Good Governance Initiatives In India – Paper II

Good Governance Initiatives

The concept of good governance in India has been progressing ever since the government started focusing on it. For it to progress, formulating good governance initiatives and reforms play a very important role. The 5 principles of good governance are Leadership, Effectiveness, Accountability, Remuneration, Relation with stakeholders. Read on to know about what are good governance initiatives, how are they formulated, examples of good governance, and some of the recent good governance initiatives in India.

In India, efforts are afoot and have also in some respects gained momentum in the direction of Good Governance reforms. The major administrative reforms in our country during the 1950s and 1960s were structural intending to improve the administrative machinery. With the nature of administration changing in the 1990s ( from traditional bureaucratic to responsive, citizen-oriented), the reforms are also now geared in this direction. Evolving a citizen-centred bureaucracy, ensuring transparency and right to information, streamlining the public grievances machinery, providing for Code of Ethics and Citizens Charters are some landmarks in this effort. The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments are important reform measures fostering the empowerment and participation of people in the governance process.

The current changes in government under the impact of reinvention are often considered to be the market-oriented Neo-liberal approach, and initiatives towards furthering this are visible in both developed as well as developing countries. The role of the government, which was earlier direct, is now assuming a facilitative and indirect role. Good Governance, as a strategy in the context of managerial reforms, assigns a ‘steering and regulating role to the government vis-à-vis the private sector and a productive partnership between the government and societal organizations.

In India, efforts have been initiated since independence to improve governmental functioning. Several measures were taken in this direction as the then administrative system suited the British governments’ needs of revenue, and law and order administration. The post-independence scenario was more in favour of the Welfare State to ensure responsiveness to the needs of people. The adoption of the Constitution, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State policy and Five Year Plans as the means of achieving social and economic development made the reorientation of the administrative machinery imperative. The governance structure and systems had to undergo a major revamping from revenue collection and maintenance of law and order towards socio-economic development, social welfare and citizens satisfaction.

In the 1950s and 1960s, several committees were set up which went into the systematic review of the organizational structure and functioning of the government. These include the Secretariat Reorganisation Committee (1947), Gopalaswamy Ayyangar Committee on Reorganisation of Government Machinery (1949), and Gorwala Committee (1951). In 1953, at the government of India’s request, Paul H. Appleby of Syracuse University, USA submitted two Reports on reforms in Indian administration. Based on their recommendation in 1964; a separate Department of Administrative Reforms was set up in the Ministry of Home Affairs. The most comprehensive set of recommendations including that of administrative efficiency were made by the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) that was set up in January 1966.

It examined the entire gamut of administrative structure and processes at the central as well as the state levels and submitted twenty major reports during its working of nearly four and a half years. Based on the recommendations of ARC, a Department of Personnel was created in the 1970s, which was later transformed into a full-fledged Ministry of Personnel and Training, Administrative Reforms, Public Grievances, Pensions and Pensioners Welfare.

Several institutions such as the Central Vigilance Commission, Central Bureau of Investigation, Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta have also been created. These reform measures have attempted to look into the structural changes that were desired at that time to strengthened and streamline the administrative machinery.

Since the 1980s, globally many changes have taken place in social, economic and political spheres. Even in India, the realization has dawned that the bureaucracy is inaccessible and indifferent to common citizens, and is more bothered about adherence to procedures, rules and regulations. Hence, there is a need for administrative to be more efficient, responsive and accountable for promoting ‘Good Governance’. It is now perceived that governance structure has to extend beyond traditional bureaucracy and involve citizens, consumer groups local bodies etc.

The Conference of Chief Secretaries and Chief Ministers of all the Indian states and Union Territories deliberated on the issue of improving governance, and an action plan was formulated to bring about accountable and citizen-friendly government. In accordance with this, several initiatives were taken by the Union and state governments. Some of the measures are:

Citizens Charters

The concept of Citizens Charters originated in Britain. Citizens charters are formulated by all those public organizations providing different kinds of services to the people. These Charters are statements that provide information to the general public about the nature of services being provided by that organization, procedures, costs involved, mechanisms for lodging complaints in case the citizens are not satisfied, time is taken for their redressal and so on. Many organisations at the Central / State government level(s) in India have formulated citizens charters.

Redressal of Citizens Grievances

The machinery for getting redressal of any grievances that the citizen has against any government organization has been strengthened. A Directorate of Public Grievances has been set up in the Cabinet Secretariat in 1988 to examine complaints relating to various ministries and departments which have direct public dealings. Also, the organizations keep a track of the complaints or grievances the citizens have lodged.

Use of Information Technology

Information Technology (IT) for efficient and effective service delivery. Today due to the increasing use of information technology, many services like railway reservations, driving licenses, registration of birth and deaths are easily accessible. Many states have initiated pioneering innovations in this direction. For example, in the State of Madhya Pradesh, the Gyandoot Programme launched in Dhar District has been a tremendous success. Under this, initially, computers in 31 villages have been set up in Gram Panchayats which provide user- charge based services to the people. The services include agriculture the government programmes. Also, one-stop services are being offered to the people by some state governments whereby the supply of ration cards, registration of vehicles, payment property tax, electricity bills issue of landholding certificates etc. are done in one place. The government of Andhra Pradesh has started many ‘e-seva’ centres. Maharashtra has set up Setu Project in Thane for this purpose.

Right to Information

It has been increasingly felting that secrecy and lack of openness in government operations result in administrations using powers ‘arbitrarily in their dealings with people. Hence, efforts have been on in recent years to ensure ad bring about greater transparency in administrative decisions to enable people to have easy access to information except those related to national defence and security. After several efforts, a Freedom of Information Bill’ was introduced in the Parliament, which aims to provide freedom to every citizen to secure access to information under the control of public authorities. This Bill was passed by the Parliament in 2001, and several state governments including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka passed their Right to Information Acts. At the central government level, the Right to Information Act was passed by the Parliament on May 11th, 2005 and it has come into force since October 2005 all over the country.

Peoples Participation and Decentralisation

The government is trying to ensure peoples participation in governance through the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments by which Constitutional status has been conferred on rural and urban local bodies These bodies are given necessary powers and authority to function as institutions of local selfgovernment. State governments · have passed the necessary legislation to this effect by providing for the constitution of these bodies, functions, the conduct of elections, devolution of resources etc.

These are, in brief, some of the key initiatives taken by the Indian government in fostering responsive governance. Any reform measure to be effective has to be sustained in the long run. Similarly, Good Governance can bring in results by concentrating on certain key concerns that can ensure its longevity and success.

Check out public administration notes in detail.

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