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Good Governance : A Study of Its Growth in Post-Independence India

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Good Governance : A Study of Its Growth in Post-Independence India
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  Good Governance : A Study of Its Growth in Post-Independence India Rakesh Chandra Introduction: “ The concept of governance is as old as human civilization. What is “Governance ”?  It  simply means the process of decision making and the process by which decisions are implemented”. 1 The term governance can apply to corporate, international, national, local governance or to the interaction between the sectors of society. “Speaking on basis of experiences of medieval period and the times of colonial rule in  particular in the continents of Africa and Asia, some political scientists would use sarcasm in describing the system of governance one such scientist (William H. Borah) said: “the  marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.” Yet others (Sir Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of England, in an Address on 12th  Nov. 1936) would not mince words in describing the business of governance thus : “ So they (the government) go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be important.” 2  The term ‘governance’  was first used in the sense in which it is deployed today- by the World Bank in a 1989 report on African economies. Trying to account for the failure of its Structural Adjustment Programme (SAPs), the World Bank put the blame on a “Crisis of  governance”. But the crisis of governance does not convey much unless one defines ‘governance’ 3 The World Bank in its document “ Governance and Development 1992 ”  defined governance as the matter in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development. 4. This early definition is quite indicative of the animating logic and future discursive career of governance: It is silent on the legitimacy or otherwise of the political power in question. So whether the Bank’s client was a democracy or a dictatorship did not matter. What mattered for governance is that efficient management must trump politics. Efficient management, just to be clear, means the withdrawal of the State in favour of the market. Over the years, the World Bank expanded its ‘governance’ model to include elements of a liberal democracy, such as a legal framework for enforcement of contracts, accountability, and so on. At the same time, it brokered on a marriage between governance and development. Nations deemed to be in need of ‘development’ could  now be told that the only way to get ‘development’    is through ‘governance’ - that is, by embracing the free market.5  Evolution Of Good Governance: The world has come a long way since the medieval period and the times of colonial rule. The majority of the member states of the comity of nations today are founded on the principle of “ Welfare State”, run with full participation of their respective inhabitants, striving to achieve the common good and in the process affording optimum opportunity and involvement for growth  of the individual so as to sub-serve the societal interests. This has led to evolution of “Good   Governance ”,  as opposed to mere governance, as the umbrella concept encompassing within it a system of governance that is able to unequivocally discover the basic values of the society where standards concern economic, political and socio-cultural issues including those involving human rights, and follows the same through an accountable and upright administration.6  Historical Perspective: Kautilya in his treatise  Arthasastra elaborated the traits of the king of a good governance state as “in the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare, whatever  pleases himself, he doesnot consider as good, but whatever pleases his subjects he considers as  good” (Sharma L.N. and Sushmita Sharma, 1998). Plato is credited with developing the concept of the philosopher king as the ideal ruler. Aristotle was perhaps the first political theorist to deal with the term ‘governance’,  when he classified political organizations by indicating the manner in which they were ruled by a kind of numerical court of rule by one (dictatorship), a few (autocracy), or many (democracy) (Sinclair, 1962). 7   Kautilya mentions the following few imperatives of good governance for a king (Sharmasastry, R. 1229): 8  1.   Merge his individuality with his duties. 2.   Guide administration. 3.   Avoid extremes without missing the goal. 4.   Lead a disciplined life with a code of conduct. 5.   Pay fixed salaries and allowances. 6.   Maintain Law and Order. 7.   Stress on Lekhas (writers) 8.   Carry out preventive/ punitive measures against corrupt officials. 9.   Replace bad administrators by good ones. 10.   Emulate administrative qualities. In modern era, the World Bank has defined good governance as the one epitomized by  predictable, open, and enlightened policy- making, a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos acting in furtherance of the public good, the rule of law, transparent process and a strong civil society participating in public affairs. Poor governance (on the other hand) is characterized  by arbitrary policy- making, unaccountable bureaucracies, unenforced or unjust legal, a civil society unengaged in public life and widespread corruption. It identified the following three distinctive aspects of good governance: 9  1.   The form of the political regions, military or civil, parliamentary or presidential, authoritative or democratic. 2.   The process by which authority is exercised in the management of a country’s  economic and social resources for development. 3.   The capacity of governments to design, formulate and implement policies and to discharge government functions. As per the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights , the key attributes of good governance include transparency, responsibility, accountability, participation and  responsiveness to the needs of the people. Good governance is thus linked to an enabling environment conducive to the enjoyment of Human rights and promoting growth and sustainable human development. 10 The views evolved in U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific are almost identical. It holds that “Good   Governance has 8 major characteristics. It is  participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the view of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is a lso responsive to the present and future needs of society.”   11 The characteristics of good governance laid down by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are as follows:12 1. Participation 2. Rule of Law, 3. Transparency, 4. Responsiveness, 5. Consensus Orientation, 6. Equity. 