Making The Indian Government More Accountable

december has been a slow month. i kept falling ill. anyway, here is a small (and guardedly optimistic) story on how to make the indian state more accountable.

…a clutch of new laws, like the Right To Information Act (RTI) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), are moving the government’s developmental promises beyond “the realm of a privilege that benevolent regimes might provide to their citizens to a right that could be ‘legally enforced’, claimed and asserted,” to quote feminist scholar Srilatha Batliwala…

…The question is: Have these Bills begun to change the relationship between the state and the people? Are we, as MKSS activist Nikhil Dey puts it, moving from being subjects to citizens?

Yes, but at a slow pace.

the complete story, here.

ps – falling ill is not as bad a deal as it sounds. i finished reading some good books. including, drumroll, raag darbari. which i had picked up during the rural research days of 2008 but not read uptil now. anyway, have a super 2011, y’all. 🙂

Union Carbide Followup. Three

In June this year, responding to the public outcry over the weak judgments handed out by a Bhopal sessions court, the Indian government unveiled a new relief package for the survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. With the 26th anniversary of the leak around the corner, the Economic Times travelled to Bhopal to take stock of progress.

What follows is an excerpt from an interview with S.R. Mohanty, secretary (health), government of Madhya Pradesh, who is also in charge of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department.

Q But what happens to the people with “temporary disability”? Jabbar Khan, the Bhopal Gas activist, has been compiling a list of people, who while classed as temporarily disabled, are now suffering from cancer and renal failure and the like…

A That is a major problem. The 5,21,000 people who had been listed as suffering from minor injuries were not considered by the GoM. They did not want to reopen the question of recategorisation. On the whole, there are two issues on the compensation front. One, even as the number of cases rose far beyond initial estimates, the compensation amount stayed the same. The result, people got a fifth of what they should have. Second, the categorisation (into major and minor disabilities) itself has become untenable. As the years go by, people who had a minor wheezing problem now have collapsed lungs.

Read the whole interview here.