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Evaluating the Right to Information

People in developing countries often lack information that is critical for their well-being. For example, in India, the poor often do not know what they are entitled to and what services are available to them. I recently attended an international conference on the Right to Public Information at the Carter Center and learned that there are approximately 70 RTI (Right to Information) laws in the world. However surprisingly, little has been done to evaluate whether these laws are accomplishing their stated and unstated objectives.

Access to meaningful information is critical to's Inform and Empower initiative in India. To help us better understand how to make the Right to Information (RTI) more effective in India, we are delighted that Shekhar Singh who is an active member of the people's movement for the right to information has agreed to conduct a study of the use and implementation of the Act across various stakeholders in India (including public authorities, information commissions, media, judiciary, NGOs and corporate sector). The objective of this study is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the Act, the constraints preventing effective implementation and the ways in which access to information affects people's lives.

By supporting this study, we hope to generate awareness about the Act, explore the possibility of creating tools for Information Commissioners and other government officials to better use the information, and systematize the way RTI requests could made publicly available online or through other channels. We want to help RTI achieve its full potential and hope that this study will be a first step in that direction.

An editorial in yesterday's The Indian Express highlighted the importance the RTI, and the effectiveness of its implementation.

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