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Capacity building: a requisite for effective social audit in MGNREGA.

Social audit has become popular in the recent past since the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MG NREGA) by the Department of Rural Development through Panchayati Raj Institutions in India. The programme implementation strategy has been designed to enable the primary stakeholders i.e. beneficiaries to gain control over the implementation of programme in a participative manner. Section 17 of MG NREG Act provides for public vigilance and verification of different stages of implementation through the process of Social Audit of all the projects taken up within the Gram Panchayat under the scheme. To ensure continuous public vigilance, MG NREGS through Social Audit mandates involving potential beneficiaries and other stakeholders at every stage i.e. planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. This process is followed to ensure that a project is designed and implemented to suit local conditions, reflecting priorities and thus effectively serving the public interest. Standard procedures and processes of Social Audit are to be adopted by all the states, under the scheme. It is worthwhile to understand how various Gram Panchayats have responded to the mandatory social audit process in MG NREGS and how the scheme accumulated experience in the process of social audit. It is necessary to understand how different agencies, engaged in meeting the objectives as laid down in various provisions of MG NREGA, are adopting social audit process in improving their organizational performance. Further MG NREGA Operational Guidelines (Government of India, 2008) mentions that Gram Sabha to undertake social audit of the works executed in Gram Panchayat and social audit should include public vigilance and verification of the following eleven stages of implementation

1. Registration of families,

2. Distribution of job cards,

3. Receipt of work applications,

4. Preparation of shelf of projects and selection of sites,

5. Approval of technical estimates and issuance of work order,

6. Allotment of work to individuals,

7. Implementation and supervision of works,

8. Payment of unemployment allowance,

9. Payment of wages,

10. Evaluation of works, and

11. Mandatory social audit in the Gram Sabha.

Keeping in view the above responsibilities entrusted to the members of Gram Sabha, they are perceived to have desirable 'capacity' to undertake the social audit.

Research Problem

Though MG NREGA was enacted in the year 2005 and sufficient efforts have been initiated by all the states of India in building capacity of all the stakeholders in undertaking social audit, yet there appears to be evident capacity gap to deliver this responsibility judiciously and objectively.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is an ambitious initiative of Government of India which provides a legal guarantee of 100 days wage employment to every rural household whose adult family members volunteer to do unskilled manual work at the notified wage rate in a financial year (Gazette of India, 2005). In the first phase, MG NREGA covered 200 backward districts w.e.f 2nd February, 2006; in the second phase, another 130 districts were brought under MG NREGA coverage w.e.f. 1st April, 2007 and finally in the third phase, all the remaining 266 rural districts of India were covered from 28th September, 2007. Any adult who is willing to do unskilled manual work at the minimum wage is entitled to being employed on local public works within 15 days of applying. In case the Gram Panchayat fails to provide the work within the time period of fifteen days, the job seeker becomes entitled for unemployment allowance. A development block is basic unit of implementation. In each Block, a "Programme Officer" has to coordinate the implementation of MG NREGS, Gram Panchayats are the main implementing agencies with accountability to Gram Sabha which conducts social audits of all works taken up within Gram Panchayat.

Social audit is a process by which the people, the final beneficiaries of any scheme, programme, policy or law, are empowered to audit such schemes, programmes, policies and laws. John Pearce defined "Social Auditing is the process whereby an organization can account for its social performance. It assesses the social impact and ethical behaviour of an organization in relation to its aims and those of its stakeholders (RAISE, 2005). Social audit is an ongoing process by which the potential beneficiaries and other stakeholders of an activity or project are involved from the planning to the monitoring and evaluation of that activity or project. Social audit can be described as checking and verification of a programme/scheme implementation and its results by the community with the active involvement of the primary stakeholders. It is a process of holding executive branch on the government responsible for their acts. The aim is effective implementation and control of irregularities. The administrative machinery is expected to extend full support in carrying out a social audit by the community. "Auditing is more about securing orders than improving the welfare of the workers, that is why the management only makes cosmetic changes to impress the auditors and not to better the conditions of workers." (Clean Clothes Campaign, 2005).

Social audit under MG NREGA refers to an audit of all processes and procedures under the Scheme, including wage payments, muster rolls etc. It normally involves scrutiny of all documents and records on work done (MG NREGA SAMEEKSHA, 2012). The basic objective of social audit is to ensure public accountability in the implementation of projects, laws and policies. (MG NREGA Operational Guidelines, 2013) Social audit covers the quantity and quality of works in relation to the expenses incurred/disbursement made, number of works/materials used and also selection of works and location of works.

To put it concisely, social auditing is a process by which an organization accounts for its social performance to its stakeholders and seeks to improve its future social performance. In order to effectively prefer social audit capacity building of grossroot functionaries is essential.

