The Challenge of Good Governance in India: Need for Innovative Approaches
Balmiki Prasad Singh (Shri B.P. Singh is a distinguished scholar, thinker and public servant. He was Union Home Secretary
(1997-99) and currently Mahatma Gandhi National Fellow.
Oxford University Press, Delhi has brought out
his latest work “Bahudhā and the post-9/11 world” this year. This paper was circulated in the secondinternational conference of the Global Network of Global Innovators organized by Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation and John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University during March 31 – April 2, 2008, at Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. )
This paper makes an effort to provide a framework for good governance in India by identifying its essential featur es and shortcomings in its working and emphasizes need for innovative approaches. No theory of governance could be intelligible unless it is seen in the context of its time. India’s democratic experience of the past six decades has clearly etablished that good governance must aim at expansion of social opportunities and removal of poverty. Good governance, according to the author, means securing justice,empowerment, employment and efficient delivery of services. The paper deals with these subjects in detail and also analyses administrative and political faultlines. It identifies criminalization of politics and corruption as two major challenges. It also highlights shifts in meaning and content of national values of the freedom movement particularlythose of nationalism, democracy, secularism, non-alignment, and mixed economy and itsimpact on the nitty gritty of administrationas well as on the intellectual build up of theorgans of the Indian State.
The paper lists several areasof concern that need to beaddressed energetically and calls for synergy of efforts between government, the market and the civil society. Innovations are genera lly taking place. There are, however, two areas that need special attention by I nnovators, namely, economic empowerment of women and livelihood programmes based on local resources and upgraded skills. The need is to formulate a national strategy that accords primacy to the Gandhian principle of‘antodaya ’ without sacrificing growth and by making instruments of State accountable for good governance.
As a student of political science, one was taught that the essential features of the State included: (i) a definite territory; (ii)population; (iii) government; and (iv)sovereignty. The government is viewed as
an agency or machinery through which the will of the State is formulated, expressed and realised. While this traditional distinction between the state and the government holds, the role of the government and nature of governance have been changing from time to time and even at a given point of time there is considerable variation when the form of government is a democracy or otherwise.
There is no accepted definition of governance. There is divergence of opinion\about the meaning of governance between the conservatives and the liberals, between socialists and the communists. The World Bank, for example, has sought to take a middle position be defining governance particularly as the traditions and the institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. This includes (i) the process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced;(ii) the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and (iii) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social communications among them.
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