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Thread: Ministers frequent trips abroad....

  1. #1
    C J Karira
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    Ministers frequent trips abroad....

    Recently, India Today used the RTI Act to get information about the foreign trips of Union Ministers.

    The two related articles can be read at:

    India Today - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.

    India Today - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.

  2. #2

    Re: Ministers frequent trips abroad....

    At last Media taking some serious interest in RTI.
    Its is a good sign.

    And using RTI as a tool in Investigative journalism is a very welcome step.
    Hope other media houses take cue from India Today.

    In RTI parlance "Any News is Good News".


  3. Re: Ministers frequent trips abroad....

    Karira sir,

    I wanted to inform some news item to India to-day. what is the procedure.


  4. Re: Ministers frequent trips abroad....

    Yes, indeed this is a great step and I congratulate Shyamlal Yadav from India Today Hindi for taking the right steps in using Right to Information.

  5. #5
    C J Karira
    Blog Entries
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    Re: Ministers frequent trips abroad....

    As reported by Sumon K Chakrabarti on on 21 February 2008:
    Ministers fly on foreign trips, won't tell PM why

    Ministers fly on foreign trips, won't tell PM why

    New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leads a Cabinet of frequent fliers. Almost all his ministers travel to foreign countries regularly on official tours. Some even club their personal visits with foreign travel.

    But hardly any of them comes back and bothers to inform the Prime Minister's Office as to what did they do during the tours and what the tours really achieved for the country.

    Several RTI applications have proved that till last year while several crores of rupees was spent from the public exchequer for foreign tours of ministers of the UPA Government in the last four years, tour reports have hardly been filed.

    "No one knows what our ministers did abroad. For what they have done and how they did it hardly comes on record. It's really surprising," RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya points out.

    Only three ministers in the UPA Government have regularly filed their tour reports. They include Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz.

    In reply to Right to Information queries, some ministries have even dismissed the need to give such a report to the PMO.

    Most ministers in the UPA Government seem to believe that foreign tours come to them just as perks for being a minister.

    The Ministry of External Affairs have even gone a step forward to insist that the details of foreign tours of their ministers do not come under the purview of the Right to Information Act.

    "In absence of such records, whenever there is a change in the ministry, how will the new minister get to know what are things initiated by the former minister and what are the things pending?" he asks.

  6. Re: Ministers frequent trips abroad....


    It is a great job done by Chakrabarthy.


  7. #7
    C J Karira
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    Re: Ministers frequent trips abroad....

    For another article by Mr. Shyamlal Yadav, also using RTI Act, please see:
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  8. #8
    C J Karira
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    Re: Ministers frequent trips abroad....

    As reported by Shyamlal Yadav in on 23 February 2009:
    India Today - India's most widely read magazine.

    Most Union ministers are still frequent fliers

    On June 4, 2008 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had written a letter to all the Union ministers: "I am, therefore, writing to ask you to severely curtail expenditure on air travel, particularly foreign travel, except in cases where it is deemed to be absolutely necessary. This economy may be made applicable immediately for your own self and also for all senior functionaries in your ministry."

    This letter was followed by an India Today investigation that ministers have made foreign travel equal to 256 rounds of the earth and PMO may have expected that the ministers will curtail their travel expenses.

    Manmohan's ministers made 126 trips abroad since June 5 (date of his advise to curtail travel expenses) till November 20 (date of response to us) last year.
    15 trips out of 126 were personal trips while rest were official.
    Since June 5 to November 20, the PMO got 127 foreign travel proposals of ministers. 15 among them were written directly by the ministers.
    PMO has rejected only nine foreign trip proposals of Union ministers during June 5 - November 20, 2008.

    But, when acting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee introduced the interim budget recently, it was told that the government had saved Rs. 3 lakh from the allocation on the travel expenses of the ministers.

    Accordingly, India Today gathered information regarding the foreign travel made by ministers after the date the prime minister wrote to the Union ministers. This information shows the impact on some of the ministers as more than 34 ministers (excluding the ministers who left the job) have not made even a single foreign trip during this period (from June 5 to November 20, 2008). Even then there were 45 ministers who travelled abroad and made 126 foreign trips and spent 601 days abroad.

    The ministers who did not make any trip include: Vilas Muttemvar, EVKS Elangovan, Kanti Singh, P. Lakshmi, Santosh Mohan Deo, Saifuddin Soz, Mani Shankkar Aiyar, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Prem Chan Gupta, Meira Kumar, KH Muniappa, Kantilal Bhuria, Subbulakshmi Jegadishan, Sis Ram Ola.

    But, ministers like Pranab Mukherjee, Anand Sharma, E. Ahmad, Kamal Nath, Murli Deora, Praful Patel, Vyalar Ravi, P.K. Bansal, Sharad Pawar, Ambika Soni etc are still flying high and making frequent trips. Out of these 126 trips made by these 45 ministers, 15 were personal trips. Moreover, out of these trips, 118 were cleared by the PMO after the date of writing letter to ministers, while proposals for eight trips were cleared earlier. This information also shows that only nine foreign trip proposals of ministers were not cleared by the PMO. Out of 118 proposals that were cleared after the letter, 15 were written to PMO by ministers themselves. New ministers like Santosh Bagrodia and MS Gill are also included among the frequent fliers. Thanks to the confusing and time taking replies earlier on the details of expenses, we did not ask for the details of expenses on these travels.

    But ministers are not only getting these foreign trips, they are also availing the Frequent Fliers Points (FFPs) given by airlines. While, the finance ministry issued a circular on October 1, 2008 banning the use of FFPs on personal trips if they availed them against official trips, the ministers are left out. The finance ministry has confirmed this while responding upon an RTI application filed by India Today recently, "Orders are applicable only to Central government employees."

