Important aspects of Governance


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 1997, defined governance as “Governance is the process and institutions through which decisions are made and authority in a country is exercised”.

● Governance focuses on the formal and informal actors and institutions involved in decision-making and implementing those decisions.

● Government is one of the key players in the system of Governance. The other actors involved are political actors and institutions, interest groups, civil society, market and media.

● Typically, the stakeholders of governance at national level can be categorized into three broad
categories – State, Market and Civil Society

  1. The State includes the different organs of the government i.e., Legislature, Judiciary and Executive.
  2. The Market includes the private sector organized as well as unorganized, ranging from large corporate houses to small scale establishments.
  3. The Civil Society is the most diverse among the three and it includes all groups not included in the above two such as NGOs, trade unions, pressure groups, religious groups, etc.

Good Governance

● `Good Governance’ implies positive attributes and values associated with the quality of governance.

● As per Kautilya’s Arthashastra:  “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 had propounded the concept of ‘Su-raj’. The four Pillars of Good Governance are

  • Ethos (of service to the citizen),
  • Ethics (honesty, integrity and transparency),
  • Equity (treating all citizens alike with empathy for the weaker sections), and
  • Efficiency (speedy and effective delivery of service without harassment and using ICT increasingly)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recognizes eight core characteristics of good governance:

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Key terms:

Consensus oriented: Good Governance requires mediation of different interests in society to reach a broad consensus.

Rule of law: Good governance requires impartially enforced fair legal frameworks. An independent judiciary and impartial as well as incorruptible police force is important for impartial enforcement.

Participation: Participation of all sections of society is the cornerstone of good governance. It provides opportunities for citizens to take part in decision-making, implementation of government activities. MyGov – is an example of participatory governance. 

Transparent: Information should be freely available in easily understandable form and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcements. For example, the RTI (Right To Information) Act has been a powerful instrument in the hands of the people to ensure transparency. 

Accountable: Accountability is the acknowledgement and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies. The components of accountability are answerability,sanction, redress and system improvement. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.

● Responsive: The key components of responsive governance include redressal of citizen grievance, citizen orientation, citizen friendliness, and timely delivery of key services. 

Effective and Efficient: Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results into the optimum use of resources at their disposal. 

Equitable and Inclusive: A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. 

Strategies for Good Governance:

● Reorienting priorities of the state through appropriate investment in human needs.

● Provision of social safety nets for the poor and marginalized.

● Strengthening state institutions.

● Introducing appropriate reforms in the functioning of Parliament and increasing its effectiveness.

● Enhancing civil services capacity through appropriate reform measures that matches performance and accountability.

● Forging new alliances with civil society.

● Evolving a new framework for government-business cooperation.

Dimensions of Governance in India:

1. Political Dimension

It has 4 components :

  • Exercise of franchise
  • Profile and conduct of political representatives, political parties and political executives
  • Functioning of legislature
  • Political decentralization

2. Legal & Judicial Dimension

It has 4 basic components:

  • Law & Order and Internal Security
  • Safeguard of Basic Rights
  • Citizen-friendliness of the Police
  • Access to Justice and Judicial Accountability

3. Administrative Dimension

It has 4 key components:

  • Citizen interface and engagement
  • Managing Human, Financial and Other resources
  • Basic Service Delivery
  • Corruption Perception, Vigilance and Enforcement

4. Economic Dimension

It has three key components:

  • Fiscal discipline, prudence and Governance
  • Business Environment
  • Support to the Primary Sector

5. Social and Environmental Dimension

It has three key components:

  • Welfare of the Poor and Vulnerable
  • Role of Civil Society and Media
  • Environmental Management

Governance Issues in India

1. Political Issues

  • Criminalization of Politics
  • Misuse of Central Power
  • Decentralization more in letter less in spirit

2. Legal & Judicial Issues

It includes issues such as:

  • Delayed justice, issue of under-trials
  • Lack of accountability in judiciary
  • Threat to Life and Personal Security

3. Administrative Issues

  • Lack of sensitivity, transparency and accountability in the working of state machinery
  • Bureaucratic Delays
  • Resistance to changes which promote Transparency and Accountability

4. Economic Issues

  • Poor management of economy
  • Persisting Fiscal Imbalances
  • Regional Disparities
  • Income Inequalities

5. Social and Environmental Issues

  • Denial of basic services to a substantial portion of population
  • Marginalization and exclusion of people on account of social, religious , caste and gender affiliation
  • Existence of significant number of voiceless poor with little opportunity for participation in governance
  • Deterioration of Physical Environment, especially in urban areas

Good Governance Initiatives in India:

  • Multiple steps are taken in this regard, which can be summarized as below
    • Decentralization and People’s participation through 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act
    • Developing programs for weaker sections and backward areas
    • Financial management and budget sanctity
    • Simplification of procedures and processes, etc.
  • e-Governance
  • M Governance
  • Twitter Governance
  • Post Legislative Scrutiny
  • Social Auditing
  • Focus on service delivery through Citizen Charter and Sevottam Model

It would make growth – sustainable, equitable, and inclusive.

