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  सूचना अधिकार

Do not pay bribe, use your right to information to help India move in right direction.

 

   Right to Information


By Ghanshyam Soni
July 26, 2005

It was April 1996 when about 400 people from nearby rural area arrived in Beawar (Rajasthan) to demand their right to know the details of money spent on the famine projects run by government agencies.

The rural people who started their 40 day sit in (dharna) for their demand perhaps did not imagine that their effort is going to change the public accountability concept in India. It was their determination which sparked this movement.

This movement was born out of the struggles of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), formed on May 1, 1990. MKSS started the village based public hearings called jan sunwai. It was a forum where accounts of public expenditures in a village were discussed among villagers. Village elders or eminent citizens were invited to chair the hearing. The government officials and media alongwith residents of the area were invited to attend the hearing. Jan Sunwais proved to be extremely successful as it forced public expenditure accountability.

The April 1996 dharna demanded an amendment to Panchayati Raj law to allow citizens to obtain certified photocopies of documents in government offices, particularly records of expenditure like bills, vouchers and muster rolls.

The movement at Beawar lead to the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) in 1997.

The Panchayati Raj law was amended and the Rajasthan RTI law was finally passed on the 1st of May 2000. On the same day, amendments were made in the Panchayat Raj Act, giving the Ward Sabha legal status and the right to conduct social audits of works carried out in its area. The first national convention on RTI was held at Beawar (Rajasthan) in 2001 to share and consolidate experiences from across the country. In 2002, the Indian Parliament passed the National Right to Information law.

Today many states have introdued the Right to Information law, including Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir.

On 15 June, 2005 the President gave assent to the Central Government’s ground-breaking Right to Information Act of 2005. This Act, notified in the Gazette of India on 21 June, gives the citizens of India the right to request and receive public records from the Central Government so that they may hold government services and their bureaucrats responsible for their actions and inactions.




Some Links:
1. National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI), India

2. Interview: Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey Transparency and Poverty in India


 

   

 
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