“Governance should be designed as an equalizer”

Jimy Carter

Weak governance perpetuates evils in the society. If the power is abused or exercised in a weak or improper ways, those at the bottom of pyramid in the society with the least power- the poor are most likely to suffer. Weak governance further marginalizes the vulnerable sections of the society. Weak governance compromises the delivery of services to those who need them the most. Poor governance generates and reinforces poverty and destabilizes the efforts to reduce poverty and inequalities. Thus strengthening governance is an essential precondition for improving lives of the poor.

Governance in India is marred by various weaknesses. The delivery of goods and services which are responsibilities of state are often substandard and areinfeor in quality. There is accountability deficit at levels. The bureaucratic apparatus in the country values rules and processes more than the final outcomes and social objectives. “Lick up and kick below culture” has infested the bureaucracy and public functionaries. Whimsical, arbitrary and partisan performance appraisals have almost become a norm in the bureaucracy.   Non performing civil servants leave a little choice to the politicians but to resort to populist, rhetoric and sectarian strategies.

One of the major issues with the governance and delivery is that fact that there are no indicators to quantify the quality of a public good or service delivered by public agency. Secondly the entire focus of the government and public agency is on controlling the inputs rather than monitoring the outcomes. Till date there is no scientific way inculcated to measure the social objectives and satisfaction of the stakeholders for the delivered public goods and services.

Improving governance and delivery

The first step to improve the

quality of governance is quantification. The concept of good governance needs to be translated into the quantifiable annual index on the basis of certain agreed social and fiscal indicators. The performance of public functionaries at the states and districts should be judged on this quantifiable index. The performing public functionaries, states and districts must be incentivized.

Certain social indicators like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Sex Ratio, electrification of rural households, connectivity of the all weather roads, accessibility to primary health care centers etc should be the components of this index. Like fiscal indicators like revenue deficit, fiscal deficit etc should also be incorporated in the index. The comprehensive performance of the state and districts should be mapped using this index. Central and state governments should create an annual fund to augment the plan resources to those states and districts (respectively) which agree to improve the governance on the lines suggested. Likewise the service conditions of the civil servants and other state functionaries should also be linked with the social outcomes.

To improve the delivery of services, the “outward accountability” is quintessential. By outward accountability, I mean to say that apart from the governmental departments that involved in regular monitoring and evaluation of the public projects and schemes the other stakeholders should also be involved. The report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) must not be the sole criterion to judge a project or scheme.  There should be provisions for user surveys, investigative journalism, media access, external monitoring, citizen report card, public opinion, Panchayat audits etc. Social audits can be an important means to understand the relationship between the resources used and the achievement of social objectives. The efficiency and the effectiveness of the public schemes or projects must be measured along with equity.

0 Comments

User Discussion
    Be the first to comment

    Leave A comment