Capacity building training is often presumed as a synonym of capacity building whereas they are distinct (MoPR, 2010).Capacity is defined as "ability". Operationally, in work situations, capacity is defined as "ability to perform." UNDP defined capacity as "the ability of individuals, institutions and societies to perform functions, solve problems, set and achieve objectives in a sustainable manner."(UNDP, 2005). Capacity of human resources is dependent on internal factors viz. Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and external factors i.e. Environment (to what extent it is enabling or otherwise?). Training has been defined as a planned process to modify attitude, knowledge or skill behaviour through learning experience to achieve effective performance in an activity or range of activities. Its purpose in the work situation is to develop the abilities of the individual and to satisfy current and future manpower needs of the organization. Training is major and most commonly utilized approach of capacity building of human resource. While training is essentially an "input", capacity is the "output". Capacity building is thereby the process through which the abilities to do so are obtained, strengthened, adapted and maintained over time.

To put it precisely, training to take place for learning, learning for action and action to bridge the gaps in the implementation of programme, that is the cycle of capacity building.

Social audits have a significant impact on generating awareness among beneficiaries as well as in improving quality of implementation of the scheme. (MG NREGA Sameeksha, 2012) In MG NREGA, Social audit has become more significant in comparison to all other programmes since it has legal provision of an 'Act'. Consequently, building capacity on social audit becomes important in view of legal sanctity.

There is plethora of literature available on social audit covering wide range of issues. However, in this research work, an attempt has been made to review select literature for understanding social audit, capacity requirements and its impact on MG NREGA. Prieto and Bendell (2002) stressed involvement of all stakeholders quoting that a high quality social audit can take a great deal of time as it requires not only a review of the management system and documentation, but also a number of interviews with management, workers, workers representatives, and health and safety officers and could also include interviews with other relevant stakeholders, such as trade unions or NGOs. In comparison to it, Mohamed Behnassi (2008) gave importance to experience, knowledge and indiscrimination as qualities required for an auditor referring, in reality, the experience required for an auditor to undertake a high quality and credible social audit is significant. Civil society organizations are considered as a precious resource because they can provide independent auditing founded upon expert knowledge of audited issues and can also serve to hold companies accountable to their own professed CSR commitments. ALCOSA Report (2010) based on a cross-country analysis of four East African countries- Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya analyzed the capacities of local government councillors to oversee local administration and are in turn held accountable by citizens. It underscored that Local government councillors need to have institutional and individual capacity to carry out their mandate for participatory expenditure tracking surveys, village assemblies as well as other participatory monitoring and evaluation techniques. Yet, the link between these tools and local councils are often weak and hindered by capacity constraints such as weak council capacity in accounting and record-keeping and skill and pay differentials between local administration officials and councillors. These capacity constraints create tensions and render elected representatives unable to make the necessary decisions or to monitor and enforce accountability from officials. about village committees, it further mentioned that the committees provided that they build enough capacity to do so- periodically monitor the activities of the local governments based on the budget cycles--namely, planning and formulation, execution, and reporting cycles- as well as service delivery performances. Similarly, Annamalai and Prasad (2012) have observed, "Most of the functionaries in charge of NREGA have not received any training. There is a particularly urgent need for trained supervisors at the worksites and for training in record-keeping". Alnoor Ebrahim (2007) referred that Conventional types of capacity building have often failed to bring about improvements in organizational effectiveness, performance, and accountability. Capacity building needs to be seen as a means of encouraging learning. Thus, effective capacity building often requires a revisiting of an organization's aspirations and strategy, as well as its standard operating procedures; simple training programmes can achieve little on their own. The World Bank and SPIU Report mentioned that In order to demystify the process for the REGS functionaries, the present process of the social audit includes training for them on what to expect from the social audit, and also on how to support the initiative. Annamalai and Prasad (2012) reiterated, Government of Himachal Pradesh has recently brought out social audit guidelines with the assistance from GTZ-German Agency working in HP on social accountability mechanism in rural development sector particularly on drinking water. However, it is not clear whether these guidelines are superseding the earlier rules on social audit. To sum up that there has been delay in developing full-fledged social audit mechanism as of now in Himachal Pradesh. Operational Guidelines (2008) highlighted that Various agencies in performing their duties under the Act, training programmes should give priority to the competencies required for effective planning, work measurement, public disclosure, social audits and use of the Right to Information Act, 2005. During the Social Audit Forum, the Right to Information Act and social audit manuals should be publicized so that the Forum serves as an ongoing training ground for the public vigilance process. Ministry of Rural Development in MG NREGA Sameeksha (2012) observed that the frequency and quality of social audit is a major constraint in effective implementation of MG NREGS. Shah et al, (2010) found in a study of nine states across India that social audit was seriously carried out in ten out of forty works; in ten more cases it was done by block administration, in four by NGO and in two by the district administration. In case of more than a dozen of works, no audit was carried out by anyone. CRRID (2009) in the study of three states mentioned "Majority of the respondents of all the selected Gram Panchayats of three districts were not aware about the role of Social Audit system in the NREGA activities. The study further found though training was provided to the elected panchayat members and also to some other Gram sabha members, yet there are still some stakeholders like social audit committee member, grievance committee members, vigilance monitoring committee members, government functionaries like Panchayats Secretaries, Sahayaks and Gram Rozgar Sewak who need to be provided proper training about NREGA scheme and recommended Strengthening of Social Audit System". CAG Report, (2008) found--In the absence of proper maintenance of records, social audit and the Social Audit Forum in Gram Sabhas remain the only methods for ensuring a degree of transparency and accountability at the GP and GS level. Non-conduct of social audit adversely affects demand-driven bottom-up approach of NREGA. CSP/IDS (2011) observed, "Community social audits are designed to be instrumental in changing the existing dominant and unequal power structures by creating the power in the hands of workers to hold the implementing agencies. The effectiveness of this rights- based policy crucially depends on the capacity of the people to demand their rights and entitlements and the capacity of the implementation agency to protect and enforce it. Institutionalizing social audits needs capacity building and change in outlook in traditional bureaucracy towards civil society organizations. Aiyar and Samji, (2009) found 'Social audit also improved record maintenance and worksite implementation. It was found that entries in job cards increased from 39 per cent to 99 per cent. The availability of drinking water at work sites also went up from 79 per cent to 95 per cent.

