RTI Act 2005 (Blair said that his biggest mistake was the introduction of RTI in Britain)and Social Audit seem to be two of the reasons to feel optimistic about Indian democracy which I find quite vibrant. Both have been provided to me by old friend Shekhar Singh whom I first met in 1977 in Shillong when he was working in the Philosophy Dept. and I in the Mathematics Dept. of North Eastern Hill University.
Social Audit: A People's Manual by Shekhar Singh and Rajakutty online.
The first few pages are also availablehere.
As the booklet says in section 3 "One essential and critical requirement for conducting social audits is the availability of all relevant information and decision making processes that are totally transparent. The beginnings of social auditing owes much to access to information, especially to bills,vouchers and muster rolls related to expenditure by Panchayats and other government institutions. Initially, this information had to be accessed despite stout resistance from the concerned officials, and without legal backing. Initial right to information acts, in some states, though relatively weak and ineffective, provided some legal basis for accessing these documents. Fortunately, a very powerful and comprehensive national act was passed in 2005.The Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005 significantly facilitates the process of conducting social audits. There are many provisions in the RTI act that directly support public scrutiny of schemes and programmes."
See also Right to Information Act: A primer by Suchi Pande and Shekhar Singh which can be ordered online and as the blurb says:
"This small booklet is designed to help general public as well as authorities. Through a question answer format, it introduces the lay reader to the RTI Act and its implementation, its use and function as well as details of how information can be accessed and appeals filed."