Research

 

Accountability Initiative’s research program is aimed at deepening current understandings of how to strengthen accountability links and improve the provision of public services.

In recent years, India has witnessed the virtual proliferation of accountability efforts fuelled largely by civil society activism. These efforts have aimed at strengthening citizen ‘voice’ by creating platforms for engagement with the state and empowering citizens with information and tools through which they can demand accountability. At the same time and partly as a consequence of civil society activism, the Government has begun to take slow and steady steps to increase transparency and create spaces for greater citizen participation in its everyday functioning.

Although the importance of these efforts is well recognized in accountability scholarship, there are many substantive aspects of these new efforts that remain under-researched. For instance we know very little about the processes through which these efforts are being implemented, what works and in what context and perhaps most importantly its effects on the everyday functioning of the state.

All these questions become even more important in light of the fact that the state is undergoing a profound transformation in at least two ways. First, the power of non-elected bodies and regulatory mechanisms has increased enormously. These institutions, like the judiciary for instance, are not amenable to public pressure in the same way as the state is. What accountability challenges do these new institutional forms pose?  Second, a whole range of new actors - NGO’s, corporate houses and the Media have become influential in governance. What role do they play in governance? And in what ways does their participation enhance or impede accountability? 

Accountability Initiative’s research work examines these questions. Our research products include:

  • Engaging Accountability: A working paper series that analyses trends in accountability debates with a particular focus on efforts to empower citizens for accountability. The series particularly focuses understanding the effectiveness and impact of civil society experiments for accountability.
  • Accountable Governance: A policy oriented working paper series research series that examines accountability gaps in state institutions and monitors on-going state led accountability reforms such as the Right to Information and social audits. The series includes case studies on state-led accountability experiments. 
  • Policy Briefs: A quick and accessible summary of key academic work and policy research relevant to implementation of key social sector programs.  
  • Right to Information Briefs: Given the central role that the Right to Information Act (RTI) has played in pushing the debate on accountability to the centre stage as well as its potential in strengthening accountability in India’s governance systems, AI initiated a special policy brief series on the RTI. This informs policy debates on RTI by highlighting international best practice as well as new research being undertaken on the RTI.