With over four million information applications filed every year, the Indian Right to Information (RTI) Act is the most extensively used transparency legislation globally. By empowering millions of citizens at thousands of locations across the country to question public servants and authorities, the RTI Act has initiated the vital task of redistributing power in a democratic framework.
The law has been owned by people in India, who have quickly understood that the right to information is critical for the realization of other constitutional rights. More important, they have been innovatively using the law to demand accountability from the government on a range of issues — from their ration and pensions to big ticket scams; from petty corruption, unchecked inefficiency and unrepentant apathy, to power mongering and patronage at the highest levels. Common people are increasingly seeking answers from the high and mighty. For example, there was the peanut vendor who sold peanuts outside the gate of the district commissioner's house and filed an RTI application demanding a copy of the commissioner's official car log book, as he frequently saw the official car ferrying family members and personal guests.