RTI activist Anjali to get US Anti-Corruption award

Anjali Bhardwaj among 12 winners of US International Anti-Corruption Champions Award

An official statement said that Bhardwaj has served as an active member of the Right to Information (RTI) movement in India for over two decades

Anjali Bhardwaj was among 12 people chosen on Wednesday for the International Anti-Corruption Champions Award constituted by the United States Department of State with the transparency activist saying the recognition comes at a time those "showing truth to the power" are facing attacks.

Bhardwaj is among 12 people who were chosen for the award, launched by Secretary of State Antony J Blinken to "recognise individuals who have demonstrated leadership, courage, and impact in preventing, exposing, and combating corruption". The award "advances" US' support of anti-corruption leaders and innovators.

A relentless activist who has raised questions about the Narendra Modi Modi government's several programmes like PM-CARES, electoral bonds and amendments to the Right to Information (RTI) Act among other things, the Joe Biden administration's choice assumes significance. In his telephonic interactions with the Prime Minister, Biden had stressed the need for upholding democratic norms around the world.

Bhardwaj said that it is "really a recognition of the work of a very large collective in India" and it comes at a time when the country is facing "serious challenges" in terms of the RTI law being amended and the attacks faced by those who "show the truth to the power".

"This is a long struggle. This recognition is something that supports this struggle. When we have electoral bonds that are legitimising large amounts of anonymous funding (of parties), when laws that are actually empowering people are weakened, it is great to support," she told DH.

Those chosen for the award include Albanian Judge and Member of the Justice Appointments Council Ardian Dvorani, Director General for Electronic Payments at the Central Bank of Iraq Dhuha A Mohammed,  investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of Factcheck.kg from Kyrgyz Republic Bolot Temirov and Libya’s National Oil Corporation Chairman Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla among others.

An official statement said that Bhardwaj has served as an active member of the Right to Information (RTI) movement in India for over two decades. 

Founder of Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), she helped the organisation create legislative report cards that tracked the performance of representatives across a series of categories, defining roles and responsibilities in their capacity as public servants.

The SNS is a citizens’ group with a mandate to promote transparency and accountability in government and encourage active participation of citizens, it said.

"Additionally, Bhardwaj is a convener of the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information, which successfully advocated for the creation of an anti-corruption ombudsman and the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Act, offering protection to those who expose corruption and abuse of power," the statement said.

Other winners also included Investigative Advisor for the Compliance Investigation Division of the Pohnpei State Auditor of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Sophia Pretrick, Chief of the Special Prosecutors Office Against Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro and Chair and co-founder of the Organization for Positive Change Ibrahima Kalil Gueye.

Victor Sotto, 30-year-old Mayor of Pasig in the Philippines, Francis Ben Kaifala, Commissioner of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who pioneered the restructuring of the prosecutorial service in Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office were the other winners.

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