetha (sweet). Next stop,
Meanwhile, Barkha Dutt interviews Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan on weighty issues such as infidelity. No, not in their own beautiful relationship (good shot, Joy Orzoon), which has given us hour upon hour of wholesome cinematic rubbish that’s all about boring your family. They’re talking about marital infidelity. By the same reasoning, Anthony Quinn was an explosives expert and Russell Crowe a math wizard.
I must confess I’m not immune to a little infidelity myself. Despite my oft-declared devotion to Mallika Sarabai (NOT Sherawat!) and Salma Hayek, I have on occasion gazed long and lasciviously on Yana Gupta (in the manner of a Colonel Blimp who harrumphs “Fine young filly, eh?”). I am in fact undecided as to whether I should resent Vijay Mallya or Aftab Shivdasani more. At this moment, however, I am totally in love with another. Or rather, in leurrve. Vith Leo-leh Kwotty, Quayne ev Hay-urds, who iz zimbly veunderflll. Vott a vumman, no? I believe Channel V will soon release a “Best of Lola Kutty” package. Ay ken hay-urdlee vayte.