“From being always overpowered, he actually felt powerful.” -Mr. Shailesh Gandhi IntroductionIn the backdrop of slogans like “Hamara paisa, Hamara hisab” and “Ham Janenge, Ham Jiyenge”, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (Association for the Empowerment of Workers and Peasants), a People`s Organisation undertook the bold initiative to arouse the common people about their right to seek information which eventually led to a legislation called ‘Right to Information Act, 2005.’ By mid 1994, MKSS had formulated a specific demand for copies of financial records of expenditure incurred in the local government institutions including Panchayats. However, since there was no legal entitlement to access relevant information even within the Panchayat, the MKSS had to mostly rely on informal means and sympathetic officials for access to these documents. Once procured, these records were closely examined by the people of the concerned Panchayats. Public hearings were organized where residents came together to verify and audit the work of their Panchayat through individual and collective testimonies. Thus, the demand for transparency, accountability, and redressal through social audit (physical audit by the people), began to take shape. The first Public Hearing the MKSS organized in December 1994 established the importance of information for the people, and… Read full this story
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