On Transparency and Accountability: Further Cacophonies to Disturb…

It is 20 something of June, 2013, and the leaders of G8 are gathered in Northern Ireland in County Fermanagh to thrash out issues of tax evasion and transparency, both legitimate concerns.

The Outcome (Apologies, for this sounds more like “The Outbreak”): Investments were made. Investments of trust. Tax evasion was seen in the light of the the willingness to disclose information. OECD was assigned surveillance duties over Corporations in regard to the data that was available and mechanisms put into practice to evade taxes by shifting income from one nation to another. Rules were tightened further, and voice of Corporations and Individuals in unison lamented, “Oh! Claustrophobia, Thy Kingdom Come”.

Leaders signed on to the ‘Open Data Charter’. This charter is characterized by five principles, which the signatory countries pledged to apply within the national legal frameworks. These are, Open Data by Default, Quality and Quantity, Usable by All, Releasing Data for Improved Governance, and Releasing Data for Innovation. Wow, Utopia Admonished!!!, or Utopia Banished, since the countries in question are going to find this adaptation a difficult cultural reality. But, a move is a move is a move…..At least, on paper, what all of this appears to strengthen is the long-term trust in demographics that go on to make the population, like never before in history, to lend them security (This word is undergoing nasty slippages in meanings, and is increasingly inching towards becoming nothing more than an empty signifier, a nullifier of the majoritarian concerns by the whims and fancies of minoritarian discerns), and development/economic stability (This word is no different from ‘security’, but does not appear to suffer the psychopathology associated with ‘security’). On paper, this guarantees freedom, an access to materially measurable transparency.

Of the many agreements signed, the one on extractive industries could go a long way if adhered to ideally. Under this, data will be opened to quantification and subsequently qualification to determine if the mining contracts are actually returning the revenues expected to a country and its citizenry. Is this news to be celebrated? If not, mining will lead to milling undoubtedly.

In his closing speech, Nick Clegg stated, “Open is the new normal.” But, it should be remembered that personally identifiable data, intellectual property rights and data pertinent to national security still are covered by “Close is not Abnormal”, a fictitious take by Clog on Clegg!!!! There goes security in hiding, and seeking a discerning mindset for justification!!!!

Open Government Partnership is the partnership that could scan and monitor country’s commitment to eventual signing the charter. Countries have exhibited intent on joining this partnership. What remains to be seen is whether India would, and if it would, then would it commit to commitment? Although, very early to say anything of substance here, let it at least on paper be taken for granted that development and security concerns are not convoluted and its citizens not be made to believe the incredulity.

This comes close on a wonderful draft I had the chance of reading, which relates disclosure of information as a key to transparency, and a most essential ingredient to managing public resources. Although, the draft had much to say, it was not defined and confined to the problematic at hand. Moreover, this is also a sequel to what I had penned a few days back on G8 and Open Government Partnership. So, further chimes (read crackles) follow:

Carrying on the baton further from there, it must be borne in mind that politic (without an ‘s’, and used as an adjective) of transparency and accountability is getting ingrained in relationship to foreign aid on the one hand, and extractive industries on the other, as was hitherto the case. Well, this is forceful now, due to efforts to reach out to embrace Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more intimately, which makes mandatory access to Governmental information a public right. This is to be incorporated as an instrument to have better monitoring of government’s action. If the former is a ‘given’, then the latter is to be tested empirically, for efficacy and veritability. Assuming, such were to happen, then consequentially, the following is to be expectedly strengthened,

1. Demos having a larger share of the pie in governance, brought to life from paper, dezombified to effect and reflect actions undertaken by their representatives: In short, a democracy much more intense and accountable.

2. Even if economic and financial screws are tightened, these are in accordance with public will, rather than governmental will on public, such that these tightening mechanisms do not nail the demos into walking horrors. Ideal, it seems, huh! so was communicative therapy to bring about nuanced voices to consensual ones.

3. Bringing corruption to apathy, dismissing it, diffusing it, as if this increasingly compounding bomb is rendered inactive, and

4. Seeing in effect such a local verifiability, if true that is, elevate itself to a global norm, a generic in, by and for itself mirroring out to an universalizable principle.

It is to be hoped that any such transparency would yield a better definition of development, not just for the armchair academician, but even for the paracademic. In any case, it is a call for participatory action…..

As I said in the beginning, this is a synopsis triggered by some of-late readings, and therefore calls for inflation through case studies….Can I flirt with the idea? I am on the liminal.

Further cacophonies to disturb…

 

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