From Farm to School: A Photo Essay on the Provision of MDM in Schools

Posted on:13-09-13

Shailey Tucker, Accountability Initiative

A few months ago, Vibhu and I discussed the issues surrounding the delivery of grain for the Mid-Day Meal (MDM) Scheme (see here).

This photo essay aims to visually depict the supply chain of grains to schools, as well as some of the school-level issues we’ve observed during our field-work on tracking the flow of grain and funds under MDM. Read more »

Raghubytes: Too right to be left, too left to be right

Posted on:09-09-13

T.R. Raghunandan, Advisor, Accountability  Initiative

(In the first blog of a series titled “Raghubytes”, T.R. Raghunandan offers readers a look at the functioning of the Government Machinery through the eyes of a former bureaucrat.) Read more »

Private learning landscape in India: A brief review of the literature and available data

Posted on:03-09-13

Vibhu Tewary, Accountability Initiative

In 2012, the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) found that, in rural India, the number of children in the age group of 6-14 years attending private schools was 28%. In fact, the percentage of children attending private schools has been on the rise over the past few years, and between 2009 and 2012, this number increased by 6 percentage points.[1] This shift in the form of schooling was visible while conducting the second round of the PAISA District Studies surveys in Rajasthan recently. In many of the government schools that I visited, the enrollment of children was dropping significantly, particularly if the school was close to an urban area. For example, in Jaipur, I came across some schools where the enrollment had reduced by more than half in the past two years. The teachers at one such school felt that a lot of the parents are choosing to send their children to private schools as they believe these schools can provide better education. Some of the government school teachers even agreed with the parents and said that public school teachers are so bound by meetings and accounting for funds that the learning process is being left behind. So what does the literature say about private schooling in India? Are there discernible differences between public and private schools and the learning they can impart? Also, are the students supplementing their schooling in any way, and if they are, what are the benefits? Read more »

Per Student Allocations of Elementary Education Budget (2011-12 & 2012-13) and Learning Outcomes (2012)

Posted on:27-08-13

The following table presents the per student allocation on elementary education across India[1] and the associated learning levels in these states, according to ASER 2012 report. Read more »

How many officials does it take to procure a government document?

Posted on:05-08-13

Mehjabeen Jagmag, Accountability Initiative

The first step when conducting a Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) at Accountability Initiative is to procure a permission letter from the relevant department of that State to be able to carry out our research. A permission letter is a signed, authorised, official-nod that is passed on to district and block administrators, and later, photocopied and distributed to all our volunteers. The volunteers carry this letter with them to the government schools they visit. It authenticates our intent and simplifies the data collection process. The permission letter is often the very first obstacle in the data collection process. Read more »

Whistleblowers: Whose Protection?

Posted on:02-08-13

Shailey Tucker, Accountability Initiative

As the debate rages on about whether or not US whistleblower Edward Snowden should be extradited from Russia to the USA and about the protection he deserves (or not) for leaking sensitive data on the National Security Agency (NSA)’s surveillance activities, questions have arisen in my mind these past few weeks about the kinds of legal provisions that exist in different countries for the protection of whistleblowers. Recent articles and debates centre more on whether Snowden even qualifies as a whistleblower (see here and here). Questions remain as to why countries such as Russia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have offered Snowden protection, especially with the threat of US sanctions. This blog, however, offers a quick comparison of the legislation enacted or proposed in select countries to encourage and protect public interest disclosure. Read more »

Changing the face of development… One SMS at a time

Posted on:19-07-13

Aishwarya Panicker, Accountability Initiative

At the turn of the millennium, Manuel Castells had come out with an argument in his ‘Theory of the Network Society’[1] that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will have strengthened the flow of information- so much so, that it would alter the intensity, velocity and scale of the structural processes in society.  Today, the explosion of ICT for Development (ICT4D) mobile technology, network hardware and software, and the various services that accompany them, have led to a variety of exploratory approaches to bridge the development[2] gap.  At the heart of this ICT4D concept, the dominant debate is focused on whether it can lead to concrete development goals or whether it, in fact intensifies the digital divide. This blog will look at the ICT4D paradigm in India and the challenges that it faces in its current form.

Read more »

A house for the homeless

Posted on:01-07-13

Avani Kapur, Accountability Initiative

This article was published in One India One People magazine, June 2013 issue, available at:

After the Right to Education and the Right to Food, a new right is being sought to be tabled in Parliament – the Right to Housing.  The Draft Homestead Bill 2013 aims at providing a homestead[1] of not less than 10 cents (0.1 acres or 4,356 sq. ft) to every landless and homeless poor family in rural areas. 

Given that India is home to close to 8 million homeless rural families the demand for the right to housing is not surprising. In fact, the Twelfth Plan working group on rural housing estimates the shortage in the Plan period (2012-17) at around 40 million.

However, the main question arises is – how will this “right” differ in its implementation from the existing scheme on rural housing – the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY). Read more »

Trends in Maternal Mortality

Posted on:26-06-13

Ambrish Dongre, Accountability Initiative

India has been one of the worst performers as far as maternal mortality is concerned. The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), which measures the number of female deaths between ages 15-49 years , due to maternal causes per 1,00,000 live births, stood at 398 in 1997-98[1]. This figure came down to 212 for the period 2007-09, as per the latest Sample Registration System (SRS Bulletin, June 2011)[2]. Yet, this is nowhere close to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which had set the target of MMR of 200 by 2007 and 109 by 2015. Unfortunately, the next round of SRS results has not yet been published and the latest MMR figures are not known[3].

This blog attempts to understand the trends in maternal mortality across the low and high performing States from 1997-98 to 2007-09 and assess whether the gap between the low and the high performing States has narrowed down during this period[4]. Read more »

Panel Discussion at the Launch of the fourth PAISA National Report

Posted on:17-06-13

Dr. Karthik Muralidharan, Dr. M. Govinda Rao, and Mr. Ashish Dhawan, share their views in a panel moderated by Mr.Michael Walton at the launch of the annual PAISA report 'Do Schools Get Their Money?' (PAISA 2012) Read more »