Objectives of the Study

a) To determine the state of awareness of social audit in MG NREGA for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj Departments and Programme Officers.

b) To examine the level of importance of capacity building for social audit in MG NREGA for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj Departments and Programme Officer.

c) To assess the capacity of members of Gram Sabha to undertake Social Audit in MG NREGA

d) To measure the status of Social Audits undertaken with the existing capacity and to determine the effort associated with capacity building for Social Audit in MGNREGA in HP besides its need and importance.

e) To measure workers' awareness, preparedness and satisfaction with the transparency in implementation of MG NREGA.

ii) Methodology

The study is a descriptive, as well as, analytical research based on secondary data relating to Himachal Pradesh. The secondary data mainly include three reports of social audit undertaken by the author as faculty from H P State Institute of Rural Development in Sirmour, Kangra and Bilaspur districts. In addition to this, primary data has also been collected and used in this paper.

The primary data includes

* The observations made, examination of records and inspection of works while undertaking social audit, interviews with the functionaries and job seekers in different districts of Himachal Pradesh.

* The experience sharing by different stakeholders in training programmes, as well as, the active involvement of author in the social audits undertaken by the HP State Institute of Rural Development.

* The qualitative data drawn from the experiences gained in field visits as well as interviews held with all the stakeholders.

The secondary data has been drawn from

* The reports of social audits undertaken by H P State Institute of Rural Development, Shimla. To give adequate representation to the three phases of NREGA implementation, one district from each phase has been taken as sample viz. District Sirmour (Social Audit Report, 2008) has been selected from phase I, District Kangra (Social Audit Report, 2009) from phase-II and District Bilaspur (Social Audit Report, 2010) from the phase-III district.

* The circulars, documents, case studies as documented by different agencies, publicity materials and any other relevant documents from various agencies.

* Published research work, content analysis of social audit reports of MGNREGS, recorded or published practices have been collected during the fieldwork for analysis including the information put in public domain on the MIS-NREGA.

* The rules, guidelines and instructions issued by Governments of India and Himachal Pradesh.

Data Analysis

The guidelines, rules and instructions issued by central and state governments invariably insist conduct of social audit at least twice in a year, thus fixing a minimum frequency limit.

The quantitative data collected has been presented in the Table 1.1. It gives an account of demographic features and MG NREGA implementation in four Gram Panchayats representing three districts covered during three phases in Himachal Pradesh.

It is evident from Table-1 that number of Job Card holder families has increased substantially as a percentage of households i.e. 23 percent Job Card holders in GP Puruwala in phase I, 42 percent Job Card holders in GP Chetru in phase II and 79 percent Job Card holders in GP Nanawa in phase III. However, the job seekers as a percentage of job card holders have remained in the range of 30 percent 38 percent except for GP Nanawa which recorded 59 percent job seekers. The number of women job seekers registered a substantial increase supported by the fact that only 2 or 3 women were job card holders in phase I whereas 265 women held the job card in phase III. Similarly, their share in employment reached to the level of 74 percent and 81 percent, respectively. The share of SC families in employment reached to level of 5.28 percent in Phase II and 46 percent. In phase III. The presence of 5.29 percent ST families has also been recorded in GP Chetru.

With a broad based approach, the public vigilance and verification of MG NREGA implementation has been grouped into five major categories for the convenience of data analysis:

i. Records Management

ii. Works Management

iii. Knowledge/Awareness Management

iv. MIS-NREGA

v. Rules, Guidelines and Instructions

Records Management: Operational Guidelines and instructions issued from time to time by Rural Development Departments have clearly spelled out different information and registers required to be maintained for records management. The Table 1.2 gives an account of records management by the implementing agency i.e. Gram Panchayat.

