Friday, December 12, 2014

GOOD GOVERNANCE: What does it involve?

Organised jointly by

Centre for Policy Studies (CPS),
Delhi Citizens Council
Diwan Chand Institute of National Affiars (DINA)

Venue: Deputy Chairman’s Hall, Constitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi

Time: December 12, 2014, Friday, 4:30 PM

The panel comprised: Dr. Subhash Kashyap, Shri Shakti Sinha and Ms. Madhu Kishwar.

The meeting was very well attended; the hall was full and many had to keep standing. The attendance and the animated discussion that followed after the presentations of the speakers indicated the wide-spread concern among the knowledgeable people for Good Governance. Everyone seemed keen to ensure that the current government is held to its promise of quickly delivering good governance. There was also a feeling that this is in an issue on which neither the current government, nor the Indian nation, can afford to fail.

At the beginning of the meeting Shri P. K. Chandla of the Delhi Citizens’ Council and Shri Rajendra Gupta of the Diwan Chand Institute of National Affairs welcomed the speakers and the audience on behalf of their respective organizations.

The discussion was moderated by Dr. Bajaj of the Centre for Policy Studies. In his opening and concluding remarks, Dr. Bajaj said that the present political setup has come to power mainly on the promise of delivering good governance. Therefore, it is importance to keep the issue in constant discussion. He emphasised that good governance is never possible without the participation of people; the Hindi word for good governance suraj also means swaraj, self-governance. Therefore, besides ensuring honesty, transparency, efficiency and courtesy on the part of the governing systems, we also need to evolve institutional mechanisms that allow effective participation of the people in governance.

Dr. Subhash Kashyap invoked the age-old traditions of good governance in India by quoting extensively from texts such as Kautliya’s Arthashastra and Mahabharata. He cited Gandhi’s emphasis on the need to be “servants, rather than masters, of the people”. Dr. Kashyap emphasised that building governance structures in tune with our classical concepts is not going to be easy because more than three-fourths of our constitution has been lifted from the Government of India Act of 1935. He also expressed concern that though the issue of good governance is being repeatedly emphasized by the current government, yet not much seems to be changing on the ground. The situation is worrisome, because India just cannot afford to let this opportunity go waste. Failure of the current dispensation to deliver on its promise of good governance and development shall lead India into a disaster of unimaginable dimensions.

Mr. Shakti Sinha said that within the government efforts at improving efficiency and simplifying procedures are going on at several levels. The Prime-Minister is engaging directly with the secretaries to the government to achieve this. But bureaucratic inertia had reached its peak during the tenure of the previous (UPA) government and to restore efficiency is not going to be easy, unless ways are found and structures are built to make the bureaucracy answerable and accountable to the people in a meaningful manner.

Carrying on from where Mr Sinha left, Ms. Madhu Kishwar spoke of the imperative need for public participation in democracy. She referred to the many initiatives of Shri Modi during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat in which people were involved in a big way. She particularly mentioned the large-scale involvement of the people that he was able to achieve in the school enrollment and agricultural improvement programs. She also warned that during the previous UPA regime, involvement of people in the government had been equated with the involvement of foreign funded NGOs; that government in fact had outsourced governance and policy making to such NGOs. To restore good governance now it is imperative to strongly curb the activities of such foreign-funded NGOs.

The presentations were followed by animated discussion from the audience.


A View of the audience


A View of the stage

(L-R) Shri P. K. Chandla, Chairman of the Delhi Citizens’ Council; Dr. J. K. Bajaj, Director, Centre for Policy Studies; Dr. Subhash Kashyap, former Secretary-General, Lok Sabha; Shri Shakti Sinha, formerly of the IAS and Prof. Madhu Purnima Kishwar, Editor, Manushi in Deputy Chairman’s Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi on Friday, December 12, 2014.








previous meetings