Anjali

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2009

Citation

This profile was prepared when Anjali Bharadwaj was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Anjali's work as the leader of Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) or People's Vigilance Committee is redefining the way that citizens interact with their elected representatives. Anjali has created legislative report cards that track the performance of representatives across a series of categories. These serve to define the roles and responsibilities of an elected representative in their capacity as public servants. Anjali's solution elucidates the systematic gap between the duties of a legislator and their actual performance. For example, SNS collects data on assembly attendance, voting records and the questions asked by representatives. They then distill this data down to the essential categories of information in order to convey the overall performance record of the individual. Information contained in the report card is used by the citizens as an advocacy tool when they speak with their representatives. SNS actively facilitates the conversation between elected officials and their constituencies by ensuring that meetings take place with the representative and that citizens ask questions that are informed by performance data from the report cards. Anjali is making the citizen-representative interaction more transparent and thus strengthening the entire legislative process. The work that SNS does with citizens changes the rules of the democratic interaction and adds a new level of transparency to the political process.

Anjali uses the report card as a point of departure for a deeper citizen-based accountability initiative that draws its strength from systematic performance information. The information that she provides on representatives’ actions in the legislature is the basis for a new signal that constituents send to their representatives to demonstrate a need. Earlier, constituents were dependent upon their ability to appeal to a representative for policy action whereas after the introduction of report cards citizens have the ability to demand action on the basis of commitments that a representative has made. Citizens use the information contained in report cards to hold their representatives to a higher accountability standard, thus transitioning from a system of patronage to a formula of democratic representation. The report cards act as a text that reflects the civic duties of legislative representatives. Anjali has created the first application of civic responsibility for representative performance in the legislative branch at the local, state and federal levels of government.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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