"Social audit of public works programs is the first and foremost vital feature for measuring the level of good governance."Critically discuss while enumerating steps taken in recent years by central and state governments to strengthen social audit.

Social audit is a process of reviewing official records and determining whether state reported expenditures reflect the actual money spent on the ground. Social audit forms important means of the accountability mechanism.
Steps taken to strengthen social audit:
Grama Sabhas
These are the constitutional bodies set up under the 11th schedule of the constitution. This is a body comprising of all the registered voters of the gram panchayats. State governments were empowered to define the modalities for the gramasabha under 73rd constitutional amendment.
The gramasabha was envisaged as a means of achieving effective decentralisation. But reluctance of states in setting up of empowered gramasabha has resulted in inefficient decentralisation process.
MNREGA
MNREGA had a built in component of social audit. This has resulted in bringing into limelight various lacunas like non-registering of workers, delay in payments etc.
Social audit to be effective it needs empowered citizens. But the welfare state approach has resulted in an environment wherein the citizens are at mercy of the bureaucrats. This makes citizens vulnerable and the social audit losses its effectiveness.
My hospital/mera haspatal
It is an ICT-based Patient Satisfaction System. It empowers the patients by seeking his / her views on quality of experience in a public healthcare facility. It uses a multi-channel approach will be used to collect patients’ feedback i.e. web portal, mobile application, Short Message Service (SMS), Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS).
The initiative uses a patient centric model to ensure the accountability of hospitals.
Social audit to be effective there must be empowerment of citizens. The citizens who are socially, economically and politically empowered drive an efficient social audit. Lack of empowered citizenry reduces social audit to a mere ritual without any significant outcomes.

Question for UPSC Mains:
“Social audit of public works programs is the first and foremost vital feature for measuring the level of good governance.” Critically discuss while enumerating steps taken in recent years by central and state governments to strengthen social audit. (250 words, 15 Marks)

Published: April 11, 2018 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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