Monday, 17 October 2011

National Convention on RTI: Uncovered Areas

In her notes to the Report of the National Commission to Review of the Working of the Constitution, Ms Sumitra Kulkarni, the only woman member of the 11 member Commission, made the following remarks:

I, Sumitra Gandhi Kulkarni am signing this document with grave concerns and reservations. My concerns and reservations should be a part of the record of this Commission’s work and its final report. My signature on this final report is conditional to the reservations and concerns as highlighted below:

1.      The Commission was set up to contemplate the challenges faced by the existing Constitution in dealing with issues that India will face in the 21st century and beyond – and consequently make recommendations in areas where the Constitution can be strengthened. This commission was not setup as a platform for fence sitting. We as members were expected to identify, debate and finally take a stand on issues – We have not done justice to this task as was expected of us.

2.       I have always believed that for a Constitution to be an effective framework for governance it must first be a framework for unification. I believe in a Unified and truly Secular India. However, the Commission debates seemed often to reduce the Constitution to being a platform for divisiveness and not unification.

3.      The Commission did not initiate or promote sincere debate in the public with regards to the issues that it was contemplating. The efforts was more to “evade and defer” instead of to “identify issues, table them for debate, and to deal with them”.

This is an apt critique of the 6th National Convention on RTI as well.

In all the discussions on every topic covered, more than two thirds of the time was taken by the few eminent persons on the panel harping on the same issues – proactive disclosure, amendments, dilution, file notings, protection of whistle blowers etc. – that had been covered by the media on so many earlier occasions. The idea was obviously to deny / inhibit a properly proactive debate at the convention.

Perhaps the one new subject introduced this time was Public Private Partnership projects and whether they should be and could be brought under the purview of the transparency law, and the why and how of it. One can say there was a near consensus in the house on the need to have all PPP projects covered by the RTI Act. And the best suggestion for doing it was by having a clause in the partnership contract itself to that effect.

In this context, one is reminded of the self financing college conundrum created by the then Chief Minister of Kerala (present Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony). While promising the people of Kerala that every two SFCs will be equal to one government college (meaning that 50% seats in every SFC will be filled up as per the norms for a government college and the rest left to the management), it was conveniently ‘forgotten’ while granting the licenses. As a result, the admission processes have been riddled with problems ever since and continue to be nightmarish for students and guardians even now!

Again, in the context of PPP projects, a small bit of information that was glossed over was that during the next Five Year Plan, almost 50% investment in infrastructure projects is expected to come from the private sector. This makes one wonder whether the message from the on-going protest on Wall Street is wasted on our planners and policy makers.

Coming back to RTI, there are quite a few issues that have never made it to the media so far, which could have been covered during the convention, if only grassroots activists had been given adequate opportunity to share their experiences.

First in this genre is the provision regarding Assistant Public Information Officers and their tasking, which is covered in Sec 5 of the RTI Act (the one that immediately follows Sec 4 dealing with proactive disclosures!)

The law states that ‘every public authority shall designate an officer, within one hundred days of the enactment of this Act, at each sub-divisional level or other sub-district level as a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, to receive the applications for information or appeals under this Act for forwarding the same forthwith to the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer or senior officer specified under sub-section (1) of section 19 or the Central Information Commission or the State Information Commission, as the case may be’.

When one understands how this clause has been interpreted by public authorities, including the Kerala State information Commission, all doubts regarding how the administration of this country has gone to dogs, vanish!

To clarify, we all know that even a village office is a public authority under the RTI Act. Now, can a village office in Kerala appoint an APIO in a sub-division or sub-district of Kerala, leave alone the whole country? So the only logically correct and pragmatic interpretation would be that every public authority at the sub-divisional or sub-district level has to appoint an APIO to fulfil those tasks specified.

In order to get the interpretation of the Kerala SIC on record, an application was submitted under the RTI Act seeking information on who were its APIOs in the sub-districts of Palakkad district. The reply, rather prompt, was that since the SIC did not have any office at the sub-district level, no APIOs have been appointed.

Worse, the Kerala SIC then directed the PIO of the RDO, Palakkad (sub-district) not to accept any applications addressed to other public authorities. This was not only in flagrant violation of Sec 5 of the Act, but in blatant violation of the orders issued by the competent authority (Govt of Kerala) on the subject.

