Shillong, Meghalaya (March 10-12, 2011)
In a unique and vibrant assertion of democratic rights, over 800 participants from 23 States, came together at the 3rd National RTI Convention in Shillong (March 10-12, 2011). The Convention was organized by the National Campaign For People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), and hosted by the Meghalaya Right to Information Movement (MRTIM). The Convention is notable for two reasons: as the first Convention after the RTI Act was passed, it provided an opportunity to reflect on the law and its implementation; and as the nation grapples with pervasive corruption, to move the RTI movement beyond transparency to accountability.
In an indication of how strongly the demand for transparency and accountability resonates with the people, more than 800 self-funded delegates from 23 states participated in the Convention. Plenary topics included: Reclaiming Democracy: The Power of Information and the Accountability of Power; Peoples’ Power: RTI and the Movements; RTI Law – Potential and Challenge; Information Commissions, Government and the People and were addressed by Aruna Roy (Founding member, MKSS and NCPRI and member, NAC), Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary (Governor of Meghalaya), James Lygdoh (Former Chief Election Commissioner), Harsh Mander (Human Rights Activists and Member, NAC), Trilochan Sastry (Dean, IIM-Bangalore and Founding Member, ADR), Usha Ramanathan (Law Researcher), Satyanand Mishra (Chief Information Commissioner), Justice J.S. Verma (Former Chief Justice of India), Justice Shah (Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court), Arvind Kejriwal (RTI Activist), Amitabh Mukhopadhyay (DG, CAG), Saikat Datta (Asst Editor, Outlook), Kavita Srivastav (General Secretary, PUCL), Vrinda Grover (Advocate, Delhi High Court), Paul Diwakar (Dalit Rights Activist), Tripurari Sharma (National School of Drama), Annie Raja (National Federation of Indian Women), and Ramalingam Raju (National Alliance for People’s Movements) amongst others.
Together the participants split in 18 different workshops spread over three sessions to discuss the wide range of issues and challenges facing the country today. Workshops discussed inter alia the implementation of RTI, Judicial Accountability, environment, human rights, discrimination, natural resources, self governance, social audits, youth, media, social services and entitlements, electoral politics, right to food, agriculture, corporations and other private bodies, education, UID and other new information regimes, north east institutions. Each workshop concluded with resolutions for the coming year, and discussions will be distilled into resource material for other activists and organizations interested in these issues.
While the detailed resolutions will form part of a more comprehensive charter for the NCPRI, the Convention delegates adopted by consensus, the following “Shillong Declaration” to carry forward the objectives of challenging corruption, deepening democratic practice, and giving more meaning to the precepts of transparency and accountability in India.
[Link to declaration made by the participants of the Third National RTI Convention can be accessed from here]