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Thread: For Indian citizens in the USA....How to use RTI ?

  1. #1
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    For Indian citizens in the USA....How to use RTI ?


    Welcome to A.I.D's Right to Information Page
    <TABLE class=blog cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top><TABLE class=contentpaneopen><TBODY><TR><TD class=contentheading width="100%">RTI info </TD><TD class=buttonheading align=right width="100%"></TD><TD class=buttonheading align=right width="100%"></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE class=contentpaneopen><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top colSpan=2>
    Dear AIDers/ NRIs,



    Good news from the AID Anti-Corruption Team. Due to sustained efforts by ACT volunteers, Indian Embassy in Washington DC has implemented RTI and it now comes under full purview of RTI act, 2005. Please spread the NEWS!

    What this means to you?

    - You don't have to pay bribes anymore to get your work done in India. There is an easier, cleaner and legal way - File an RTI application!

    - You can seek any information on Government functioning from US.

    - Your thirst for information will be quenched.

    Who can do it?

    - Any Indian citizen with valid Indian passport can file a RTI application in Indian Embassy.


    Can I file an application?

    Ofcourse, all of us can file application. In fact, every one should file because:
    • Filing RTI application is easier than your primary school "As I am suffering from..." leave letter.
    • Simple & straightforward procedure empowers you to file as many applications
    Indian Embassy will automatically transfer your application to concerned department if the information you are asking is not pertaining to them. You will get your response with in 35 days or you can file an appeal to Appellate Authority[AA] and later to Chief Information Commissioner [CIC].


    How to file an application?

    Here are the steps:

    1. Make the application:

    All you need is one plain sheet of paper. You can type or hand-write your application with all the questions you want to ask, Address it to the PIO and sign underneath [yeah, that is all]. You can ask multiple question in same application. Please look at some sample application

    Few things to note:


    - Mention that you are exercising your right under RTI 2005

    - Attach your passport first page copy

    - Frame the questions to best of your understanding as "precise" answers depend on precise questions questions.

    2. Attach personal check for 24 Cents [equivalent to Rs. 10] and mention in your application that you have attached it. Checks should be made to favoring " Embassy of India, Washington DC".

    Send te application and the check attched to:

    The Public Information Officer,

    2107 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20008
    USA - 20008

    Contact: Mr. George Kutty - <<SCRIPT language=JavaScript type=text/javascript> <!-- var prefix = 'ma' + 'il' + 'to'; var path = 'hr' + 'ef' + '='; var addy30360 = 'georgek' + '@'; addy30360 = addy30360 + 'indiagov' + '.' + 'org'; document.write( '<a ' + path + '\'' + prefix + ':' + addy30360 + '\'>' ); document.write( addy30360 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //-->\n </SCRIPT> georgek@indiagov.org<SCRIPT language=JavaScript type=text/javascript> <!-- document.write( '<span style=\'display: none;\'>' ); //--> </SCRIPT> This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it<SCRIPT language=JavaScript type=text/javascript> <!-- document.write( '</' ); document.write( 'span>' ); //--> </SCRIPT> >,

    [Our volunteers are also working with different Indian consulates in US as well to collecting information on their implementation]



    3. * Give your return address where they can respond *



    Please contact Anti-Corruption Team if you have any questions:

    ACT - rti-team(at)aidindia.org

    Arun Gopalan – garun1279(at)gmail.com

    Vishal Kudchadkar – vishalk(at)gmail

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>

    </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    Save RTI Campaign - Home



  2. #2
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    NRI's in US allowed RTI access


    NRI's in US allowed RTI access

    NEW DELHI: Now non-resident Indians (NRIs) living in the US would now be able to exercise the Right to Information (RTI). The Indian embassy in Washington DC has been brought under the purview of the RTI Act, 2005 and a public information officer (PIO) has been appointed.

    This does not mean that the embassy's functions alone would be under the RTI Act purview. If NRIs need any information on Government departments in India, they would be able to file an RTI in the embassy, which in turn would send it to the department in India. The information would be given within 35 days of filing of the application.

    NRIs have already started exercising their right. 10 applications have been filed with the embassy. One of the first applications is regarding Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Somu Kumar, a resident of Virginia, has filed an application requesting information on Dow Chemicals, headquartered in US. Somu expects to hold Dow Chemicals "accountable" in some through this information. Any Indian citizen with a valid Indian passport can do what Somu has done by just paying a nominal fee of 24 cents. Somu says: "Filing an RTI application is easier than the leave of absence applications one wrote in the primary school."