The fault in all the three phases, the prime issues of job cards include non-fixing of proper group photos, custody and their authentication. In contrast to this, no cases of denial of job cards or registration have come forth. The dated receipts of job applications forms basis for unemployment allowance, however, have not been given in any GP in all the three phases. Another grey area is not following the complete set of record registers as prescribed in the guidelines. It is further aggravated by discrepancies in their maintenance and complete absence of certain registers.

Works Management: A summary of the major issues and concerns found in the works management is provided in the Table -3.

It is surprising to note that permissible works have been executed but following the priority and shelf approval by Gram Sabha have remained a constraint. On the work sites, neither the public information boards nor the work site facilities were seen except the drinking water facility which was arranged by the workers themselves. The execution of works witnessed the bias towards the individual works of elected representatives of Gram Panchayat, Nanawa followed by poor quality of works. Except for GP Navni, technical sanctions were not available; however, works with unrealistic technical feasibility were executed in GP Nanawa. The maintenance of muster rolls has been another eye sore since the work progress and material consumed were not at all recorded besides several other discrepancies. The situation on wage payments is also not rosy since the cases of under payment, ignorance of calculation of wage amount and inconsistency in muster roll vis-a-vis job card entries were common. The participation of women which was negligible in the Phase I recorded the unprecedented increase in Phase II and III.

Most importantly, MG NREG Act and Scheme were not available in any of the four GPs across all the three phases of implementation. Proactive disclosures have been made in GP Navni (Phase I) and GP Chetru (Phase II), whereas there was complete absence in GP Puruwala (Phase I) and GP Nanawa (Phase III). As a result of these, the awareness of rights, entitlements, significance of Gram Sabha was very poor among the community members. In the same spirit, Vigilance and Monitoring Committee or Social Audit Committee were constituted ritualistically to formalize the responsibilities, however, no committee was constituted at all in GP Nanawa. The NREGA trainings imparted to elected representatives and functionaries have been insufficient and most of the time without field exposures. Elected Ward members who were maintaining muster rolls have never been given any training at all. Similarly, no training was imparted in all the three GPs to elected representatives and functionaries on social audit. Unanimously, social audit was never conducted in all these GPs in past.

MIS-NREGA: In addition to above, the programme management system viz. MISNREGA takes account of social audits undertaken in a Gram Panchayat along with the following items:

a) Total Gram Panchayats

b) No of GP where social Audit held

c) No. of VMC meetings held

d) Verification of Documents

e) Must Roll Verified

f) Inspections Conducted

g) Issue Raised and action taken

h) Status of Grievances and action taken

i) Status of Complaints

j) Minutes of meeting

The MIS report for Himachal Pradesh up to the month of December, 2012 indicates social audit conducted for 1035 GPs out of 3243 GPs i.e. 32 percent GPs where social audit has been undertaken in the financial year 2012-13.

Rules, Guidelines and Instructions: H P Government brought social audit instructions (2008) for the first time followed by Transparency, Grievance Redressal and Social Audit Rules (2009). Due to change in Section 13 of Schedule-I (2008) of MG NREG Act by Government of India, the members of social audit committee were replaced by NREGA workers in place of the members nominated by Gram Sabha. Consequent upon it, Government of HP (2010) in collaboration with GTZ revised and web-hosted social audit guidelines. Government of India issued Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Audit of Schemes Rules (2011) and clarified that Audit of schemes shall include social audit. The rules provided for constitution of a separate directorate or identification of an independent agency for social audit with units at state, district, block and village level. In pursuance of these rules, Government of HP (2011) issued another set of instructions and its own structures at all these four levels at social audit units and officers at these levels as social audit resource person. The social audit animator engaged under GTZ guidelines as gram panchayat resource person. Audit of Schemes Rules prescribed preparation of reporting formats, resource materials, guidelines and process manuals as a responsibility of social audit units. The work on account of this material is yet to be initiated by Government of HP.

Findings

The major findings on the basis of analysis of data have come across:

MG NREGA Implementation

Lack of awareness: The substantial increase in job card holder families establishes availability of employment opportunities to villagers; however, it is not supported by proportionate increase in the number of job seekers. This indicates lack of awareness among masses and the demand driven design of the scheme has not percolated down to masses.

Participation of marginalized groups: The participation of marginalized groups in work force has increased abnormally in case of women but not in case of SCs and BPL's.

Transparency in financial disbursements: The payment of wages in post office/ bank accounts has increased in phase-II and III, which is an indication of transparency in financial disbursements.

b) Prominent Issues in implementation

i. Records Management:

Capacity gaps: Though no household has been denied of registration and job card, but incomplete job orders, their authentication, custody and photographs indicate the laxity of official in rules and procedures. They have either not trained properly or lack knowledge on this account, in both the cases it is an apparent case of capacity gap.

Deprivation of rights: The work demand applications are not acknowledged or they are without date, forfeiting the claims of job seekers for unemployment allowance. The procedural lapses are resulting into financial loss and deprivation of legal rights to workers.