As on date, CAPIOs have been appointed at various Head Post Offices, but unfortunately they have a list of central public authorities whom alone they serve, whereas such limitations should not be there as per the law.

It needs to be placed on record that every amendment made to its rules by the Govt of Kerala has been retrograde. First, it reduced the flexibility of payment of fees and cost by reducing the options for such payment to other than govt departments, that is, to the various boards, commissions etc. Next, they created problems for citizens seeking information by restricting the cost prescribed under the rules to only such information for which no cost has been prescribed otherwise, leading to public authorities demanding even Rs 200/- for a sketch on an A4 size paper and providing only photocopies of such sketches!

The office procedures of the information commissions are an apology for any procedure. This author can vouch for this fact based on experiences with the Central Information Commission and the Kerala SIC. Firstly, not even an acknowledgement is provided, and when provided randomly, it is useless as it does not carry any reference to the complaint/appeal. The age-old and well-established practice of assigning complaint/petition or appeal numbers (as in our courts) is not adopted while acknowledging complaints/appeals.

But the Kerala SIC is at least now hearing cases of 2009 vintage, as also some very recent ones. How such disparities can exist is beyond comprehension!

It may be pointed out that the job of an information commissioner is child’s play when compared to even the job of a munsif in our judiciary. On receipt of the 2nd appeal, along with connected documents, itself the IC can find answers to the following questions: is the information sought disclose-able? If yes, what is the information that has not been disclosed? How much is the delay in providing whatever information has been provided? What is the delay till date? Is it more than 100 days? Then the only thing required to be done by the IC is to direct the PIO to provide the information yet to be provided, and confirm, and simultaneously seek an explanation why the mandated penalty should not be imposed.

On receipt of confirmation of compliance and explanation, unless there are legally valid reasons for condoning the delay, the penalty as prescribed for the whole delay should be imposed. Also, if the complainant/applicant had demanded cost/compensation for the additional effort/agony in pursuing the matter up to the Information Commission, that should also be ordered to be made good by the public authority as provided for by the law. By not imposing the mandatory penalty, not only are information commissioners subverting the law that they have been tasked to enforce, they are also causing immense loss to the exchequer, for which they are themselves liable to be punished.

The penalty imposed on rare occasions also warrants questioning the very motives of the information commissioners. The law being unambiguous, mandates penalty for even delays only; hence, charges of corruption against information commissioners cannot be ruled out. In a case where a penalty of Rs 25,000/- is to be imposed, there is no way it can be proved or denied that the information commissioner who fails to impose that penalty had not accepted a bribe of, say Rs 15,000/- from the delinquent PIO!

Sections 217 to 219 of the Indian Penal Code can be used to charge the information commissioners for dereliction of duty. But we are seeing how messy the affairs of the judiciary itself are. As per a report of Transparency International, the judiciary is the second most corrupt institution in the country, next only to the police!

How many times have we seen judges invoke contempt powers to harass/threaten honest critics than to enforce their own orders? What do citizens do in these frustrating and exasperating times? The writer is not surprised at the exponential growth in crime rate and radicalism in society as a whole.

To take a leaf from the famous novel, the ‘Other Side of Midnight’, we may say that more crimes have been committed in our country in the name of justice than by all the undertrials and criminals in jail put together!

Sunday, 16 October 2011


The 6th national convention on RTI was organised by the national RTI watchdog- The Central Information Commission- at Vigyan Bhavan on 14th and 15th Oct 2011. The theme of the convention was Right to Information- Expanding Horizons. But right from the moment the Prime Minister delivered the inaugural address the doubt arose whether the horizon was expanding or shrinking. Administratively well organised, the convention was, at the end of the day, devoid of any substance worth mentioning.

The security instructions received alongwith the invitation was in itself an irritant- forbidding the invitees from even taking their mobile phones and cameras to the venue! Though as a matter of personal choice I do not use a mobile phone myself I can vouch for the horror of those  who get out of their homes and realise that they have not taken their mobilephones! But the PM being the VVIP (whatever that means in a social, democratic republic!) and his security being ensured by those over whom he himself apparantly doesnot have any control, it was a fait accomplie situation for those who had come from far and wide to hear their PM in person. But the first shock was administered by the 1st man on security duty that one confronted- he refused even the day's news paper to be taken inside! His argument: it could be rolled and used to attack the VVIP! The second shock came later when one saw almost everybody in there having their mobiles and walking in and out of the hall whenever they had to receive or make a call!

