On many issues of national importance, the incumbent Modi government has denied having any data or has rejected to reveal the data.
In order to govern and control the state, the role of data is very essential. For any government to run the day to day operations of the state, there is an immense necessity of right data representation. On the basis of this data, the government comes up with different policies, laws and welfare schemes.
However, the Modi government has had a bad history with data. On many issues of national importance, the incumbent government has denied having any data or has rejected to reveal the data.
Here are some instances when the government was oblivious of data or information on important issues-
Who created Aarogya Setu?
In the most recent development, while Aarogya Setu’s website says it was developed by the National Informatics Centre and the IT ministry, both claimed to have no knowledge of who created the app in response to a Right to Information query.
Now the government has been issued a notice by the Central Information Commission over “evasive answers” on who created the Aarogya Setu app.
Various ministries had failed to provide information about the creation of the app, activist Saurav Das had complained to the information commission.
The details like the origin of the proposal for the app, its approval details, the companies involved, individuals and government departments included, and copies of communications between private people involved in developing the app were sought by Sourav Das.
The query bounced off various departments for over two months, NDTV reported.
Reportedly, the National Informatics Centre, said that the “entire file related to the creation of the App is not with NIC”.
The query was transferred to the National e-Governance Division by IT Ministry, which said: “The information sought is not related to (our division).”
Chief Public Information Officers and the National e-Governance Division have been served show-cause notices by the RTI body.
Why the government should not face action for “prima facie obstruction of information” and giving an “evasive reply” to the RTI application, the information commission has questioned in the notice.
The curious case of PM-Cares
In May, the Prime Minister’s Office refused to provide details about the PM CARES Fund created to tackle the coronavirus pandemic to a Right to Information applicant, saying that the reserve was not a “public authority” under the RTI Act.
The RTI was filed by the Bengaluru law student in April, seeking details about the constitution of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. The applicant had asked for copies of the fund’s trust deed and all government orders related to its creation and functioning.
The PMO said in response to the RTI, “The PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.” “However, relevant information in respect of the fund may be seen on the website pmcares.gov.in.”
Under the RTI Act, a public authority is an organisation established (A) under or by the constitution (B) by any other law made by the parliament or (C) by a notification or order issued by the government. The definition also covers organisations financed substantially by the government and non-government organisations.
The government said that the fund will not be audited by the comptroller and Auditor General of India since it was based on donations of individuals and organisation.
On deaths of migrants and job losses, the government oblivious of numbers
During the first day of the monsoon session in parliament, the government admitted that it has no data available on the deaths and job losses among migrant workers due to the imposition of lockdown owing to the coronavirus pandemic. In a written reply, the Ministry of Labour and Employment said the government has not maintained a state-wise break-up of distribution of free ration to migrant workers.
“No such data is available,” the government responded to the question enquiring whether thousands of migrants have died during coronavirus lockdown.
The government, responding to a question seeking its admission that the government failed to assess problems faced by migrant labourers during the lockdown, said: “India, as a nation, has responded through the central government, state governments, local bodies, self-help groups, resident welfare associations, medical health professionals, sanitation workers as well as a large number of genuine and bonafide nongovernmental organisations in the nation’s fight against the unprecedented human crisis due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and country-wide lockdown.”
When asked for details about its free ration distribution scheme during the lockdown, the government said in its reply that “State-wise details are not available.”
Covid warriors: Heroes in need, nobody after the death
In September, the government told Lok Sabha that data on the number of healthcare workers who were infected by the coronavirus or have lost their lives during COVID-19 duty is not maintained at the central level by the health ministry.
However, details of the number of persons seeking relief under the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Insurance Package for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19” is maintained at the national level, Minister of State (MoS) for Health Ashwini Choubey said in a written reply.
According to details of the scheme, a total of 155 healthcare staff, including 64 doctors, have died due to the coronavirus infection in the country as on September 11.
PM Modi’s “Entire Political Science” degree that nobody has seen
The Delhi University in 2018 told the Delhi High Court that it cannot share the exam records of students who had pursued Bachelor of Arts courses in 1978, the year in which the varsity claims Prime Minister Narendra Modi had graduated.
Though both the universities have released statements to support Modi’s claim in the past, they continue to refuse to share the information needed to allay growing suspicion over various anomalies present in the available documents – his name, date of birth and even his specialisation on a subject called “Entire Political Science”.
After the controversy erupted, Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley presented copies of mark sheets and degree certificates awarded to Modi. However, universities ignored to respond to RTI queries claiming that the matter is subjudice.