Starting from a tiny village in the deserts of Rajasthan in the 1980s, Aruna Roy began a long campaign to bring transparency to India's notoriously corrupt bureaucracy. Its signal achievement is the 2005 Right to Information (RTI) Act, a law that has given the nation's poor a powerful tool to fight for their rights and has influenced similar measures in other countries. It has also inspired thousands of RTI activists, who have exposed everything from land scams to bank embezzlement to the misuse of public funds meant for the poor. Since then, Roy, 64, has helped shape an ambitious new rural jobs program and a food-security bill that will come before Parliament this year. Many social activists clamor for India to do more for the dispossessed. A former civil servant, Roy doesn't just condemn a broken system; she changes it.
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