ARUNA ROY AND MKSS
An IAS officer until 1974, Smt. Aruna Roy quit this prestigious vocation in favour of another – to work among the forgotten poor in rural Rajasthan through her co-founded initiative Social Work and Research Center.
In 1990 she set up the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathana (MKSS), an organization that she describes as a “non-party people’s organisation” to begin the long struggle of issues related to women’s employment, livelihood and empowerment along with the education of out-of-school children. In 2000, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award valued as the Asian Nobel prize for Community Leadership and International Understanding for her efforts to encourage people at the grassroots to think globally. Smt. Aruna was a prominent leader of the Right to Information movement, and under her guidance the MKSS, a solidarity group which is dedicated to ensure fair working conditions and daily wages for daily wage earners and farmers, addressed corruption at the grassroots and sought accountability of officials in public life in matters related to disbursement of government funds. This ultimately led to probably her greatest achievement – the enactment of the Right to Information Act in 2005 which has been a useful tool to MKSS in advancing democracy and empowering the masses to hold their representatives and leaders accountable.