14 Nov 2011

the Indian Dalit Community’s Success in Monitoring Public Spending

An article by Rebekah Kendal posted on the Open Budgets Blog today tells the story of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, a civil society initiative in India that succeeded in exposing the misuse of public resources by using media momentum and reporting on related corruption cases.

The campaign organized by the Dalit community, a traditionally marginalized group in the Indian social structure, began in 1998 and focused on budget monitoring to pressure the government to fulfill its constitutional obligation to allocate enough funds for the development of the Dalits.

After years of existence, the initiative finally succeeded in exposing the government’s reluctance in allocating funds to benefit the Dalit community, as they brought to public attention that those funds were being diverted to finance the 2010 Commonwealth Games, among other things. Since the Games had already been under media scrutiny due to another corruption scandal, the campaign was able to get their message across more easily and later gained the support of opposition parliamentarians.

An International Budget Partnership study about this case, written by Vimala Ramachandran and Sapna Goel, translates this experience in an interesting lesson for civil society at large: The campaign shows how the impact of CSO campaigns can be multiplied when they tap into the agendas of other powerful actors on the national and international stage.

Read the full article Make a scene when everyone is watching: The NCDHR’s Campaign 789 and the 2010 Commonwealth Games on openbudgetsblog.org. The article is part of a series about the impact of civil society’s efforts in monitoring government budgets.