A 47 year old Right to information activist and anti-corruption crusader Anjali Bhardwaj was conferred the International Anti-Corruption Champions Awards by US. She depicted the award as a “recognition of the collective effort of the many, many people associated with the transparency movement across the country”. Almost 6 million people have filed RTI application every year considering the government responsible, she said.
Anjali has been a strong voice for keeping up with the right to transparency for nearly 20 years. She is a co-convener of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) and a founding member of Satark Nagrik Sangathan that she set up in 2003 to steer work at the basic level.
She has been one of the main players in the RTI campaign since 2000 and also at the prime edge for requesting the RTI law. The law was finally enacted in 2005, after which she remains as a powerful lawyer for the appropriate establishment of the law, highlighting the gaps and continuously focusing on the need to secure the RTI Act that empowers the common individuals. With checking leaks in the systems disbursing social security entitlements, rations under the public distribution system and pensions to the poor and marginalised she also joined the forces side by side.
Her journey has been set by many breakthroughs, beginning from the RTI Act that protects people’s right to transparency in governance followed by campaigns that played a crucial role in bringing about the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and the Grievance Redress Bill among other legislations.
She had spoken the news media The Times of India about her journey and what the award meant to her, she said, “I was informed by the US administration in the evening that I have been selected for the award. Such awards not only highlight the work being done by those working in difficult circumstances on transparency and anti-corruption but also bring into focus the challenges faced,” and “Showing truth to power always has a backlash. The path is tough as is evident in the fact that nearly 80 transparency activists have lost their lives over the last 15 years while they tried to bring out the truth. Hence, this award is a recognition of the commitment that activists have shown to transparency.”