"Good Governance is central to the economic and sociocultural development of a State and the Nation. Good Governance is dependent to a large extent on the "Rule of Law".
India has the longest constitutional text in the world. India is governed by this Constitution since 1950. Our Constitution is supposed to be one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.
Then why is our economic performance dismal even after 65 years of independence? Why is India still a developing country? Why are there several separatist movements? Why is corruption rampant?
Good governance emerges as a model to compare ineffective economies with viable economies around the world. The most successful governments in the contemporary world are liberal democratic states of Europe and North America. Their economies emerge most resilient and vibrant.
Governance describes the process of decision making and the process by which the decisions are implemented or not implemented. These decisions can apply to corporate, international, national, local governance or to the interaction between various sections of our society.
What is GOOD governance?
According to the United Nations, “good governance” has eight characteristics:
It is: Consensus oriented
Following the “Rule of Law”
Effective and efficient
Responsive to demands of the people
Equitable and inclusive
The World Leaders at the 2005 World Summit concluded that “Good governance is integral to economic growth, eradication of poverty and hunger and for sustainable development”
“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the only legitimate object of good government.” Said Thomas Jefferson to Maryland Republicans in 1809.
The most important aspect of good governance and the most relevant in the current Indian and Goan scenario is the “Rule of law”. What is Rule of Law? Rule of Law is a legal maxim whereby governmental decisions are made applying known legal principles. Such a government is called Nomocracy ( nomos=law ; kratos=power in Greek).Ancient philosopher Aristotle wrote “law should govern than any one of the citizens. If it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons they should be only appointed or elected to be the guardians of the law and the servants of the law”. This became an epoch making statement in Europe. Rule of Law implies that every citizen is subject to the law, in letter and spirit. It stands in contrast to the idea that ruler is above the law. Roman statesman Cicero said “We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free”. Freedom is thus related to the Rule of Law. So is the very survival of democracy.
Direct result of the above position is that internationally democracy and good governance are considered synonymous. IMF and World Bank base their aid or loan on the condition that recipient undertakes reforms ensuring good governance. There is a close link between poor governance and corruption.
Although India is not in the list of ten most corrupt countries in the world corruption is rampant in India. This is due to absence of Rule of Law. Although all laws are in existence they remain in texts. There is only the letter and no spirit of implementation of these laws. If India is to gain its rightful place of an economic superpower in the international community there must be Rule of Law and Good Governance in India. It is simply not enough to be democratic and talk about reforms.
If there is Rule of Law and Good Governance corruption will automatically come to an end. No amount of fasting and agitating of team anna can address this issue effectively till our leaders comprehend that social responsibility scores high over personal profitability or short term benefits to the party.
Worldwide Governance Indicators, a research agency, defines the rule of law as “the extent to which agents have confidence and abide by the rules of the society and in particular the quality of contract enforcement, the quality of police and courts as well as the likelihood of crime or violence”. Based on this definition the Worldwide Governance Project has developed aggregate measurements for Rule of Law in more than 200 countries. The map below illustrates this well:
Dark green = 90-100th percentile
Light Green =75-90th percentile
Yellow = 50-75th percentile (India is in this, leaving us lot of room for improvement)
Orange = 25-50th percentile
Pink = 10-25th percentile
Dark red = 0-10th percentile.
One can easily note from above map how close is the correlation between Rule of Law and the overall development of a country. Thus Rule of Law is directly proportional to the quality of life in a country.
If we have to improve our Goa and India first change must be total commitment to Rule of Law from individuals in power, from the common man, from political parties and from the Government and society as a whole.
Can we bridge the gap between the rhetoric of law and the implementation of law in our state at the least?
In Goa our priorities have to be adjusted from a long term point of view. For instance the protection of Western Ghats may not give us anything in the short term, but this will definitely contribute to the harmonious ecosystem in and around Goa in the long term. Why waste this unique opportunity when UNESCO wants to declare Western Ghats as a World Heritage Site? There are several such areas where Goa Government should take robust decisions in the long term interest of the state. It is not just the cold blooded, short term effectiveness and intellectual arrogance of the ruling party that determines the performance of the Government. A deeper understanding of the significance of what is written by our wise ancestors in our Constitution is indispensible.
Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.
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