TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Good Governance; Important aspects of Governance
Good Governance Day: Prime Minister Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday is celebrated as Good Governance Day every year.
The concept of ‘good governance’
While Governance is the dynamic exercise of management power and policy, Good governance is concerned with the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.
The concept is related to the responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of the masses. The central focus is to see how the government enables, simplifies and authorises its people, regardless of differences of caste, creed, class, and political ideology and take certain decisions which will be in their best interest. It aims to promote and sustain holistic and integrated human development.
- Good governance is significant in public institutions to conduct and manage public affairs and resources to guarantee human rights in free of abuse and corruption, and with due regard for the rule of law.
- It is significant because it promises to deliver on the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.
- Good governance is thus, a function of installation of positive virtues of administration and elimination of vices of dysfunctionalities.
Elements of good governance
- Participation – People should be able to voice their own opinions through legitimate immediate organizations or representatives. Example: MP’s, Pressure Groups.
- Rule of Law – Legal framework should be enforced impartially, especially on human right laws. Example: independent judiciary.
- Consensus Oriented – Mediates differing interests to meet the broad consensus on the best interests of a community. Example: GST council- centre and states together.
- Equity and Inclusiveness – People should have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being. Example: affirmative policies for women, children and backward classes.
- Effectiveness and Efficiency – Processes and institutions should be able to produce results that meet the needs of their community while making the best of their resources. Example: Aadhar ensuring targeted delivery, eliminating ghost beneficiaries thus optimum use of limited government resources.
- Accountability – Governmental institutions, private sectors, and civil society organizations should be held accountable to the public and institutional stakeholders. Example: elections.
- Transparency – Information should be accessible to the public and should be understandable and monitored. Example: RTI, Draft bills made public to get feedback.
- Responsiveness – Institutions and processes should serve all stakeholders, respond to their grievances. Example: GST council rationalising tax structure and slew of measures keeping in mind MSME sector, PRAGATI Platform.
Some of the institutional measures to ensure transparency and accountability in governance
Transparency and accountability in administration are sine qua non of participatory democracy. Government secrecy fosters disbelief of government on the part of the citizenry and transparency eliminates the wall of secrecy built against the common people by those holding power. Accountability goes beyond the mere responsibility of delivery of a task or service. It also means answerability if a service is not delivered in a timely and efficient manner such that it becomes a burden.
- UNDP describes governance as “a system of values, policies and institutions by which a society manages its economic, political and social affairs through interactions within and among the state, civil society and the private sector.”
- Transparency is broadly accepted as a major principle of good governance. Transparency allows stakeholders to collect information that may be critical to uncovering abuses and defending their interests. Likewise, transparency increases accountability of the Government officials.
- Transparency means that the criteria, process and systems of decision-making are openly known to all in a public manner. Citizens charter becomes an important measure for transparency in institutional setup.
- The declaration of Right To Information Act (2015) set the stage for transparency in the functioning of the government and its various agencies. Under this Act, access to information from a public agency has become a statutory right of every citizen.
- Major Initiatives to Enhance Transparency in India include – Right to Information Act, Public Services Bill, Citizens Charters, e-Governance, e-Bhoomi, e-Choupal, e-procurement.
- Transparency is required to make the system of public service delivery effective. However, sheer knowledge of what entitlements are, and who is responsible for fulfilling them, is not sufficient to ensure that public services are passably and effectively delivered to the ‘intended’ recipients.
- Accountability become another crucial concept in maintaining good governance. Accountability means being answerable for the performance of tasks assigned to a person.
- Accountability necessitates the clear specification of tasks to be performed, the time frame and budget available for performing those tasks. Additionally, it is also important to be clear about the responsibility for performance of those tasks; person responsible and whether it is clear to them.
- Citizens Charter Bill 2011 aims at providing rights to citizens for time bound delivery of goods and services and provide a Grievance Redressal Mechanism. Such a bill was previously recommended by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.
- Lokpal and Lokayuktas aims at reducing corruption by setting up of a separate institution of Lokpal at the Central level and Lokayuktas at the State level. These organizations investigate cases of corruption against public servants in the respective Government organizations.
- E-Governance initiatives for providing an accountable administration include a framework for efficient handling of public grievances through the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) which is already in place.
- The governance involving transparency and accountability suffers from the weakness that disclosed Information’s Genuineness can also be dubious and Wrong Interpretation of available information can give detrimental results to an organization.
- Further, the abundance and availability of information means that the user needs skill to determine what it is that they want. The user of information has major role to play in affecting information sharing.
- Change in the mindset of the government employees is necessary as it becomes a great hindrance in the process of ensuring transparency and accountability in governance structures in India.
- Limited digitalisation of government offices and inadequate infrastructure has further been a stumbling block in ensuring effective transparency and accountability measures.
Way Forward –
- There is imperative need to strengthen and widen the national public information infrastructure through developing information networks for wider access of digital information through wider use of information technologies.
- Changing the mindset of the government employees is important. This will be addressed to organizing programmes for orientation, training and capacity building.
- States may be advised to establish an independent public grievance redressal authority to deal with complaints of delay, harassment and corruption.
Few challenges that are faced in accomplishment of good governance are weak institutions, lack of participation and democratisation, lack of social capital, corruption and other. It is essential to address these challenges to achieve good governance that plays a paramount role in the transformation of predatory state to welfare state.
Accountability is the complementary function of Transparency. Further, if the system of governance is transparent enough it would promote accountability, transparency and accountability are linked vis-a-vis its mission of an organization where the main objective of achieving public welfare needs to be prioritised.
Connecting the Dots:
- With the help of suitable examples, illustrate the ways in which Right to Information (RTI) has ushered Indian administration and governance into an era of transparency.
- What is a citizen charter? Do you agree with the assertion that citizen charters act as mere optics and have no substance on ground?