India’s Anjali Bharadwaj is among the 12 winners from around the world to be honoured with the International Anti-Corruption Champions Award. A statement from the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken states that the award “recognises individuals who have worked tirelessly, often in the face of adversity, to defend transparency, combat corruption, and ensure accountability in their own countries.”
Besides Bharadwaj, the other recipients of the award are Ardian Dvorani of Albania, Diana Salazar of Ecuador, Sophia Pretrick of the Federated States of Micronesia, Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro of Guatemala, Ibrahima Kalil Gueye of Guinea, Dhuha A Mohammed of Iraq, Bolot Temirov of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla of Libya, Victor Sotto of The Philippines, Francis Ben Kaifala of Sierra Leone, and Ruslan Ryaboshapka of Ukraine.
Referring to the anti-corruption efforts of the US, Blinken said the country was the first to criminalise foreign bribery and with the help of foreign allies, has been able to recover and return more than USD 1 billion in stolen public assets in the last two years.
“We use a range of tools to promote accountability for corrupt individuals, combat impunity globally, and engage in multilateral fora to fight corruption and strengthen citizen engagement,” he added.
Winds of change have been spelt in the US, ever since Joe Biden has taken over as the President. During his election campaign, Biden had highlighted that he would step up efforts to further democracy worldwide as one of the priorities of his administration’s foreign policy.
“Around the world, corruption threatens security and stability, hinders economic growth, undermines democracy and human rights, destroys trust in public institutions, facilitates transnational crime, and siphons away public and private resources. The Biden administration recognises that we will only be successful in combating these issues by working in concert with committed partners, including courageous individuals who champion anti-corruption efforts and countries working to fulfil their commitments to international anti-corruption standards,” Blinken had said.
Who is Anjali Bharadwaj?
A vociferous critic of anti-democratic practices, Bharadwaj has been a strong advocate of the Right to Information movement in India for over two decades now. The Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) founder has made consistent efforts to push for the creation of an anti-corruption ombudsman and the WhistleBlowers' Protection Act that protects those who are fighting against corruption.
Under Bharadwaj’s leadership, SNS has drafted legislative report cards that have assessed the performance of representatives across categories, defining their roles and responsibilities.
It was in 2019 that the Supreme Court acted on her petition, issuing an order to the government to fill vacancies in the Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)