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Pranab's tips on good governance

Pranab
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These basic principles of good governance were incorporated in the Constitution by our founding fathers. The objective of establishing a welfare state...

These basic principles of good governance were incorporated in the Constitution by our founding fathers. The objective of establishing a welfare state found expression in it. Our Constitution outlines the values that should be fundamental in the governance in our country. The term, good governance, appeared in the development lexicon about two decades ago. The concept has today gained greater importance and relevance than ever before because of the increasing recognition of its inseparable link to social welfare and public good. It has become the key concept in development philosophy. Countries too are evaluated on the basis of the quality of governance that they may have succeeded in establishing. The concept of Police State long ago was replaced by the concept of Welfare State. Lack of good governance has been identified as the root cause of many of the serious deficiencies in society. It robs the citizenry of their security, and their social and economic rights. Though there is no exhaustive definition of the term good governance, its underlying import and idea is wide. It encompasses virtually all aspects of human interaction. It is equally relevant at the local and national level as it is at the international level. Every organisation within a society has a decisive role in promoting good governance. These roles may vary depending on the form of structure and institutions that each society may have evolved. Good governance is critically dependent on the existence of some fundamental pre-requisites. At the core is the inviolable adherence to rule of law. From it would emanate critical need for participatory decision-making structure, transparency, responsiveness, accountability, equity and inclusiveness. In brief, good governance means the existence of an elaborate architecture that has the good of the people as their only focus. Good governance should create a conducive and enabling environment for the people to pursue their happiness. As emphasised by Kautiliya in the ancient treatise Arthashastra, and I quote: The happiness of the people is the happiness of the king; Their good alone is his, his personal good is not his true good; the only true good being that of his people: Therefore let the King be active in working for the prosperity and welfare of his people. Mahatma Gandhi's vision of a strong and prosperous India or full implementation of Purna Swaraj has the essentials of good governance forming its base. Echoing its universal relevance, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said, "Mahatma, by his stress on the underprivileged and poverty stricken, forced all of us to think in terms of social justice". These basic principles of good governance were incorporated in the Constitution by our founding fathers. The objective of establishing a welfare state found expression in it. Our Constitution outlines the values that should be fundamental in the governance in our country. How do we measure up in terms of governance after 66 years of our independence? There is little doubt that we have made great strides in almost all major areas of development. From 3.5 per cent growth rate per annum during the First Five Year Plan period, we achieved 8 per cent per annum during the Eleventh Five Year Plan period. The Green Revolution in the 1960s made our country self-sufficient in food grains. We have also reduced the incidence of poverty. Today India is the third largest economy in the world in purchasing power parity terms. We can certainly be proud of these achievements. But it is equally true that much more remains to be done. The challenges to our governance systems are reflected in some important international analyses which are mainly dependent on the social index. India's ranking in key governance indicators like Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption are lower than countries such as Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. We are at the cross roads of transformation and cannot afford to lose the momentum of change. There are several challenges we face and we should face them with determination and conviction. And, at the root of them is the issue of governance. We have achieved remarkable progress in several of the grids that constitute good governance. In some, our achievements have been greater than others. There is still immense scope to better our participatory decision making structure, improve the application of rule of law, enhance transparency, increase accountability, promote greater equity and inclusiveness and improve consensus based approach.
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