Well, for one reason and another, I wound up having to file an RTI petition a couple of weeks ago to retrieve two critical documents. Just the day before I set off to the Secretariat in Gurgaon, I had read in a media report that only 23% of all RTIs yield the information asked for and that most citizens are pretty unhappy. Given the popular public opinion about Haryana, I was prepping myself to expect the worst as I entered the Secretariat building. The first ten minutes turned out as visualized – I entered one room, was directed to another, then a third…But then finally one helpful young man (HYM#1) told me the department I was looking for was on the third floor. I clambered up the surprisingly clean flight of stairs and met up with a polite, helpful young man (HYM#2) at the RTI desk. I told him what documents I wanted and he gave me instructions as to what to do – Go down to the Treasury office on the ground floor, pick up the challan form, bring it back to him for getting it filled up, take it to the State Bank branch in the next building, the Gurgaon High Court, and then bring the receipt back to him to get the request authorized. Of course, I was huffing and puffing so loud from all the climbing up and down I had been doing that I only half heard the instructions and started dizzily criss-crossing the building to the bank, then back to the treasury office, then to the RTI desk and so on. Weirdly enough, it transpired that every time I made a dash to a new location, I ran into HYM#1, who politely guided me onto the right direction. It was like a Hindi movie or something the way, unerringly, each time I was taking a wrong turn, I ran into him.
I finally got my payment receipt from the bank and gasped and wheezed my way back to the RTI desk and plonked it in front of HYM#2. He dictated the RTI request letter to me in Hindi and then told me he'd call me within 7-10 days with the documents I had asked for, and that I would have to pay Rs. 10 per page of the requisitioned document.
Lo and behold – today, exactly 10 working days after I filed my application, I got a call from HYM#2 and he asked me to come down and pick up my docs. When I landed up at his desk, he asked me for the challan which I had forgotten to get from the ground floor. As I turned to go, chivalrously seeing my decrepit condition, he said he'd look around and see if he had a spare form with him…he did! I dashed down to the bank with the form, paid p and dashed back to him, and was out of there with my documents in about ten minutes. The whole transaction today took me less than half an hour – isn't that terrific?
We often moan and groan about the many things which the government doesn't do right, or which don't work, but rarely spare a word of praise for the things that do work. Well, these are my words of praise – the procedure was transparent, it was painless and quick – and I got what I asked for, PDQ!