Indian Democracy and Social Auditing

After every election of India, the leader of the winning political party/alliance of political parties claims with smiling face that their government would be people’s government. They always respect people. Government would work with the people. But does it really work? It is the biggest saying of democracy in India. Functions of the government are restricted and limited within the realm of will of the ruling parties. In this people’s government,  is there any scope of social auditing? Social auditing is the key tool of democracy and its functioning. It is a legal, moral, and democratic necessity for the transparency and accountability of any work. It bridges the gap ‘between vision/goal and reality; and between efficiency and effectiveness.’ It is important because-

(i) to value the voice of stakeholders (including marginalized poor groups),

(ii) to enhance local governance, and

(iii) ‘in democracy, the power of decision makers should be used as possible with the consent and understanding of all concerned’.

Social auditing strengthens democracy particularly in- ‘prioritization of developmental activities as per requirements, proper utilization of funds, conformity of the developmental activity with the stated goals, quality of service,  etc.’ Social auditing ensures  ‘involvement of people in developmental activities to ensure that money is spent where is it actually needed, reduction of wastages, reduction in corruption, awareness among people, promotes integrity and a sense of community among people, improves the standard of governance and many others’.

In practice we observe that in our democracy (in people’s government), people’s participation excluding voter rights (which is also not fearless) is almost nothing or thin in development planning, implementation and monitoring & evaluation. The ground reality is that all development planning and related matters are according to the will of the ruling party. People have rare accessed in social auditing of any project. Risk of torture and threat denies social auditing.

Majority of our development work is related to public works (road repairing & maintenance, etc.)  and public health engineering(drainage & water supply, etc.)  where people could easily participate, prioritize work and they could monitor it. But these works are generally being executed according to the choice and force of local political leaders of the ruling party in government. These works usually start when next election would come. These works start, but it never ends in time. Road repairing, drainage and other similar works start interestingly during the rainy season. People’s suffering is not being realized by the authority. This broken work is a pain for everyday life of local people. They are voiceless because local authority does not respect their opinion or due to fear as an identified opponent who is against the work of government. Further, there is no inter and intra departmental co-ordination because we observe that after repairing a road, water supply department starts work for drainage system within short period at the same place. So, repeated pain and wastage of public money have become an event of so -called developmental works.

People in this democracy inhabit a quality of patience and tolerance. Because they have nothing to do or they are afraid to raise voice together against it. They have only rights to vote and it is enough to live a country like India. Their elected government would tell their future, if they express their opinion against it.

Is there any possibility of strengthening social auditing in democracy? Social auditing divorces people from our democracy due to our leaders and their ‘dirty politics’.

To save our democracy, we should raise our voice for implications of social auditing in everyday work of the government so that good governance would be accelerrated. Otherwise, democracy and good governance are the mouthful slogan.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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