The challenge of good governance

Amidst promises of development and good governance as held out by the Congress as well as by Dr Murli Manohar Joshi’s drafted and Narendra Modi’s inspired BJP document, the moot point is which one carries better credibility?

 

Going by the track record of the ruling Congress-run UPA establishment, the saffron party’s manifesto does enjoy high credibility among the voters. However, mere good intentions are not enough. The BJP will henceforth be on close scrutiny on how it translates its promises into action. Apart from attending to complex economic ground realities, the real challenge will be on providing scam-free good governance. This is not a matter of rhetoric. It is a larger operational matter of the system for the good of society without colonial red-tapism and corrupt practices.

 

It is believed, and rightly so, that a government’s image is made or unmade by the beat constable on duty in a locality. This throws up the long-pending question of police reforms. If policemen are recruited by bribing the powers-that-be, then good governance and fair play will remain elusive for common citizens. For, such policemen will be money-oriented and not service-oriented. So, when we talk about police reforms, we have to, first of all, think of ensuring right and fair recruitment process for police persons and ensure that they have decent livable wages and facilities.

 

Similarly, government-run hospitals and community clinics provide us yet another window on the quality of governance. In the prevailing VIP oriented society, no one cares for poor and illiterate patients who need helping hands in over- crowded hospitals.

 

A simple solution is: every public hospital should have specific provisions for locally recruited sewa dal persons whose job should be to actively assist such poor patients. This will not only help to create new jobs for deserving sections of society but fill a vital gap in grassroots governance.

 

Similar thinking can be extended to other public areas including in lower courts, where ordinary people are pitted against all sort of odds. They too need friendly hands and congenial environment to overcome in-built handicaps of the system.

 

This also brings us to the vital task of simplification of colonial laws, rules and regulations which block the wheels of justice to the disadvantage of ordinary persons.

 

During the past six decades or so, the country has been throwing up selfish politicians and bureaucrats who see national interests in terms of their personal gains. Former UPSC Chief S J Chathwal once remarked, “Most of the bureaucrats still consider themselves to be rulers and not the providers of the service to the public”. This colonial mindset can be changed through proper training and by examples set by peers. The purpose of training should be to impart the qualities of leadership and the spirit of service among the administrators in the making.

 

Looking beyond the Modi wave, the nation has to go through a process of rejuvenation and reconstruction speedily. It is, however, necessary to remember that there can be nothing like a uniform development strategy – a la Gujarat model. For, problems vary from region to region, area to area within the same region as also from district to district in a state and even from village to village in the same district.

 

This will require evolution of a broad framework of decentralisation so that every single village and district could grow on their momentum. This will not only make development process more meaningful but also more participative in nature. It can also help check corruption, loosen the stranglehold of castes and classes, release fresh forces of awareness and growth and make democracy more relevant at the grassroots.

 

A development policy in today’s competitive environment demands adherence to certain operational norms to get the desired results. Similarly, good governance demands a high degree of professionalism, and not the Arvind Kejriwal-type drama-baazi that we saw in Delhi.

Of course, the task ahead is tough and gigantic. This will require coordinated efforts and good team work, and not Modi-centric Yes, Sir! This will require the next PM to be discriminating in his choices of men, matters and issues. Herein lies the real challenge of good governance, faster economic growth and corruption- free fair and just instruments of power. In fact, every area of governance requires radical reforms. The process of reforms must be equally applicable to political and parliamentary arms of governance.

 

Be that as it may. The only choice before us is to keep up the momentum for good scam-free governance which is against the ills of the system and their promoters. A transparent India is the need of the hour.  Only a state of transparency can help us to draw a line between who is a rogue and corrupt and who is not.

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