[TC-I Call to Action]: Rewarding Good Governance through Gram Panchayat Puruskar

Calling all gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – Google.org‘s Inform and Empower Initiative wants to know the top five panchayats in each of these two states that are using innovation and good governance. According to the Google.org blog,

The prize will be awarded in one of six areas: education, health and nutrition, water supply, rural infrastructure, rural electrification, and resource mobilization. The winning panchayat must include a wide variety of social and income groups, share information with villagers, respond to citizen feedback, and track the quality of programs.

The competition is an opportunity to recognize good, effective governance and encourage quality public services. And if that’s not reason enough, the winning panchayats will receive a cash prize of Rs.5 lakhs (approximately $10,000 USD).

The contest is open for entries from December 12, 2008 through January 25, 2009. For more information, please see the FAQs and Rules.

Studying the Right to Information

Google.org is supporting a study focused on the Right to Information Act as part of their Inform and Empower Initiative. From their blog:

To help us better understand how to make the Right to Information (RTI) more effective in India, we are delighted that Shekhar Singh who is an active member of the people’s movement for the right to information has agreed to conduct a study of the use and implementation of the Act across various stakeholders in India (including public authorities, information commissions, media, judiciary, NGOs and corporate sector). The objective of this study is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the Act, the constraints preventing effective implementation and the ways in which access to information affects people’s lives.

Studies like this are critical in determining ways forward. Since it has been over two years since the Act’s existence, now is a good time to reflect on its impact and learn from challenges. The video below provides more information about Google.org’s Inform and Empower initiative.