By Anjali Rawat, RMLNLU, Lucknow.
Recently the term good governance has been getting much coverage in news channels and newspapers. The reason behind it is the declaration of 25th December as Good Governance Day by the Indian Government. Well, even though the attention towards this term is new but the concept of governance is not recent, it has been running throughout the very veins of human civilization. Merriam-Webster defines governance as the way that a city or company is controlled by the people who run it, but more precisely, in the current context, it refers to the process of decision making and the process by which these decisions are implemented. And the responsibility for good governance falls on the shoulders of government and the civil society. There are two kinds of governance- good governance and bad governance which sound quite basic but the difference between them makes a hell lot of difference in the functioning and development of a country. Bad governance is the reason behind all the evils which exist in a country and thus, many countries have initiated reforms toward good governance, which is said to be the bulwark of a progressive nation.
Good governance has eight major characteristics, namely-participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follow the rule of law. All these characteristics have already been either incorporated in Indian Constitution or have been established by judicial pronouncements.
The eight characteristics of good governance in the context of India have been further discussed as follows:
Participation by both men and women is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation could be either direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. It is important to point out that representative democracy does not necessarily mean that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would be taken into consideration in decision making. Participation needs to be informed and organized. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand.
- Consensus Oriented
There are several actors and as many view points in a given society. Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community.
Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only governmental institutions, but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to whom varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.
Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media.
Good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable time frame.
- Effective and Efficient
Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.
- Equitable and inclusive
A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well being.
- The Rule of Law
Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force.
When talking about Good Governance in the context of India, one may face tons of troubles because India is country of Unity in Diversity which is great, but there exist differences regarding religion, caste, race, gender, economic status and so on it is not easy to achieve good governance and in Indian context the difficulty rises to a whole new level. In fact, even declaring 25th December as Good Governance Day is not easy as it said to hurt the feelings of Christians because they feared that schools and offices will remain open on 25th December. However, the decision of Delhi High Court clearly stated that no schools and offices will remain open. 25th December was chosen as Good Governance Day because it’s the birthday of former P.M. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has indeed worked towards the concept of good governance.
Narendra Modi’s drive of good governance has led in launching of new products and services by various wings of the department of telecommunications (DOT). C-DOT unveiled the Gyansetu – an internet-based real-time information and communications technology (ICT) system designed to provide e-services in rural areas. It also launched ‘MAX-NG’, which will enable a smooth transition from the old telephony to voice over Internet protocol and video services on existing landlines at cheaper rates. This initiation should indeed be appreciated. But in achieving the goal of good governance a plan is surely needed as in India there has been a history of laws being formed but not followed. There exists a conundrum regarding implementation of laws for e.g. – The laws about the right to education and laws against child labor have been formed, but at times have been violated even in the houses of those authorities who themselves preach about such laws. And this is not a mere fact, ask yourself, see your surroundings and you’ll find so many children who work instead of getting an education and are abused. At times people raise their voice disapproving of a law or a bill, but none question the implementation. The implementation goes downtrodden, even if it is in the form of judicial pronouncements and that has happened in various cases of arrest or preventive detention and many times go unreported. At times the institutions of authorities and government have failed miserably.
Let’s just hope that the Good Governance Day and its soul which, according to P.M. Narendra Modi strives to provide transparent, effective and accountable governance doesn’t remain some shallow or hollow words as in the case of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiated by Prime Minister himself only on 2nd October 2014 and although it continues doesn’t seem to make many changes, mostly due to improper implementation. However, his attention towards these matters and subject does show a silver lining. A country cannot have good governance until and unless its citizen participate and co-operate with the government. For Good governance, we need a government which will make laws, according to the eight characteristics of good governance, institutions of authority such as police, municipal corporations which have been given duties to perform for the welfare of citizens, to act according to the same characteristics and responsible citizens with a mindset that their cooperation is needed for a developed India to exist. This situation is quite ideal and seems difficult to achieve, but a step has been taken, the flame has been ignited and so good governance officially has made its way towards the citizen of India.
 ibid (n 1)
Modi’s good governance drive keeps some babus busy on Christmas, The Times of India, 26 Dec. 2014 available at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Modis-good-governance-drive-keeps-some-babus-busy-on-Christmas/articleshow/45644440.cms