In the words of Kofi Annan: “Good governance is perhaps the single most important factorI eradicating poverty and promoting development”
Governance is the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a count affairs at all levels. It consists of the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate t differences.
Without good governance, no amount of developmental schemes can bring in improvement in the quality of life of the citizens. On the contrary, if the power of the state is abused, or exercised weak or improper ways, those with the least power in the society – the poor- are most likely to suffer that sense, poor governance generates and reinforces poverty and subverts efforts to reduce Strengthening governance is an essential precondition to improving the lives of the poor.
The Tenth Plan document identified good governance as the single most important factor in ensures that the Plan objectives are achieved. Among other things, decentralization of power and citizen empowerment, effective people’s participation through state and non-state mechanisms, greater and consolidation among various agencies and programmes of government, civil service reform transparency, rationalization of government schemes and mode of financial assistance to states, improve access to formal justice system to enforce rights, reforms and strengthening of land administration a harnessing the power of technology for governance have been identified as the key priorities.
Over the past three years, several significant initiatives have been launched to improve the quality of governance.
A series of political reforms have been enacted by Parliament by unanimous these include the electoral funding, reforms promoting transparency and fairness and creating t incentives to donors, disclosure of antecedents of candidates contesting for public office, and the 97 Constitutional Amendment limiting the size of the Council of Ministers to 15 per cent of the strength the Lower House and considerably strengthening anti-defection provisions. A new value-added tax regime has been introduced recently, which is seen as the most ambitious tax reform after Independent
The path-breaking Right to Information Act has come into effect recently. This new law applies to union and state agencies, local governments and even societies and trusts which receive public fund This far-reaching law also provides for independent information commissioners, proactive disclosure and reporting mechanisms and has the potential to impact our governance process in a profound an positive way by empowering citizens.
These welcome initiatives indicate that our political system is willing to respond to the growing challenges of governance. The reasonably swift and efficient response of our administration to a series of major natural calamities – the Tsunami of December 2004, the Mumbai floods of July, 2005, and the, recent earthquake in Jammu & Kashmir – demonstrates that in times of crisis we are able to marshal our resources effectively. All these and competent election management show that we have an impressive administrative infrastructure and it responds well when objectives are clearly defined, resources are made available and accountability is surely enforced.
However, a lot more remains to be done. There is increasing lawlessness in several pockets of the country, and armed groups are resorting to violence with impunity for sectarian or ideological reason the state apparatus is generally perceived to be largely inefficient, with most functionaries serving no useful purpose.
The bureaucracy is generally seen to be tardy, inefficient, and unresponsive. Corruption is all-pervasive, eating into the vitals of our system, undermining economic growth, distorting competition, and disproportionately hurting the poor and marginalized citizens. Criminalization of politics continues unchecked, with money and muscle power playing a large role in elections. In general, there is high degree of volatility in society on account of unfulfilled expectations and poor delivery.
Abuse of authority at all levels in all organs of state has become the bane of our democracy. The perception that every political party and politician is corrupt needs to be seriously addressed, and restructuring the systems in all sectors – political, bureaucratic and judicial – is of paramount importance.
There is a need to restructure our political and governance institutions and rejuvenate our Republic. Otherwise, the growing cynicism and despair among large sections may shatter public confidence in democratic institutions.