Lack of accountability: The registers are found to be not maintained as prescribed in the MGNREGA operational guidelines. A few registers are not being followed at all viz. work demand registers, assets registers and job card registers. In contrast to these, complaint registers and inspection registers have never been filled up. The supply side leniency is resulting into lack of their accountability.

ii. Works Management:

Challenge to transparency: The permissible works under MGNREGA have been undertaken for execution but the laid down priority has been ignored as well as the shelf approved by GS has been ignored. Undue favour has been given to individual works of elected representatives of Gram Panchayat putting a challenge to transparency.

Work site facilities: Public information boards have not been found at most of the work sites. Besides this, the work site facilities were also not available. The drinking water available at sites was arranged by the workers themselves.

Creation of assets: The quality of works executed has been found comparatively reasonable except for one GP. This indicates the zeal of GP's for creation of sustainable assets.

Technical Sanctions and Estimates: The technical sanctions, estimates and maintenance of muster rolls have proved to be another weak area. The technical sanctions and estimates have not found at work sites.

Poor maintenance of muster rolls: The muster rolls are not kept in an apple-pie order, especially the Part III of muster roll. This poor maintenance has also led to charging of skilled labour to wages component in spite of material component. The progress of works is not recorded in time leading to delay in wage payments. The material consumed is not being documented on muster roll which provides scope for pilferage. The muster rolls have not been verified by workers committee on regular basis.

Wages Calculation: The NREGA workers are not aware how wages are calculated, the difference of wage rate and piece rate is not clear to them, however, they have become partially aware that the wages are paid on the basis of progress of work.

Discrepancies in muster roll: On account of wage payment, the workers are in a fix to understand the computation of quantum of work to draw their daily wage rate. The non worker member of GP (elected ward representative) enrolled on the muster roll reduces the wage rate for the workers. There are cases of discrepancies in muster roll and job card entries. iii. Knowledge and Awareness Management:

Access of information to public: The proactive disclosures of MGNREGA implementation have been followed in two GPs by writing them on Panchayat Ghar's wall. Except this, there is complete absence of proactive disclosures which has obstructed the access of information to public on their rights and entitlements.

Lack of knowledge: The non availability of MG NREGA Act, Scheme and Guidelines/instructions further strengthen the lack of knowledge with the agents of service delivery.

Impact of leadership: There has been a mixed response on participation and significance of gram sabha supported by the fact- Gram Sabha has been found to be participative and well aware in one GP, another witness more participation of women whereas in other two cases, it is monotonous. This can be attributed to an incidence of impact of leadership at the lowest tier of governance.

Defunct or incapable institutions: The constitution of committees as vigilance institutions have not been followed in letter and spirit. Vigilance and Monitoring Committees have not been constituted following the laid down norms, additionally they are either defunct or incapable to do justice with their obligations and responsibilities.

Transparency and accountability: It has been found that social audit has never taken place in all the four Gram Panchayats in the past, putting a question mark on continuous public vigilance. In one case, elected representatives of gram panchayat found aggressive to social audit, meaning thereby, they are not in favour of transparency and accountability.

Insufficient capacity building initiatives: The systematic approach to training has been found to be completely ignored. It indicates that importance of capacity building on social audit is hardly on the priority agenda of departments and officers concerned. The members of Gram Sabha hardly have any capacity in this regard. The insufficient capacity building initiatives for elected representatives of gram panchayat have failed to facilitate continuous public vigilance.

Reporting on Social Audits: It is a pathetic state of affairs that minimum mandated two social audits in one Gram Panchayat annually do not take place, actually. It has been found that in most of cases, social audit has been reported to be undertaken on MIS-NREGA. At the same time, neither the functionaries nor the community supported the fact when they were interviewed. However, a few asserted that records of MG NREGA implementation were read out in the Gram Sabha meeting.

Process and structure of social audit: Neither the members of gram sabha nor the functionaries/implementing agencies are clear about the process and structure of social audit, thus, limit the activity to a paper exercise only. The practice fails to establish that Rural Development, Panchayati Raj Departments and Programme Officer are aware of social audit in MG NREGA.

MIS-NREGA

Information gap: There is evident gap in the information reported on MIS-NREGA. The number of social audits undertaken in one gram panchayat overrides the number of documents verified in one social audit as per MIS Report; it is an extreme example of information gap.

Rules, Guidelines and Instructions

Ritualistic Performance of Functions: The instructions issued by Govt. of HP nowhere make it clear that they are issued in addition to or in super-session of notified rules. The prescribed directorate or agency and social audit units at four levels, all functions have been performed ritualistically giving the responsibility to own hierarchical structures at these levels. The rules and instructions issued have failed facilitate social audit.

Recommendations

Based on the above analyses, discussions and findings, the following recommendations are made to create a sustainable environment for social audit to take place in an automated manner:

a) MG NREGA Implementation

Awareness Campaign: An MGNREGA awareness campaign focused on marginalized groups to be launched with a view to demystifying the scheme to increase the share of SC, ST and BPLs in the workforce participation.

