Monday Musings: Why is good governance elusive in India?
Bad governance and the inefficiency accompanying it bleeds the country in various ways, day in and day out.Updated: Dec 31, 2018 14:22 IST
Such is the omnipresence of bad governance in India that not only have we accepted it and got used to it as a way of life, but we don’t even expect good governance from our civic administrators or the government at large. Political parties come and go, but bad governance is a continuity.
We marvel at the way things are in western countries, and in some Asian countries such as Japan and China. Everyone follows traffic discipline, there’s no littering on the roads and people wait patiently in queues if required, rather than scramble and break the queue to get ahead of others. At a lower level in government and civic offices in the West, where the public comes in contact with the civic administration, the people do not complain of an uncooperative and corrupt staff as in India.
The reason why we suffer from bad governance are two folds: First, we the people are to be blamed to a large extent when it comes to littering of garbage, traffic indiscipline, and breaking queues. All of this is driven by our desire to find the shortest cut to our destination. Thus, if you don’t find a dustbin around, the easiest thing to do is to throw that biscuit wrapper or plastic bottle on the streets or outside the window. We pay bribes to get things done and we jump signals or drive on the wrong side because that is convenient than following the rules.
Thousands of well-educated people tie-their household garbage in plastic bags and throw it at the nearest vacant plot on way to the office, rather than segregate their dry and wet waste and pay Rs 50 per month to the conservancy staff in their society.
There’s very little that the civic administration or the government can do with such uncivil behaviour and lack of patriotism, and therefore, our streets continue to be dirty in spite of the massive Swacch Bharat campaign and the generous, Rs 100 crore Adar Poonawalla Clean City Initiative.
In India, there’s plenty of third-rate governance from the bureaucrats who head civic bodies, government departments and public institutions too. This is so very ubiquitous that the exalted ‘IAS’ (Indian Administrative Service) should really be recognised as ‘IOS’- Indian Over-rated Service. IAS officers are supposed to be the best and the brightest of young Indians clear one of the toughest competitive exams in the world to qualify for the much-coveted service. Barring stray examples of good governance, the majority of IAS officers seem to exist to please their political masters rather than serve the public.
So do IAS officers adhere to the spirit of public service as is expected of them in a poor, developing country like ours? The sad reality is that most IAS officers would prefer to prefer to please the politicians in power rather than displease them in the interest of the public.
Municipal bodies are cesspools of corruption across the country only because the IAS officers who head them turn a blind eye and meekly allow corrupt practices to flourish rather than upset the apple cart.
It is because of their bad governance that public toilets and office toilets are dirty as a rule; newly-constructed civic hospital buildings remain empty; the solid waste management system continues to flounder and a bird park that deserves to be protected and cherished suffers a slow death due to vandalism by vested interests.
There are some examples of excellence in governance in our country and the efficiency that we find in the passport offices is certainly one of them. This needs to be examined closely and emulated for the benefit of the public.
Bad governance and the inefficiency accompanying it bleeds the country in various ways, day in and day out. This needs to be fixed, just as one would go about fixing a broken water line. It is high time that India stops accepting bad governance as a norm.
First Published: Dec 31, 2018 14:21 IST