Hindustan Times, April 30, 2007

An NGO in Jaipur has launched a unique project to generate awareness among people at the grass-roots level about using the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a tool to combat corruption in Rajasthan.

The project was launched earlier this month by the Centre for Consumer Action, Research and Training (CART), an initiative of Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS), a body that focuses on consumer rights issues. CUTS will work jointly with the Partnership for Transparency Fund in their venture.

“This one-year project will focus on awareness generation at the grassroots, empowering civil society organisations, and encouraging common citizens to apply the RTI Act as a tool in addressing corrupt practices in the governance,” Pradeep S Mehta, secretary general of CUTS, said.

The initiative aims at creating a conducive environment at the grassroots that will make governance more transparent, accountable and within the reach of the common people, he said.

The RTI Act, enacted by parliament in 2005, has huge potential in ensuring greater public participation in the country’s governance, eliminating corruption and empowering the people.

But even after one-and-a-half years, the general awareness about the Act is abysmally low, especially among the rural populace.
“There is a need to generate awareness and train people on how to seek information and use the RTI Act to their benefit … so we thought of this project,” Mehta said.

CUTS was started in Rajasthan in 1983 and works on several areas of public interest as a research, advocacy and networking organisation. Its CART initiative works towards enabling people to assert their rights through a strong consumer movement.