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Orientation & Resources


How to convert your Research paper into a newspaper article by Sahnaz

An extremely helpful and guiding session by Mrs. Aiyer on “How to convert your Research paper into a newspaper article” made us acquainted with a lot of interesting facts of the real world.

Starting from how to assess and then selecting a relevant newspaper for our research paper, and then moving on to learn how to make our article “relevant” for the selected newspaper; we had a lot to explore in every minute.

We definitely knew that a newspaper article has to be crisp, precise and attractive, but how is that made into one is what we learnt. Ranging from the five “W’s” to being a devil’s advocate to drafting and re-drafting till we attain perfection; all came from the expertise of Mrs. Aiyer.

As an exemplary exercise, we were made to give a self-description in not more than 5 lines. From what each person spoke, all the other people had something to criticise and something to appreciate; basically all had something to learn.

Amidst the session, there were points discussed/mentioned which also gave us an insight into how the print media works: a rare opportunity for all the aspiring journalists amongst us!

So, all-in-all, it was not only a very enriching and helpful experience w.r.t. knowing how to convert our Research paper into a newspaper article, but also greatly to an extent in certain aspects of how to actually research and re-research.

PPT by Mrinalini on Understanding Govt Budget

Understanding Government Budgets Mrinalini

PPT by Amrita from Satark Nagarik Sangathan on RTI

RTI-SNS- AJ – May 2009

PPT by Yamini on Budget Accountibility

Where has all our Money gone?

Budget Accountability

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4 Comments

  1. RTI ACT by Amrita

    RTI act isn’t something unknown to us. Especially when we’re working with CCS for public policies, under which we constantly have to deal with the “not- so – cooperative” governments departments and officials. In such a case RTI becomes our last resort!

    But it was definitely startling to know that our knowledge/ purview of vision of RTI was so narrow. I mean out of all of us, how many knew that RTI act was based on the fundamental right to information and that not only RTI, but how any act is assessed in the light of its exemptions(which must be minimum) and penalties( which should be the most strict).

    The basic essential and vital questions, few of which we knew and few of which we didn’t really even think of, were here, answered by experts of the field! The five most important ones were:

    1. Who can file an RTI?
    2. What all information can be accessed through RTI?
    3. What’s the time frame within which the government must respond and what happens after that?
    4. What if the information asked for isn’t given?
    5. What is it that is binding on the government to take action?

    These and a lot many important questions were addressed by Ms. Amrita Joshi, including the exemptions to the act, interesting small clauses yet very vital clauses of the Act, the Official Secrets act, 1923 and a whole range of thing none of us had ever even heard of!

    After filing an RTI, how can we make an appeal if the application isn’t addressed within a month and who are the people who are eligible to take decisions and define the “definitions”. I don’t know about exceptions, but majority of us surely didn’t know a lot of things that we learnt about today.

    As is said, actions speak louder than words. At the end of the session, we were shown a video showing live examples of people both from rural and urban areas, who had the courage to question the government despite the never- ending threats and were able to make a change!

  2. How to write a research paper by Dr. Beena Reji

    Session on “How to write a research paper” was the most awaited and demanded session in the past one month of internship in CCS. This one was one directly beneficial to our paper. From the perspective of an expert researcher herself to the perspective of a normal reader that everyone is, interns got insight into all the things that would enable us to bring out their own research paper. There were things that interns had learnt till now like simple language, precise and concise statements, but there were technical aspects like how to make reference, etc which they might not have even considered without this session.

    Few of her tips on writing a Research Paper are as follows:

    Idea of the writer:
     Relevance of the topic
     Insight and depth (of the writer)
     What is your insight?

    Format:
     Font – Times New Roman
     Text Size – 12
     Double spacing

    Research Question:
    Be Specific
    How is your paper different from previous papers on the same topic?

    Broad Outline for Paper:
    1. Title Page
     Catchy
     Informative
     Interesting

    2. Abstract
     (Abstract is basically a general summary of the entire paper) roughly 250 words.

    3. Intro Parra.

    4. Method
     Methodology
     Snowball
     Gaining several contacts from one contact

    5. Body (of the paper)
     Answers specific questions to your study
     Place Information where needed/required
     (graphs and visual aids are optional, not imparrative…also don’t place visual aids such as graphs and charts unnecessarily)

    6. Conclusion

    7. References

  3. Where has all the money gone?
    Building a framework for accountability in public expenditures. By Yamini Aiyar

    Outline
     Why budgets matter to us?
     What we should know about budgets?
     What we know about Budgets?
     The Right to Information Act: An opportunity?
     What we can do?

