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.

How is Janani Suraksha Yojana performing in backward districts of India? - Part 2

Posted on:19-02-13

Ambrish Dongre and Avani Kapur, Accountability Initiative

As mentioned previously, this blog post discusses the findings from the PAHELI survey with respect to the JSY.

1. Institutional and home deliveries

Out of 3178 deliveries, 48% deliveries took place in government facilities, 9.5% in private facilities, and 42.5% deliveries took place at home (table 1A)[1]. The proportion of deliveries in government facilities is highest in Sundargarh and Rajgarh, followed by Udaipur. Korba, Gumla and Hardoi perform the worst. Read more »

How is Janani Suraksha Yojana performing in backward districts of India? - Part 1

Posted on:14-02-13

Ambrish Dongre and Avani Kapur

The Government of India (GoI) has ambitious plans “to transfer individual benefits from the Government directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries”[1]. This has given rise to intense debates and discussions on direct cash transfers as a policy tool to administer social-welfare objectives of the government. Unfortunately, there has been a limited discussion of the evidence from cash transfer schemes currently in operation in India. This 4-part blog-post, based on a forthcoming working paper, partially fills this gap by analysing the performance of Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), a conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at promoting institutional delivery by providing money to women if they deliver in medical facilities. Incentives are also given to the local community health workers, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), if they facilitate such deliveries. The data for this exercise comes from PAHELI, a unique attempt to rapidly assess the status of human development, including maternal and child health, in some of the most backward districts in India (click here, here and here to know more about PAHELI)[2]. Read more »

All for One and None for Another? Entitlements, Attendance and Conditional Cash Transfers in Bihar: Part II

Posted on:11-02-13

Shailey Tucker

Since mid-January, Bihar’s public schools have seen great activity as an ambitious campaign to distribute student entitlements was rolled out. These entitlements are given out each year; however, this year there is an added twist in the form of a required attendance rate of 75 per cent between April and September 2012 to be eligible. As mentioned in my last post, the second part of my blog discusses the efficacy with which the distribution campaign has been designed and implemented in Bihar over the past few weeks. It also touches upon the scope for conditional cash transfers in the Indian education context. Read more »

All for One and None for Another? Linking Entitlements and Attendance in Bihar: Part I

Posted on:05-02-13

Shailey Tucker, Accountability Initiative

Picture this: a sunny winter morning, bright yellow mustard fields in full bloom, children in assorted uniforms making their way to school in rural Bihar. As the rest of the Delhi team continued working on the PAISA-MDM report, I’d arrived in Bihar last month to learn more about a much-publicised government campaign to distribute entitlements to government school children through cash transfers. The entitlements include uniforms, scholarship, financial incentives (protsahan), and cycles (for high school students), to be distributed through various educational schemes of the Government of Bihar (GoB).[1] But these entitlements are already given out each year; so what was different this year? As it turns out, quite a lot. In this two-part blog, I first discuss the norms of these schemes, then how the campaign is being implemented on the ground in Bihar. Read more »

Demystifying Cash Transfers

Posted on:18-01-13

Uthara Ganesh, Accountability Initiative

In his 2011 Budget Speech, the Finance Minister announced the replacement of the Public Distribution System with the direct transfer of subsidies to individuals living below the poverty line[1].  What has ensued since is a disparate range of opinions on the issue in the mainstream media and policy and academic circles. The conversation around cash transfers is progressing at a very rapid rate, (take a look at Accountability Initiative’s compendium of resources on D.C.T.s here),so much so that the popular opinion on the subject has been obscured. Understanding cash transfers as a tool for governance would require that we distill the political discourse from its policy implications. Read more »

Of Dolphins, Transparency and TABridge

Posted on:07-01-13

Laina Emmanuel, Accountability Initiative

“We policy people are like dolphins – extremely intelligent, but it looks like nobody knows how to communicate with us.” This quote, by Matt from Indigo Trust is by far my favourite quote from the TABridge session a few weeks ago at Glen Cove, New York. It beautifully sets the context of why this conference was held: to help foster conversation between technology experts and groups working on transparency and accountability (T&A) issues. The term T&A was left loose to encourage participation. Participants ranged from organizations working on natural resource governance, budget transparency, open governments, and data transparency, as well as technology experts on mobiles, visualization and so on. Accountability Initiative was invited to share its experiences, both for its work on budget transparency and for its experience in facilitating similar conversations between policy wonks and technology experts within India (at the bar-camp we held in 2010). Read more »

The Data Explosion: Big Data and Development

Posted on:26-12-12

Vibhu Tewary, Accountability Initiative

Velocity of data. Quantity of data. Big Data. These were some of the terms that caught my attention after reading Laina’s blog on Data Governance. I was particularly surprised by the figure that showed the varied skills that a data scientist is supposed to possess. I wondered what it is about the new kinds of data that are being created that make them so complex and difficult to analyse? While exploring this question, I was exposed to a variety of literature regarding the new types of data and in particular Big data. In fact if you look at the Google trends image below, you can see that the term Big Data has captured the popular imagination in the past couple of years1. However, till recently most of the applications of Big data have remained within the business realm. Only now are Governments beginning to see the possibilities Big Data could hold for policy making. In this blog, I will try and summarise what big data is and how it can make policies more effective.

Read more »

Land Woes: LARR Act and The Missing Link

Posted on:20-12-12

Aishwarya Panicker, Accountability Initiative

Land has been a controversial subject area and has consistently been regarded as a principal source of inequality. This article from The Pioneer last year sums up the situation- “land (has) become amongst the most commonly violated of Indian liberties”. Problems relating to voluntary vs. forced acquisitions, murky land records, illegal usage of agricultural land and under the table transactions by and large fill this contentious space. Read more »

Right to Public Service Acts

Posted on:10-12-12

Nick Robinson, Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

I recently wrote this report for Accountability Initiative. It's based off some research I did in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar on the implementation of the relatively newly passed right to public service acts in those states. I find the development of these Acts - in over a dozen states in the past couple years - fascinating for several reasons.  First, it's an example of a state-led legislative movement. There have certainly been proponents of a similar act in the center, such as Anna Hazare/IAC and NCPRI, but it's the states - usually led by their Chief Ministers - that have gotten this rolling (the center still hasn't passed anything similar). The implementation and political commitment to these acts certainly varies by state, but it's something that the states seem to be proudly owning and working to be innovators in. The first movers tended to be NDA states, but now the states that are passing such acts encompass a much broader political spectrum. Read more »