India's Right to Information

Friday, October 04, 2013


India, infamous for its bureaucracy and corruption, has one of the strongest freedom of information laws in the world. OTM reporter Jamie York went to India to talk to Subhash Agrawal, Nikhil Dey, Aruna Roy, Shailesh Gandhi and Sowmya Kidambi (and to hear Shankar Singh sing) about the struggle to achieve the law and the power and pitfalls of such a transformative tool.


Subhash Agrawal, Nikhil Dey, Shailesh Gandhi, Sowmya Kidambi, Aruna Roy and Shankar Singh

Produced by:

Jamie York

Comments [5]

Jamie York from NYC

Hi Mark,

Thanks for listening, I'm glad you liked the piece.

I can't speak to the facts in the update that followed the piece, I didn't write it. But as for the "howler" that Andhra Pradesh is a "rural state' - it is. So is New York. They may have major metropolitan areas, I reported from Hyderabad, I live in New York City, but the vast majority of the rest of these states are sparsely populated and rural. In the case of AP it's 78 million people living outside Hyderabad.

And we'll have to agree to disagree about whether naive to think ordinary people in India are using RTI effectively. I stand by my assertion that it's a remarkably democratic tool, created by the people for the people.

The piece of music that followed the piece is an RTI anthem sung in Telugu by Charul and Vinay Link:

Thanks again for your comments.

Oct. 16 2013 10:14 AM
Mark Chataway from UK

It was a good piece although it sounded a bit naïve and my uneasiness was reinforced by a couple of factual howlers.

Andhra Pradesh is in Southeast India but it's only "rural" if you consider New York State "rural": Hyderabad, the capital of AP, has a population of about 7 million and is the centre of India's biotech industry. Rahul Gandhi is not the Vice-President of India (he's Vice-President of the Congress party and has no official government position) and, unless you've scooped the entire Indian press corps, he's not yet "running to be Prime Minister". He may turn out to be the Congress candidate but the current PM (also from Congress) may not be entirely keen on the idea. It's one of the great running stories of Indian politics.

Beyond these, where does my uneasiness come from? The Right to Information Act is a great tool but some of the NGOs which use it so well have a very partisan agenda and at a national level it is now one of the big weapons in any party's arsenal. Those you featured may not use it that way but it's not always a question of the honest poor against the corrupt and privileged. As in other democracies, one man's corruption is another's pragmatism

Oct. 11 2013 07:20 PM
Savannah S. from Athens, GA

I would also love to know the name of the artist who sings the song at the end of the piece!
Thanks so much!

Oct. 06 2013 11:47 PM
John Metcalf from Michigan

A powerful commentary on the power of the people Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Oct. 05 2013 08:27 PM
bombaytalkie from NYC

Great piece, guys!

Can you please give me info on the song playing at the very end?

Thank you.

Oct. 05 2013 12:41 PM

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