The inaugural address of Man Mohan Singh, as was mentioned earlier, set the tone for the shrinking of horizons for right to information. His comment that the RTI Act will have to be revisited to ensure that there is a balance between public interest and burden on the public authority was shocking. But it definitely was not unexpected given the efforts by the 'government' to amend the Act to deny file notings and make the applicant provide reasons for seeking the information- a sure shot method to dump the law into the nearest garbage bin!

The Right to Information Act is definitely one law that is unique because of its simplicity, unambiguity and citizen friendly nature. But it does require amendments to remove some difficulties- for example delegation of authority to 'competant authorities' to frame rules specifying the fees, cost etc without insisting on a cap for these which under normal course would be the fees, cost etc prescribed by the central government. In fact this delegation of authority has resulted in many high courts introducing exorbitant fees, cost and even fees for 1st appeal. It needs to be reiterated that the 1st appeal is only an opportunity given to the public authority to correct any mistakes committed by its own public information officers and limit the damages that s/he may have to suffer if available and disclosable information has been denied or not provided in time. To illustrate this further, the Act mandates that the information commissioners shall impose penalty at the rate of Rs 250/- per day for every day of delay subject to a maximum of Rs 25,000/-. Simple mathematics tells one that the penalty will keep increasing for every day of delay upto 100 days. So if the 1st appellate authority acts diligently, information can be provided within, say, 60 days. That is with a delay of just 30 days. But if the 1st appellate authority misses the bus and the matter goes to the information commissioners by the time the 2nd appeeal is considered and orders issued the delay will invariably exceed 100 days and the penalty will definitely hit the roof! When this issue came up for discussion and a question was raised what is the relevance of asking if a competant authority can prescribe a fee more than what is prescribed by the govt when the high courts have done it the response of the moderator- a vice chancellor of a law university- was: you are asking this because you presume that the high courts are right!

But the lack of credibilty of the government was bluntly driven home by Prof Jagdeep Chhokar who said that if the govt was allowed to amend the Act, in the name of the three or four amendments that are required what will be made will be a dozen amendments that are not required and which dilute the Act!

One note that was struck throughout was the burden on the public information officers but the response was also struck with equal steadfastness on the need to comply with the provisions for proactive disclosures. Needless to say a lot of time was wasted by the representatives of various public authorities harping on this issue inspite of the simple solution inherant in the law itself. While it is true that every public information officer is designated as such and has to perform these duties in addition to his regular duties it is equally true that this additional task is not such an overwhelming burden as they had tried to make it out to be. Particularly the claim that it is the PIO who is punished even if the custodian of the information fails to part with the available information in time was either due to the deploraable level of awareness of the law even after 6 years of its existence or an outright effort to mislead the less knowledgeable amoung the audience. The activists participating in the discussions were never carried away by these gimmicks.

The concern expressed by the activists was on the wilful flouting of the law by the information commissioners when it came to imposing the penalties mandated for delay in providing information. This was a factor that not only took the tooth off the law but also caused immense loss to the exchequer. While in private discussions at least one information commissioner admitted that he had imposed penalty for non-compliance with the law on proactive dsclosure, most maintained that it could not be done! Again it was left to Prof Chhokar to drive home the point that all was not well with the selection process of the information commissioners themselves and this was affecting the implementation of the law and in letter and spirit and adversely affecting its effectiveness.

At least one chief information commissioner got exposed when he made tall claims of conducting hearings in various district headquarters to facilitate participation by the public authorities and the complainants/appellants. An activist from his state confronted him and demanded to know which where the districts where the last three hearings were conducted and which are the districts where the next three are scheduled. When there was no reply the activist bluntly told him not to mislead the audience!

