At the heart of the controversy over the Lokpal Bill is the question of accountability, or ensuring that the state delivers on its mandates without infringing citizens’ rights, says Swarna Rajagopalan. But who is to enforce accountability -- state, society, civil society? Or citizens themselves?
Governance is the new buzzword in development discourse. The World Bank and other international financial institutions identify public sector management, transparency, legal framework, accountability and information as the key components of governance. In a country like India, which has the largest number of poor people in the world and also ranks high on the list of most-corrupt nations, good governance involves fighting corruption, improving bureaucratic and political accountability and promoting people's participation and public-private partnerships
A massive rally in Imphal on February 19 demanding the repeal of AFSPA has highlighted yet again the place of this special legislation in the world’s largest democracy and the blurring of the lines between policy, strategy and tactics, writes Sumona DasGupta
The Direct Benefits Transfer Programme has been hastily launched in 20 districts. But there is evidence to prove that transferring purchasing power can have a socially desirable outcome only where there is a strong rural infrastructure and easy access to banks, schools and hospitals
Media and public pressure has seen 26 special courts set up to deal with corruption. But cases of rape, murder and communal violence, where human lives are at stake, continue to be dealt with by a slow and overburdened judicial machinery. Have we lost our sense of priorities, asks criminal lawyer Rebecca John
The Whistleblowers Protection Bill and the Grievance Redress Bill have become victims to the more high-profile and politicised Lokpal debate, says Aruna Roy in this review of generation-next legislations introduced and pending in India
Civil society protests in India – for justice for the victims of Godhra, for those living around the Koodankulam nuclear facility, for those affected by AFSPA – are keeping democracy alive in India. The state’s attack on such non-violent activism in support of progressive causes is reason for grave concern, writes Rohini Hensman
Why is cutting subsidies seen as the only way to cut down the government’s fiscal deficit, asks Kannan Kasturi. What about raising additional revenues by increasing direct taxation of the rich, reducing corporate subsidies and increasing customs duty on items such as gold?
It was clear from the start that the real root of corruption -- unaccountable power and impunity -- was not the target of the Team Anna campaign, writes Rohini Hensman. Is their goal then regime change, or constitutional change? And if so, could the movement unwittingly pave the way to fascism?
While punishing the corrupt is important, institutions such as the Lokpal or Lokayukta can play only a limited role, says Samuel Paul. What we need is reform of public service design and delivery, transparency in public governance, and the end of discretionary decision-making by bureaucrats and politicians
A Lokpal may reduce corruption, but will it improve the abysmal quality of our public services? For that to happen we need citizen’s charters and legal guarantees of prompt and efficient public services. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar’s legislations on public services are excellent beginnings
Anna Hazare’s authoritarianism, the lack of any whiff of democracy in the village he rules, the crushing of dissent, his ultra-nationalism and his belief in caste hierarchy, suggest a convergence of his agenda and worldview with that of the right-wing, says Rohini Hensman
The emphasis in the Approach Paper to the Twelfth Five-Year Plan continues to be on achieving GDP growth of 9-9.5%, with the focus on capital markets and infrastructure, and scarcely a mention of nutritional security, agriculture, sanitation, health and education, writes Kathyayini Chamaraj
The Jan Lokpal Bill 2011 is an incomplete document that Team Anna and watchful members of civil society need to fully work out if the aspirations of millions who have been fired by the campaign for a corruption-free India are to be met, says Chitta Behera
The Lokpal is too simplistically visualised by the India Against Corruption campaign as the single solution to the problem of corruption, says Aruna Roy of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information. Instead, Roy proposes an alternative five-fold strategy in these excerpts from her open letter to government