Enabling people to govern themselves

  • IASbaba
  • July 15, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Government policies and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Enabling people to govern themselves

Context: Governance systems at all levels, i.e. global, national, and local, have experienced stress as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic 

Challenges of Governance during COVID-19 time 

  • Simultaneous issues: Breakdowns in many subsystems had to be managed at the same time — in health care, logistics, business, finance, and administration. 
  • Contradictions: Solutions for one subsystem backfired on other subsystems.  
  • For example, lockdowns to make it easier to manage the health crisis have made it harder to manage economic distress simultaneously. 
  • Lost Focus on other health issues: Diversion of resources to focus on the threat to life posed by COVID-19 had increased vulnerabilities to death from other diseases, and even from malnutrition in many parts of India. 
  • Exposed Weakness of International Institutions: There is a mismatch in the design of governance institutions at the global level (and also in India) with the challenges they are required to manage. 

Weakness of present Governance Systems 

  • Lacks integrated approach: The global challenges listed in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of UN are systemic challenges interconnected with each other, which must be addressed urgently by UN 
  • Silo-ed approach: Environmental, economic, and social issues cannot be separated from each other and solved by experts in silos or by agencies focused only on their own problems.  
  • Neglects local conditions: Solutions for environmental sustainability along with sustainable livelihoods cannot be the same in Kerala and Ladakh and Tokyo 
  • Lacks Public Participation: For the local people to support the implementation of solutions, they must believe the solution is the right one for them, and not a solution thrust upon them by outside experts 

Way Ahead- A case for local systems 

1. Governance of the people must be not only for the people. It must be by the people too.Government must devolve power to citizens in villages and towns in India for them to govern their own affairs 

2. Changing the mindset and approach towards Governance 

  • The dominant theory in practice of good government has become ‘government of the people, by the government, for the political party in power’.  
  • Administrative officers see their role as ‘deliverers of good government’ rather than as ‘enablers of governance’. This has strengthened the image of a paternalist government taking care of its wards 
  • The administrator’s task has become complicated when the numbers of government schemes multiplied — some designed by the central government, and others by State government.  
  • This has resulted into redundancy and inefficiency of work 
  • The government has to support and enable people to govern themselves, to realise the vision of ‘government of the people, for the people, by the people’. 


Those States and countries in which local governance was stronger have done much better than others. This shows that there is need to relook at governance models, preferably the Gandhian way of decentralisation of power 

Connecting the dots

  • Critical Analysis of the working of 73rd & 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts 

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