Jaipur, December 19, 2009
Investment in accountability mechanisms by the government is a prerequisite to enhance the outcomes of the welfare schemes. Less than one percent of the budget of any scheme, if invested in using accountability mechanism, can do wonders. This was the conclusion of a discussion that took place in the third session of a two-day workshop on ‘Social Accountability in India’. Om Prakash Arya (Project Coordinator, CUTS) and George Cheriyan (Director, CUTS) presented the learnings of the implementation of its social accountability interventions under National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in Sirohi district of Rajasthan during the workshop.
While endorsing the impacts and outcomes of the intervention, Siddharth Mahajan, District Collector Sawai Madhopur opined that any mechanism which can provide a systematic feedback and a way forward to the administration to act upon is helpful in taking corrective measures. He said that the use of Citizen Report Card in NREGS provided him an insight to take rectifying steps in order to improve the service delivery.
T R Raghunandan, Principal Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Government of Karnataka raised the issue of collusion between corrupt collectors, Pradhan and Sarpanch pressurising the government not to involve civil society organisations (CSOs) in the social audit process in Rajasthan. He called upon the CSOs to participate in the debate to put an end to this collusion and ‘collectorisation’ of the NREGS. D K Jain, Joint Secretary, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development, Government of India moderated the session.
B Rajsekhar (IAS), Director, Social Audit, Government of Andhra Pradesh, presented the key success factors and various steps of the social audit process in Andhra Pradesh. He faced criticism of violating several sections of NREGA. Prof. Ashwani Kumar, Member, Central Employment Guarantee Council, favoured Andhra model of social audit and informed the participants that Central Government will be issuing the order to replicate Andhra model in all the states very soon. The issue of social audit not conducted in real sense in other states was also discussed during the session. T R Raghunandan suggested ombudsperson and the inclusion of Sarpanch and representative of CSO in the board of the society responsible for conducting social audit.
A N P Sinha, Secretary, Panchayati Raj and C D Arha, Chief Information Commissioner, Andhra Pradesh delivered the addresses in the valedictory session. C D Arha opined that Right to Information (RTI) is a single act which empowers the people of India and not the government, therefore it should be used as a social accountability tool. A N P Sinha said that the World Bank should not invest and see success in isolated programmes. All the efforts/interventions should strengthen the existing system of local government and institutions and not try to draw a parallel system.
Parmesh Shah, Lead Rural Development Specialist of the World Bank made the concluding remarks.
The following are some of key issues which emerged out of the workshop:
- There is no substitute to mobilise local government and people for greater accountability
- There is dire need of investment on both institutions of Panchayat and users of services and technical assistance at all levels
- There is a need to build some facilitation structure from the government and the CSOs for nurturing institutions
- Need of getting enough legal provisions and strengthening knowledge management structure
George Cheriyan, Director, CUTS proposed vote of thanks to all delegates, presenters and discussants and other participants coming from different part of countries. A memento was distributed to all the participants in the end.
For more information, please contact:
George Cheriyan, Director (98292 85930)
Om Prakash Arya, Project Coordinator (99280 39210)
CUTS International, D-222, Bhaskar Marg, Jaipur
Tel: 5133259/4015395 : Fax: 4015395 ; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org