Governance and Good-Governance

Mains Marks Booster     1st August 2023        
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Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan said "good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development". Therefore, knowing about the meaning of governance has become important in studying development. Governance is characterized mainly by transparency, accountability, participation, the rule of law and efficiency.

Government and Governance

Government and Governance

  • A government is a body of people in charge of a nation's administration. At any one time, the State is governed and controlled by the body of representatives.
  • The organised group of people who control a nation's administration is known as the government. 
  • Although there are many different types of government, including democracy and autocracy, they all have the same function.
  • Governance is the process of ruling or governing. 
  • It is the collection of regulations and laws created by the government and to be carried out by State officials.

Origin of concept of Governance:

  • Governance has been used since the fourteenth century. It first appeared in France. It meant "seat of government." 
  • It comes from the Greek term 'Kybernan,' which means "to steer and pilot or be at the helm of things."
    • Harland Cleveland (1972) coined the phrase "governance."

Meaning of Governance:

  • The World Bank defines governance as all means of exercising power over the distribution of resources.
    • Thus, governance challenges are strongly related to the procedures and systems by which people obtain resources.
  • UNDP (1997) has viewed governance as “the exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to manage a nation’s affairs at all levels.
    • It emphasises the transparency, accountability, integrity, and validity of the institutions, laws, practises, and values that underpin society's functioning.
  • Prof. Kuldeep Mathur opines in his book, From Government to Governance, that governance is concerned with changes taking place in the organisation of the state, and with changes in its relationship with the private sector and civil society actors.

Forms of Governance:

Forms of Governance

  • Political: Along with civil society, NGOs, and the commercial sector, the state is an actor in the governance process. 
    • The importance of new strategies based on informal influence, facilitating, and regulation has expanded.
    • The government is now the "enabler" rather than the "doer."
  • Economic: Economic governance involves removing market distortions, creating service standards, maintaining fair competition and a level playing field, and preserving important stakeholders' interests.
    • The neoliberal political/economic system of the 1980s and 1990s shattered the notion of the state as a direct service provider in part.
    • For example: The introduction of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code helped improve ‘ease of doing business in India.
  • Social: Governance in this context means developing, strengthening, and sustaining collaborative and participative procedures, networking, coordination and capacity building.
    • For example: The Government has launched social sector schemes like Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme.
  • Environmental: Environmental governance refers to the processes of decision-making involved in the control and management of the environment and natural resources.
    • It views natural resources and the environment as global public goods, belonging to the category of goods that are not diminished when they are shared.
    • For example: Declaration of Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ) and Coastal Regulation Zones (CRZ) by the Government.

Measure of Governance

The World Bank Group's Worldwide Governance Indicators reports on six dimensions of governance. These are:

(a) The process by which governments are selected, monitored, and replaced:

  1. Voice and Accountability (VA): capturing perceptions of the extent to which a country's citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, freedom of association, and a free media.
  2. Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism (PV): capturing perceptions of the likelihood that the government will be destabilized or overthrown by unconstitutional or violent means, including politically-motivated violence and terrorism.

(b) The capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies:

  1. Government Effectiveness (GE): capturing perceptions of the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service and the degree of its independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and the credibility of the government's commitment to such policies.
  2. Regulatory Quality (RQ): capturing perceptions of the ability of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations that permit and promote private sector development.

(c) The respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them:

  1. Rule of Law (RL): capturing perceptions of the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, property rights, the police, and the courts, as well as the likelihood of crime and violence.
  2. Control of Corruption (CC): capturing perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as "capture" of the state by elites and private interests.

Role of governance in development:

  • The Asian Development Bank noted that inadequate governance slows and distorts development and disproportionately affects the poor and vulnerable.
  • Governance is critically linked to reduction of corruption and ensuring rule-bound behaviour by all institutions associated with governance.
    • For example: Disbursement of welfare benefits directly to the citizens under various schemes of the Government in a transparent manner through the Direct Benefit Transfer initiative and the introduction of Government procurement through the Government e- Marketplace (GeM).

