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Right to Information in India

July 9, 2010

c/o NYTimes.com

India’s Right to Information law has given the poor a powerful tool to ensure they get their slice of their country’s pie.  The New York Times reports that India passed a Right to Information law about five years ago to “promote accountability and transparency” in the public sectors of India’s government. In fact, the article details the story of a woman who was able to receive a housing grant once she was able to inquire and receive information about how her previous neighbors or associates were able to get a hold of those same grants.

From the looks of it, since this law’s major goal is to promote public transparency, it isn’t going to be a matter of jumping through too many hoops in a country mostly known for its intricate bureaucratic nature. As the article notes, if a woman who was living with her three small children in little side-street mud huts with a grass thatch roof can manage to inquire and receive information, this law must really have opened up doors for accessibility.

For our purposes here at SAPP, perhaps India’s new law is a grander step for overall transparency in Indian organizations, including non-profit and charitable organizations as well. This law seems to be easing some of the intense apprehension that citizens may have about where their money is going. After all, with a more informed public, in turn, more informed and public-serving officials or representatives will be elected… and a generally more accountable population can emerge… gradually.

What are your thoughts on this law? Do you know anyone who could really use this new law? Do you know someone who has already utilized it? We’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

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