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This essay is an effort to identify the difference between good and bad governance and also to be able to identify some of its key aspects.
Importance of Apt Governance
The knowledge of what makes up good governance is so crucial for every individual to know. Especially the people that are a part of the politics or play a part in governing a State, the general public for knowing and being capable of selecting a government that has all the features that make good governance. There is no doubt that having the knowledge of how to either recognize good governance or formulate good governance carries various crucial aspects that need to be more talked about.
The terms “governance” and “good governance” are being increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Major donors and international financial institutions are increasingly basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure “good governance” are undertaken.
This essay is an effort to identify the difference between good and bad governance and also to be able to identify some of the key aspects of good governance and the mistakes the current administration needs to learn from the past.
As it would be seen further in the essay, good governance is an accumulation of various components. The vision of good governance is discussed on the broader vision from institution to the state and the Socio-economic factor is emphasized through the good governance reformative period.
The concept of Good Governance was primarily implemented since the Human civilization commenced in the Anachronistic period where man to man was to cross the rational period and it goes for the common purpose of livings mutually. The common cause brought them together to set some rules through policy with the consensus for making decisions and strictly passed laws for the implementation of rules for the harmonious life.
The term Good Governance has been well obtainable in terms of Democratic values for achieving global targets for Human development, and the development of political relations with internationally, as well as democracy, has resulted in trust between the public and the administration of hearing and to be heard which is at the top priority by providing designed systematic facilitation or in simple language, set of rules, that provided detailed reasoning and provisions behind each rule and regulation which is known, for example, the Constitution of India.
It is a powerful tool through which human civilization can attain the attributes of sustainable development. It is a citizen-friendly phenomenon that bridges the gap between the state and its stakeholders. On the other hand, poor governance will create chaos in the society thereby disrupting the functioning of the state and retarding the overall developmental process.
There are numerous impediments in the form of lawlessness, poverty, corruption, illiteracy, unemployment, etc. which may deter the aim of achieving good governance in totality. Thus, it is imperative that in this modern era of globalization effective measures should be taken to ensure the implementation of the policies that are necessary for successful and efficient governance. The essential features and shortcomings must be identified and emphasis should be laid upon innovative approaches.
What is Good Governance?
Governance refers to all processes of governing, the institutions, processes, and practices through which issues of common concern are decided upon and regulated. Good governance adds a normative or evaluative attribute to the process of governing. From a human rights perspective, it refers primarily to the process whereby public institutions conduct public affairs, manage public resources, and guarantee the realization of human rights.
While there is no internationally agreed definition of ‘good governance, it may span the following topics: full respect of human rights, the rule of law, effective participation, multi-actor partnerships, political pluralism, transparent and accountable processes and institutions, an efficient and effective public sector, legitimacy, access to knowledge, information and education, political empowerment of people, equity, sustainability, and attitudes and values that foster responsibility, solidarity, and tolerance.
In summary, good governance relates to the political and institutional processes and outcomes that are necessary to achieve the goals of development. The true test of ‘good’ governance is the degree to which it delivers on the promise of human rights: civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights. The key question is: are the institutions of governance effectively guaranteeing the right to health, adequate housing, sufficient food, quality education, fair justice, and personal security?
Key Attribute of Good Governance
Although there are no fixed steps or key steps that lead to good governance, few aspects have always positively resulted in the process of the formation of good governance. The following key aspects have been most commonly used are the basic requirements of any good governance:
This is a crucial aspect of any good governance as it is what results in building up trust between the public, the voters for that government in power, and the government itself.
Transparency is important as in a democratic nation like India, for example, people of this country have the right to be informed (RTI) which is provided to hold the government accountable with respect to the public and also for the citizens of this country to know the major activities/changes the government is making for the welfare. It also helps the public better judge the work that the government is doing for their welfare and also analyze whether the government with power is even worthy or capable to run the nation.
This feature is also an important aspect for a government to have good governance. Responsibility is crucial as it reflects the commitment that a particular government has towards the nation and for its welfare. It sends a positive message amongst the public that the government is working towards developing the nation and providing its citizens with a better life.
This feature in a government is essential as it is what holds the government responsible for every action they take. It is a feature that every good government will and should have. Accountability also results in making the government more driven to do good work that leaves a positive impact as the public gets aware of every action they take.
