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The Right to Information Act: Turning it into an Effective Tool to Combat Corruption in Governance

8 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2007  

Pritha Sen

Consultant; Ashoka: Innovators for the Public

Date Written: December 31, 2006

Abstract

Following the recent global trend towards recognition of the right to information, the Delhi government passed the Right to Information Act (RTIA) in 2001, which was subsequently followed by eight other Indian states. It is poised to become a national Act in November 2005. Under this Act, any citizen can approach the competent authority in a state department and seek any information on the activities of that department and take copies of documents. If refused, the official concerned is liable to be penalised. Despite this, the real picture continues to be different. Corrupt government departments refuse to part with information, taking full advantage of the common citizenry's lack of awareness regarding the Act. Delhi-based Ashoka Fellow Arvind Kejriwal is using the RTIA to tilt the balance in favour of the people. His idea is simple: create awareness among the people and the state departments about the Act and then use it as a powerful tool to ensure transparency and accountability in state machinery, which in turn will check corruption. How does he do it? He uses three basic tools: public awareness, Delhi's Right to Information Act and a unique platform called the Jan Sunwai (public hearing).

Keywords: social entrepreneurship, ashoka, freedom of information, right to information, transparency

Suggested Citation

Sen, Pritha, The Right to Information Act: Turning it into an Effective Tool to Combat Corruption in Governance (December 31, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=981256 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.981256

Pritha Sen (Contact Author)

Consultant ( email )

Gurgaon
India

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public ( email )

T-13 Green Park Extension
New Delhi
India
91-11-26190969 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ashoka.org

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