India has made progress on nearly all the frontiers of agriculture, industry, education, culture, and international relations over the past seven decades. This race to development has been planned and implemented through urban industrialization in and around a few mega-cities and metropolitan municipal corporations in a handful states in the Union of India. As a result, as expected and warned by the experts and philosophers, the lopsided and inequitable growth in the chosen few pockets in India has created socio-economic imbalances and tensions. As a result, historically unprecedented number of people have migrated to those “lands of opportunities” in search of the daily bread and work for the hands. This problem has been exasperated by the mindless encroachment upon the habitats and traditional livelihoods of tribal communities, deep and remote rural population, artisans, and nomadic communities in India.
Unfortunately, the majority of our policy makers and legislators, especially scattered in small towns, villages and underdeveloped parts of different States in India have not yet worked on this impasse. Their politics are “regional or local” and they are continuing to influence their constituencies through communal or religious or short-sighted populist engagement with the respective power centres through their ballot-box politics alone!
The efforts of remediating the uninvited impacts of industrialization and urbanization have been institutionalized by the Central Government and also by the State Governments. All seem to be agreeing that the only remedy in the present circumstances could be through inducing growth in rural agricultural economy and ensure environment-friendly sustainable industrialization in cities as well as in rural areas.
Fortunately, India has been the signatory for the so-called “Millennium Development Goals” (implemented during 1st January 2001 and 31st December, 2015) as well as the currently implemented “Sustainable Development Goals” put forth by the United Nations (implementation planned for 1st January 2016 through 31st December, 2030). It is understood now that the commitment to “sustainable development” can only be implemented through the administrative law and executive procedures as well as by involving the civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) in supervisory and watch-dog capacity.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India is a Constitutional Authority appointed by the Hon. President of India to head the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of India. Through their annual CAG-Audits in the Central and State Governments, the SAI have lately begun to widen the scope of their Audits by including sustainability-related parameters. It is hypothesized in this research that the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) of India needs to incorporate sensibilities related to environmental protection and sustainable development while ensuring fairness, transparency and good governance related to expenditures by governments and public institutions; so that the spirit of the Preamble in India’s Constitution is honoured.
This research is conducted with the help of CAG Audit Reports and information available in public domain and evaluated the significance of the innovative and courageous role adopted by SAI in the recent times. This deviation from the conventional role of CAG is expected to help the Central and State Government Departments and Agencies to aim at sustainable development of our country and also justify expenditures to fulfil the mandates of the Constitution of India, National Environmental Policy (2006) and Environment Protection Act (1986) and several schemes and programmes to help the weaker sections of society. The CAG Audits will also certainly help India to fulfil her commitments to the United Nations and get benefited by successfully implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.