    And when we approached Air India to know the details of FFPs earned and used by ministers during last few years, the Air India refused to give this information. When we appealed to the Central Information Commission (CIC) against it, the CIC also rejected our appeal. Information Commissioner M.M. Ansari said in his order, "The disclosure of selective information in respect of the identified ministers could be misused for humiliation and harassment of any passenger." When it is widely published by the government officials that the RTI Act is a weapon for media, this order of the CIC looks not justified.

    Therefore, the most of the ministers are making foreign travels and getting benefited in many ways. But it may be seen as a good sign that some of the ministers have chosen to make less foreign travel.

    Minister Number of trips (Jun 5 - Nov 20, 2008) Days abroad (Jun 5 - Nov 20, 2008)

    Anand Sharma (MoS, MEA) 10 55
    Pranab Mukerjee (MEA) 8 29
    Kamal Nath (Commerce & Industry) 8 36
    Murli Deora (Petroleum and Natural Gases) 6 15
    Praful Patel (MoS, Civil Aviation) 5 18
    Vyalar Ravi (Overseas affairs) 5 18
    PK Bansal (MoS, Finance) 5 22
    E. Ahmad (MoS, MEA) 4 18
    Sharad Pawar (Agriculture and Co-operation 4 17
    Santosh Bagrodia 4 30
    Jairam Ramesh (MoS, Industry, Power) 4 19
    Oscar Fernandis (MoS, Labour) 4 10
    Ambika Soni (Tourism) 4 10
    Kapil Sibbal (Science and Technology) 4 29
    MAA Fatmi (MoS, HRD) 4 40
    P. Chidambaram (Home) 3 9
    MS Gill (MoS, Youth Affairs) 3 17
    Selja, Housing (MoS, Housing) 3 16
    Sushil Kumar Shinde (Power) 3 11
    Renuka Chaudhary (MoS, WCD) 2 7
    AK Anthony (Defence) 2 7
    Ashwani Kumar (MoS, Industry) 2 12
    HR Bhardwaj (Law and Justice) 2 11
    NN Meena Environ (MoS, Environment and Forest) 2 5
    A. Ramdoss, Health & Family Welfare 2 14
    TR Balu (Shipping and Road Transport) 2 4
    PR Dasmunsi (Information and Broadcasting) 2 2
    D. Purandeswari (MoS, HRD) 2 9
    Rao Inderjeet (MoS, Defence) 1 11
    Subodh K Sahai (MoS, Food Processing 1 2
    Akhilesh Prasad (MoS, Agriculture) 1 7
    Jitin Prasad (MoS) 1 5
    MM Pallam Raju (MoS, Defence) 1 3
    SS Vaghela Textiles (Official) 1 3
    Chandra Shekhar Sahu (MoS, Rural Development) 1 2
    K. Venkatpati (MoS, Law and Justice) 1 3
    PR Chavhan (MoS, PMO) 1 7
    Raghuvans Prasad (Rural Development) 1 2
    S. Jaipal Reddy (Urban Development) 1 10
    Suryakanta Patil (MoS, Rural Development) 1 8
    V. Radhika Selvi (Home) 1 5
    R. Velu (MoS, Railways 1 11
    RV Paswan (Chemicals and Fertilisers) 1 13
    Ajay Maken 1 12
    Arjun Singh (HRD) 1 7
    Mani Shankar Aiyar (Panchayati Raj) 0 0
    A. Raja (Environment and Forest) 0 0
    Jyotiraditya Sindhia (MoS) 0 0
    Dinsha J Patel (Petroleum and Natural Gases) 0 0
    Kanti Singh (MoS Heavy industry) 0 0
    Lalu Prasad (Railways) 0 0
    Meira Kumar (Social Justice and Empowerment) 0 0
    Prem Chand Gupta (Corporate Affairs) 0 0
    SP Jaiswal (MoS, Home) 0 0
    Vilas Muttemvar (MoS, New-Renewable Energy) 0 0
    Akhilesh Das (as MoS, steel) 0 0
    AR Antule (Minoriy Affairs) 0 0
    BK Handique (MoS, Parl. Affairs) 0 0
    Dasari Narayan Rao 0 0
    Dayanidhi Maran 0 0
    EVKS Elangovan (MoS, Textiles) 0 0
    GK Vasan (MoS, Statistics) 0 0
    JPN Yadav (MoS, Water Resources) 0 0
    Kantilal Bhuria (MoS, Agriculture) 0 0
    KH Muniyappa (MoS, Shipping and Road Transport) 0 0
    Mahabir Prasad (Small, Medium Industries) 0 0
    Manikrao Gavit 0 0
    MH Ambrish (MoS, Information and Brodcasting) 0 0
    MV Rajshekharan 0 0
    Naranbhai Rathwa (MoS, Railways) 0 0
    P. Lakshmi (MoS, Health) 0 0
    PR Kindia (Tribal Affairs) 0 0
    S. Jagadeeshan (MoS, Social Justice) 0 0
    S. Raghupati (MoS, Environment and Forest) 0 0
    Saifuddin Soz (Water Resources) 0 0
    Santosh Mohan Deo (Heavy Industries) 0 0
    Shakeel Ahmad (MoS, Communication and IT) 0 0
    Shivraj Patil 0 0
    Sisram Ola (Mines) 0 0
    SS Palanimanikam (MoS, Finance) 0 0
    Suresh Pachauri 0 0
    T. Subbirami Reddy 0 0
    Taslimuddina (MoS, Agriculture) 0 0

    Total 126 601

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