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Essay on “Reforms in Governance and Administration” Complete Essay for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Reforms in Governance and Administration

In its approach paper on “Reforms in Governance and Administration”, the second Administrative Reforms Commission, citing the words of former UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan, observes that good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.”

In the context of our country, this perception of good governance can serve as a pathfinder when it comes to introducing reforms in governance and administration. In precise terms, governance can be viewed as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It consists of the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences.

Without good governance, no amount of developmental schemes can bring in improvements in the quality of life of the citizens. On the other hand, if the power of the State is abused, or exercised in improper ways, those with the least power in the society, the poor are most likely to suffer. In that sense poor governance generates and reinforces poverty and subverts efforts to reduce it. Strengthening governance is an essential precondition to improving the lives of the poor.

Good governance had been identified in the Tenth Five-Year Plan as the single most important factor in ensuring that the Plan objectives are achieved. Among other things decentralization of power and empowerment of citizen’s effective and broad-based participation of people through State as well as non-State mechanisms, had been referred to as the Key priorities. Other thrust areas included greater synergy and consolidation among various agencies and programmes of government, civil service reforms, transparency, rationalization of government schemes and mode of financial assistance to States.

The Plan document also laid stress on improved access to formal justice system to enforce rights, reforms—and strengthening of land administration and harnessing the power of technology for governance. During the past few years, numerous initiatives have been taken to improve the quality of governance. A series of political reforms have been enacted by Parliament by unanimous consent. These include the electoral funding reforms, promoting transparency and fairness and creating tax incentives to donors, disclosure of antecedents of candidates contesting for public office, and the 97th Constitutional Amendment limiting the size of Council of Ministers to 15 per cent of the strength of the Lower House and considerably strengthening anti-defection provisions.

Attempts on legislative ground have also been made to provide for independent information commissioners, proactive disclosures and reporting mechanisms so as to impact our governance process by empowering citizens. In its fourth report on “Ethics in Governance”, submitted to the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on February 1, 2007, the ARC recommended that the Lok Pal be given a constitutional status and renamed the “Rashtriya Lokayukta”. The Commission recommended steps to bring about greater transparency and accountability in governance at all levels to root out corruption.

For enforcing ethical conduct in high places and providing a continuum in the fight against corruption, the report recommended that the Rashtriya Lokayukta’s jurisdiction be extended to all union ministers (Except the Prime Minister), all chief ministers all those holding public office equivalent to the rank of a union minister, and MPs.

The Rashtriya Lokayukta should be headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge have an eminent jurist as member and the Central Vigilance Commissioner as the ex-officio member.

However, a lot more remains to be done. There is increasing lawlessness in several pockets of the country, and armed groups are resorting to violence with impunity for sectarian or ideological reasons. The State apparatus is generally perceived to be largely inefficient, with most functionaries serving no useful purpose. The bureaucracy is generally seen to be tardy, inefficient and unresponsive. Corruption is all-pervasive, eating into the vitals of our system, undermining economic growth distorting competition and disproportionately hurting the poor and marginalized citizens.

Criminalization of politics continues unchecked, with money and muscle power playing a large role in elections. In general, there is high degree of volatility in society on account of unfulfilled expectations and poor delivery. Moreover, abuse of authority at all levels in all organs of State has become the bane of our democracy. In genera! perception, every political party and politician is corrupt. It can be seriously addressed only by restructuring the systems on all fronts—political, bureaucratic and judicial. There is an urgency for restructuring our political and governance institutions. Otherwise. the growing cynicism and despair among large sections may shatter public confidence in democratic institutions.

Usually, the positive power to promote public good seems to be severely restricted, making it difficult for even the most conscientious and competent functionaries to deliver optimal results. The systematic rigidities, unnecessary complexity and over-centralization have rendered the system ineffective. But the negative power of abuse of authority in pursuit of pelf, privilege and patronage, or harassment of public through flagrant violation of law, petty tyranny and nuisance value is virtually unchecked.

This imbalance in the exercise of power is the root cause of the crisis of governance. As a result, most agencies of government are functioning sub-optimally, and government programmes have not yielded the desired results. At most levels, authority is divorced from accountability, leading to a system of realistic and plausible alibis or non-performance. Most functionaries are thus caught in a vicious cycle. As the ARC’s approach paper on ‘Reform in Governance and Administration” suggests, any serious efforts to make our governance apparatus an instrument of service to the people and a powerful tool to achieve national objectives needs to take into account these two cardinal factors plaguing our polity—the imbalance in the exercise of power, and asymmetry in the wielding of power.

Also, it is imperative to pay attention to two fundamental, interrelated objectives. The first is the fulfillment of human potential, prevention of avoidable suffering and ensuring human dignity, access to justice and opportunity to all Indians so that every citizen is a fulfilled and productive human-being. The second is the rapid economic growth realizing the nation’s potential and allowing India to play her rightful role in the global arena in order to protect the vital interests of present and future generations, and become an important factor in promoting global peace, stability and prosperity. In this regard, what is needed is a sharp focus on the State’s role and instruments of governance as effective tools in our quest for these national goals.

