Social Audits

What is Social Audit?
  • Social Audit is the examination and assessment of a programme/ scheme conducted with the active involvement of people and comparing official records with actual ground realities.
  • A social Audit is a powerful tool for social transformation, community participation, and government accountability.
How is Social Audit different from Financial Audit?
  • Financial audits involve inspecting and assessing documents related to financial transactions in an organization to provide a true picture of its profits, losses, and financial stability.
  • On the other hand, Social audits focus on the performance of a program in fulfilling its intended social objectives and ethical vision.
Origin of Social Audits in India:
  • In India, social audits were begun by Tata Iron and Steel Company in 1979.
  • Later, such an auditing mechanism gained significance after the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution, which attempted to empower Panchayati Raj institutions and gram sabhas by arming them with such audits.
  • Section 17 of the MGNREGA Act has mandated a Social audit of all works executed under the MGNREGA.
Benefits of Social Audit:
  • It informs and educates people about their rights and entitlements.
  • It provides a collective platform for people to ask queries, express their needs and grievances.
  • Furthermore, it promotes people’s participation in all stages of the implementation of programmes.
  • Also, it brings about transparency and accountability in government schemes.
  • It strengthens decentralized governance.
  • Meghalaya became first state in country to operationalize The Meghalaya Community Participation and Public Services Social Audit Act, 2017, a law that makes social audit of government programmes and schemes a part of government practice.
  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated a scheme called Information-Monitoring, Evaluation and Social Audit(I-MESA) in which Social Audits are to be conducted for all schemes of the Department starting FY 2021-22. These social audits are done through Social Audit Units(SAU) of the States and National Institute for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj.

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