- What is good governance and how is transparency in government organisations important to attain it? (Answer in 150 words)
- Do you agree that in the Indian context, ethics in governance can be ensured by administrative reforms and administrative acts? (Answer in 150 words)
1. What is good governance and how is transparency in government organisations important to attain it? (Answer in 150 words)
- The World Bank defines governance as “the method through which power is exercised in the management of a country's political, economic and social resources for development.”
- Whereas good governance is more qualified with parameters like participatory, consensus oriented, responsive, transparent, accountable, equitable and inclusive.
- Of all the parameters, transparency is most important because it ensures fairness in decision making and availability of information in the public domain. Importance of transparency includes-
- Allows stakeholders access to information which is critical to their interests.
- Ensures enforcement of rules and regulations upholding core values of public service.
- Opens channels of communication with flawless decision making.
- It enhances public scrutiny thus building public trust.
- Its philosophy is that people are not subjects to be governed but citizens to be empowered.
- Few initiatives to enhance transparency include- Right to Information Act, citizens charter, social audits, e-governance initiatives like MyGov.in, e-choupal etc.
- Thus transparency is a virtue of a healthy government-citizen relationship which makes the government honest and truthful to its communities. As aptly stated by Mahatma Gandhi, “Truth never damages a cause that is just.”
2. Do you agree that in the Indian context, ethics in governance can be ensured by administrative reforms and administrative acts? (150 words, 10 marks)
Governance means the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). The UNDP defined 8 major characteristics of good governance viz. participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. All these characteristics are ethical principles of governance.
NEED OF ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTS -
India is not performing well in terms of corruption perception index, her rank slipped from 78th to 80th between 2018 and 2019. It implies a lack of ethics in public and corporate governance.
The public services have remained largely exempt from the imposition of penalties, leading to a lack of transparency, red-tapism, and no sense of responsibility.
Indian governance is suffering from the erosion of accountability. For example; In the delivery of justice and law & order, be it custodial deaths or number of undertrials, we are very frequently observing that the poor and vulnerable members of the society are the worst sufferers.
OBSERVATIONS Of SECOND ARC REPORT ON NEED OF ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS -
There are six perceived governance quality measures according to the second ARC report; voice and accountability; absence of political instability and violence; government effectiveness; reasonableness of the regulatory burden; the rule of law; the absence of graft. These measures are significant in the context of ethical governance.
‘Rule of law’ measures whether the crime is properly punished or not; enforceability of contracts; the extent of the black market; enforceable rights of property; the extent of tax evasion; judiciary’s independence; the ability of business and people to challenge government action in courts etc.
Both measures, ‘Rule of law’ and ‘Absence of graft’, can be effectively improved by Administrative Acts and reforms. Second ARC also suggested such Acts and reforms, for example; civil services code and need of police reforms, etc.
BUT, MERELY ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTS WILL NOT SUFFICE
- Trust and confidence of the public is the cause and effect of the ethics in governance. Building trust and confidence requires an environment where there is a premium on transparency, openness, boldness, fairness and justice.
- Many organs of the Indian governance, especially the police, judiciary and bureaucracy are plagued with a colonial mindset. Reforms and Acts alone cannot ensure ethical governance by these organs, we need to bring behavioural change as well.
- For ethics in governance, both demand and supply agents must be involved. Mere enactment of laws and reforms of the administrative systems will not clean the governance if the perception of the is not changed by mass awareness.
- Government is one of the actors in governance. Other actors involved in governance vary depending on the level of government that is under discussion. Democratic participation of all the actors is important for ethics in governance.
- Programmes on the lines of Mission Karmayogi for civil services should be implemented for other agents of governance as well.
- Right to information has brought a huge change in governance. Key ethical values of transparency and accountability are strengthened due to it. Still, this tool is not being utilised to its full capacity. There is a need to make it more robust and inclusive.
- Digitization of public services and overall governance should be fastened up. It reduces face to face interaction in governance and acts John Rawls's veil of ignorance leading to responsible behaviour of the public servants and faster delivery of the services.
- Hence there is a need for a comprehensive examination of the entire corpus of the administrative system to rationalise and simplify the procedures and ethical standards of governance.