- Recently, the good governance week celebration came to an end. The week included the launching of several programs and initiatives related to good governance.
- In this context, this edition of the burning issue will elaborate on good governance and good governance week.
About Good Governance Week
- In 2014, the Government of India paid tribute to the former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, by declaring his birthday (December 25) as ‘Good Governance Day’ – Susasan Divas.
- Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Government of India celebrates Good Governance Week from 19-25 December every year.
- The decision to celebrate Good Governance Week (Sushasan Saptah) was taken by the government in the year of Amrit Mahotsav (75th Year of Independence) ie. 2021.
- During the week-long celebrations, various activities are taken up to demonstrate the government’s commitment to providing transparent, effective and accountable governance to the people of this country.
Good Governance Week 2022
- Good Governance Week (Sushasan Saptah) campaign “Prashasan Gaon Ki Aur” was launched during 20-25 December 2021 and it aimed at showcasing and replicating the best governance practices at the grassroots level. The campaign intended to create a national movement for good governance and motivate the stakeholders both in the government as well as outside the government.
- The Second Sushasan Saptah to be celebrated during 19th – 25th December 2022, aims at furthering Good Governance at every level in India. As part of the celebrations, a 5-day “Prashasan Gaon ki Ore campaign” is to be organised from 19th December 2022.
- The Nationwide campaign for the Redressal of Public Grievances and Improving Service Delivery will be held in all Districts, States and Union Territories of India. Over 700 District Collectors will be participating in the Campaign and officials will be visiting Tehsils and Panchayat Samiti Headquarters.
- District Collectors have also identified 81,27,944 applications for Service Delivery to be disposed of, along with 19,48,122 Public Grievances to be redressed in State Grievance Portals.
- This is the second time in Amrit Kaal Period, that the Government of India will be conducting a National Campaign at Tehsil level to address Public Grievances and Improving Service Delivery. Prashasan Gaon ki Ore Abhiyaan will create a national movement for good governance that will inspire future generations.
- 373 Best Good Governance Practices have been identified for discussion in District Level Workshops on December 23, 2022. 43 Success Stories in Public Grievances will also be shared during the Good Governance Week-2022.
- 3,120 New Services identified by District Collectors across the country will be added for Online Service Delivery.
What does Good Governance mean?
- Governance refers to all processes of governing, the institutions, processes and practices through which issues of common concern are decided upon and regulated.
- Good governance is the process of measuring how public institutions conduct public affairs and manage public resources and guarantee the realization of human rights in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption and with due regard for the rule of law.
- While there is no internationally agreed definition of ‘good governance’, it may span the following topics: full respect of human rights, the rule of law, effective participation, multi-actor partnerships, political pluralism, transparent and accountable processes and institutions, an efficient and effective public sector, legitimacy, access to knowledge, information and education, political empowerment of people, equity, sustainability, and attitudes and values that foster responsibility, solidarity and tolerance.
Good Governance according to United Nations
The United Nations is playing an increasing role in good governance. According to former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “Good governance is ensuring respect for human rights and the rule of law; strengthening democracy; promoting transparency and capacity in public administration.” To implement this, the UN follows eight principles:
- Participation – People should be able to voice their own opinions through legitimate immediate organizations or representatives.
- Rule of Law – Legal framework should be enforced impartially, especially on human rights laws.
- Consensus Oriented – Mediates differing interests to meet the broad consensus on the best interests of a community.
- Equity and Inclusiveness – People should have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being.
- 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.
- Accountability – Governmental institutions, private sectors, and civil society organizations should be held accountable to the public and institutional stakeholders.
- Transparency – Information should be accessible to the public and should be understandable and monitored.
- Responsiveness – Institutions and processes should serve all stakeholders.
Features of Good Governance
- Good education facilities offered by the government have greater employability,
- Development of basic infrastructures like roads, bridges, power, telecom, airport, irrigation and transport
- Safety of public life, property, peaceful law and order,
- Creating new employment opportunities in the government and private sectors, l Effectiveness and efficiency of working of government and its staffs,
- A good business environment with a free-market economy,
- Reducing inequalities in society through positive discrimination in favor of the poorest of the poor l Providing total freedom of speech, of religion, of work and attitude of non-interference by government.
- Provision of more concessions to citizens and free from bias,
- Good business environment and l Citizen centric services.
Good Governance in India
- The concept of “Good governance” is relatively a new term which has come to the limelight in the 1990s; however, the principle of good governance is not new to Indian society.
- While throwing attention over the state of affairs in ancient India, it is noticed that the king or the ruler was bounded by the dharma which was precisely meant to ensure the good governance for the people. “Rajadharma” was the code of conduct or the rule of law which was superior to the will of the ruler.
- Even in the great epics like Mahabharat and Ramayana, the rulers abide by the principles of good governance which are more often cited on many occasions.
- In India, the concept was talked about in the Arthashastra, authored by Chanakya. He mentions the characteristics of a good king thus, “In the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare; whatever pleases himself, he does not consider as good, but whatever pleases his subjects he considers as good.”
