August 2010

Gaps in the Whistleblower's Bill

Posted on:31-08-10

Venkatesh Nayak

The Public Interest Disclosure and Protection of Persons Making Disclosure Bill, 2010 (the Whistleblower Bill) has been tabled in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of India's Parliament) yesterday (26th August 2010). Read more »

Case Studies in Accountability: The Kerala Ombudsman

Posted on:31-08-10

The Case Studies in Accountability Series documents innovative accountability experiments being undertaken in the country. The first case study in this series documents the office of the Kerala Ombudsman, the only Ombudsman's office of its kind in India that considers complaints against local governments.

In 2001, Kerala became the first, and only State in India, to set up an Ombudsman office for local governments (district and below). Like others around the world, the Kerala Ombudsman is tasked with resolving citizen’s complaints against government employees and offices. Unlike a typical court process, the Kerala Ombudsman follows an informal process, does not require legal representation, and attempts to ensure the execution before closing a case file. The Kerala Ombudsman considers only complaints against local self government institutions (LSGIs) and therefore tends to focus on service delivery and the interaction between local government and citizens. Click here to read the full report.

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Transparency and Access to Information key to realising the MDGs

Posted on:27-08-10

Mandakini Devasher Surie

With only five years to go to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, 2010 is a critical year for countries around the world. While many countries have made significant progress towards reducing extreme poverty and hunger, providing access to clean water, improving maternal and child health, combating HIV/AIDs etc, such successes have been uneven across regions and countries. If countries are to achieve the 8 MDG targets by 2015, much more needs to be done. According to the UN MDG Goals Report 2010 “unmet commitments, inadequate resources, lack of focus and accountability…” are responsible for the shortfalls in the progress of many countries.

Prioritising and promoting transparency and the free flow of information may just be one way of fast tracking countries efforts to achieve the MDGs. This was the theme at a recent conference on "Transparency, Free Flow of Information and the MDGs" organised in London from 24-25 August 2010. Organised by Article 19 (an international human rights organisation promoting the freedom of expression and information), the conference brought together leading experts on the MDGs, development, access to information and transparency to brainstorm about how countries, donors, civil society organisations and activists can integrate transparency and access to information into global debates and efforts on the MDGs.

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Have you ever had to pay a bribe?

Posted on:20-08-10

Have you ever had to pay a bribe to get a passport, ration card, driver's license or another government service? Are you fed up with the corruption in your city but are not sure how to tackle it? Janaagraha, a Bangalore based NGO might just have an answer. Read more »

Coming soon - A privacy law in India?

Posted on:19-08-10

Venkatesh Nayak

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India, has become the nodal agency for drafting laws on privacy and data protection in India. Read more »

Government releases the first ever Civil Services Survey

Posted on:17-08-10

The Government of India has released the findings of the first ever survey of the Indian Civil Services. The report titled "Civil Services Survey - A Report" surveyed officers from all 3 India Services (The Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and the Indian Forest Service (IFoS)) as well as officers of 7 Central Services. In total, the Survey covered 18432 officers belonging to the ten selected services. Out of the total questionnaires sent, 4808 officers responded to the survey which is 26% of the total universe.  Read more »

When the mirror has 2 faces: the story of governments own datasets not matching!

Posted on:17-08-10

 Avani Kapur

A few months back I was searching for release and expenditure data for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Since the financial management section of the SSA portal hasn’t been updated in 2 years (the latest available information is August 2008!), I was left struggling to find places to look. Luckily, I remembered that we now we have a tool – the Right to Information Act – an easy method to get information.  So I decided to file my first RTI !

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Secrecy over the draft Whistleblower's Bill

Posted on:16-08-10

Venkatesh Nayak

Efforts to bring in legislation to protect whistleblowers in India have been on-going for some years now. In 2001, the Law Commission of India studied the laws that protect whistleblowers in the UK, USA and other developed countries and had submitted a report to the Government.  Along with the report the Law Commission submitted a weak draft bill to protect whistleblowers. Meanwhile in the absense of a specific law on the subject,  the Government of India created a mechanism for its employees and those employed in central public sector enterprises to blow the whistle on wrongdoings.

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Do information campaigns result in greater collective action? Lessons from experience on the ground.

Posted on:11-08-10

 

Yamini Aiyar

This blog post is the first of a series based on experiences my colleagues and I had while implementing an information campaign on school expenditures aimed at mobilizing Parent Teacher Associations in a small cluster of villages in Sehore District, Madhya Pradesh (MP). The experience reinforced some of the fundamental contradictions in current systems of delivery and why accountability is near impossible. It also brought home the importance of giving greater discretion to communities to identify needs, direct expenditures and monitor implementation. Read more »

The Process of Lawmaking in India

Posted on:10-08-10

Sruti Bandyopadhyay

This post is an attempt to explain the process of law making in India. It also explains how citizen groups can participate in the process of lawmaking. 

Who makes laws?

 In India, at the central level, laws are formulated by the Parliament and at the state level by Legislative Assemblies and Councils.

How is a law made?

The process of enacting a new law can be broadly divided into four steps: Read more »

M.P. Public Services Guarantee Bill – A Path-breaking Law

Posted on:05-08-10

Awanish Somkuwar

It has been recognised the world over that good governance is essential for sustainable development, both economic and social. The three essential aspects emphasised in good governance are transparency, accountability and responsiveness of the administration.  Citizens’ Charters are an effort to address these issues by focusing on solving the problems which citizens encounter while dealing with the organisations providing public services. Read more »

Access to Information and Accountability: The Story of Vijaipura Panchayat

Posted on:02-08-10

Gayatri Sahgal

Unlike its predecessor the Sampooran Grameen Rozgar Yojna (SGRY), the National Rural Employment Guarantee  Act (NREGA), 2005 outlines an impressive list of transparency and accountability mechanisms to ensure that administrators are answerable and responsible to people for their behaviour and actions. Such measures include the institution of grievance redressal mechanisms, proactive disclosure of information, and community monitoring mechanisms such as Social Audits.  In June this year a team of us visited Vijaipura Panchayat in Rajasthan to understand the extent to which these measures were being implemented. Read more »