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Urgent need for political party reforms

By Nripendra Misra and Tannu Singh

An RTI application unearthed the fact that only 8% of 1,196 registered political parties have submitted annual reports regarding contributions above Rs 20,000 to the Election Commission. And only 15% have submitted their audited financial statements!

Non-compliance by political parties


Six steps to a more effective parliament

Arvind Kejriwal’s outburst on parliamentarians is only the latest display of the disdain we have for our MPs. Nripendra Misra & Tannu Singh suggest ways to remedy the governance and financial setbacks caused by disruptions, logjams and standoffs in parliament, and bring in parliamentary reform

parliamentary reforms


MGNREGA in UP Bundelkhand: Regular irregularities

By Ashok Gopal

The modalities of fraud detected in one village, Kolawal Raipur, in Banda district of UP Bundelkhand, reveal how the national rural employment guarantee scheme is systematically subverted for private gain


Batulan Khatoon's farming advisors wear khaki

By Alka Pande

In poor and underdeveloped Sonebhadra district of UP, plagued by extremism and crime, the men in khaki are giving the concept of community policing a new meaning. They are taking on everything from water management to livelihood-generation and healthcare


The cost of India's MPs

India’s MPs have given themselves a threefold hike in salary, now earning 68 times the country’s average salary. But no conditions of service have changed. In the USA, for example, members of Congress cannot earn more than 15% from outside of their Congressional salary. In India, the average assets of 304 MPs who contested in 2004 and then re-contested in 2009 grew 300%!


The case of the disappearing ponds

By Pradeep Baisakh

An RTI inquiry in Kusmal village in Orissa’s Nuapada district revealed that though in official records seven farm ponds have been built under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, not a single pond exists in reality. Across this district, which has high levels of migration, Rs 77 lakh has been misappropriated under the job guarantee scheme by unscrupulous administration officials at all levels


Who gains from the Games?

Viewers of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa see only the multimillion-dollar stadiums constructed, not the poor who were displaced by them in Cape Town. Similarly, the Rs 20,000-crore Commonwealth Games jamboree will benefit only the posh heart of New Delhi, not its poorest citizens who are being evicted, says a new report from the Housing and Land Rights Network


The dry well of UPA promises

By Anosh Malekar

The Wada Na Todo people’s movement for governance accountability assessed the UPA government’s achievements on livelihood, education, health and social exclusion one year into its second term and concluded that the government was focused more on image-building than people’s welfare


Why does India condone corruption?

China recently executed two people involved in the melamine-adulterated milk powder scam. In India, thousands of lives are endangered by spurious drugs and adulterated food, and yet no action seems to be taken. Why, asks Suman Sahai


The adivasi voice

By KS Subramanian

In the frequent debates on government and civil society response to Maoist violence in central India where Operation Green Hunt has been launched, the views of the adivasi communities themselves are missing. A recent people’s hearing in New Delhi on the impact of land acquisition and resource grab on adivasis allowed their voices to be heard


Do pro-people legislations actually work for the poor?

By Pradeep Baisakh

After three years of fighting for his right to unemployment allowance under NREGA, and to find out under the RTIA why the allowance has been withheld and the erring authorities not been penalised, Kailash Nayak has got nothing. And to top it all, he has gone missing and the police claim they cannot trace him


People's movement against corruption

By Renu Ramanath

From Plachimada to Kasargod and Guruvayur, a wide range of people’s movements have joined hands in Kerala to battle corruption. Their definition of corruption includes the looting of natural resources, anti-people and anti-nature development policies, and the exploitation of adivasis and dalits


A tool of empowerment only enables more exploitation

By Kathyayini Chamaraj

Rigorous and frequent social audits are the only way to make the NREGA effective, as these audits in two gram panchayats in Karnataka showed. The audits revealed that elected officials fool or bully beneficiaries into signing away their rights and monies, refuse them work they are entitled to, and threaten NGOs who are seen to be on the ‘side’ of the villagers


Where is NREGS heading?

By Pradeep Baisakh

The biggest danger the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme faces is that the people it is meant to benefit will lose faith in it. In far too many instances guilty officials are not punished, social audits are not followed up, payment of wages is delayed and violence against those seeking to make the scheme work goes unchecked


My name is not Khan

Nevertheless, Mukul Sharma finds himself questioned and detained by immigration authorities all over the world. Why is it that governments claim the right to exercise authority over their borders, but more often than not forget their obligation to respect the rights of people?


The activistocracy

Another world is certainly possible, but is another World Social Forum, wonders Achal Prabhala, recalling the crucial debates at the plenaries between crypto-autonomists and anarcho-syndicalists or whatever, while the masses slept in the back rows and indigenous people sang and shouted “Down Down World Bank!” every time a camera crew passed by


Three sarpanches, no justice

By Aparna Pallavi

Gajjudeori panchayat in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla district has three sarpanches, backed by three different panchayat secretaries. All three sarpanches claim to be the ‘real’ one, and all of them possess and use the official seals! Despite repeated appeals to the authorities, no one wants to get involved in local politics to resolve this strange situation


A scarred nation celebrates

Not everything will change with the election of Obama, says Gautam Bhan who watched America celebrate the election of Barack Obama, but change it will. Race will not disappear, but it will never be the same again. Structural inclusion and inequality might not vanish tomorrow, but its pipes and planks will be made visible


A circle of good people

By Nicholas Paul Gill

The Ennangalin Sangamam (Confluence of Thought) is an annual event in Tamil Nadu that brings together neighbourhood volunteers. This year, around 500 volunteers shared their stories - of enabling eye donations, helping the disabled find employment or educating prisoners in Madurai


Social entrepreneurs make it their business to change India

By Frederick Noronha

A social entrepreneur recognises a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organise, create, and manage a venture to forge social change. The first international conference on social entrepreneurship was held at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences recently



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