Advocates in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are among those fighting for good governance in South and Central Asia. The result: Government officials are held accountable, and citizens are afforded more information.
In a 2021 speech, Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted corruption-fighting as central to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Blinken cited the Advocata Institute in Sri Lanka as an example of an organization doing just that.
With U.S. support, that institute created a public registry of state-owned enterprises like banks and airlines that operate with big losses, and proposed ways to reform them.
“We will continue to support anti-corruption and transparency groups, investigative journalists, think tanks across the region like the Advocata Institute in Sri Lanka,” Blinken said.
Here are a few other examples in South and Central Asia of efforts to combat corruption and expand the public’s access to key information.
Anjali Bhardwaj advocates for greater public access to information and citizen involvement. As a member of the Right to Information Movement in India, she has fought for whistleblower protections for those who expose abuse of power.
She also helped create legislative report cards that track public officials’ performance, helping to define their responsibilities as public servants.
“No information basically means no accountability,” Bhardwaj said in October. “The last person on the street has to be empowered to ask questions from those in power.”
After a devastating earthquake in 2015, Archana Tamang worked to make sure women and vulnerable populations were included in the recovery efforts. She could do that in her role as gender equality and social inclusion adviser at the government of Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority. There, Tamang:
- Educates women and marginalized communities on their rights.
- Ensures the voices of women and others are heard in the decisionmaking process.
- Ensures women participating in reconstruction receive equal pay.
She also makes sure representatives within the government system abide by Nepal’s new constitution, which was updated in 2015 to be more inclusive and transparent.
The U.S. Agency for International Development supports Nepal’s recovery from the earthquake, including Tamang’s efforts to ensure that women and members of marginalized communities have equal access to reconstruction resources.
“I really wanted to work with the National Reconstruction Authority,” Tamang said. “This was an opportunity for me to contribute to doing away with discrimination, inequality, and exclusion.”
Citizens in Uzbekistan now have access to a one-stop portal for legal services that is expected to promote accountability, combat corruption and build public trust in government bodies.
The Supreme Court of Uzbekistan, with assistance from the United States and the United Nations Development Program, launched the new interactive website in 2018.
The electronic court system has eventually expanded to all 89 of Uzbekistan’s civil courts, replacing paper-based bureaucracy. The system also allows citizens to watch videos of trials and search court cases, schedules and fees.