Responsiveness (to the needs of people)
Responsiveness towards the need of people is an extremely important feature for a government to have as this feature requires for a government to notice and work on the needs of people, and to listen to what they want. This feature also requires the government to have a responsible attitude towards the needs and requirements of people.
Participation by both men and women is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation could be either direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. It is important to point out that representative democracy does not necessarily mean that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would be taken into consideration in decision-making. Participation needs to be informed and organized. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand.
Rule of Law
Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force.
Connection Between Good Governance and Human Rights
Good governance and human rights are mutually reinforcing. Human rights standards and principles provide a set of values to guide the work of governments and other political and social actors. They also provide a set of performance standards against which these actors can be held accountable. Moreover, human rights principles inform the content of good governance efforts: they may inform the development of legislative frameworks, policies, programs, budgetary allocations, and other measures.
On the other hand, without good governance, human rights cannot be respected and protected in a sustainable manner. The implementation of human rights relies on a conducive and enabling environment. This includes appropriate legal frameworks and institutions as well as political, managerial, and administrative processes responsible for responding to the rights and needs of the population.
The links between good governance and human rights can be organized around four areas:
When led by human rights values, good governance reforms of democratic institutions create avenues for the public to participate in policymaking either through formal institutions or informal consultations. They also establish mechanisms for the inclusion of multiple social groups in decision-making processes, especially locally. Finally, they may encourage civil society and local communities to formulate and express their positions on issues of importance to them.
Public service delivery
In the realm of delivering state services to the public, good governance reforms advance human rights when they improve the state’s capacity to fulfill its responsibility to provide public goods which are essential for the protection of a number of human rights, such as the right to education, health, and food. Reform initiatives may include mechanisms of accountability and transparency, culturally sensitive policy tools to ensure that services are accessible and acceptable to all, and paths for public participation in decision-making.
Rule of law
When it comes to the rule of law, human rights-sensitive good governance initiatives reform legislation and assist institutions ranging from penal systems to courts and parliaments to better implement that legislation. Good governance initiatives may include advocacy for legal reform, public awareness-raising on the national and international legal framework, and capacity-building or reform of institutions.
In fighting corruption, good governance efforts rely on principles such as accountability, transparency, and participation to shape anti-corruption measures. Initiatives may include establishing institutions such as anti-corruption commissions, creating mechanisms of information sharing, and monitoring governments’ use of public funds and implementation of policies.
Good governance is a compelling concept and may get even the highest prominence in the future. The concept is firmly established on the international agenda, a debate is in progress on its refinement and applicability. This ongoing debate is one in which all countries and relevant stakeholders, and not just a few major players, should take part to ensure that the concept is well defined and applicable.
- The concept of good governance is still evolving. It is part of a conceptual competition, the debate on concepts, to find answers to serious problems, to further sustainable development, and to reduce poverty.
- Different interpretations can be observed as to the elements of the concept and measurement; diverging interpretations are possible as too its outcomes. However, common views exist as to the necessary components of the concept, particularly the participatory approach of governance, and transparency in governance.
- The least developed countries should actively participate in the discourse on good governance, and they should develop expertise and capacity for doing so. Good governance should be part of the national policy agenda of these countries, and they should try to make the concept productive and useful for their specific problems, particularly their low income, low human assets, and high vulnerability.
- The least developed countries should establish a forum to which they may invite development partners. The forum would serve for the exchange of experiences and best practices and for monitoring their progress towards better governance.
The author of this article is Nandini Sharma. She is a student of IILM University, Gurugram. The title of her article is ‘Importance of Apt Governance’. In this article, she has shed light on the importance of good governance and the difference between good and bad governance.
- Yap Kioe Sheng, “What is Good Governance?” (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), Available here
- Abdul Rahim, “Governance and Good Governance-A Conceptual Perspective” (Journal of Public Administration and Governance 9(3):133), Available here
- Kahar R and Nath P, “Good Governance: Ethos and Ethics” (Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs), Available here
- “About Good Governance” (United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner), Available here
- Simonis, Udo E., “Defining good governance: The conceptual competition is on” (WZB Berlin Social Science Center), Available here