    This success did not come easily. RTI activists from India and America had to campaign for months to bring the Indian embassy under the purview RTI Act. When the repeated appeals to the Indian embassy went unheard, the activists got in touch with Central Information Commission (CIC) in India. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah issued an order in April bringing all foreign missions under RTI Act. It is only now that the Act is being implemented in America. Washington DC is the first embassy to have declared its PIO and appellate authority also. Rahul Chhabra, counsellor (Press, Information and Culture), at the embassy is the PIO and RS Jassal, deputy chief of mission, is the appellate authority to file the first appeals.

    Says Arun Gopalan, a resident of Maryland: "Our repeated attempts since November 2006 to get the Indian embassy officials in Washington DC to implement the RTI Act went unheard and then we were left with no other option but to get in touch with the Central Information Commission directly."

    PunjabNewsline.com - NRI's in US allowed RTI excess

  3. Re: For Indian citizens in the USA....How to use RTI ?


    This is definitely a great step forward. In terms of payment, the govt. should formulate separate rules for information obtained through Indian missions worldwide. For example in the US, $0.24 is a ridiculous low fee - needs to be at least $1.00 - even a usual piece of postal mail needs $0.43 as postage. This won't be any different from pricing services like passports through Indian missions at a little different rates in respective countries.

  4. #4
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    Re: For Indian citizens in the USA....How to use RTI ?



    compuser1973,

    I think by "separate rules" you are basically referring to the Fees charged under RTI 2005.

    If that is correct, then your suggestion will not only be unfair but will also be against the basic principle of "Equality" enshrined in our constitution. Indian Citizens cannot be discriminated on the basis of their "location". The Fees are same everywhere. The only exception is for Below Poverty Line (BPL) applicants, which you will agree, is very fair.

    Passport Services and Miscellaneous Services available to Indian Citizens at High Commissions, Embassies & Consulates, cost the same. If a Indian Citizen applies for a "new booklet", whether in London, Washington DC or Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands), the charges are same. The differences (sometimes minor and sometimes major) occur due to exchange rate fluctuations (which are very common these days) and due to Indian Diplomats not changing the "Fees structure" frequently, as per exchange rate fluctuations, due to administrative and procedural reasons (everything needs clearance from New Delhi).

    If you read the Indian Press , you would have noticed that the US Embassy issues press statements changing the Visa Fees once in a few months because of Exchange rate fluctuations. It is a different matter that they have not reduced the Visa Fees (in Indian Rupees, because the fees in US Dollars is constant), when the Indian Rupee has strengthened from 45 to 40.......but then, they are not covered under RTI Act 2005 (LOL).

    Practically, I completely agree with you that the US$ 0.24 is ridiculously low, but a rule is a rule.

    You might also be interested in reading the following threads:

    http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/ask-rt...about-rti.html

    http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/ask-rt....html#post3599

  5. #5
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    Re: For Indian citizens in the USA....How to use RTI ?


    Further to my above post, I want to clarify that, when I refer to "Fees" , that means Application Fee.

    In case of other charges for providing information (like Photocopies, inspection of files, etc.), even within India, each State is allowed to have separate rules. Sometimes, I have observed that some Public Authorities in the same State have different charges.

    Under this category, the MEA, as a Public Authority, is well within its rights, to specify "different" charges in different countries, depending on local conditions, economic costs, etc.

    (I am sorry, I had to make a separate post, because I thought of this clarification after the mandatory 5 minutes had passed, as required under forum rules, for editing one's post)
    Last edited by karira; 10-07-07 at 10:14 AM.

  6. Re: For Indian citizens in the USA....How to use RTI ?


    karira,
    Not quite - passport office page mentions a new passport fee to be Rs. 1000/- (Fee Structure) while fee in the US is $40 and GBP 25 in UK - nowhere near the conversion rate in years even accounting for fluctuation. I believe the difference is to account for regional cost variations in providing a service - and rightly so.

    Similar can be the logic for RTI application as well in my view.....

  7. #7
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    Re: For Indian citizens in the USA....How to use RTI ?


    compuser1973,

    Yes, quite.

    This explanation is long. Although from your posts, I can make out that you will understand a very short explanation, since this is a public forum, many members or guests, who are not very familiar with the subject, might find a longer explanation interesting and easy to understand.

    Let's come back to charges within India at the end of the post.

