|RTI Manch: Awareness Generation & Facilitation of RTI & NREGA|
This project focuses on improving government accountability and advising people on the opportunities and facilities that are available to them via the government. In particular, they focus on raising awareness about Right to Information Act and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). RTI requires timely responses to citizens requesting for information about government authorities. NREGA guarantees 100 days of employment yearly to a rural household in the form of manual labour.
Partner: Manthan, Rajasthan
Coordinators: Mr. Kamal & Mr. Tejaram
Supporting Chapters: Boston, Columbus, JHU
Total Budget 2011: Rs. 6, 17,000/-
Compiled by: Amit Soni (Boston) <email@example.com>
and Preethi Jyothi (Columbus) <firstname.lastname@example.org
Manthan is a non-governmental organization working towards addressing the socio-economic and environmental challenges of the communities in the rural areas of central Rajasthan in India. Manthanís efforts are geared towards improving the lives of all villagers irrespective of their caste, religion or political affiliations.
Project: RTI Manch
Manthan closely administers the project RTI Manch, which was established in 2006 and is currently run by four full-time fellows Kamal, Lakshman, Mohan and Mukesh. Their activities focus on improving government accountability to the people and advising people on the opportunities and facilities that are available to them via the government. In particular, they focus on raising awareness about two acts: Right to Information Act (http://www.
Public Hearing on Electricity, Bheem, Rajasthan, Nov 2011
RTI-Manch's activities include RTI/NREGA awareness campaigns, reviewing the status of implementation of RTI act and suggesting improvements, conducting social audits and public hearings and, collaboration with other NGOs and public organizations on relevant public movements. They have close to 100 student volunteers from the University of Rajasthan. These students have been instrumental in helping RTI Manch in many of their initiatives. They focus on villages near Jaipur and enlighten the residents about both RTI and NREGA; they also try to ensure that the workers are paid as per government regulations. They also work in close collaboration with other prominent NGOs and movements like MKSS, Pradhan and Rozgaar Evam Suchana ka Adhikar Abhiyan (the campaign for right to information and employment).
RTI Manch is a key member of Rozgaar Evam Suchana ka Adhikar Abhiyan (SR Abhiyan). The Abhiyan is administered by a network of NGOs in Rajasthan. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) is also a key member of the SR Abhiyan. SR Abhiyan is working on the various issues including NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), Social Audit for Minimum Wages and Rural Development.
Initially, RTI Manch did not have much of a presence in the field but since it was linked with MKSS, the acceptance and reach was easy among people. After the RTI Act was passed in 2005, the activities of the group grew multifold. RTI Manch volunteers started putting up kiosks around Jaipur city to make people aware about RTI. They also started giving RTI training to youth and other interested groups. They are also consistently involved with other issues like NREGA, social audit and election watch.
Social audit is a good way of bringing out the problems of common people. In this process, people themselves audit the workings of government bodies and check on them. RTI Manch has conducted a social audit on the State Information Commission of Rajasthan and worked towards more effective norms for the functioning of information commissions.
In addition to their campaign to spread awareness about important Acts, RTI Manch also provides crucial support to other movements on the issues of womenís rights, human rights in general and other livelihood issues pertaining to the people.
a) Unearthed a scam of Rs 40 lakhs in November 2011, during public hearing on electricity in Bheem. The hearing helped villagers, living below poverty line, in obtaining compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, which they are entitled to receive under Rajiv Gandhi Vidyutikaran Yojna.
b) With the Lokpal bill emerging as a key issue in the past year in India, RTI Manch has been working closely with National Campaign for Peopleís Right to Information (NCPRI) in drafting a Lokpal Bill which recommends a confederation of 5 institutions, instead of just one Lokpal.
This project has been supported by various chapters of AID for the past 5 years. This year, AID Boston and AID Columbus have approved a total of Rs 5,34,000 and the rest is under consideration by AID JHU. Also, Anirudh, a community volunteer from Durham, North Carolina, conducted a site visit this year. During his visit, he witnessed a dharna that was organized by RTI-Manch demanding the Rajasthan government to adopt a universal pension scheme. This demonstration was part of a movement called Pension Parishad that is prevalent across the country for old age pensions. This dharna got good media response and made it in numerous newspapers in Rajasthan, including a cover story. There was also a surprise visit from the Chief Minister of Rajasthan acknowledging the need for such schemes and he promised to look into this matter further.