Campaigning for the Right to Information in India
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Problems and Purpose
The organized push from the National Campaign for People's Right to Information, sought to require all central, state and local government institutions to meet public demands for information. This was meant to facilitate, in turn, the following:
- The empowerment of citizens to demand greater government accountability.
- The expansion of citizen participation in decision-making
- A reduction in state corruption.
The Campaign sought to bring attention to the failure of public authorities to release information or to respond to requests for information thereby forcing India's Central Information Commission to reconsider - and, ultimately, legislate - citizens' right to information.
Over nine years, the National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) mobilised a diverse network of people's organisations, activists, researchers and state officials to campaign for national reforms to increase the accessibility of public information. The campaign for the Right to Information and the passing of the Right to Information Act are the result of a broader national movement to ensure that the Indian state remains accountable to its citizens at the local, state and national levels.
Originating Entities and Funding
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Participant Recruitment and Selection
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Methods and Tools Used
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Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
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Influence, Outcomes and Effects
The results of the project are as follows:
The Right to Information Act is passed by Indian Parliament in 2005, resulting in:
- citizens' right to request information from a public authority and to be guaranteed a response within 30 days (or longer, depending on the inquiry)
- the computersisation of records of all public authorities to facilitate the dissemination of information to the public
- the publication of information about the activities and expenditure of public authorities.
The Right to Information Act increases transparency and the possibility for greater accountability of the Indian state and its institutions to citizens. The push for the Right to Information in India occurred alongside a decade of unprecedented economic growth in the country. Prior to 2005, official mechanisms for ensuring state accountability to Indian citizens were woefully inadequate as large public works projects spread to rural areas and corporate firms penetrated sectors including agriculture, urban infrastructure and public service delivery.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Specific Effort Made to Include Disadvantaged Groups
Extensive effort to address disadvantaged groups
The National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) was composed of a wide range of actors and organisations, many of which were composed of poor and historically marginalised population groups. The Right to Information Act guarantees the right of all citizens, regardless of background or identity, to secure access to information under the control of public authorities.
Specific Effort Made to Strengthen Democratic Capacities
Yes, the Right to Information Act is a new, critical mechanism which enchances citizens' capacities to demand accountable, democratic governance.
The original version of this case study first appeared on Vitalizing Democracy in 2010 and was a contestant for the 2011 Reinhard Mohn Prize. It was originally submitted by Gregory Barrett.