The right to know

The role of the media is essential in promoting good governance.

In upholding freedom and in expanding education, social reform, and change, the importance of the media is unique.

This uniqueness is best explained by a statement made by Mahatma Gandhi.

One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it.

Another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects.”

Democracy necessitates that people should have the right to know the activities of the government, especially the decision of the government that affects their life, liberty, and property.

To make choices regarding people’s participation in the society, information is important.

Adequate information helps people to decide rationally.

The media both print and electronic thus helps people know what is happening around the world and equip them with the elements of modernity.

The media also make public services more approachable to the people by publicizing information.

A responsible media similarly helps in the socialization of people into citizenship, democratization of the state and political society.

Institutionalization of civic culture through free flow of information, and rationalized use of power in social relations.

In a democracy like Bangladesh, the media can also help voters with the contents of civic and political education and strengthen the culture of democracy.

Article 39 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of thought as well as speech, expression, and the press, subject to some restrictions.

This implies that the right to information has become a human and constitutional right for the Bangladeshi people.

This suggests that free access to information on matters of public importance has become a core of the governing process.

As a result, eventually, in 2009 the government ratified the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

In fact, the key element of good governance postulates three essential features: legitimacy, accountability, and transparency the last element being the core basis of media culture. 

Governance is the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage a nation’s affairs. Governance that steers in normative order to achieve its goals.

Law and order, human and national security, voice and participation and the promotion of public goods — is called good governance.

According to the World Bank “good governance is epitomized by predictable and enlightened policy making; a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos.

An executive arm of government accountable for its actions; a strong civil society participating in public affairs; and all behaving under the rule of law.”

Transparency, including the right to disclosure, can thus be an important category of instrumental freedom. 

The freedoms of thought, conscience, and speech are recognized in the Constitution as fundamental rights and the right to information is an alienable part of it.

Since all powers of the republic belong to the people, it is necessary to ensure the right to information for their empowerment.

The RTI Act in Bangladesh makes provisions for ensuring the free flow of information and people’s right to information.

The right to information shall ensure that transparency and accountability in all public, autonomous, and statutory organizations and in private organizations run on government.

So, right to information is a crucial ground for good governance. Media as a key component of the civil society is testing the rights given to them in public affairs. 

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