Concept of Good Governance:

  • Good governance is felt rather than defined.
    • Good governance requires efficient legislative, executive, judiciary, private institutions, NGOs, and public cooperation.
  • The 1992 World Bank study "Governance and Development" defined good governance as "the way power is exercised in the development management of a country's economic and social resources."

The Need for Good Governance

    • It provides vision and effective leadership.
    • promotes a transparent work culture, and provides a corruption free mode of delivery of services.
  • It strengthens the accountability mechanism.
  • Reduces human interference in service delivery and, thus, eliminates human bias in the delivery of services.
  • Good governance allows all citizens to reach their greatest potential regardless of class, caste, or gender.

Components of Good Governance:

Components of Good Governance

  • Consensus oriented: Powers to the gram sabha on various matters under the PESA Act of 1996 and the Forest Rights act-2006.
  • Participatory: For example, in India, it is achieved through decentralisation of power as per the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment acts. 
  • Equity and inclusiveness: A society's well-being hinges on making sure everyone feels like they belong. 
    • To achieve this, the constitution is having provisions for affirmative action (Article 15 and 16), which prohibits discrimination and give reservations to a few vulnerable sections of society.
  • Effectiveness and efficiency: good governance implies processes and institutions that meet social needs while using resources efficiently. 
    • For example, the government came up with the LiFE mission to encourage youth to promote energy and resource efficiency.
  • Accountability: There are various mechanism like office of Lokpal and Lokayukta, office of CVC and RTI Act etc.
  • Responsiveness: Organisations must serve all stakeholders within a fair timeline for good governance. 
    • For example, government is implemented the Ease of Doing policy, single window clearance system and citizen charters to deliver the services in a time bound manner.
    • Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) portal is formed to give time bound delivery of services.
  • Rule of law: Good governance requires unbiased legal systems. It demands thorough protection of human rights, especially minorities.
    • Government came of Fugitive offenders act and Insolvency and bankruptcy code to enforce the rule of law in financial and banking sectors of India.
  • Transparent: Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act lays down the information which should be disclosed by Public Authorities on a suo motu or proactive basis. 

Issues with India in achieving Good Governance:

    • Criminalization of politics: Nearly 50% of MPs in the new Lok Sabha have criminal records.
  • Ineffective decentralisation of powers: Local Governments in India are facing issues like lack of staff, insufficient funding and delayed elections.
  • Obsolete rules and laws: Over 2,000 obsolete rules and laws were scrapped in last 9 years. Many more obsolete laws are still operational.

Apart from these issues, in its 12th report, "CITIZEN CENTRIC ADMINISTRATION: The Heart of Governance," the 2nd ARC lists these governance hurdles:

  • Lack of Accountability and Red Tapism.
  • The Civil Service and administration are becoming rigid, inflexible, self-perpetuating, and inward-looking. 
    • Thus, their indifference and insensitivity to citizens' concerns and the tremendous power disparity at all levels have worsened the issue.  
  • Ineffectiveness of Panchayati raj institutions and Urban local bodies in public service delivery.
  • Parochial electoral reforms.
  • Low levels of Awareness of the Rights and Duties of Citizens.
  • Complicated judicial system and bureaucratic structure.
  • Inefficient institutions: Modern issues require stronger legal and regulatory frameworks. 
  • CBI, ED, CVC, and other public agencies fail to deliver. Inefficiency hinders government.

Initiatives for Good Governance in India:

  • 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments acts aimed at democratic decentralization, Right to Information Act, 2005, Citizen's Charter, Social Audit, E-Governance, Use of ICT tools, Aspirational district program to eliminate regional disparities, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, Consolidation of labour laws, Sevottam Model of service delivery, Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS).


  • In a time when India is developing and prospering, our national plan must prioritise Gandhian "Antodaya" to re-establish decent governance. When nation/state machinery is more efficient and accountable, citizens can enjoy a better per capita income, widespread literacy, adequate health facilities, and a longer average life.