This article gives an introduction about the lack of accountability and the reasons behind a lack of good governance. It explains in detail some of the major reasons for barriers in good governance, such as red-tapism, ineffective implementation of rules and laws, very low level of awareness of rights and duties among citizens, and the lack of accountability.
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Barriers to Good Governance – Introduction
The reasons for Governments not being citizen-centric can be attributed to the work and attitude of some government servants, the deficiencies in existing institutional structures and also to some citizens.
While the laws made by the Legislature may be relevant and sound, most of the time they are not implemented properly by government functionaries.
The institutional structure provided may be also weak at times and ill-conceived and thus has neither the capacity nor the resources to implement the laws in letter and spirit.
Prime Minister, in this context, had stated:
“Efficient and effective institutions form the backbone of a successful development and governance process. The founding fathers had the foresight to build the important institutional framework which has brought us so far. We need to think whether this framework is adequate in the years to come; whether past modes of functioning will address the demands of the future in a fast-changing world; whether skills and capabilities that were relevant in the past have outlived their utility? It is only by asking and answering these questions will we be able to identify institutional reforms which will meet the needs of our times. ”
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- The system often suffers from problems of excessive centralization and policies and action plans are far removed from the citizens’ needs. This ultimately results in a mismatch between what is required and what is being provided.
- Inadequate capacity building of personnel who are the ones to implement the laws also results in policies and laws not being implemented properly.
- Further, lack of awareness about duties and rights and callous approach to compliance with laws on the part of some of the citizens also create barriers to good governance.
- Attitudinal Problems of the Civil Servants is a growing concern that the Civil Services and administration in general, have become inflexible, wooden, inward-looking and self-perpetuating.
- Consequently, their attitude is one of insensitivity and indifference to the needs of citizens. It is coupled with the enormous asymmetry in the wielding of power at all levels, which has further aggravated the situation.
- The end result is that officers perceive themselves as dispensing favours to citizens rather than serving them and given the abject poverty, illiteracy, etc. a culture of exaggerated deference to authority has become the norm.
Given below are major reasons for the inefficiency of Good Governance-
Lack of Accountability
- A common reason usually cited for inefficiency in governance is the inability within the system to hold the Civil Services accountable for their actions.
- Seldom are disciplinary proceedings initiated against delinquent government servants and imposition of penalties is even rarer.
- It is primarily because at most levels authority is divorced from accountability leading to a system of realistic and plausible alibis.
- Cumbersome disciplinary procedures have added to the general apathy towards discipline in Government. Moreover, the safeguards provided to civil servants, – which were well-intentioned – have often been misused.
- Another reason for the lack of accountability is that performance evaluation systems within the government have not been effectively structured.
- The complacency that the system breeds have resulted in employees adopting an apathetic or lackadaisical attitude towards citizens and their grievances.
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Low Levels of Awareness of the Rights and Duties of Citizens
- Inadequate awareness about their rights prevents citizens from holding erring government servants to account.
- Similarly, low levels of compliance of Rules by the citizens also act as an impediment to good governance; When citizens do not adhere to their duties they infringe on the freedom and rights of other citizens. Thus, awareness of rights and adherence to duties are two sides of the same coin.
- A vigilant citizenry, fully aware of its rights as well its duties, is perhaps the best way to ensure that officials as well as other citizens, discharge their duties effectively and honestly.
Weak Civil Society
- Good governance is badly affected by weak civil society institutions.
- Civil society bridges the gap between the governed and the government. It checks the growth of unethical practices.
- But, when the Civil Society institutions are weakened or they are absent the gap between people and the government gets widened.
Ineffective Implementation of Laws and Rules
- There is a large body of laws in the country, each legislated with different objectives – maintaining public order and safety, maintaining sanitation and hygiene, protecting rights of citizens, giving special protection to the vulnerable sections etc.
- Effective implementation of these laws creates an environment that would improve the welfare of all citizens and at the same time, encourage each citizen to contribute his best towards the development of society.
- On the other hand, weak implementation can cause a great deal of hardship to citizens and even erode the faith of the citizenry in the government machinery.
- Bureaucracies the world over are expected to adhere to rules and procedures which are, of course, important for good governance. However, at times, these rules and procedures are ab-initio ill-conceived and cumbersome and, therefore, do not serve their purpose.
- Also, government servants sometimes become overly preoccupied with rules and procedures and view these as an end in themselves. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh while emphasizing procedural reforms, stated:
“Very often, the most difficult area of reform in government is a process and procedural reform. No amount of investment in capabilities and technologies can improve performance and service delivery beyond a point if we continue to be prisoners of archaic procedures and processes. Often, policy reform measures do not deliver the desired outcomes because of a lack of forwarding movement in the reform of government processes. This is after all, what gives rise to the so-called Inspector Raj. This is what makes the interface of a common citizen with the government a cumbersome and daunting affair. This is often the root cause of corruption as well.”
Lack of strong institutions of governance
- Governance functions with the Governance. Overview support of various institutions such as the legislature, executive, and the judiciary, with a clear separation of power.
- If these institutions succumb to illegal and unethical pressures, and they fail to perform their designated functions, then the institutions get weakened.
- This results in the failure of the process of governance and hampers development initiatives.
- To restore good governance in the country and to accord primacy to the Gandhian principle of ‘Antyodaya”, there is a need to reformulate our national strategy.
- India should also focus on developing probity in governance, which will make the governance more ethical.
- The government should continue to work on the ideals of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas which will lead to inclusive and sustainable development.
- The effective functioning of governance is the prime concern of every citizen of the country. The citizens are ready to pay the price for good services offered by the state, but what is required is a transparent, accountable and intelligible governance system absolutely free from bias and prejudices.
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