From Jan Sunwai to Rajasthan Right to Hearing Act 2012: Fostering Transparency and Accountability through Citizen Engagement

AuthorVidhi Agrawal,Hari Nair
Published date01 December 2018
Date01 December 2018
DOI10.1177/2321023018797537
Subject MatterArticles
Article
From Jan Sunwai to Rajasthan Right
to Hearing Act 2012: Fostering
Transparency and Accountability
through Citizen Engagement
Vidhi Agrawal1
Hari Nair2
Abstract
This study examines the evolution of the movement for transparency towards redressing grievances
and holding public servants accountable to the people. It explains how three legislations—Right to
Information Act (RTI, India, 2005), Rajasthan Guaranteed Delivery of Public Services Act (RGDPS,
2011) and the Right to Hearing Act (RTH, Rajasthan, 2012)—form part of a continuum in the people’s
struggle for transparency. The analysis of the three acts as a continuum is significant because together
these are gradually changing the administration-centric Indian polity into a citizen-centric one. If the RTI
Act ensured an informed citizenry, the RGDPS Act recognized the government’s duty to provide public
services and the RTH Act guaranteed that the people were heard by the government. This right to
hearing may be traced back to the Jan Sunwai, which was a pivotal forum in the struggle for transparency
because it functioned as a dialogical space between the people and the state, as well as a forum for
social auditing and civic engagement. Of late however, the Jan Sunwai is being transformed by digital
technology. This transformation poses the challenge of converting a participatory polity alive with
people’s voices into a transactional state regimented by technology.
Keywords
Jan Sunwai, RTI, Right to Hearing Act, social audit, transparency
Introduction
This study unpacks the evolution of the movement for transparency in Rajasthan since the promulgation of
the Right to Information Act (RTI, India, 2005), which is now recognized as a piece of ground-breaking
legislation comparable to its peers anywhere in the world. Information indeed is power, and if the RTI Act
1 Doctoral Scholar, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Vidya Vihar, Rajasthan.
2 Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Vidya Vihar, Rajasthan.
Studies in Indian Politics
6(2) 282–296
© 2018 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/2321023018797537
http://journals.sagepub.com/home/inp
Corresponding author:
Vidhi Agrawal, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, BITS Pilani, Vidya Vihar, Rajasthan, India.
E-mail: vidhi.agrawal@pilani.bits-pilani.ac.in

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