Post A Day #16

I’ve been working on an article for Ceylon Today, for which I need some information; information that must come from a particular Ministry in the government.

I began calling them last Friday. It’s been a week almost now and I’ve got nowhere.

Every time I call for the Deputy Director of that department, I am told she is busy – at a meeting. It would also seem; judging by the fact that no one who answered the phone volunteered to produce the info I needed themselves despite my explaining the situation multiple times; every simple task at the department is conducted by the Deputy Director herself.

I find it hard to work myself up to demanding the information I require asap, because I am enraged by the fact that I am being made to ask repeatedly at all – the information I am requesting is not classified and should be available at request.

Now, before I take this issue any further, let me make it clear that this attitude is not something new – this is how it is with almost every government service, department and Minister. (note: I say almost out of a strict sense of fairness, not because there has been any proof to the contrary in my experience)

Having said that, I decided today that I would put.my.foot.down and told the lady who answered the phone (I was very polite, I may add) that if I didn’t have an answer asap I would have no choice but to mention the fact that I had called that Ministry for a week and had no answer. ‘I understand that your Deputy Director is busy’, I fibbed to her, ‘but surely someone else can give me the information I need…?’ She took my name and number (second time overall) and said she would convey my message to the Deputy Director.

An hour so later I received a call from a chap speaking in English who asked me – quite politely – what I needed, and rang off promising to call me back with information. That was hours and hours ago, its night here now and the poor sod is prolly in bed.

My bigger point in this entire tale is this; why is that we are subject to this sort of indignity? Honestly, forget the frustrations of inefficiency and other idiocy, it is the indignity that makes me the maddest.

As I have mentioned before, the information I was looking for is not top-secret and should ideally be on their website, but it’s not. It is for this reason that I am made to call them at all, it is for this reason that I made to hold back an article for an entire week, and it is for this reason we need the Right To Information bill passed. (check India out)

So we citizens don’t have to suffer indignity silently.

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