Right to Information

Articles on the right to information, it’s uses, challenges, opportunities and major campaigns using the right to information
The right to information has become a major tool in the hands of poor and marginalised people in the quest to make governments accountable. With the development of social audits, it has been used successfully in combating corruption in many parts of the world. This section presents a few articles on this subject. You will also find links to a few documentaries, talks and other materials on the right to information campaign in India. For an extensive collection of links on right to information, click here.

“To be ruled is to be kept an eye on, inspected, spied on, regulated, indoctrinated, sermonized, listed and checked off, estimated, appraised, censured, ordered about…to be ruled is at every operation, transaction, movement, to be noted, registered, counted, priced, admonished, prevented, reformed, redressed, corrected”. Proudhon quoted by James Scott in Seeing like a state. The power of information is often used by those in powerful positions to control others.  The right to information movement inverts this principle and turns the gaze on those in positions of power by making their actions visible and thus amenable to democratic control.  Sharing information […]

Politics, technology & accountability II

In an earlier post I asked if there are technological answers to the problem of accountability, or if accountability is purely a political problem needing political solutions.  I then argued that while accountability is best seen as a political issue, technology can have an impact on the political terrain, and thus have an impact on accountability.  Let me illustrate this an example. Micro-politics of accountability At the heart of accountability in government programmes lies the process of specifying a set of responsibilities, clearly recording activities of various agents, cross verifying this information and holding agents accountable if there are breaches […]

Politics, technology & accountability I

Improving accountability depends on political and social initiatives, and not technological solutions. But technology can shape society and politics in limited ways. This article looks briefly at how the Unique id project can help in improving accountability of the government to people in India.

Will the Unique ID project improve accountability?

Good introductory video on using right to information to combat corruption by Arvind Kejriwal Arvind Kejriwal has been at the heart of an inspiring campaign to combat corruption by using the right to information. He spearheaded a campaign in Delhi along with many other groups that popularised the use of right to information. Arvind got the Magasassay for his work. The videos below contain a talk he gave on using RTI, which I think is a good introductory material for people with an interest on how it could be used, and what it means.

Fighting corruption using right to information: Arvind Kejriwal’s talk

It looks like Government of Bihar has launched a Right to information call centre. Personally, I think this is a great idea, though I dont know how it works at this point. If found a video about it in You Tube that has been widely televised. This is a eight minute clip about that appeals to different groups of people to use it, and gives an idea about how it could be done.

Right to information call centre in Bihar: Video clip

This documentary by Jan Madhyam Productions gives a very good introduction to the right to information campaign in India and on how RTI is used with social audits to combat corruption. In case you have trouble viewing it, please go to the permanalink by clicking the title above, or here http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3238128636848285898

Documentary on MKSS and right to information campaign

I wish to share with you a message of hope in this anniversary issue of Humanscape. As a recent entrant in the world of social action, I have been asking myself whether people’s campaigns are effective at all. Are they capable of bringing the concerns of people into the political centre-stage and affect the way government works? In two short years of my association with such campaigns, I have gained hope that a well-organised and sustained campaign can indeed bring meaningful changes to the lives of poor and marginalized people. I have drawn inspiration from campaigns on several issues; but […]

A Message of Hope