Detailed Study of Good Governance

Evolution and attributes-
The concept of governance has acquired increased importance since 1990s largely because international aid agencies began to recognize its absence as a serious barrier to economic development of the developing countries, which has been their avowed objective. It is the failure in developmental efforts that brought forth into prominence the need for as well as identification of the principal elements or constituents of good governance. But the pursuit of it is as old as our civilization. The term “good governance” however, comprehends the processes and procedures as well as substantial concerns. It is only then that sustainable development is really possible.

Good Governance of society-
The preliminary condition of good governance is the establishment of the Rule of Law supplanting the rule of whims and caprice of the power that be. Good governance demands that government must be not only representative but responsive as well to the needs of governed. A strong sense of responsiveness and commitment to serve the governed – the customer and client of the government- would ensure efficient delivery of services to the people. Thus, good governance shares or aims at the ethos of a cohesive and responsible democratic society. Good governance provides moral legitimacy, apart from constitutional validity, and credibility to the goals as well as instrumentalities of government. Good governance comprehends within itself all sections of governance and all sections and regions of society.

Meaning, Definitions, Characteristics and Elements of Good Governance-
Recently the terms “governance” and “good governance” are being increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Major donors and international financial institutions are increasingly basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure “good governance” are undertaken. The concept of “governance” is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Simply put “governance” means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in several
contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance
and local governance. Since governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented, an analysis of governance focuses on the formal and informal actors involved in decision-making and implementing the decisions made and the formal and informal structures that have been set in place to arrive at and implement the decision.

Government is one of the actors in governance. Other actors involved in governance
vary depending on the level of government that is under discussion. In rural areas, for
example, other actors may include influential land lords, associations of peasant
farmers, cooperatives, NGOs, research institutes, religious leaders, finance institutions
political parties, the military etc. The situation in urban areas is much more complex.
Figure 1 provides the interconnections between actors involved in urban governance.
At the national level, in addition to the above actors, media, lobbyists, international
donors, multi-national corporations, etc. may play a role in decision-making or in
influencing the decision-making process.
All actors other than government and the military are grouped together as part of the “civil society.” In some countries in addition to the civil society, organized crime syndicates also influence decision-making, particularly in urban areas and at the national level. Similarly formal government structures are one means by which decisions are arrived at and implemented. At the national level, informal decision-making structures, such as “kitchen cabinets” or informal advisors may exist. In urban areas, organized crime syndicates such as the “land Mafia” may influence decision-making. In some rural areas locally powerful families may make or influence decision-making. Such, informal decision-making is often the result of corrupt practices or leads to corrupt practices.


A) The elements of good governance-

A number of multilateral organizations (e.g., the United Nations Development Programmes [UNDP] and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]) have reflected on the elements of good governance, and on their relation to development. As the ethos and experience of these organizations vary, so, too, do their perceptions of what constitutes good governance. Insofar as the Bank is concerned, though, it is the approach taken by the World Bank—drawn from its global experience with project and adjustment lending—that is the most relevant. The World Bank’s interest in governance stems from its concern with the effectiveness of the development efforts it supports. From this perspective, sound development
management, in the broadest sense of the phrase, is critical for ensuring adequate returns and efficacy of the programs and projects financed, and for the World Bank’s underlying objectives of helping countries reduce poverty and promoting sustainable growth. Hence, the World Bank’s emphasis in recent years has shifted from its own interventions to the overall country context (i.e., the governance climate) within which those interventions take place. In doing so, it has been guided by the nature of its operations and the opportunities for action that these offer. Accordingly, the key dimensions of governance identified by the World Bank are (i) public sector
management, (ii) accountability, (iii) legal framework for development, and (iv) transparency and information.

B) Participation-
Participation by both men and women is a key cornerstone of good governance.
Participation could be either direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or
representatives. It is important to point out that representative democracy does not
necessarily mean that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would be taken
into consideration in decision making. Participation needs to be informed and
organized. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an
organized civil society on the other hand.

The principle of participation derives from an acceptance that people are at the heart of development. They are not only the ultimate beneficiaries of development, but are also the agents of development. In the latter capacity, they act through groups or associations (e.g., trade unions, chambers of commerce, nongovernmental organizations [NGOs], political parties) and as individuals (e.g., through letters to newspaper editors, participating in radio and television talk shows, voting). Since development is both for and by people, they need to have access to the institutions that promote it (e.g., representative bureaucracies).