    PREAMBLE:

    1. I had decided not to post for some time on the forum and only visit
    as a "guest" without logging in. But after I saw your post, I decided to
    log in and reply. I will go back into "hibernation" mode after this and in
    case you have any queries, you can email me on /myusername/ as on
    this forum, at eth dot net (good way to beat bots and spiders).
    2. I have never been an "Officer" nor any one in my family has ever been
    one.
    3. When I replied to your earlier post, I did not do any research, but
    directly replied, since I was absolutely sure about what I was saying.
    4. I am no PIO of any PA, as defined in RTI 2005, so I cannot be penalised
    for any "incorrect" or "misleading" information. However, while helping or
    guiding anyone, if I give wrong information, I will feel very guilty and
    that will be more than enough "penalty" for me ! (He He He)
    5. For this, I did 50 minutes of research and typing, but when I hit the
    "submit reply" button, I was asked to log in again and lost the draft.
    I have done that twice, so this third time, this is on notepad and while
    copying and pasting, the formatting might be slightly skewed, so please
    excuse.

    FACTS/DATA/SOURCES:

    1. The historical currency exchange rates are from:

    FXHistory - Historical Currency Exchange Rates

    2. The charges for passport services are directly form webistes of :

    USA: Embassy of India - Washington DC
    UK: Fee for PIO Card, Passport, Visa and Consular services, High Commission of India in London, Indian High Commission in United Kingdom
    Australia: Consulate General of India, Sydney
    Japan: INDIA

    (We call ourselves IT & Computer experts , but look, we can't even have a common normenclature for websites of our missions abroad. Anyone in MEA listening ? And, for the love of my life, I cannot understand, why the Indian Consulate website in Sydney has a picture of the Sydney Opera House on it !)

    3. The last time, the Charges were changed, was 1st April 2002 (Yes Sir, 5
    years ago !). This was from a website, which I cannot just seem to
    find again. It's with a red colour background, with white and yellow
    letters. Sorry, but for this information I cannot give you the link. But believe me the date is correct.

    BASIS:

    1. For simplicity, only 2 "services" have been used for comaprison:

    Ordinary Passport
    Jumbo Passport

    2. Only USA, UK, Australia and Japan have been used for comparison:

    - Africa does not interest many people
    - Latam and SE Asia have had too many currency upheavals
    - East Europe/USSR have changed drastically and broken up
    - European Currencies do not exist with the introduction of Euro.

    3. Since the last time the charges were revised, was on 1st April 2002, the
    exchange rates used are those prevailing between 1st March and 1st
    April 2002. This is not a very correct thing to do in the Indian scenario.
    Because I know of one instance very long long time ago, when the
    decision to revise charges was implemented 2.5 years after it was
    taken. For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume that the prevailing
    exchange rate during March 2002 was the basis.

    4. All foreign currencies are converted back to Indian Rupee (INR) instead
    of direct conversion from GBP to US$ or AUS$ to JY, because our
    Foreign Office Mandarins sit in South Block in New Delhi (or the old
    Akbar Hotel in Chanakyapuri) and everything is always converted back
    to INR.

    EXPLANATION/PROOF:

    The charges for the two services in the 4 countries, in local currency are;

    ORDINARY JUMBO

    USA US$ 40 US$ 50
    UK GBP 27 GBP 34
    Australia AUS$ 78 No info on website
    Japan Y 5600 Y 7200


    During March 2002, the exchange rates of various currencies against INR were:

    US$ 50
    GBP 70
    Aus$ 21
    Jap. Yen 0.38

    I just took the "most frequent" appearing number on the table and omitted the decimals.

    Now, if you multiply and see, the charges for the Ordinary will be about Rs 2000 and for the Jumbo will be Rs 2500. If there is a difference of a few hundred rupees here and there, its only because of the above "short cuts" I have used.

    Therefore, charges for Indian Citizens, using Passport services in ANY country in the world are uniform.

    compuser1973, our Indian "Officers" are very very diligent and carefully calculate even the last paise, when it comes to either taking money from the citizens or giving refund (which they do not give very easily !)

    CHARGES BACK IN INDIA:

    Although I know the explanation, I will not reveal.

    I think you have never used RTI before. Is that correct ?
    If yes, why don't you use this oppurtunity to use RTI for the first time and find out why the charges are different in India. You can send an application to PIO of MEA or to the local PIO in the Indian Embassy (in case you stay abroad). It will be a good experience and then you can guide others also in using RTI with that experience.

    Please share the outcome with the forum members and guests. I will keep reading. If the reply you get, is "incorrect" or "misleading", I will inform you, and then, you can also experience First Appeal, which can be made under section 18, 1 e.

    Now, back to work.

    Karira

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