What is Good Governance? What are the features of Good Governance? What are its benefits and challenges? To answer these questions, read further.
According to UNESCAP, good governance means processes and institutions that produce results which meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal.
The Indian Constitution, explicitly outlines the importance of governance. The Constitution is based on the principles of a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic, committed to democracy, the rule of law, and the welfare of its citizens. Every citizen of the nation is primarily concerned with the efficient functioning of the government.
It is not a new idea to talk about Good Governance. The Arthashastra, written by Chanakya, discussed this idea in the context of India. He explains the qualities of a good king. Since then it is an important concept to be looked upon.
Features of good governance
- Good Governance implies equal and active participation of civil society at the local level in the work of its community. For example Gram Sabha under the 73rd constitutional amendment and social audits under MGNREGA.
- It results in effectiveness and efficiency by the achievement of the desired objectives through the judicious use of existing resources. For example Insolvency and bankruptcy code for the efficient resolution of disputes regarding corporate insolvencies.
- It leads to inclusivity, as the government processes that ensure the interest of all the stakeholders in society are honored which can be seen in the form of Eklavya schools for the inclusive education of the tribal children, or the Van Dhan scheme for the economic development of the tribals engaged in the collection of the minor food produce.
- Good Governance puts an obligation on the government and its agencies to provide information and justify their decisions to the public and other institutions leading to accountability. For example, audits by CAG and INGRAM for lodging consumer grievances.
- It helps in upholding the rule of law, a system where all citizens in the country are accountable to the laws of the country. For example, Article 21 protect individuals from the arbitrary actions of the executive and the legislature.
- It is in the best interests of society as it is consensus-oriented and considers different people to come to a conclusion and argument. For example National education policy was a result of consensus built amongst different stakeholders.
- It implies a government that is not opaque and its information is disseminated to the public and is transparent. For example, the Right to Information acts as a landmark act to enforce good governance.
- Because of good governance now the quality of reacting quickly and positively has increased, leading to responsiveness. For example, PRAGATI aimed at addressing the common man’s grievances.
Characteristics of Good Governance as per UN
There are eight essential characteristics of good governance listed by the United Nations (UN).
Participation: Involving all facets of society in governance is a crucial cornerstone. Men and women, weaker groups in society, the underprivileged, minorities, etc. are all included in this.
Transparency: This refers to everyone having easy access to information, particularly those who may be impacted by the decisions made. Another crucial aspect is that all decisions are made and carried out in accordance with laws and regulations.
Rule of Law: Rule of law ensures the impartial implementation of equitable legal systems.
Responsiveness: This suggests that institutions and processes should provide services to all parties involved quickly.
Consensus-oriented: Consensus-oriented decision-making makes sure that even if everyone does not get all they want, a shared minimum can be reached by all parties that will not be harmful to anyone.
Inclusion and equity: Effective governance ensures an egalitarian society. In a society like this, nobody or any group feels excluded or marginalized. No one should be discriminated against, and opportunities should be given to everyone regardless of background.
Effectiveness and efficiency: Good governance implies that institutions and procedures produce outcomes that satisfy societal needs while making the best use of the resources available to them.
Accountability: Accountability is a crucial component of effective government. It should apply to all parties involved, including the public, the private sector, business, non-profit organizations, and the government.
Benefits of Good Governance
Good governance results in efficient governance ensuring better morale amongst people and improving the overall happiness and the standard of living of the larger public.
There is better public faith and the government enjoys more trust of people enduring stability, reduces scams and corruption in the system because of accountability and transparency.
It improves the bureaucratic and administrative efficiency with healthy governance practices and control red tape and bureaucratic hurdles.
It also has a positive impact on the environment through better and judicious utilization of resources, compliance with the environmental laws, and reducing the negative impact and thereby increasing environmental security.
Now the welfare becomes more inclusive and consolidated, ensuring all communities are on board. For example, good education leads to better employability, and efficient surveillance ensures improved public safety.
Good governance has the most impact on the economic sector as it can ensure more investor interest in the economy and boost the economic growth. It can do cost saving by reducing the leakages, will be attracting FDI thus result in more foreign flows.
Challenges to Good Governance
Corruption erodes any progress and growth in the system. Extreme criminalization of politics makes it difficult to work efficiently and creates hurdles for good governance.
Left-wing extremism and internal terrorism security threats make it difficult for the government to work efficiently in rural and backward areas and improve governance.
The poor infrastructure connectivity both digitally and physically in many parts of the country makes good governance difficult.
Good governance is being negatively impacted by the criminalization of politics and the close alliance between government officials, commercial interests, and elected officials.
The empowerment of women must be ensured in order to guarantee good governance. It is unfair that women are underrepresented in government institutions given their over 50% demographic share.
Another problem is the lack of coordination in the three wings of government, effective coordination. Proper linkages amongst the organs are required for effective functioning.
There is a lack of public faith in many activities of the government and if the citizens are hostile to the government or lack faith in its functioning, good governance cannot be achieved.
The government should try to reduce corruption to ensure better outcomes. Politicians with criminal backgrounds must be removed from holding high offices.
There is a strong need for innovative solutions for better governance and the tech sectors should be encouraged to participate in it.
Civil society groups like NGOs, women’s growth, cooperatives, trade unions, etc should play an active role to ensure government accountability.
Citizens must be more vigilant and law-abiding ensuring the true success of governance. They must be given access to information to sufficiently monitor all schemes and state activities.
There has to be consensus-based decision-making involving the collaborative efforts of the state, civil societies, and other organizations.
The 2nd ARC committee recommendations on citizen-centric administration suggested mandatory social audits for all programs and women’s participation in economic programs. The Committee also recommended suggestion box for all government agencies, capacity building of local bodies, and impact assessment for all the programs at regular intervals.
Article written by Chetna Yadav.