14 May 2012

Indian government taking steps to facilitate greater access to information

The Indian government is seeking to establish a call centre and interactive website to assist people seeking access to information to complete requests and appeals.

The proposal is designed to assist citizens that are having difficulty requesting information, particularly due to illiteracy, by allowing them to make requests by telephone and online.

It is also hoped that the proposal will save money by reducing inefficiencies associated with managing the request process across multiple government departments.

The online portal will provide internet banking systems to allow citizens to pay fees associated with information requests and will enable citizens to track their applications and appeals by producing a unique reference number.

The proposed call centre would operate from 8am to 8pm seven days a week and enable citizens to receive assistance with making and tracking requests for information via voice calls and SMS.

Access to information activists in South Africa, who have long been calling for the South African government to simplify the process for requesting information in the country, will be watching the initiative closely to examine its impact on promoting transparency within government and empowering citizens to exercise their right to know.