The issue of the Dept of Personnel and Training, the nodal department for implementing the RTI Act through out the country, trying to subvert the law also figured in the discussions. Apart from the idiotic order issued that every complaint or appeal to the central information commission should be heard by all the information commissioners together, the latest was an office memorandum directing the public authorities to provide only that information that was available with them and not to forward applications to those public authorities who would be holding them. When an information commissioner from one of the states sought clarification on the legal validity of this office memorandum, the central information commissioner on the panel rightly expressed surprise that such a clarification was being sought at all. He rightly added that while considering complaints and appeals the only things that mattered were the Act and the relevant rules promulgated by the competant authorities! One of the participants added fuel to the fire by stating that the OM also stated that it was being issued after consultation with the central information commission and application to the CIC for documents related to the consultation got the reply that there were no such documents available! It is presumed that the Chief Information Commissioner of the CIC, who was present, would have taken note of this deplorable effort of the DoPT to encouragae public authorites to flout the law and misusing the CIC's name for that purpose. He is expected to bring the perpetuators of the crime before the law.

But it needs to be placed on record that the credibility of the Chief Information Commissioner of the Central Information Commission is itself questionable begining with his own appointment. Documents accessed by activists about the spadework done by the DoPT for selection of the central information commissioners by the committee headed by the PM, indictes more of manipulation than a fair and transparent process that is warranted. It would not be out of context to suggest that the observations made by the apex court in the matter of appointment of CVC should apply equally to not only the appointment of the information commissioners but to all appointments to every quasi judicial organisation in the whole country. It is pertinant to mention here that the present CIC of the CIC was the Secretary of DoPT before his present assignment. It was probably during his tenure that the DoPT put up on its website that there was no need to disclose file notings and it continued to mislead public authorites for a long time even after the then CIC had repeatedly directed DoPT to remove it forthwith! But it was during a private conversation on the sides of the deliberations that another facet of his attitude to transparency was revealed. This was in the context of the information sought by citizens from the BPL category. His query what will these people do with the information obtained and whether it will substitute for food proves him to be an immense misfit  for his present assignment! During the very welcome speech he had cribbed about the 'problems' of the Commission not having a permanent office building for itself and working from two locations. I do not know if the burden of information provided by the information commissioner from Maharashta about it working from 5 locations really got regisetered with the Central CIC. It also needs to be asked why the Central Information Commission should not establish 10 benches in different parts of the country to facilitate participation in hearings by the PIOs/FAAs and complainants/appellants. Even when public authorities are not ordered to compensate the citizens there is immense loss to the exchequer when the PIOs/FAAs are made to travel all the way from nooks and corners of the country to the national capital for hearings at the only location of the CIC!

This report would be incomplete if I fail to mention about the only new bit of information gained during the convention- that a personal member's bill has been introduced in the Parliament to amend Sec 6 and 7 of the RTI Act. If the amendments come through every applicant will have to give reasons why s/he is seeking the information and if the reason(s) is/are not given s/he can be denied information on that ground alone! It is not known if the public information officer is being given any discretion also to decide if the reason provided is valid or not. But whatever the outcome, there is no doubt that this is a retrograde step that needs to be opposed tooth and nail!

The chief guest for the valedictory function was the very honourable Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar. He did wax, with justifiable eloquence, on the Jaankaari scheme- a model appreciated by everyone, including the Chairperson of UPA- and the newly introduced Right to Service Bill. The call centre model of obtaining information about and under the RTI Act was to be adopted even by the UPA government but seems to have made no headway in the last two years! BUt to prove that he was also not beyond human frailities Nitish also faltered by claiming that 65 years is no age to retire and information commissioners should be allowed to serve longer. This author was reminded of a quip: a person who is not an idealist at 20 has no heart, s/he who is not  a pragmatist at 40 has no head. We all agree that the Right to Information Act is a path breaking law. In fact it is the only law that we have till date that puts the citizen where he should be in a democracy- at the centre of things like the ring master in a circus! It would certainly have been better if we had younger blood, unpollutted with misplaced senses of loyalty and comradiere, to enforce this new generation law, which many speakers had openly claimed during the convention itself as the most important document after the Constitution itself! To my mind a person around 30 years with enough of both heart and pragmatism in him/her would have been a better bet to enforce this law in its letter and spirit!

P M Ravindran
Tel: 0491-2576042 (presently in Delhi without any mobilephone)

Saturday, 8 October 2011


It is 6 years since the RTIA has come into force. While there have been a few notable gains and 12 activists who have used the law to unearth major scams have been brutally killed, the question remains how such a simple, straight forward and unambiguous law could be so badly distorted and practically put on ventilator within just 6 years!

