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“For forms of government, let fools contest’

Whomever administers best, is the best’

The above mentioned quotation primarily highlights the supreme importance of good administration and governance even though forms of government are very important and relevant to good governance.

What is good governance? In  a wider sense, it embraces everything in life, a wide range of activities  and programmes from “ womb to the tomb” and from  “ cradle to the grave” , which are formulated and implemented through a just and fair  system and processes based on certain  principles, ethos, ethics and values with a view to  ensuring all around development of the individuals- physical, mental physiological , emotional and spiritual. In a rhetorical sense, it implies the “just and fair” manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic , social, human and natural resources for sustainable development.

Good governance exhibits certain distinct features and aspects of governance which distinguishes it from “Bad Governance “. They are: 1:  Accountability; 2: Transparency; 3: Participatory Decision Making; 4: Responsiveness; 5: Inclusiveness; 6: Equity and Justice; and 7: Honesty, integrity and impartiality. Predicable, open enlightened policy, professional ethics, a sound responsive grievance redressal   system and the capacity to design, formulate, and implement policy an effective, corruption free delivery system of services and a non- discriminatory approach will go a long way in realizing the dream of having good governance.

Like bad money driving out good money, bad governance drives out good governance. Bad governance politically leads to opaque administration, policy paralysis, corruption and discrimination resulting in fraud, fiefdom and tyranny. . If it goes on for a long time, certainly it would lead to chaos, confusion and the rise of extremism, fundamentalism, terrorism and an insurgency like situation which threatens the very foundation of state and government.Economically it would lead to economic crises, an increase in the gulf between rich and the poor, increase in the number of people living below the poverty line, regional discrepancy, discontent and frustration among  the people losing faith in government. Socially it would lead to a divisive, discontented society where have-nots out-number the ’haves’. We must not forget that a society which is divided into haves and have-nots and where have-nots are large in number, is based on the foundation of shifting sand and will collapse sooner than later. “Kill whom you can take what you can “becomes the order of the day. In a nutshell, bad governance is suicidal and needs to be discarded at the earliest opportunity.


On the other hand good governance leads to political stability, economic prosperity and social harmony. Good governance ensures citizens liberty, equality, justice- social- economic and political fraternity and dignity of the individuals.  It creates a good investment climate necessary for economic development and prosperity. It creates favourable conditions for its subjects to participate, contribute and partake in the common good. In fact this is the freedom that guarantees the development of the full potential of the individual. 


Good governance requires certain conditions and standards to flourish into a beautiful  fragrant  flower. The form of the government matters a lot in laying the foundation of good governance .Democratic government though at times a bit slow, never the less provides an ideal ground for good governance to thrive. Democracy is a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Under no circumstances, should it be a government off the people, far from the people and buy the people. The day such a distortion happens, would be very bad and sad for democracy and good governance.

Good governance and leadership are yin and yang of the organization. An enlightened, value driven, balanced, bold and visionary leadership is a sine-qua- non for good governance.

Character ethics embracing honesty, integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, spiritually and modesty, etc. lay a strong foundation for success of governance where these values, principles and ethical standards are internalized into habits and practices. They empower people to effectively deal with any situation. Reactive government is driven by circumstances, conditions and environments, whereas proactive government is driven by values and public interest.

Criminalization of politics and politicization of bureaucracy are the twin evils of our country that threaten to destroy the whole fabric of administration and government. The sooner they are put to an end the better it is for our country. The recent judgement of the Supreme Court, with regards to criminal politicians , the various electoral reforms suggested by the Election Commission and the recent judgement of the Chief Information Commissioner of India bringing political parties within the ambit of RTI are path breaking landmark judgements, which if implemented in true spirit will lead to cleansing of our political system.

Impartial, apolitical bureaucracy is a must for good governance. It requires selection of personnel with proper aptitude and attitude, good, relevant training, their evaluation and the weeding out of the dead wood and corrupt. A mechanism to protect the honest and the good must be in place.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. People must be aware and vigilant to frustrate any attempt at bad governance. Constitutional provisions enunciating the principles of separation of power and check and balances must be addressed in letter and spirit. Any attempt by any constitutional body to overarch itself, may not be in the interest of good governance in the long run.  

In the recent past India has witnessed the passing of a large number of legislation including Lok Pal for empowerment and good governance. We must remember that good governance never depends upon laws but on personal qualities of those who govern and those who are governed. Rhetoric and populism are not going to help either. The challenge is to move from rhetoric to action and from populism to realism at a faster pace.

There is evidence of steady erosion in trust for established authorities. It is high time that we must see the writing on the wall. The inescapable conclusion is “Either govern well, or else perish”.   

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