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A brief biography
As in 2021 Feb
Right to information activist and anti-corruption crusader Anjali Bhardwaj, 47, described the International Anti-corruption Champions Award bestowed on her by the US as a “recognition of the collective effort of the many, many people associated with the transparency movement across the country”. She said nearly 6 million people filed RTI applications every year, holding the gover nment accountable.
Based in New Delhi, Bhardwaj has been a strong voice upholding the right to transparency for nearly two decades. 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 grassroots.
Speaking to TOI on her journey and what the award means to her, Bhardwaj 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.
“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.”
One of the prime movers in the RTI campaign since 2000, she was always at the forefront demanding an RTI law. After the central legislation was enacted in 2005, she remains one of the strongest advocates for proper implementation of the law, highlighting the gaps and constantly emphasising the need to protect the power of the RTI Act that empowers common people. Bhardwaj has also joined forces with parallel campaigns to check leaks in systems disbursing social security entitlements, rations under the public distribution system and pensions to the poor and marginalised.
Bhardwaj’s journey has been marked by many milestones. The RTI Act was the beginning of securing people’s right to transparency in governance followed by campaigns that played a major role in bringing about the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011, the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and the Grievance Redress Bill among other legislations.