Access to Information in the UK and India
[extract] This paper examines the impact of two pieces of transparency legislation: the UK Freedom of Information Act 2005 and the Indian Right to Information Act 2005. It looks at the origins and composition of the laws before examining how the two pieces of legislation function. Both laws have led to transparency and accountability by exposure and the raising of “fire alarms”, with information disclosure being used to bring about accountability as well as, to a more limited extent, reform and behavioural change. Of the two laws, the Indian RTI has proved more “politicised” and more capable of initiating political participation. Yet the “transformative” powers of such reforms are limited by poor implementation and resistance. Moreover, the effectiveness of such laws is shaped by context, with India in particular facing deep and complex socio-political obstacles that may prevent the laws from having the “revolutionary” effects advocates had hoped.