Demand driven design: Community to be apprised about the demand driven design of the scheme. There is a need for capacity development of masses for demanding job, thus the awareness campaign to be specifically designed to address the needs of community.

b) Prominent Issues in implementation

Records Management

Procedures simplification and standardization: The procedures on account of maintenance of registers, their classification, job cards maintenance, custody, group photos, work demand applications etc. need to be standardized and simplified. A manual in simple language with examples needs to be drafted. All the functionaries involved in the implementation of NREGA are required to be given training with field exposures to build their capacity with not only knowledge but also with skills. The first phase could be started with pilot in a Gram Panchayat, thereafter covering block, followed by District and thereafter rolling it out in the whole state.

Works Management

Adherence to SOPs: To establish the regime of transparency, the priority of works and approval of Gram Sabha to be given significance and needs to be followed. The minutes of gram sabha meeting to be recorded in register and placed in public domain. Besides this, work site boards and facilities, estimates and technical sanctions, quality of works to be monitored by VMC and workers' committees on regular basis. Programme Officer and District Programme Coordinator to review the adherence of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and monitor it through the MIS as well as monthly and quarterly meetings.

Manual on Civil Works: The maintenance of muster rolls, especially part three giving account of progress of works, material consumed and further quantifications of work for calculation of wages to explained to elected representatives of gram panchayat and workers. A simple manual on civil works in local language with practical examples can build their capacities in this regard.

Knowledge / Awareness Management

Proactive disclosures: In the light of RTI Act, 2005, the proactive disclosures of MGNREGA implementation to be stressed upon and audited biannually during SA exercise. NREGA Act, Schemes instructions, their simplified version to be prepared and supplied to each GP and Block Samiti.

Knowledge building on social audit: Beneficiaries need to be made aware about the process of social audit on what, why, where about the social audit, selection of works and their role etc. Adequate training needs to be imparted on all these issues.

Check lists and Formats: The Pradhans of Gram Panchayat should be equipped with a check list of all the procedures, processes and documents with regards to implementation of NREGS. Social Audit Committee to be apprised about all the provision of NREGA in simple and understandable formats with pictorial training material, Manuals on checking of different works; Capacity building with practical examples and exercises on reporting formats and analysis of information to be social audited in NREGS; and Knowledge and skills on location of works and time of their execution.

Personality Development: Exposures to soft skills like motivation, team building and leadership development programmes to be organized for elected representatives of gram panchayat to strengthen the decentralized governance.

MIS NREGA

Additional Data Capturing: MIS NREGA to capture the data on constitution of workers committee, vigilance and monitoring committee and social audit committee with their names and photos etc.

Annual social audit calendar may be uploaded on MIS.

The system generated cross verification of uploaded information for creating alerts on social audit to be included.

Rules, Guidelines and Instructions

Positive attitude of bureaucracy: The bureaucracy to play a constructive role with regard to rules, guidelines and instructions with a view to facilitating and establishing the institutions spelled out through policy mechanisms to strengthen the cause of social audit in MG NREGA.

Conclusion

A bird's eye view on the analyses and findings gives an account of the different aspects. It is worth mentioning from the analysis that all the dimensions of social auditing whether it is records, works or awareness, all recount to developing capacity in this regard. It may be observed that all the findings narrated in previous paragraphs directly or indirectly relate to the capacity of human resources- internal or external. Internal factors- knowledge, skills and attitudes of those individuals who are directly involved in the implementation of Act and their capacity deserves to be developed in this regard. Similarly, the external factors relate to the environment i.e. the organizational issues, the hierarchy which is indirectly involved in implementation from the supply side. This includes programme officer, district programme coordinator, state and central employment commissioners. The desired level of training as input to these both human resources with appropriate prescription at regular intervals can result into the required output called capacity. Failure to administer the appropriate doses of capacity has increased the risk of non compliance of statutory provisions of an immense programme-MG NREGA. Regrettably, non seriousness of individuals, management and organizations continue to plague the effective implementation of programme, creating gaps in service delivery and the conceived objectives. These further results into shortfall in achievement of the targeted growth and empowerment of people.

The major recommendations suggested lay foundation for building capacity of all the stakeholders to facilitate the conduct of social audit. Additionally, directly concerned departments and officers should recognize the importance of social audit as well as the need of capacity building for social audit. The members of gram sabha to be administered appropriate initial and booster doses of capacity development at regular intervals to enable them to play the role of torch bearers for continuous public vigilance. It is evident that a lot of work is yet required to be done by both demand and supply sides to undertake social audit which is only possible with serious, committed and dedicated effort on capacity building for social audit. The capacity building of functionaries, ERs of PRIs, committees, workers, community and all other stakeholders will result into better implementation, ultimately resulting into empowerment of both sides to establish transparency and accountability with the tool called Social Audit in an objective way.

Helpful References

ALCOSA Report, Synthesis Report on Africa Local Council Oversight and Social Accountability (ALCOSA), February 2010, A World Bank Project.

