Written specially for Vikalp Sangam
Located in Chennai at the Centre for Development Finance in the Institute for Financial Management and Research, is Transparent Chennai. They’re not exactly doing research on financial management per se but most certainly doing research on something much more important: city management. How? By working with the citizens of Chennai, they create maps and other relevant data to help the Chennai Government make better city planning decisions particularly as it pertains to those who have been excluded in the past: the urban poor. Working in the sectors of slums and informal settlements, solid waste management, water, pedestrian infrastructure and roads, public toilets and sanitation, and government policy analysis, Transparent Chennai conducts public meetings and exercises to create maps and data by the people, and for the people.
All their research is then made available to the public to combat the lack of open, reliable data and to help make such data not only accurate but also easy to understand, unlike most government research tables and reports. They are taking on a service-based approach rather than just looking at infrastructure and they are asking the question: Does infrastructure equal access to facilities to meet the basic needs? Not necessarily, they find, and that is why Transparent Chennai is making Chennai more transparent to the public it serves! To be clear, they are not anti-government but rather they are confrontational, holding the government accountable for what they do and helping the government do their job better.
They are only three years old but they have done a lot in such a short period of time. Every city should have such a group!
Contact: Priti Narayan
Other Stories on this group appearing in various periodicals can be read here: