Transparency International India is implementing a grassroots initiative, Pahal: Shaasan Sudhaar Ki Ore in four districts each in four states, namely Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar since April, 2009. This initiative is the next logical step taken after the TIIís India Corruption Study, 2008 carried out to measure the extent of bribes paid by the rural below poverty line (BPL) households to avail the eleven basic (PDS, Hospitals, School Education, Electricity, Water Supply) and need based services (Land Records, Housing, Forest, NREGS, Banking & Police). The findings revealed that the total bribe amount paid by the BPL households in a year was Rs. 883 crore, this, however, doesnít include operational irregularities or corruption not involving rural citizens directly. The average amount paid by a BPL household in India was Rs.550 per annum in 2007.
Under the initiative we are working for the poor and marginalized rural masses to empower them to demand and access their entitlements and public services with the knowledge and use of the tools of good governance like RTI, social audit, revived gram sabhas, citizenís charter and e-governance. Pahal also works towards people-centric, transparent and accountable governance through greater participation of women and disadvantaged sections in local self governance, increased responsiveness from local administration towards Gram Sabha (peopleís assembly for self governance) and tools of good governance and active role of Panchayats in bottom-up planning and monitoring.
Special features of Pahal: Model Gram Panchayats
- Model Gram Panchayats (GPs) that function efficiently and its people are well-informed, use the tools of good governance and participate in democratic processes
- Group of village leaders (especially including marginalized groups like women, tribals, etc) who are trained in using tools of good governance like RTI, citizenís charter, social audit
- Village Information Centre for information dissemination, assistance and grievance handling
- Coordination with government offices and elected representatives to facilitate fair, hassle free and timely delivery of government services and schemes.
Broad Project Outcomes
- Promoting tools of good governance: Due to training and awareness generation activities, villagers know about the tools of good governance like RTI, citizensí charter and use them to demand services and emoluments from government officials and elected representatives through written applications instead of making verbal appeals.
- Facilitate Government Services Delivery: As advocacy efforts, the government machinery is sensitized to answer the RTI queries, display Citizensí charters and other information in various government departments, facilitate social audits and deliver services timely and efficiently.
- Strengthening Local Self-Governance: In most of the places, Gram Sabhas are not properly conducted. TII aims to make the villagers aware about the local governance processes and make them participate.
- Sustainable Information Flow to rural areas: Village Information Centre acts as a hub for information dissemination-cum-community action for 4-5 adjacent Gram Panchayats. After the first pilot in Chhattisgarh, similar centers are being established in Orissa and Jharkhand as well.
- Creating Community Leadership: TII volunteer teams trained through this initiative act as catalyst in every village and spread the awareness on tools of good governance. They, in turn, motivate several others, too, to join the movement for improving governance in villages.