Tag Archives: accountability

India: RTI activist appointed central information commissioner


Sixty-one-year-old Shailesh Gandhi, who was awarded the Nani Palkhiwala Award for civil liberties this year, is widely known for using the RTI Act effectively for better governance and accountability in public life
The recent appointment of Mumbai-based Right to Information (RTI) activist Shailesh Gandhi as one of four central information commissioners has been widely hailed as a boost to civil society.
Other newly-appointed central information commissioners are Satyananda Mishra, presently secretary with the department of personnel and training, M L Sharma, special CBI director, and Annapurna Dixit, widow of veteran diplomat and former national security adviser J N Dixit. Continue reading



Filed under Development, India

Beyond Partnership

Beyond Partnership at CommGAP

Thu, 04/09/2008

“Civil society is an important partner in the development process.” Within the current development context, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about this generic sentence. If anything, it merely reflects the now commonly espoused viewpoint that civil society should be considered an important constituency in development planning.

But perhaps it’s time to more seriously interrogate the ubiquitous use of the word ‘partner.’ As Inigo Montoya once famously said in the movie The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

What exactly is this “partnership” all about? Does it mean that civil society should act in concert with the wishes of government? That it should serve as a policy conduit between government and citizens? That its primary purpose should be to carry out national development goals as a sort of implementing institution for government and for donors? Continue reading

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TI: how to prevent corruption in humanitarian assistance

Thanks to The 8th Circle

A really fascinating Transparency International (TI) report for those in the NGO industry, but also governments and corporations that provide humanitarian assistance, has just been released. The report’s findings, however, can be applied to non-humanitarian assistance scenarios as well, especially those where large sums of money are allocated.

Below is part of the intro, and the rest is available on TI’s site.

Humanitarian assistance is a lifeline that brings food, shelter and other basic services to millions of people caught in the worst of circumstances through war, famine or natural disaster. However, it often takes place in challenging environments which may include endemic corruption. The sudden injection of large amounts of resources and the urgency of a crisis also create risks of corruption in the delivery of humanitarian aid…Detecting and preventing corruption in relief processes is an urgent priority in order to maximise relief efforts and truly help those in dire need.

If you’re interested in specific anticorruption mechanisms, here is a bullet point summary:

  • Whistleblower mechanisms
  • Codes of conduct that address values, sexual exploitation
  • Strengthening surge capacity
  • Specific policies for human resources, procurement, audits
  • Guidelines for emergency process “overrides”
  • Resource tracking and supply chain management
  • Improving downward accountability

See the press release; full report in PDF.

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Filed under corruption, Disaster Management

Getting governance right

 —Dani Rodrik

Too much focus on broad issues, such as rule of law and accountability, runs the risk that policymakers will end up tilting at windmills while overlooking the particular governance challenges most closely linked to economic growth

Economists used to tell governments to fix their policies. Now they tell them to fix their institutions. Their new reform agenda covers a long list of objectives, including reducing corruption, improving the rule of law, increasing the accountability and effectiveness of public institutions, and enhancing the access and voice of citizens. Real and sustainable change is supposedly possible only by transforming the “rules of the game” — the manner in which governments operate and relate to the private sector.

Good governance is, of course, essential insofar as it provides households with greater clarity and investors with greater assurance that they can secure a return on their efforts. Placing emphasis on governance also has the apparent virtue of helping to shift the focus of reform toward inherently desirable objectives. Traditional recommendations like free trade, competitive exchange rates, and sound fiscal policy are worthwhile only to the extent that they achieve other desirable objectives, such as faster economic growth, lower poverty, and improved equity. Continue reading

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