A citizen's report evaluates state policy and performance
"Independence must begin at the bottom. Thus every village has to be self-sustained and capable of managing its affairs". The whole troubled question of rural employment and migration, discussed substantially by Mahatma Gandhi, is yet to be resolved or addressed meaningfully by successive governments. The National Democratic Alliance (nda) government's defence expenditure was Rs 12,059.80 crore but agriculture and allied sectors was allocated a mere Rs 40.4 crore (in 2004-05). The United Progressive Alliance (upa) had prioritised rural jobs in its pre-election objectives, but no real progress has been made so far.
Why do well-intentioned plans get routinely derailed in the maze of policymaking and bureaucratic practice? A look at the Citizens Report on Governance and Development 2004 by Social Watch India might reveal some insights into the functioning of the Indian state, regardless of who holds the reins.
Social Watch India, a network of citizen's groups and civil society organisations, comprises such groups as Centre for Youth and Social Development (cysd), Samarthan (Centre for Development Support) and National Centre for Advocacy Studies (ncas). Social Watch seeks accountability and "attempts to monitor institutions of governance and their commitment towards citizens and principles of democracy, particularly with reference to the marginalised sections".
In the absence of an effective executive, the judiciary has of late come to be seen as recourse. But the judicial system itself is struggling under the weight of archaic laws, delays and dysfunctional courts. While the Supreme Court managed to reduce its pending cases from a lakh plus to 20,000 cases through systematic measures, pending cases in high courts rose from 26.51 lakh in 1993 to 35.55 lakh in 2001.
In its second avatar, the Citizens Report 2004, continues the process, begun in 2003, of public scrutiny of governance and development. Spanning the gamut of public institutions, ranging from panchayats to Parliament, the report is an opportunity for the evaluation of governance by the people. Jagadananda, cysd, finds that "social watch can achieve what the government has been evading: accountability." Rajesh Tandon, Participatory Research in Asia (pria), calls annual monitoring "an important process". Amitabh Behar, ncas, calls for dissemination by the media. Participation is also sought from grassroots workers so that, as John Samuel, co-editor of the report, puts it, it becomes "not a report but a process of democratising the democracy".
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.
Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.