Picked for the International Anti-Corruption Champions Award by the US administration, RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj on Wednesday said the recognition is “significant” and will help bring focus towards the movement at a time when those speaking truth to power are being “targeted and attacked” in the country.
Bhardwaj, the founder of the Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), a citizens’ group with a mandate to promote transparency, has served as an active member of the Right to Information Movement in India for over two decades.
She is one of the 12 “courageous” individuals named by the Biden administration for the newly-instituted International Anti-Corruption Champions Award.
“It (the award) is a recognition of the vibrant nature of the movement working for transparency and extensive use of RTI across the country. This will help bring focus towards the movement at a time when those asking questions to those in power are being targeted, attacked,” Bhardwaj said.
Nearly 80 transparency activists have lost their lives in their quest for information and accountability, she said, adding that this award is a “recognition of the collective effort of people and groups across the country who hold power to account.”
The 48-year-old activist, who is also a co-convener of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), has played a major role in bringing about the Right to Information Act, 2005, the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011, and the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
In a statement announcing the inaugural award, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration recognises that “we will only be successful in combating these issues by working in concert with committed partners, including courageous individuals who champion anti-corruption efforts and countries working to fulfil their commitments to international anti-corruption
“For that reason, I am announcing a new International Anti-Corruption Champions Award, recognising individuals who have worked tirelessly, often in the face of adversity, to defend transparency, combat corruption, and ensure accountability in their own countries,” he added.
Besides Bhardwaj, the other recipients of the award are Ruslan Ryaboshapka of Ukraine, Ibrahima Kalil Gueye of Guinea, Ardian Dvorani of Albania, Diana Salazar of Ecuador, Sophia Pretrick of the Federated States of Micronesia, Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro of Guatemala, Ibrahima Kalil Gueye of Guinea, Dhuha A Mohammed of Iraq, Bolot Temirov of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla of Libya, Victor Sotto of the Philippines and Francis Ben Kaifala of Sierra Leone.