Tuesday, 20 July 2010

New AI Blog Page

The Accountability Initiative Blog has moved!

For the latest updates on accountability news and views across the country, log on to our new blog page at:


Saturday, 10 July 2010

AI in the News: Who's Watching the Watchers

The NGO landscape in India is getting pretty crowded. According to the findings of a recent government survey there are an estimated 3.3 million registered NGOs working in the country — one for every 400 Indians. But with the growing influence of NGOs in India today, many have raised questions about their transparency and accountability. Mandakini Devasher, Accountability Initiative discusses how the Right to Information (RTI) could offer a possible solution. Click here to read the article in the Indian Express.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

India and the Failed States Index: 12 Counts of Failure

Rishiv Khattar

Foreign Policy and the Fund for Peace have been publishing the Failed States Index since 2005. The 2010 Index uses 90,000 publicly available sources to assess 177 countries and rate them on 12 metrics of state decay—India ranked 87 and received a score of 77.8.

Higher scores on a metric indicate a greater degree of failure. The scores used are from the Fund for Peace publication as there appears to be some inconsistency in the Foreign Policy publication’s score.



India’s score


Mounting demographic pressures



Massive movement of refugees or internally displaced persons, creating complex humanitarian emergencies



Legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance or group paranoia



Chronic and sustained human flight



Uneven economic development across group lines



Sharp and/ or severe economic decline



Criminalization and/ or delegitimization of the State



Progressive deterioration of public services



Suspension or arbitrary application of the rule of law and widespread violation of human rights



Security apparatus operates as a “State within a State”



Rise of factionalized elites



Intervention of other states or external political actors




While the most recent analysis of the scores is not yet available, past assessments by the organizations and recent news are useful in deciphering the factors that may have contributed to these scores.

1) The score on the demographic pressure metric is due to high population density relative to food supply and other essential resources in the country, and pressures from skewed population growth that have led to a “youth bulge”.

2) India does not have a major refugee or IDP problem but does have a manageable influx of refugees from Tibet, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

3) Group grievance scores are high primarily in Kashmir, as a result of the rise of militant groups, communal violence, and tensions between India and Pakistan. An increasingly violent Maoist insurgency and the rise of Naxalism have also exacerbated grievances.

4) Human flight indicators remain high for India as a significant percentage of the country’s educated population leave to study or find jobs elsewhere.

(5) and (6) The Indian economy has rapidly developed and established itself as the world’s second-fastest growing economy. India’s recently updated foreign direct investment policy (2005) has helped further open markets. And India’s significant economic growth (GDP increased by 6.8 % in 2009 despite a global recession) has been inequitable, as a large section of the population lives in poverty.

7) Politicians running campaigns and being elected to office while on trial for criminal charges have undermined state legitimacy. While Indian law prohibits convicted criminals from holding office, nothing prevents them from doing so until they have been convicted. Apart from the growth of crime syndicates linked to government officials, there is endemic corruption and widespread resistance to accountability and transparency—something the recently passed Right to Information Act may improve.

The FfP’s most recent assessment of India’s core state institutions:

8) The quality of public services is severely lacking, especially in rural areas. Nonetheless, government efforts to improve health and education services (such as through the NRHM) have contributed to an improving score on this metric. Significant efforts this year—the Right to Food Act and the Right to Education—may further help.

9) India has a decent human rights record, having recently made concrete steps toward expanding the rights of women and LGBT populations. However, the state is sometimes accused of preventing human rights organizations from entering Kashmir.

10) The rise of militant groups as well as the power wielded by Kangaroo courts and unofficial governing bodies in rural areas impact performance on this metric. Populations often turn to these bodies to address their grievances due to social custom or a lack of confidence in elected officials.

11) Communal, caste and regional tensions are sometimes reflected in government which has led to the factionalization of elites, but this is often mitigated by India’s functioning democracy.

The quality of public services is a metric that India consistently performs poorly on. Whereas demographic pressures fluctuate with factors like natural disasters that lead to a massive loss of life, the progressive deterioration of public services can perhaps more effectively be tackled through systemic reforms and improved accountability. It’s important to note that India’s score of 7.0 on this metric puts it behind countries like Ghana, Kazakhstan, Namibia that it is more developed than in other categories.

The writer is an intern at the Accountability Initiative.

From Outlays to Outcomes- Getting Development from Development Expenditures

In August 2009, AI and the Centre for Development Finance, Institute for Financial Management and Research organised a conference entitled “From Outlays to Outcomes - Getting Development from Development Expenditures” in New Delhi. The papers presented at the conference have been featured in a special issue of India Review (Volume 9 Issue 2 2010). These include a section of guest editor papers, a number of papers discussing accountability in public expenditures in India, and a review essay on decentralization, institutions and accountability.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Health Care Spending Rising Faster Than Economic Growth In Industrialized Countries – OECD Health Data 2010

While India is still struggling to live up to the “Nine is Mine” dream (calling for 9% of GDP to be committed to health and education), according to OECD’s Health Data 2010, in leading industrialized countries, the health care spending is rising faster than economic growth. The study reports:

  • Average health spending in the 31 member OECD counties has increased from 7.8 percent of GDP in 2000 to 9.0 percent in 2008 –averaging around 8.4% of the GDP.
  • During the same period, health spending per person increased by 4.2% a year on average.
  • Governments of most OECD countries shoulder most of the burden of healthcare costs. Public expenditure has increased from an average of 12% of total government spending in 1990 to a record 16% in 2008.
  • United States tops the list, spending 7,538 dollars per person on health care in 2008, more than double the average 3,000 dollars for all OECD countries.