- Mahatma Gandhi advocated the concept ‘Ram Rajya’ for India based upon the principles of good governance which necessarily meant dreaming of India as a welfare state where the necessities of the down-trodden, the welfare of the commoner and their progress through indigenous industries would become the hallmark.
- The Constitution of India also embodies the concept the good governance through its list of Fundamental Rights of the citizens and Directive Principle of State Policy.
Good Governance Initiatives in India
- Public service guarantee act: The public service guarantee act is also known as the Right to Public Services Act in some states. It provides for legislation and statutory laws that guarantee time-bound delivery of services by the government to the citizen and provides a mechanism for punishing the errant public servant who fails to provide the service stipulated under the statute, within the stipulated time. Madhya Pradesh was the first state to enact the Right to Service Act on 18th August 2010 and Bihar became the second state to implement it on 25th July 2011.
- Citizen’s Charter: is a non-agency device for people’s participation. It is a document representing an effort to focus on the commitment of public organisations toward their clients/citizens. The Sevottam model is designed as an assessment tool by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) in 2006. SEVOTTAM is the ‘Nine Criteria Model for Citizen Centricity’, meaning Uttam Seva or excellence in service delivery.
- Right to Information: has emerged as a prominent concern in the field of public administration. Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution includes the Right to Information. Right to Information opens up the government’s records to public scrutiny, thereby arming citizens with a vital tool to inform them about what the government does and how effectively; thereby making the government more accountable.
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): a governance-centric approach to citizen’s welfare, is an obligation on the part of the corporates to act in a manner that will serve the best interests of the society. The enactment of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 made CSR spending and reporting mandatory for the first time and brought CSR initiatives of Indian corporates under the purview of corporate law.
- Good Governance Index: The Good Governance Index Was launched on the occasion of Good Governance Day on 25 December 2019. The Good Governance Index is a uniform tool across States to assess the Status of Governance and the impact of various interventions taken up by the State Government and Union Territories.
- Some other notable initiatives: that enable better governance include the MyGov citizen engagement platform, MEITY’s e-governance platform, Digital India, Niti Aayog’s Aspirational Districts,
Challenges to Good Governance in India
- Corruption: Corruption has virtually spread in almost all aspects of public life. It not only averts the benefits of globalization to reach the common man but also denies transparency, accessibility and accountability, confuses rules and procedures, and proliferate mindless control and poor commitments at all levels. Hence,
- The criminalization of Politics: The nexus of crime and politics is so strong that the common citizens of the country have no stand to say or exert their rights. In order to prevent such misuses on May 2, 2002, the Supreme Court of India has given a historic judgment following the public interest litigation (PIL) led by an NGO that, every candidate contesting an election to Parliament, State Legislatures or Municipal Corporations has to give true declarations of candidate’s educational qualifications, criminal charges and financial records.
- Judicial delays: The most severe challenge relates to the complexity of adjudication as legal proceedings are lengthy and costly and the judiciary lacks personnel and logistics to deal with these matters.
- Weak accountability mechanism: The general weakness of accountability mechanisms impedes improving services across the board. Bureaucratic complexities and procedures make it difficult for a citizen as well as civil society to navigate the system for timely and quality delivery of services.
- The lack of transparency and secrecy: that have been associated with the administrative system from colonial times, besides generating corruption, has also led to injustice and favoritism.
- The frequent transfer of key civil servants: has enormously contributed to failures in the delivery of services. In some states, the average tenure of a District Magistrate is less than one year. Development projects have also suffered as a result of frequent changes in project directors.
- The step is to evolve from an “application-based right to access information” to “public information being automatically shared on a public platform” using technology.
- Inclusion of the public: Good governance is not created solely by the government. Every stakeholder has an equal role in achieving it. There is a need for greater accountability of any action/decision taken within the public domain. Inclusion will also make sure that well-intentioned government programs and policies do not stray from their intent. The need of the hour is to have stakeholder consensus in the government’s policies and projects. Any program being implemented must be outcome-oriented and achieved through larger stakeholder consensus building.
- Regular monitoring of government schemes: All government schemes should be regularly monitored and evaluated by an independent (third) party, to ensure successful implementation, provide last-mile delivery, and give an unbiased view. This conforms with the global standards established by the UN, World Bank and others.
- Consolidation of multiple redundant ministries: and overlapping schemes should be initiated, to streamline operations, improve efficiency and outcomes for better public service delivery, thereby improving the return on public investment.
- To ameliorate criminalization from politics: It is necessary to ameliorate criminalization from politics and the seriousness of the matter should be properly worked out. Educated youngsters should be encouraged to enter into Indian politics and these young leaders should be properly nourished by patriotic commitments and abide by the core principles of democratic governance.
- Check corruption: There is a foremost need to check corruption at all levels by raising public consciousness and strong commitments not to make dishonest compromises that would put down the moral values and ethics of life.
- Observing Good Governance Day (December 25) will continuously remind us that the ruling government should be development oriented, inclusive, yet forward-looking and global in its approach. It is only with good governance, that Gandhiji’s vision of creating a strong and prosperous India shall be enabled and fulfilled.
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