U.S., India Seek to Spread Transparency Experience

9 November 2010

The United States and India this week announced a joint effort to export lessons from the Indian Right to Information experience.

President Obama Nov. 7 pledged “approximately” $1 million “to support the work of Indian civil society in sharing their best practices abroad.”

The Indian government promised a matching commitment of in-kind assistance “that will harness India’s technical expertise to assist governments in harnessing technology, improving services, and enhancing democratic accountability,” according to the White House.

The announcement came after the president, during his visit to India, spent 30 minutes touring an exposition put on by 10 Indian open government groups about innovations in access to information.

In his remarks, the president said,

Now, in a new collaboration on open government, our two countries are going to share our experience, identify what works, and develop the next generation of tools to empower citizens.  And in another example of how American and Indian partnership can address global challenges, we’re going to share these innovations with civil society groups and countries around the world.  We’re going to show that democracy, more than any other form of government, delivers for the common man —- and woman.

Few additional details of the planned “US-India Partnership on Open Government” were made available. The announcement says that the initiative will be led by Innovation Advisor to the Indian Prime Minister Sam Pitroda and United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra.

The president‘s visit to the Expo for Democracy and Open Government in Mumbai is described in detail in a posting on the White House blog by Samantha Power, Senior Director and Special Assistant for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.

In a recent speech at the United Nations, Obama called for “specific commitments to promote transparency.”  (See previous Freedominfo.org report.)

In light of the announcement, the journal Public Administration Review has provided open access to an article on the first four years of the Indian law, written by Alasdair Roberts, Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Policy, Suffolk University Law School.

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