Alnoor Ebrahim, (2007): Rethinking Capacity Building, Capacity.Org, Issue 31, European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), SNV Netherlands Development Organization and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Annamalai, V and R R Prasad, (2012): Research Highlights 2010-11, National Institute of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development, Rajendra Nagar, Hyderabad.

Appraisal of Impact Assessment of NREGS in Selected Districts of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana. 2009 Sponsored by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India, (CRRID) Sector 19-A, Madhya Marg, Chandigarh 160019

Clean Clothes Campaign. (2005): Looking for a Quick Fix: How Weak Social Auditing is Keeping Workers in Sweatshops'', http://www.cieanciothes.org/ftp/05-quick_fix.pdf [25 May 2007]

Gazette of India, (2005): The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005, No. 42 of 2005, The Gazette of India, Extraordinary, 7th September, 2005

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Audit of Schemes Rules, 2011, Ministry of Rural Development, Notification New Delhi, the 30th June, 2011

MG NREGA Operational Guidelines 2013, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, 4th Edition, Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Rural Development, Government of India, New Delhi

MG NREGA Sameeksha, (2012): Governance and Process Challenges, Box 6.6, Social Audits in Andhra Pradesh, Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Rural Development, Government of India, New Delhi

MG NREGA Sameeksha, (2012): Governance and Process Challenges, Transparency and Accountability, Proactive Disclosures and Social Audits, Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Rural Development, Government of India, New Delhi

Ministry of Pancahayati Raj, (2010): Reference Guide for Outsourcing PRI Capacity Building and Training (CB &T) Related Activities, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India.

Performance Audit of Implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Performance Audit Report No. XXXXII of 2008, Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India, New Delhi.

Prieto M, Jem B. (2002): If You Want to Help Us Then at Least Start Listening to Us!: From Factories and Plantations in Central America, Women Speak out about Corporate Social Responsibility, bath, New York Academy of Business: UK.

RAISE, (2005): Social Audit Toolkit, in Partnership with Louise Scott, Ecotec, UK available at www.raise-networks.org.uk

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Y. Aiyar and S. Samji, (2009): The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: Design, Process and Impact, Delhi: Ministry of Rural Development.
Table 1: Demographic Features and MG NREGA Information
of Selected GPS

                                              Phase I
                                           Distt Sirmour

                          Unit                  2008

                                        Puruwala   Navni

Total Households          No.               678       NR
Total Population          Persons          5312     1604
Male                                       2385      821
Female                                     2927      783
Scheduled Caste           Persons                    176
Male                                          -        -
Female                                        -        -
Scheduled Tribes          Persons             -        -
Male                                          -        -
Female                                        -        -
Job Card holders          Households        156       94
Scheduled Caste                               -        -
Schedule Tribe                                -        -
Women                                         3        2
BPL                                           -       NR
Job Card holder           Percentage         23        -
Households
Job seekers               Persons            60       56
Job seeker Households     Percentage         39       60
out of job card holders
Employment generated      Person                    3568
                          days
Schedule Caste                                -        -
Schedule Tribe                                -        -
Women                                         -        -
BPL                                           -        -
SC share in employment    Percentage          -        -
generated
Women      share in       Percentage          -        -
employment
Bank Accounts                                 -        -

                                        Phase II    Phase III
                                        Distt       Distt
                                        Kangra      Bilaspur

                          Unit            2009         2010

                                          Chetru       Nanawa

Total Households          No.                387          614
Total Population          Persons           1641         2863
Male                                         833         1481
Female                                       808         1382
Scheduled Caste           Persons             54          765
Male                                          27          382
Female                                        27          383
Scheduled Tribes          Persons            111            -
Male                                          60            -
Female                                        51            -
Job Card holders          Households         164          485
Scheduled Caste                                7          140
Schedule Tribe                                 8            -
Women                                         NR          265
BPL                                           NR           60
Job Card holder           Percentage          42           79
Households
Job seekers               Persons            116          173
Job seeker Households     Percentage          71           36
out of job card holders
Employment generated      Person            5625         6651
                          days
Schedule Caste                               297         3071
Schedule Tribe                               202            0
Women                                       4530         4904
BPL                                           NR           35
SC share in employment    Percentage           5           46
generated
Women      share in       Percentage           8           74
employment
Bank Accounts                                154          254

* NR = Not Reported

Table 2: Records Management by Selected GPs

Indicator   Phase I Distt. SIRMOUR 2008

            Puruwala                         Navni

Job         Photos missing, Incomplete       Group photos not
Cards       Job Cards, No one denied of      fixed, Custody with
            registration, Cases of           workers, No one
            unauthenticated Job Cards.       denied of
                                             registration, No
                                             cases of denial of
                                             JC to any one.

Demand      Dated receipts not given.        Applications not
of Work                                      acknowledged.
Maintena    Registers not followed as        Registers not
nce of      per guidelines, Incomplete       followed as per
Registers   registers with discrepancies,    guidelines,
            Complete set of registers not    Incomplete
            maintained, Registers not        registers with
            kept, Work Demand, Assets        discrepancies,
            Registers, Job card              Complete set of
            registers.                       registers not
                                             maintained.

