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What is meant by Governance
There is no single universally acceptable way to define governance. A considerable literature exists on how it may be defined (See Box 1). For our purposes, however, we will confine ourselves to governance in so far as it serves the citizens by safeguarding territorial integrity of the State and ensuring individual security, rule of law and the delivery of services. Thus we can say that governance includes the following:
- The processes by which governments are chosen, monitored, and changed.
- The systems of interaction between the administration, the legislature, and the judiciary.
- The ability of government to create and to implement public policy.
- The mechanisms by which citizens and groups define their interests and interact with institutions of authority and with each other.
Box 1: Some definitions of Governance
“GOVERNANCE is the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage a nation’s
affairs. It is the complex mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate
their interests, exercise their legal rights and obligations, and mediate their differences.” (UNDP)
“GOVERNANCE is the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s social and
economic resources for development. Governance means the way those with power use that power.” (ADB)
GOVERNANCE is “… the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised for the
- the process by which those in authority are selected, monitored and replaced
- the capacity of the government to effectively manage its resources and implement sound policies, and
- the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them. “(World Bank)
Important Aspects of Governance
The quality of governance is an issue of increasing concern in countries around the world, both developed and developing. The UN Secretary-General had stated, “Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.”
However, a lack of systematic data, both over time within countries as well as between countries around the world, ensures that fundamental questions remain to be answered adequately. How can we best measure governance? How does governance performance differ across time and
In India, at the broadest levels of governance, many major issues still remain unsettled. We have an especially daunting array of key issues which, one way or another, have not been properly addressed since Independence in 1947. What are these issues? Since such a list can become endless, we include the following:
- The role of the state, and the government in India, vis-à-vis the people.
- The capacity of (i.e., the resources available to) the government in India.
- The separation of powers between the executive, legislature, and judiciary, and the way that the constituent parts of these three arms of government operate internally.
- The way the political system operates.
- The state and markets in India.
- The role of selected institutions in the Indian intellectual community in contributing to governance in India.
- The management of economy, fiscal imbalances and deficits.
- Regional disparities within and across states.
- Poverty and unemployment.
- Denial of basic needs of food, water, shelter and clothing to a substantial proportion of the population.
- Environmental degradation and climate change.
- Internal Security issues viz. naxalism and home grown terrorism.
- Exclusion and marginalization of people on the basis of parochial identities.
- Lack of transparency and accountability in the working of the State and its agencies.
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