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Technology for Transparency: Government Accountability in India

Corruption is a global threat. It affects developed and developing countries, the private and public sectors, and nonprofit and charitable organizations. The Transparency International 2010 annual report recently pointed out that governments need to integrate anti-corruption measures in all spheres to fight corruption. It is evident that the world needs more than ever before a holistic approach to fight corruption, including battling its the causes, like poverty and weak governance.

As the Technology for Transparency Network has mapped different transparency projects around the world, we have been excited to discover how enthusiasm for a more ethical and transparent society is flourishing everywhere, both with the increase use of technologies and with a growing awareness that corruption should not be tolerated by citizens.

A protagonist of these changes is India, the largest, most diverse democracy in the world. India is a pioneer in open government and open access strategies with an exponentially increasing innovation in technologies. It is not a coincidence that the country that is producing the cheapest laptop in the world is also partnering with other countries such as the United States to foster open government initiatives:

India is at the vanguard of figuring out how to exploit technology and innovation on behalf of democratic accountability. U.S.-based groups, as well as those throughout the developed and developing world, could learn an enormous amount from these efforts. And India may well become a kind of “city on the hill” that other countries look to for lessons on not only how to pull millions of people out of poverty, but also on how to strengthen democratic accountability.
US Open Government Blog

Important to mention is that India is a federated state with a diversity of languages and realities. That is why many of the initiatives are focused on local transparency and how to hold local authorities accountable, such as the Accountability Initiative, the first case of our second round of global case studies. Project Director Yamini Aiyar shares the project's mission to improve public service delivery:

Our big vision is to promote an informed and accountable public delivery system. We do this in two ways. For such a system to exist, the government system has to exist in a form that is transparent and responsive to citizens’ needs, and citizens must be empowered with information so they can place their demands and push for greater accountability. All our work is to pull these two threads together. PAISA and Expenditure Track are examples of that. The second aspect of our work is to generate debate on the accountability issue.

Visit the Technology for Transparency website to explore other technology for transparency projects from India.

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