7. Effectiveness and Efficiency, 8. Accountability and 9. Strategic Vision. Good Governance Standards:13 (United Nations) According to United Nations, Good Governance has eight characteristics. Good Governance is ; (i) Consensus Oriented, (ii) Participatory, (iii) Following the Rule of Law, (iv) Effective and Efficient, (v) Accountable, (vi) Transparent, (vii) Responsive (viii) Equitable and Inclusive. What Is Good Governance? There is no single and exhaustive definition of “good governance”,  nor is there a delimitation of its scope, that commands universal acceptance. The term is used with great flexibility; this is an advantage, but also a source of some difficulty at the operational level. Depending on the context and the overriding objective sought, good governance has been said at various times to encompass: full respect of human rights, the rule of law, effective  participation, multi-actor partnerships, political pluralism, 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. However, there is a significant degree of consensus that good governance relates to  political, and institutional processes and outcomes that are deemed necessary to achieve the goals of development. It has been said that good governance is the process whereby public institutions conduct public affairs, 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. The true test of “good”  governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.14 The concept of good governance often emerges as a model to compare ineffective economics or political bodies with viable economies and political bodies. The concept centres around the responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of the masses as opposed to select groups in society. Also, good governance is about the process for making  and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ deci sions, but about the best  possible process for making those decisions. 15 Here, it is worthwhile to quote what Justice  N. Santosh Hegde, former Supreme Court Judge,has opined. He. said as thus: “Good  governance requires foresight and master planning...... In a democracy many changes can be achieved if people fight for it collectively. According to me, good governance is our fundamental right.” 16 In A.P. Pollution control Board Vs. M.V. Nayudu, 17 the   Supreme Court held that: “Principles of Good  Governance: Need for modification of our statutes, rules and notification by including adequate judicial and scientific inputs: “42. Good Governance is an accepted principle of international and domestic law. It comprises of the rule of law, effective State institutions, transparency and accountability in  public affairs, respect for human rights and the meaningful participation of citizens- (including scientists)- in the political processes of their countries and in decisions affecting their lives. [Report of the Secretary- General on the work of the organization, official records of the U.N. General Assembly, 52 session, Suppl.1 (A/52/1), para 22]. “  In Pukhrem Sharatchandra Singh Vs. Mairembam Prithviraj  18 , the Supreme Court cited the previous Judgement of this Court in  Manoj Narula Vs. Union of India19 where it was held that: “Democracy,  which has been best defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people, expects prevalence of genuine orderliness, positive propriety, dedicated discipline and sanguine sanctity by constant affirmance of constitutional morality which is the  pillar stone of good governance.”   The Application Of The Principle Of Good Governance: (1)    In The Field Of Administration: (A)   A Centre Level Reforms : One of the major legacies of the British rule was the strong bureaucratic structures and personnel manning them. The emphasis in the post- independence period was on nation building. The “public” remained elusive. With a view to transform the country from a Police State to Welfare State and to serve the aspiring people, it was felt to reform the existing bureaucratic structure, so that the bureaucracy can be designed to serve as the vehicle for ushering in good governance. Thus, in the beginning, the first phase of reforms in the post independence  period was led by the United States Foreign Aid objectives. Modernization became the ideology for the development model.20. Several committees devoted attention to the structures and machinery of government such as the N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar report (1949), which recommended that the central ministries  be clubbed into a bureau of natural resource and agriculture, bureau of industry and commerce,  bureau of transport and communication and bureau of labour and social services.21 Other committees such as the Gorwala Committee appointed by the Planning Commission focused on the efficient conduct of Public Undertakings.22   An important landmark in the area of administrative reforms goes back to Paul H. Appelby’s two reports on Indian Administration. The survey of Public Administration (1953) made a general survey of public administration in the Country. Appelby’s second report a reexamination of India’s Administrative system with special reference to the administration of the government’s industrial  and commercial enterprises was submitted in 1956. The Indian Institute of Public Administration was set- up to serve as a “ Think Tank  ”  to the Government of India. The Department of Administrative Reforms was established in March 1964. A major effort towards reforming governance was made in 1966 when the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) was set-up. The ARC in turn set up 20 study teams, 13 working groups and 1 Task Force. In all it submitted 20 reports to the government, making a total of 581 recommendations, in a period spread over 1966-70. As the ARC reports indicate the thrust of the reforms was on organization and functioning of ministries and departments as also on reform in Civil Services. ARC was assisted by three study teams focussing on personnel management, namely, the Thorat Committee, Nagarkatti Committee and the Patil Committee. An important recommendation of the ARC was accepted by the government when it created the Department of Personnel in August 1970 and placed it in the Cabinet Secretariat. The Second ARC submitted 16 reports. The 13th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission focuses on the organizational structure of the Government of India. The report examines the issues of reorganization of ministries and departments by revisiting and redefining the role of ministries and departments in view of the evolving role of governance. The economic crisis saw a renewed focus on the need to downsize. Among the  prominent committees that examined this issue are The Economic Administrative Reforms Commission (1983) headed by L.K. Jha, the Fifth Pay Commission and the Expenditure Reforms Commission. The Economic Reforms Commission headed by L.K. Jha, a retired ICS Officer, submitted 37 reports covering: tax administration; economy in public expenditure; the relationship between government and public enterprises etc. It recommended slashing down government activities; change in the style of governmental functioning; minimize harassment to citizens and delays to business and industry.23 The Fifth Pay Commission, which was set-up in 1993, submitted its report in 1997. The commission emphasized steps for delayering so as to reduce delays and computerization of office’s work, besides many other recommendation pertaining to financial aspects of the governmental functioning. The Expenditure Reforms Commission was set-up in February 2000 under the Chairmanship of Sri K.P. Geethakrishnan. It submitted ten reports. The focus was on downsizing. (B)   State Level Reforms: The first ARC recommendations so far as the State administration are concerned were basically on the same lines as those made for Government of India. This included its observations on oversized ministries and a  proliferation of personnel under the State Governments that had to be checked. The Second ARC’s  Recommendations on State Level Reforms were also more or less on the same lines as those for the central government. This was specially the case so far as rationalization of the number of the secretarial departments in the state
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