The economic reform process initiated in 1991 has posed fresh challenges of governance. In the light of the changing domestic and global situation, the role of the Indian State in the coming decade has to be clearly defined. The assumption that market is the answer to all our challenges is a dangerous and irrational one. The State needs to focus on the irreducible role of government that is required to fulfill human potential and promote rapid economic growth. Abdication of the State or its inefficiency in these critical sectors will not augur well for our future.

The non-negotiable role of the State in our broad areas needs to be clearly recognized and re-emphasized. The first is in the area – of public order, justice and rule of law. Deficiencies on this front have led to decline in trust in the State’s capacity to protect life and liberty and enforce rights.

This in turn has aggravated the tendency to resort to violence and crime to obtain rough and ready justice, promote sectarian interests, or achieve ideological goals. Ensuring access to speedy and efficient justice, protecting rights of citizens, enforcing rule of law, and maintaining public order are all inseparable and they form the bedrock of a civilized society and sound liberal democracy. The deficiencies in this vital area need to be plugged through judicial and police reforms, better citizen participation in governance, transparency and more effective and integrated approach to public order maintenance.

The second area is human development through access to good quality education and health care to make every citizen productive and fulfilled. Despite our long-standing commitments to these goals, the results are uneven and far from satisfactory. Allocation of sources is undoubtedly inadequate leading to huge unmet demand. Even what is spent is not very productive in outcomes. Yet even private sector is not delivering effectively because of systemic inadequacies. We need to reorient public finances in order to direct resources to human development.

But even more vitally, we need to redesign our delivery mechanisms in an innovative manner based on past experience and best practices and deploy the nation’s finest talent in these sectors. Most of the nation’s gene pool is wasted because of inadequate and poor quality of school education. Higher education too is not very successful in promoting excellence of producing, service providers, leaders, managers and wealth creators, for the future. There are other clear danger signals, which need to be acknowledged and addressed immediately.

For instance, as public health system has been unsatisfactory and inadequate, private health expenditure, which already accounts for about 80% of total expenditure is growing (14% per annum) much faster than GDP. The resultant high cost and poor access would seriously undermine our human development and perpetuate misery and poverty. The governance system should be geared to address these fundamental challenges through sensible and innovative policy, effective and competent delivery, and meaningful incentives and accountability mechanisms.

The third broad area is infrastructure and sustainable natural resource development. While the economic aspects of these are well recognized the governance challenges are not adequately addressed. For instance, effective land administration is crucial to the much-needed improvement in agriculture.

Energy generation and bio-fuel production would require great administrative innovation and grassroots coordination. Urban management involves much more than resource allocation for infrastructure and poses formidable challenges of governance. Power distribution management through local people’s involvement and ownership in a consumer-friendly way is more a governance issue than an economic or tariff problem. We need to create innovative modes of governance in dealing with many such growing challenges.

The fourth broad area is social security. It is a relatively new and growing area of State activity to which the administrative system must respond with alacrity, sensitivity and efficacy. The recent enactment of the employment guarantee law, the efforts in the pipeline to provide social security to the unorganized sector workers, and many health care risk-pooling mechanisms require effective delivery system, which can address the special challenges posed in this emerging sector of state activity.

Also, we need to raise resources, reduce unproductive subsidies, and ensure better outcomes for every rupee utilized. Past experience shows that revenue cannot be increased by enhancing tax rates in a centralized administration. There has to be an increasingly transparent link between taxes and services rendered and better tax administration to ensure greater compliance. Subsidy reduction is politically painful, and the people have to see an alternative and better application of the resources saved in order to accept de-subsidization. And the administration must become far more accountable and effective in delivering results with the same expenditure. In order to realize these goals, there should be conscious efforts to establish the links between the citizens’ votes and public good and taxes and services, and combine authority with accountability at every level. Therefore, effective empowerment of local governments and stakeholders, and reforms to ensure effective and sufficient delegation of accountability at every level to deliver should be the cornerstone of governance reform.

Rampant corruption is the most disturbing roadblock to good governance. There are reports of growing corruption in several State-controlled sectors, indicating a shift from the traditional forms of corruption. Police, criminal justice system. health care delivery, public procurement and contracting, transfers and postings of officials, tax-collection and land administration are areas which are by nature fully or substantially State-controlled. Corruption is either continuing or growing in these sectors, as the inexhaustible demand for illegitimate funds in our governance system continues unabated. Clearly far-reaching political and electoral reforms to transform our political culture and alter the nature of incentives in public life are the need of the hour. In addition, real decentralization of power with effective institutional checks will give citizens greater control over administration and curb the malpractices of Slat& functionaries.

Judicial and police reforms ensuring speedy, efficient and accessible justice and swift, sure and severe punishment for abuse of office will increase risks of unacceptable behaviour. Self-regulatory mechanisms to uphold standard in professional groups is another area that requires urgent attention in the changing context. A comprehensive approach involving political, electoral, judicial, and police reforms coupled with decentralization and accountability must be the essence of an all-out assault on corruption.

One weakness in our governance is the incapacity to institutionalize the best practices prevalent in our own country and elsewhere. A conscious effort not only to identify and document best practices but also to build policy and create new structures and institutions to allow mass replication needs to be made.

We have an impressive governance infrastructure and significant successes to our credit. But we need to refashion the instruments to suit the emerging challenges. The political system has the resilience and capacity to mobilize public opinion and transform our governance. What we need is the will and painstaking effort and energy to innovate, design and reform.


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