Participation is often related to accountability, but not necessarily so. In representative
democracies, where citizens participate in government through the electoral process,
public officials are, indeed, accountable ultimately to the electorate. This may not be the case, however, in other political systems (although accountability is still important). For all economies, though, the benefits of participatory approaches can be considerable. These include improved performance and sustainability of policies, programs, and projects, as well as enhanced capacity and skills of stakeholders. At the grass roots level, participation implies that government structures are flexible enough to offer beneficiaries, and others affected, the opportunity to improve the design and implementation of public programs and projects. This increases
“ownership” and enhances results. At a different level, the effectiveness of policies and institutions impinging on the economy as a whole may require the broad support and cooperation of major economic actors concerned. To the extent that the interface between public agencies and the private sector is conducive to the latter’s participation in the economy, national economic performance (comprising the combined contributions of the public and private sectors) will be enhanced.

C) Rule of law-
Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also
requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial
enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and
incorruptible police force.

D) Consensus oriented
There are several actors and as many view points in a given society. Good governance
requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in
society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be
achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for
sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development.
This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social
contexts of a given society or community.

E) Effectiveness and efficiency
Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the
needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept
of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of
natural resources and the protection of the environment.

F) Equity and inclusiveness-
A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a
stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all
groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or
maintain their well being.

How are good governance and human rights linked?
Good governance and human rights are mutually reinforcing. Human rights principles provide a set of values to guide the work of governments and other political and social actors. They also provide a set of performance standards against which these actors can be held accountable. Moreover, human rights principles inform the content of good governance efforts: they may inform the development of legislative frameworks, policies, programmes, budgetary allocations and other measures. On the other hand, without good governance, human rights cannot be respected and protected in a sustainable manner. The implementation of human rights relies on a conducive and enabling environment. This includes appropriate legal frameworks and
institutions as well as political, managerial and administrative processes responsible for responding to the rights and needs of the population. The links between good governance and human rights can be organized around four areas-

A) Democratic institutions
When led by human rights values, good governance reforms of democratic institutions create avenues for the public to participate in policymaking either through formal institutions or informal consultations. They also establish mechanisms for the inclusion of multiple social groups in decision-making processes, especially locally. Finally, they may encourage civil society and local communities to formulate and express their positions on issues of importance to them.

B) Rule of law
When it comes to the rule of law, human rights-sensitive good governance initiatives reform legislation and assist institutions ranging from penal systems to courts and parliaments to better implement that legislation. Good governance initiatives may include advocacy for legal reform, public awareness-raising on the national and international legal framework and capacity-building or reform of institutions.

C) Service delivery
In the realm of delivering state services to the public, good governance reforms advance human rights when they improve the state’s capacity to fulfil its responsibility to provide public goods which are essential for the protection of a number of human rights, such as the right to education, health and food. Reform initiatives may include mechanisms of accountability and transparency, culturally sensitive policy tools to ensure that services are accessible and acceptable to all, and paths for public participation in decision-making.

D) Anti-Corruption
In fighting corruption, good governance efforts rely on principles such as accountability, transparency and participation to shape anti-corruption measures. Initiatives may include establishing institutions such as anti-corruption commissions, creating mechanisms of information sharing, and monitoring governments’ use of public funds and implementation of policies.

Good governance is a concept that has come into regular use in political science, public administration and, more particularly, development management. It appears alongside such terms such as democracy, civil society, participation, human rights and sustainable development. In the last decade, it has been closely associated with the public sector reform.
Good governance has 8 major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making.

Good governance as a concept has steadily entrenched itself in the political and development discourse. It has permeated all sectors and become part of the common shared principles and virtues of different countries in the world. It has attained universality as an indicator of adherence to democracy and rule of law. There is a danger, however, that good governance has become a catchword and that few bother to consider its implications. Good governance is given a broad definition that encompasses an array of issues in the socio-political and economic order of a country.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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We also have a Facebook Group Restarter Moms for Mothers or Women who would like to rejoin their careers post a career break or women who are enterpreneurs.

We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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