Meeto Memorial Award 2017

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The Meeto Memorial Award 2017 honoured Amrita Johri who is a member of Satark Nagrik Sangathan (Society for Citizens’ Vigilance Initiative) and Working Committee member, National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information

Amrita Johri has been working with Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) since 2007. SNS is a citizens’ group with a mandate to promote transparency and accountability in government functioning and to encourage active participation of citizens in governance. SNS’s key strategy has been to assist people exercise their right to information and empower individuals to use the RTI Act. Amrita works closely with women in slums in Delhi to create awareness about their rights and entitlements and assists them in using the RTI Act to access information from the government. On the basis of information accessed under the RTI Act, the Sangathan mobilises people to hold the government accountable for delivery of basic rights, entitlements and services like ration, pensions, health, sanitation, education etc. by organising public hearings, filings complaints and petitions etc.

SNS has pioneered the effort of using the RTI Act to make elected representatives- MPs, MLAs & Councillors- more responsive and accountable towards people. Amrita works with people living in slums to create awareness about the roles and responsibilities of elected representatives and to help people access information on the performance of their legislators. The Sangathan develops ‘report cards’ on the performance of elected representatives using information accessed under the RTI Act. The ‘report cards’ are widely disseminated through public meetings and information camps in bastis and also through partnerships with the mainstream media. Amrita assists communities to use the ‘report cards’ to effectively engage with their MLAs, MPs and Councillors to address the development needs of the community.

Amrita has been closely involved with initiatives to carry out people led assessments and research on the implementation of the RTI Act in India. She is a founding member of RAAG (RTI Assessment & Advocacy Group), set up in 2008 by RTI activists, researchers and academics to create a group dedicated to the ongoing assessment and advocacy of the transparency and accountability regime in India. RaaG in collaboration with the National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information, SNS, MKSS and groups working on the RTI Act across the country has been undertaking peoples’ assessments of the implementation of the RTI Act in India. Amrita has co-authored two such national assessments- the ‘Peoples’ monitoring of the RTI regime in India 2011-13’, released in 2014, and ‘Tilting the Balance of Power: Adjudicating the RTI Act’, released in 2017. The findings of these assessments inform the collective advocacy and campaigning efforts to improve governance, implementation of the RTI Act and delivery of rights, services and entitlements to the poor and marginalized.

Amrita is a member of the working committee of the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI).The NCPRI played a pivotal role in campaigning for the Right to Information Act in India. Since the passage of the law, the NCPRI has been campaigning for effective implementation of the RTI Act. Amrita has been involved in various initiatives and campaigns of the NCPRI to protect the law from dilution and amendments. Amrita works closely with NCPRI’s advocacy for a series of anti-corruption and grievance redress measures to tackle corruption and redress grievances of people - the Lokpal&Lokayuktas Act, the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Act and the Grievance Redress Bill.

Amrita writes about issues of transparency and accountability in India. She has co-authored the status report on the RTI Act in India published in ‘Empowerment through Information’, a 2-volume set covering the status of RTI in countries in the South Asia region. She has co-written articles for various newspapers, journals and magazines in India on issues of transparency and accountability.

Amrita studied for an MSc degree in Social Policy at the London School of Economics & Political Science and did her BA in Journalism from the Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University.

Amrita Johri is a woman of great principle, initiative and commitment and we are proud to have awarded her the Meeto Memorial Award in memory of another wonderful woman who represented the same ideals.