The administration has a vital bearing on a country and its people. In ancient India right from Vedic Days, it has been the avowed objective of administration to be responsive, transparent, accountable and citizen-friendly. These factors could be regarded as the touchstone of any administrative setup. The administration of Koutilya during the Mouryan period was more or less centralised with an effective system of intelligence gathering. During the Mogul period, the concept of centralised administration continued with greater vigour. Accountability and transparency in this centralised administration were conspicuous by their absence. Then came the colonial administration of the British. Here again, the basic format was of a centralised administration. There was a vertically controlled administrative set up with a District Magistrate and Collector as the key figure. The Collector in the eyes of the people was “MaiBap” whose job was to maintain law and order and collect revenue. While the administration was efficient, it had
hardly any room for being responsive, accountable and transparent. It was not responsive and not citizen-friendly. These concepts, however, underwent a sea change in later years with token participation of people at various levels. Many administrative innovations were no doubt brought about in various fields like social, economic and technological, but these were mere cosmetic changes and primarily intended to suit the colonial requirements.
The primary concern of the citizens in a good civil society is that their government must be fair and good. For a Government to be good it is essential that their systems and sub-systems of Governance are efficient, economic, ethical and equitable. In addition, the governing process must also be just, reasonable, fair and citizen-friendly. For these and other qualities and good governance, the administrative system must also be accountable and responsive, besides promoting transparency and people’s participation.
The test of good governance lies in the goals and objectives of the government, in its policies and programmes, in the manner of their execution, in the result achieved and above all in the general perception of the people about the quality of functioning of various agencies, their attitude and behaviour towards the people, their sincerity, honesty and their commitment towards the public duties. Good governance implies accountability to the citizens of a democratic polity and their involvement in decision making, implementation and evaluation of projects, programmes and public policies. In this perspective, transparency and accountability become invaluable components of good governance as well as of good administration.
Transparency makes sure that people know exactly what is going on and what is the rationale of the decisions taken by the Government or its functionaries at different levels. Accountability makes sure that for every action and inaction in government and its consequences there is a civil servant responsible and accountable to the government, the society and the people.