Among the major gains is the revelation of how the judiciary treats law. The then Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan had written to the Prime Minister to exempt judges from the purview of the RTI Act but had not been obliged. So he did the next best thing- abused his authority and held his own office to be out of purview of the said law! Even after the transparency watchdog- the Central Information Commission- had held that his decision was illegal, the apex court went on appeal to the Delhi High Court. By itself it has to be seen as a ridiculous act for two reasons- firstly, the idea of the apex court going on appeal to a subordinate court is itself making a mockery of the judicial process, if not a ludicrous attempt to pull wool over the eyes of the public. Next, Sec 23 of the RTIA explicitly states that ‘No court shall entertain any suit, application or other proceeding in respect of any order made under this Act and no such order shall be called in question otherwise than by way of an appeal under this Act.’ Of course, that implies that courts can intervene only in cases where the procedure followed under the new law had been flawed. But such was not the case here. But thankfully, the Delhi High Court- both, a single judge and a division bench-held the contention of the Chief Justice of India to be wrong! And now we have the absolutely untenable case of a party judging its own case-the apex court has appealed to itself against the order of the division bench of the Delhi High Court! If this is the case with such a simple law, then the fate of Lokpal, having jurisdiction over the judiciary, can only remain a mirage!

Apart from K G Balakrishnan’s effort to subvert the law, the judiciary has also cocked a snook at the law by misusing the powers of the ‘competent authority’ to hike the fees and cost and even introduce fees which are totally unwarranted. While the application fee prescribed by the central and state governments is just Rs 10/- , the Delhi High Court actually made it Rs 500/- which was subsequently reduced to Rs 50/-! The cost of information on an A4 size paper is Rs 2/- but for the courts it is Rs 5/-! While the 1st appeal is just an additional opportunity given to the public authority to correct the mistakes of its public information officer and no fee or cost is warranted, the Kerala High Court at least has introduced a fee of Rs 50/-!  And yes, the tallest of all claims- that every thing happens in open court and is totally transparent- also stands shattered by the very fact that even an application to provide a copy of an order quoted in one of its orders was rejected by the Kerala High Court! The RTIA has thus proved beyond an iota of doubt how their claim ‘be you ever so high, the law is above you’ actually meant ‘be you ever so high, we (the judges) are above you and all the laws that apply to you’.

By law, the last word on the RTIA is that of the information commissioner. And when the Act completes six years there is enough ground to charge each of them for breach of trust and oath of office if not outright treason. The law certainly has a few deficiencies- for example, the definition of competent authorities and the power vested in them to frame rules for the implementation of the Act is something that could have been done away with- but ambiguity is certainly not one of them. The law is so simple, clear and unambiguous that even a student who has passed his 5th standard can understand it and interpret it correctly. But the response to my 1st complaint/appeal before the central information commission itself proved that the competence, if not the integrity itself, of the information commissioners were questionable.  The gist of the incidence is as follows. Save Consumer Courts Action Council, Thiruvananthapuram, had submitted a complaint against the Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission to the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Subsequently I had submitted an application under the RTI Act to enquire into the action taken on the complaint. I got a reply stating that the complaint has to be submitted to the Govt of Kerala. But since it was not any ‘information’ provided and there was no other intimation from the PIO, NCDRC I submitted a complaint to the Central Information Commission. Shockingly, the CIC informed me that the application has been forwarded to the Kerala State Information Commission! When the matter was taken up with the then Central Chief Information Commissioner-all of a retired Secretary to the Govt of India!- after repeated reminders a reply was received that this complaint had also been forwarded to the KSIC!