Principles For Effective Governance For SDG

The United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration has come out with the following principles which countries need to embrace in their development for the achievement of SDG. Governance is defined by the World Bank as the traditions and institutions by which authority is exercised in a country. This includes: 

1. The process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced. 

2. The capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies. 

3. The respect of citizens and the State for the institutions that govern economic and social communications among them. 

1. Effectiveness: The capacity to realize organizational or individual objectives. Effectiveness requires competence, sensitivity and responsiveness to specific, concrete, human concerns and the ability to articulate these concerns, formulate goals to address them and develop and implement strategies to realize these goals.
CompetenceTo perform their functions effectively, institutions need to have sufficient expertise, resources and tools to deal adequately with the mandates under their authority· Promotion of a professional public sector workforce.· Strategic human resources management.· Leadership development and training of civil servants.· Performance management.· Results based management.· Financial management and control.· Efficient and fair revenue administration.·    Investment in e-government.
Sound policymakingTo achieve their intended results, public policies are to be coherent with one another and founded on true or well-established grounds, in full accordance with fact, reason and good sense· Strategic planning and foresight.· Regulatory impact analysis.· Promotion of coherent policymaking.· Strengthening national statistical systems.· Monitoring and evaluation systems.·    Science-policy interface.
CollaborationTo address problems of common interest, institutions at all levels of government and in all sectors should work together and jointly with non-State actors towards the same end, purpose and effect· Risk management frameworks.· Data sharing· Centre of government coordination under the Head of State or government.· Collaboration, coordination, integration and dialogue across levels of government and functional areas.· Raising awareness of the SDGs.· Network based governance.·    Multi-stakeholder partnerships.
2. Accountability: Refers to requirements that officials answer to stakeholders on the disposal of their powers and duties, act on criticisms or requirements made of them and accept responsibility for failure, incompetence or deceit.
IntegrityTo serve in the public interest, civil servants are to discharge their official duties honestly, fairly and in a manner consistent with soundness of moral principle.· Promotion of anti-corruption policies, practices and bodies.· Codes of conduct for public officials.· Competitive public procurement.· Elimination of bribery and trading in influence.· Conflict of interest policies.· Whistle blower protection.·    Provision of adequate remuneration and equitable pay scales for public servants.
TransparencyTo ensure accountability and enable public scrutiny, institutions are to be open and candid in the execution of their functions and promote access to information, subject only to the specific and limited exceptions as are provided by law.·    Proactive disclosure of information.·    Budgetary transparency.·    Open government data.·    Registries of beneficial ownership.·    Lobby registries.
Independent OversightTo retain trust in government, oversight agencies are to act according to strictly professional considerations and apart from and unaffected by othersPromotion of independence of regulatory agencies.Arrangement for review of administrative decisions by courts or other bodies.Independent audit.Respect for legality.
3. Inclusiveness
Leaving no one behindTo ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality, public policies are to consider the needs and aspirations of all segments of society, including the poorest and most vulnerable and those subject to discrimination.· Promotion of equitable fiscal and monetary policy.· Promotion of social equity· Data disaggregation.·    Systematic follow-up and review.
Non-discriminationTo respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, access to public service is to be provided on general terms of equality, without distinction of any kind.· Promotion of public sector workforce diversity.· Prohibition of discrimination in public service delivery.· Multilingual service delivery.· Accessibility standards.· Cultural audit of institutions.· Universal birth registration.·    Gender responsive budgeting.
ParticipationTo have an effective State, all significant political groups should be actively involved in matters that directly affect them and have a chance to influence policy.· Free and fair elections.· Regulatory process of public consultations.· Multi-stakeholder forums· Participatory budgeting·    Community driven development.
SubsidiarityTo promote government that is responsive to the needs and aspirations of all people, central authorities should perform only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more intermediate or local level· Fiscal federalism.· Strengthening rural and urban governance.· Strengthening municipal finance and local finance systems.· Enhancement of local capacity for prevention, adaptation and mitigation of external shocks.· Multilevel governance
Intergenerational equityTo promote prosperity and quality of life for all, institutions should construct administrative acts that balance the short-term needs of today’s generation with the longer term needs of future generations.· Sustainable development impact assessment.· Long term public debt management.· Long term territorial planning and spatial development.· Ecosystem management.
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