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 »

Union Budget Speech 2013-14: Highlights from the Social Sector

Posted on:28-02-13

Uthara Ganesh and Avani Kapur

Highlights for focal ministries:

  1. The Ministry of Rural Development has been allocated a total of Rs 80,194 crore, which is an increase of as much as 46 percent from the revised estimates of 2012-13. Much of this increase can be attributed to the increase in allocations to the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The budget estimates for the Ministry of Rural Development for the year 2012-13 stood at Rs 90,435 crores.
  2. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has been allocated with Rs 65,867 crores, an increase of 17 percent over the revised estimates of 2012-13.
  3. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has received an allocation of Rs 37,330 crores, a meager rise from Rs 34,488 crores allocated in the budgetary estimates of 2012-13.
  4. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has received an allocation of Rs 15,260 crores, an increase from Rs 13000 crores, which was the revised estimated allocation to the ministry in 2012-13.

Highlights from the Economic Survey 2012-13

Posted on:27-02-13

Avani Kapur and Uthara Ganesh

General Trends in Social Sector Allocations:

  • GOI expenditure on social services and rural development combined (Plan and non-Plan) has seen an increase from 14.77 per cent in FY 2007-8 to 17.39 per cent in FY 2012-13 (Budget Estimates [BE]).
  • It is budgeted that 25.1 percent of the total expenditure (GOI and states) will be spent in FY 2012-13. This is an increase from 24.5 percent in FY 2011-12.
  •  The total expenditure (GOI and states combined) on education increased from Rs 291378 crores to Rs 331524 crores. As a percentage of GDP, this amounts to an increase from 3.25 percent to 3.31 percent.
  • The expenditure on health (GOI and states) as a percentage of GDP also increased from 1.29 percent in FY 2011-12 to 1.36 percent in FY 2012-13.