Helping Markets and States Work for Development


India boasts of a diverse and varied landscape of spaces where the government has opened itself up to invite citizen participation in directing and monitoring service delivery. Through decentralized reform, citizens have been invited to participate in planning and monitoring local government activity.  Despite this profusion and diversity of invitations, there are many open questions regarding how these spaces actually work in practice: Who participates and how? Does simply creating new spaces bring about meaningful participation? And, perhaps most crucially, can participation improve accountability for service delivery? This article contributes to the small but growing body of work that examines these questions. It draws on existing and new literature on participatory spaces to analyze the effectiveness and further, potential of these spaces to enhance accountability for service delivery. The specific analysis focuses on the experience with conducting social audits in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.