    Why budgets matter?
     India a ‘miracle economy’: high GDP growth over the last few years
     Large increases in social sector spending (health, education) up to 6.27% of GDP (Rs. 294,412 crore)

    BUT despite all this spending, the results are dismal

    “About 27m Indians will be born this year. Unless things improve, almost 2m of them will die before the next general election. Of the children who survive, more than 40% will be physically stunted by malnutrition. Most will enroll in a school, but they cannot count on their teachers showing up. After five years of classes, less than 60% will be able to read a short story and more than 60% will still be stumped by simple arithmetic.” (Economist, May 23rd 2009)

    “of every one rupee spent on development only 15 paise reach the poor” (Rajiv Gandhi)

    Clearly, there is something very wrong with the way money is being spent…………. Inefficiency? Corruption? Where has all the money gone?

    And this is your money – even when you don’t pay income tax!

    Go back to the basics: What should we know about the budget?
     Availability: How much money do I have? And what for?
     Sources: Where is this money coming from?
     Timing: When did the money arrive? And how much arrived?
     Expenditure: How much is being spent and at what periodicity (monthly, quarterly)? When is the money spent and on what?
     Trends: Has the availability risen or fallen? Have expenditures changed? How much gets left over?

    Why do you need budget information?
     Helps you plan better (That’s why you ask how much you’ll get paid every month in a job interview!)

     Ensures transparency:
     Helps you catch mistakes or inefficiencies (under spending, over spending)
     Ensures that you know when money comes and goes
     Identifies leakages – helps you catch the thief

    The Right to Information Act: An opportunity?
    Proactive Disclosure
     RTI mandates the proactive disclosure of information by Public Authorities

    It shall be the constant endeavor of every public authority to provide as much information suo moto to the public at regular intervals through various means of communication including the internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information. (section 4 (2))

     Reporting on the following parameters:
     About organization
     Subsidy programs
     Directory of employees
     Decision making
     PIO information
     Powers and duties
     Electronic information
     Concessions and permits
     Rules and regulations
     Norms
     Domains in archives
     BUDGETS
     SALARIES
     Public consultation etc
    Poor Reporting……
     Incomplete reporting: 10-30% of requirement especially for budgets
     Undated or outdated information : Data 2-3 years old; budget, expenditure, and program project data is not even dated

    So what can we do?
     There is a law, a powerful law that government is mandated to follow
     There is some reporting BUT bad reporting
     There is some reporting BUT no one understands it
     Can we help them report better?

    Go back to the basics: What should we know about the budget?
     Availability: How much money do I have? And what for?
     Sources: Where is this money coming from?
     Timing: When did the money arrive? And how much arrived?
     Expenditure: How much is being spent and at what periodicity (monthly, quarterly)? When is the money spent and on what?
     Trends: Has the availability risen or fallen? Have expenditures changed? How much gets left over?

    There are lessons that can be learnt
     India: APREGS/ JNNURM
     Brazil: Transparency Portal

    Some things to consider
     No ‘one size fits all’
     Identify the key activities in a sector – reporting should be along key activities
     Trends are always more interesting than bare facts. But what trends should we care about?
     How to ensure accuracy? Updation? Regular flows of information?

    One example: Education
    STEP 1: Identify key activities
     Planning (setting standards/ Curriculum)
     Operations (Teachers)
    • Wages
    • Training
    • Materials
     Operations (non-teacher)
    • Infrastructure and mainantance
    • Text books
    • Subsidy’s
    • MDM
    • Wages (non teaching staff)
     Monitoring and Evaluation
    Step 2: Identify process of receiving funds
    Step 3: Identify Reporting levels
     Department – District – Local body (Municipality) – final destination
     Activities for reporting at each level
    Step 4: Identify Parameters for reporting trends
     Amount allocated Vs amount received (over time- how many years?
     Date when money should have arrived Vs when it does arrive at final destination
     When was it spent? On what?

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