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India’s Fourth Largest State Gives Transparency Priority with New Website Launch

BY Nataliya Nedzhvetskaya | Monday, July 30 2012

Last Saturday, Andhra Pradesh, an Indian state more populated than Germany, launched a new state legislature website designed to make information more accessible to the public and improve communication between legislators and their constituents.

The new website, www.aplegislature.org , includes an e-petition feature that “establishes a direct link between the people and the Legislature,” as well as information on the assets and liabilities of individual parliamentary members. Those are posted deep on the site in .pdf format.

According to new regulations, members of the House will be required to file yearly reports of their assets that will then be made available to the public.

Additional features include up-to-date information on section housing, ration cards, and welfare pensions, historical archives of assembly proceedings dating back to 1952, and a platform for submitting questions to the Legislature Secretariat. There is no provision for bulk access to legislative data, however.

The project was launched by Speaker of the House Nadendla Manohar and developed by the Centre for Good Governance in Hyderabad.

Speaker Manohar was quoted by Business Standard, an Indian daily, as saying the website was “unique…for any legislature in the country” and was created “to empower legislators and improve their performance as expectations from the public are growing.”

While the goal of improving communication between legislators and their constituents is laudable, getting citizens to actively use these resources will likely prove the greatest challenge.

According to the 2011 Indian Census , Andhra Pradesh has a literacy rate of approximately 68%.

And though Internet use is soaring as a result of affordable, web-equipped mobile phones, it is still estimated that just 10% of the population has Internet access according to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India.