Community participation and School functioning- Evidence from DRC Survey data

Posted on:13-06-13

Vibhu Tewary, Accountability Initiative

Community participation is deeply interwoven in the implementation of the The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. Every school has to have a School Management Committee (SMC) which consists of members from the local community and in theory; this SMC approves plans, signs cheques and monitors the school performance[1].  The SMC (and the local community as a whole) form an important part of the accountability chain as they supplement inspections by higher rung officials, with their regular monitoring. However, anecdotal evidence, based on my field visits, suggests that most teachers do not come to school regularly as parents and community members are not concerned about the school’s functioning. Read more »

Data in the dark

Posted on:06-06-13

Saamia Ibrahim, Accountability Initiative

If government offices could exist virtually, they would be remarkably similar to government websites, waiting/loading time included. Most information is available but not easily accessible, like a cabinet full of files stacked somewhere.

Moreover, accessibility to government data does not ensure accuracy; in fact too much information can also lead to a misrepresentation of facts. This blog post seeks to highlight the various obstacles faced while researching Government of India (GOI) schemes purely using government data available online. For an insightful account of missing records in government offices, have a look at this AI post (Link). Read more »

Highlights from the CAG Performance Audit of MGNREGA

Posted on:31-05-13

Avani Kapur, Accountability Initiative Read more »

Placing public back in public procurement

Posted on:27-05-13

Aishwarya Panicker, Accountability Initiative

The disproportionate diversion of public funds that have taken public attention by storm, calls for an immediate adoption of preventive measures and strengthening of regulatory foundations. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Coal recently asked for a screening of the decision making process in the coal block allocation (see their report ‘Review of allotment, development and performance of coal/lignite blocks’ here). With the political and business links in this particular scam becoming more apparent when looking at the layers of individuals involved, as well as more elusive, in terms of its widespread implications, there is a larger, darker cloud that is set above this particular situation- to what extent does our legal system account for a mechanism which allows for concrete preventive action against this type of malfeasance? Read more »

Why decentralization matters

Posted on:21-05-13

Yamini Aiyar, Accountability Initiative

This article was also published in the Financial Express on May 11, 2013.

On the 24th of April 2013, India celebrated the 20th anniversary of the passage of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments mandating the creation of a third tier of elected government -Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in rural areas and municipal councils in urban India. When passed, these amendments embodied the aspiration of transforming India’s top-down, District Magistrate Raj babu culture through greater decentralization. However, 20 years on, there is little argument that this aspiration remains unfulfilled and efforts to decentralize government, despite the constitutional provisions have been halfhearted at best. Very few powers and responsibilities have been actually devolved -  local government expenditure in India accounts for just about 7% of total government spending in India. And even when monies have been devolved, such as in the MGNREGA which mandates that 50% of the total district expenditure be undertaken through the Gram Panchayat, implementation continues to be the domain of the local bureaucracy which is accountable to the district administration and not to Panchayats. Read more »

Increasing transparency in aid delivery

Posted on:13-05-13

Mehjabeen Jagmag, Accountability Initiative

As part of the PAISA project that tracks expenditure in elementary education in India, we collect information from state and district offices, over and above our school-level surveys. While we do face roadblocks when collecting this information, headmasters, as well as block and district and state-level officials, are usually forthcoming with their opinions and open about sharing their documents with us. I would attribute this to the assumption one makes, that if the government is spending public money to provide a public good, one can ask questions about how and when this money was spent and what the outcome was. Read more »

DLHS 4 won’t include 9 low performing States

Posted on:08-05-13

Ambrish Dongre, Accountability Initiative

There has always been a criticism that government schemes and programmes are not evaluated rigorously. The idea of having an Independent Evaluation Office to provide “impartial and objective assessment of various public programmes and improve the effectiveness of public interventions” has not moved beyond interviewing a few well-known researchers. And then there were reports that the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) would be discontinued. Though that did not happen, it seems that the fourth and ongoing round of District Level Health Survey (DLHS), DLHS 4, has paid the price for keeping the NFHS. Read more »

Navigating the Subsidised Grain Delivery Labyrinth

Posted on:02-05-13

Shailey Tucker and Vibhu Tewary, Accountability Initiative

The Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme, the world’s largest school-feeding programme,[1] guarantees a hot, cooked meal to each school-going child between the ages of 6 and 14 years in government elementary schools. Its main objectives are to increase enrolment, attendance and retention, while also improving the nutritional status of students. The scheme is beset with several problems in its implementation.[2]One of the most critical issues being that of delivery of quality grains to schools.We had recentlycarried out a qualitative study on the functioning of the MDMS scheme in a few districts. This blog highlights a number of issues we discovered which essentially stall the final delivery of grain to schools. Read more »

The Right to (Right) Information

Posted on:22-03-13

Aishwarya Panicker, Accountability Initiative                            

I attended the Fourth National Right to Information (RTI) Convention in Hyderabad, organized by the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) on the 17th and 18th of February, 2013. In the midst of RTI legends, Nikhil Dey and Aruna Roy, were a large number of supporters that included social scientists, professors, government officials, and community workers. Several other genuinely-interested citizens, most of whom have used the RTI to avail public information, were also present. The Convention, in essence, was an initiative to encourage a conversation on the multiple facets around transparency, as well as help shape the priorities of the NCPRI in terms of what their focus areas for the next two years should be. Read more »

How is Janani Suraksha Yojana performing in backward districts of India? - Part 3

Posted on:05-03-13

So far we have seen that Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) has been successful in increasing institutional deliveries. The scheme is performing well even in some of the most backward districts in the country. But there is a scope for improvement in its functioning especially with regards to delays in receiving benefits, payment of bribes and other problems in receiving the benefits.

This part of the series discusses the role of the Accredited Social Health Workers (ASHA) and the Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wife (ANM). Read more »