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 »

For RTE grievances dial 1

Posted on:04-12-12

Avani Kapur, Accountability Initiative 

An essential pre-requisite to any rights-based approach is the necessity of ensuring its enforceability. What does a citizen do in case their rights are violated or not adhered to? Who does one complain to if the right is not being implemented? Despite two and a half years since the passing of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the state is still struggling to come up with effective grievance redressal mechanisms (GRMs) for the Act. Read more »

A note from India’s book: on Pakistan’s Right to Education

Posted on:29-11-12

Mehjabeen Jagmag, Accountability Initiative

Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill1earlier this November. Like in India, education features on the concurrent list in Pakistan -with the Federal government and provinces sharing responsibilities. Pakistan’s RTE Bill is a step towards making education free and compulsory for 5 to 16 year olds in those schools established by the federal government and local government in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), and an attempt to urge all provinces towards uniformly enforcing the implementation of this right. Read more »

Sending Money Down the Leaky Pipe: What Does District-level Data Tell Us?

Posted on:16-11-12

Ambrish Dongre, Accountability Initiative

I was reading Ajay Shah’s blog the other day where he made the point that merely sending money down the pipe is problematic because the pipe leaks and we have no idea about what happens at the other end.

That’s true. Mere increased investments may not translate into improved outcomes in the presence of administrative inefficiencies, high administrative costs, and leakages which make accountability for outcomes nearly impossible. This is quite well known, and yet there is surprisingly little empirical data or analysis on the specific processes by which outlays translate into action on the ground. Not much is known in the public domain about planning processes and mechanisms through which expenditure priorities are determined, particularly at the district level. Information on fund flows is even scarcer. Read more »

Mid-Day Meal Scheme: The Story So Far

Posted on:06-11-12

Shailey Tucker, Accountability Initiative

Upon completion of our survey of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) in two states a few months ago – the names of which shall be revealed in due course of time! – my colleagues Ambrish and Mehjabeen shared their thoughts on how monitoring of the MDMS can be improved (see here and here). Since we’re now immersed in the analysis of our survey data, let me take some time to share with you what the literature available on the scheme tells us so far. Read more »

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 »