Financial Inclusion in India – Part 2 : FI since 2005

Posted on:31-10-12

Uthara Ganesh, Accountability Initiative 

In my last post, I introduced the idea of Financial Inclusion, traced the extent of financial exclusion in the country and had also outlined some of the first (largely unsuccessful) efforts of the Government of India (GOI) in creating equitable access to financial goods and services to its vast, mostly rural populace. This is the second part of my post on Financial Inclusion in India. In this post, I shall talk about some of the more recent initiatives of GOI and attempt to understand how successful these have been. Read more »

Data Governance and the mythical character of a 'Data Scientist'

Posted on:29-10-12

Laina Emmanuel, Accountability Initiative

On Thursday, October 18th, I attended a seminar on “Open Data for Development” by Shaida Baidee and Neil Fantom, director and manager respectively of the Development Data Group at the World Bank . The presentation was fascinating, and the range of work that has been done by the World Bank is frankly quite astounding! From making their vast databases public in a easy to navigate format, to creating micro-data explorers that can help other researcher play with micro-data, their products seem to have covered just about everything. After they made their presentation, they were asked a number of questions by the participants. I have categorized all questions under the following heads.  Read more »

Loopholes: Land ownership and the Bhoomi Project

Posted on:17-10-12

Aishwarya Panicker, Accountability Initiative

The real estate sector in India has a large impact on its economic growth story, having ‘added over 1 lakh crore of 2.58 lakh crore in 2010-11 to just Delhi’s GDP.1 According to a 2011 study conducted by KPMG, 50% of the respondents were of the view that the real estate and construction sector are the most corrupt (you can view the study here). The underlying competition in real estate and land has in some ways led to fascinating, and disturbing, state-business relationships. It is not just about the actions of the business elite and their political right hand men or vice-versa, instead, there is now an hazy stratification within this sector - Businesses and the government at the top (with a two way relationship where licenses and large sums of money are), middle level real estate agents in the centre and farmers/small businesses/ordinary citizens at the bottom. These relationships depend on the undeniable value of land as a resource, as private property and as cultural heritage - this value has not only altered over time, but has also presented a curious problem of access and ownership. This blog broadly look at the obscure nature of problems around land as well as land acquisition, and presents some thoughts on a successful land records project and the large gaps in it. Read more »

The Court knows best?

Posted on:12-10-12

Guest Post by Shibani Ghosh, Research Associate, Centre for Policy Research and former Legal Consultant to the CIC

The Supreme Court’s judgment in Namit Sharma v Union of India with respect to the composition of Information Commissions across the country is remarkable, and most unfortunate. In essence it says this: only retired judges can ensure the fair and efficacious administration of justice under the RTI Act. If this assumption were not problematic enough, the Court then effectively appropriates the powers of the legislature and the executive by telling them exactly what they must do. Read more »

Educating girls: Gender divisions in education

Posted on:08-10-12

Vibhu Tewary, Accountability Initiative

I was recently in a village in Rajasthan where I came across a government school with a total enrolment of 20 students. This village is not too far from a city that has a number of private schools. Most parents prefer to send their children to these private schools as they perceive the quality of education to be better there. These children have to take a bus and travel 30-35 km to get to these schools. Interestingly, almost all of the students remaining in the government school are girls. Upon discussion, I found that the parents did not wish to send their girl child that far, or incur the extra expenditure from private schooling on educating a girl child. So, the number of boys in the government school had been reducing quite dramatically in the past few years but the number of girls has not reduced as much. However, because of this exodus of boys, the total number of students has declined sharply. As the number of students has dwindled, the locals feel that the head master and the teachers have become less motivated towards actually teaching the remaining children. In the process, a number of girls who have no choice but to stay on in the local school continue to lose out on possibly better learning outcomes. Read more »

Lessons from a government school

Posted on:01-10-12

Avantika Ranjan, Intern, Accountability Initiative Read more »

The invisible fourth pillar

Posted on:25-09-12

Mehjabeen Jagmag, Accountability Initiative

It is a good time as any to talk about free press in India. For the last ten days, protests have erupted around the world over an anti-Islam film.  The Jammu and Kashmir government responded by blocking Youtube and Facebook last Friday to prevent violence. In the last six months, political cartoons have sent two people to jail. Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s representation of a national symbol earned him an arrest warrant for sedition. Jadavpur University’s professor Ambikesh Mahapatra found himself behind bars earlier this April for sharing a cartoon about Mamata Bannerjee via email. Read more »

Free Cell Phones is not a bad idea!!

Posted on:21-09-12

Ambrish Dongre, Accountability Initiative

Days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day speech, there was a strong rumour that he would announce a scheme to provide free mobile phones and talk-time worth Rs 200 for households below the poverty line. Though the announcement never came, the media reports focused on the political motives behind the scheme and the fiscal burden it’d impose on the already resource-strapped Treasury. Interestingly, not much was said about possible gains from making access to cell phones universal. This blog-post highlights some of thes Read more »e potential benefits.

Malnutrition: A response to the Gujarat Chief Minister Based on the Data

Posted on:19-09-12

Avani Kapur, Accountability Initiative.

Malnutrition in Gujarat has been in the news owing to the Chief Ministers’ comments in a recent newspaper interview. (Full transcript of the particular question is available here). The comments reaffirm widespread public perceptions about malnutrition – that it is primarily a consequence of lack of access to adequate food. Moreover, the comments also suggest that in more developed states like Gujarat, malnutrition is a middle class phenomenon rather than a serious consequence of poverty. Does the data on malnutrition support these assumptions? This blog analyses the data to share some facts and figures about malnutrition in Gujarat. Read more »

Money, Money, Money: Monitoring and Evaluation of SSA Expenditures

Posted on:14-09-12

Shailey Tucker, Accountability Initiative

In my previous blog, I had focused on a framework aimed at improving the governance of elementary education in India. One key aspect of this framework is budget and resource management, which serves as an important route to strengthening social accountability: the more efficient and transparent public education expenditure, the better the delivery of education services to beneficiaries. As readers of this blog are already aware, the PAISA survey is a method of tracking public expenditure and resources in the education sector, down through the various levels of bureaucracy, aiming to pin-point exactly where there are leakages and hurdles. In this blog, I highlight some of the ways in which I’ve seen states and districts monitor their own expenditures within the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and suggest complementary methods of monitoring and evaluation to enhance financial management within the programme. Read more »