Seminar on 'Social Accountability through Social Audit'

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CSIM and the Sociology Department at MOP Vaishnav college for Women jointly organsied a seminar on 'Social Accountability through Social Audit' on 9th February 2010. The chief guest for the seminar was Mr. T.S. Krishnamurthy, Former Chief Election Commissioner. While delivering the key note address he said, "It is ideal to have this workshop organized for college students. Social audit will not only empower the youth of today, but will also make them accountable". He lauded the organizers for being pioneers in creating awareness on social audit, as it was going to be the tool of success in the development of the nation.

There was a panel discussion on Government Initiatives on Social Audit. The panelists who led the session were Mr Ilango, the architect of Kuthambakkam Village; M Sivaraj, Vice President, Federation of Anti Corruption Teams India; Ms. Malathi Helen, Assistant Director, GOTN, presently working as Communications specialist for ‘Vazhnthu Kaatuvom project; Mr. Ramalingam, Retd. Executive Director of Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board who is actively engaged in monitoring the implementation of NREGA programme in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Mr. Ilango spoke to the students on his experiences in setting up the model village at Kuthambakkam and how it has become as success. "It is not necessary that you need to be in a village to engage in advocacy with the gram sabha and bring about unity amongst the villagers. An IAS officer or a doctor should remember to visit their village at least on Republic day and try to serve the village. This would suffice," he said.

Ms. Malathi Helen made a presentation on ‘Vazhnthu Kaatuvom project’ and screened a short film on the program. She explained on the social accounting practice followed by the self help groups and shared her enriching experience working with the rural people.

Mr. M. Sivaraj spoke on Right to information and advised students on the issues for which a citizen can seek information from the government. He shared examples of how he was able to obtain information from the government on several issues by just filing a petition. He expressed to the students: "One can ask for any information from the government. As long as it is not personal and posing a threat for the nation’s security. If you do not know which government department to approach, write to the District Collector".

Mr. Ramalingam spoke about the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and shared his experiences on how it enabled rural development with the students . Mr Prasanna, Executive Director, CIOSA, spoke about how social audit could be used as a planning and monitoring tool for NGOs.

The Children Parliament members of Aranvoyal village enacted the way they had started to directly get involved in the activities of their village. A mock children parliament with 16 children discussed a few burning issues. “There was a toilet constructed for students, but when the construction was complete we were not allowed to use it. What do we do?” asked the Minister for Public works department, Arunachalam. “Let us go and meet the Head Master and tell him about this and then talk to the Panchayat leader”, advised the Vice President.

The college students were surprised and moved to tears when they realized that the potential and guts amongst the children parliament members. "I want to grow up and come to this college to study", said one of the children parliament members.

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