Indicator   Phase II Distt.           Phase III Distt.
            KANGRA 2009               BILASPUR 2010

            Chetru                    Nanawa

Job         Photos provided by        Photo missing, Custody
Cards       job seekers, Cases of     with GP, No one denied
            custody with              of registration
            Pradhan, No one           Unauthenticated.
            denied of registration,
            Incomplete
            unauthenticated.

Demand      Dated receipts not        Undated applications.
of Work     given.
Maintena    Registers not             Registers not followed as
nce of      followed as per           per guidelines,
Registers   guidelines,               Incomplete registers with
            Incomplete registers      discrepancies, Complete
            with discrepancies,       set of registers not
            Complete set of           maintained , Employment
            registers not             register to record the
            maintained.               demand yet not started.

Table 3: Works Management Issues and Concerns in selected GPs

Indicator            Sirmour 2008

                     Puruwal               Navni

Type of Work         Works as per          Priority not
                     perspective plan      followed

Work site boards     Unavailability of     Unavailability of
                     works site boards     works site boards

Work site            No facilities         Availability of
facilities           available             drinking water
                     Ceremonial first      and temporary
                     aid box available     shed
                                           Ceremonial first
                                           aid box available

Quality of work      Satisfactory          Reasonable

Estimate at work     Not available         Available
site and technical
sanction

Muster Roll          Work progress and     Work progress
Management           material used not     and material
                     record, Skilled       used not
                     workers charged to    recorded. Delay
                     Labour                in recording work
                                           assessment

Payment of wages     Workers ignorance     Paid in cash
                     of amount paid

Women work           Very low              Very low
participation

Indicator            Kangra 2009               Bilaspur 2010

                     Chetru                    Nanawa

Type of Work         Permissible work with     Favoritism to GP
                     priority to irrigation    members for
                     work                      individual works

Work site boards     Works site boards on      Work site boards
                     completed works only      not seen

Work site            Drinking water            Not available
facilities           arranged by workers       Ceremonial first
                     Ceremonial first aid      aid box available
                     box available

Quality of work      God                       Substandard works

Estimate at work     Technical sanction not    Unrealistic
site and technical   available                 technical
sanction                                       feasibility

Muster Roll          Work progress and         Work progress and
Management           material used not         material used not
                     recorded. Opening and     recorded.
                     closing dates missing     Inconsistent
                     on Muster Rolls           attendance, poor
                                               maintenance ,
                                               skilled workers
                                               charged to Labour

Payment of wages     Contradiction in muster   Underpayment of
                     Roll and Job Card         wages. Lack of
                     entries                   understanding of
                                               wage payment
                                               system to workers.

Women work           Higher than the norm      More than the
participation                                  prescribed limit

Knowledge and Awareness Management: The overarching dimension
of knowledge and awareness management has been illustrated
in Table-4 below.

Table 4: Knowledge and Awareness Management State in Selected
GPs

Indicator              Sirmour 2008

                       Puruwal                Navni

Proactive              Absence of             Wall writing for
Disclosures            Proactive              disclosures
                       Disclosures

NREGA Act and          Copies not kept in     Copies not kept
Scheme availability    GP                     in GP
in GP

Awareness on           No awareness           Partial
rights, entitlements   no clarity of demand   awareness of 100
and demand driven      driven schemes         day job no
schemes                                       awareness of
                                              unemployment
                                              allowance

Significance of        GS members don't       Participative and
Gram Sabha and         feel relevant          sufficient aware
participation

Constitution of        VMC constituted        VMC constituted
VMC, SAC and other     No training            only
committees and                                No training
their raining

Status of Social       No Social audit done   PRIs antagonistic
audit                  in past                t Social Audit

Training on            No training            Insufficient
a) MG NREGA                                   Training
b) Social Audit        No training            No training

Indicator              Kangra 2009         Bilaspur 2010

                       Chetru              Nanawa

Proactive              Wall writing for    Complete absence
Disclosures            disclosures         of Proactive
                                           Disclosures

NREGA Act and          Copies not kept     Copies not kept in
Scheme availability    in GP               GP
in GP

Awareness on           No knowledge of     No knowledge to the
rights, entitlements   entitlements        community
and demand driven                          No training to ward
schemes                                    member
                                           3 days training to
                                           Pradhan without any
                                           practical orientation

Significance of        Women more          No enough
Gram Sabha and         enthusiastic        participation
participation

Constitution of        Incapable SAC       No committee
VMC, SAC and other     Defunct VMC         constituted
committees and         No raining          training out of
their raining                              question

Status of Social       Social audit not    No records of
audit                  conducted           previous Social
                                           Audit

Training on            Limited training    Training without
a) MG NREGA                                practical exposure
b) Social Audit        No training         No training
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Author:Bansal, Rajeev
Publication:Political Economy Journal of India
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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