The job of an Information Commissioner is nothing compared to the job of even a munsif under our judicial system. On receipt of an appeal along with connected documents, the IC can easily decide whether the information sought is disclosable or not; if disclosable, whether there has been any delay or not and If there has been delay how much? Thereafter, as per the RTI Act, there is only a requirement for the IC to direct the PIO to provide the information sought and also issue a notice to the PIO to give reasons for not imposing penalty for the delay. Instead the procedures at the information commissions, especially at the Kerala State Information Commission and the Central Informaton Commission, verge on the absurd and ridiculous and could have been dismissed as such had it not been for the ultimate subversion of the RTI Act itself and deniel of the rights of citizens. For example, both these commissions do not acknowledge the complaints/appeals submitted. The KSIC when it does acknowledge occassionally and after considerable lapse of time will not even have the correct reference of your complaint/appeal. The two liner printed post card says ‘refer  your complaint of .............. (date, which is invariably quoted wrong!). It has been assigned file No..............) And then, after almost two years, when you are given a notice for hearing it will have the reference to an appeal number which cannot be linked to your original complaint/appeal! And then not only the PIO but the FAA and the complainant/appellant are also called to the IC’s office for the hearing. While the complainant/appellant travels at his own cost with the agony of travelling without reservation as bonus, the PIO and FAA travels at exhorbitant cost to tax payer with reservation using the quota available for them! And ultimately even when the IC orders the PIO to make the information available the mandatory penalty is not imposed leading to a situation where the RTI Act has now become practically defunct, with the usual exceptions! If the total loss to the exchequer in terms of unwarranted cost incurred for unwarranted moves for hearings and the failure of the ICs to impose mandatory penalites is considered one may be shocked to learn that it would be more than one or even two 2G scams!

While the arbitrary, wayward and malafide manner of selection of the CVC had been exposed in the case of P T Thomas, the process in not any different in the appointment of the ICs also. And information received and/or denied under the RTI Act are documentary evidences of the idiocity, if not outright treason of these ICs. The example of how the CIC treated a complaint against deniel of information by the NCDRC has already been narrated. The case of the KSIC is even worse. The 1st time I submitted an application under the RTI Act to the KSIC itself, it reacted by directing the PIO of a sub divisional office not to accept any applications from me! This, needless to say, was in total violation of Sec 5 of the RTI Act itself! Long before Lokpal was put on centre stage by Anna Hazare, activists like myself had been requesting the Chief Minister of Kerala to set up a cell in his office to monitor the performance of the quasi judicial organisations which are practically worse than the fly by night operators we often hear of!

Apart from the subversion of the law by omission, there have been proactive efforts to dilute the law by the nodal departments themselves. One such effort was the direction by the Dept of Personnel and Training that every complaint/appeal to the Information Commission  should be heard by all the Information Commissioners together! In Kerala the General Administration Dept directed that the most convenient forms of paying the fees would be restricted to its departments only and it will have to be paid in cash directly or through DDs to the various boards, commissions etc! Also it introduced a red herring that cost of information would be as laid down unless it has been specified otherwise, prompting may public authorites to demand upto Rs 200/- for even a photostat copy of a sketch in an A4 size page! Elsewhere, there have been efforts to restrict the quantum of information that can be sought in an application and also demands for contempt powers to the ICs and penalty for the applicants! The latest is an office memorandum by the DoPT that has directed the public authorities to flout Sec 6(3) of the RTI Act. While this OM states that it was being issued after consultations with the CIC an application under the RTI Act to the CIC has confirmed that there are no records of any such consultations! Reports appearing in the media also bodes ill for the future of the RTI Act. The government, stung by the various pronouncements of the higher judiciary against it, seems to have decided to follow a path of appeasement by seeking to exempt the CJI from the purview of the RTI Act. (It needs to be reiterated here that though the appeal of the apex court before itself is awaiting disposal, the original cause of the application has been served by the judges deciding to declare their assets themselves!) But to deflect allegations of such blatant appeasement, it has also added the President of India and the Governors of the states  to the list of those who cannot be approached for information under the RTI Act!

This report cannot be complete without referring to a couple of best practices seen implemented in Bihar and Maharashtra. In Bihar there are two helplines for RTI- one for getting information about the RTI Act and the other for getting information under the RTI Act. In the latter case the fee is charged alongwith the call charges. The request for information will be taken down by the helpline attendant and forwarded to the correct public authority! In Maharashtra, the ICs have been given charge of clusters of districts and they are located in one of the districts of each cluster making access easy, both for the public and the PIOs/FAAs!

To conclude, it has to be acknowledged that the RTI Act is a success even in its failure because it has exposed the treacherous and anti-national people infesting our offices of governance like never before. Over the years the common man had learnt through personal experience that in the name of governance the people in our offices of authority have been looting public property and compromising public interests. Today, it is impossible for one to jump on to the government‘s bandwagon and brand the maoists and insurgents as anti-social or anti-national elements. We cannot forget that the colonial masters had also branded our first war of independence as a sepoy mutiny and suppressed it with an iron hand. But of course what followed is also part of history and it would be idiotic for those holding the reins of power now to neglect the aspirations of We, the People!