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Let's have more governance and less government

The challenge before the Centre is to bridge the expectation gap between the governed and the official machinery

ht view Updated: Jun 03, 2014 01:32 IST
KP Shashidharan

The quintessential philosophy of the new government, as articulated in the election manifesto of the BJP and by the prime minister, is encapsulated in the mantra ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ (inclusive growth through collective efforts). The objective is also made clear there — building a modern, prosperous and vibrant India. The orientation is conversion of the entire society into a ‘knowledge-based society and economy’. Such a model government will have to be based on ‘more governance and less government’. The raison d’être of such a model government can only be good governance. To lead India to the forefront of the comity of nations there is no shortcut.

The cardinal principles of the new government are inclusivity and development through good governance. Good governance, defined by the United Nations, has eight essential attributes: The primacy of the Rule of Law, a consensus-oriented decision-making approach, efficiency and effectiveness, transparency and objectivity in functioning, responsiveness and responsibilities to the governed, equitable and inclusive, accountable and citizen-driven encouraging participation in the process of governance. The BJP manifesto speaks about open government, transparent decision-making and an accountable administrative setup. Administrative reforms would become one of the key priority domains to transform the governance infrastructure. Administration should be easily accessible, corruption-free, citizen-centric and accountable. Mandatory performance evaluation and social and environmental audits for government schemes would help factoring sustainability concerns into development.

The crisis of faith in a bureaucratic government entrapped in rules and procedures should pave the way for a good governance model, facilitating a faster decision-making process. The biggest challenge before the new government is to bridge the expectation gap between the governed and the government machinery.

The concept of minimum government and maximum governance must engage citizens in ensuring accountability and governance. The government’s endeavour is to reach the people and adopt a governance model truly resembling a ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’. A collaborative Centre-state relationship would encourage more autonomy, financial outlay and flexibility in operations. Efficient private and public sector participation in the development process is inevitable. Government enterprises and private companies are required to work in tandem. The gap between government and citizens needs to be bridged.

Anticipatory governance style believes in prevention rather than cure. There will be market reforms and reforms for societal changes, providing new opportunities for peoples’ participation. Benchmarked best practices from government models with requisite customisation need to be tried. Consultations with businesses, civil societies and NGOs and taking feedback from the stakeholders will go a long way.

Good governance is going to be a dominant governmental approach and practice for achieving citizen-driven, sustainable inclusive economic growth. It should strengthen trust and ensure accountability and serve citizens more effectively. Good governance is a dynamic concept requiring knowledge input, constant learning and sharing among all stakeholders.

KP Shashidharan is director general, CAG

The views expressed by the author are personal