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Association of Retired Senior IPS Officers (ARSIPSO)

This is with reference to my letter No. ARSIPSO/GS-BSD-4/2023 dated. 10/08/2023 on the 4th B.S. Das Memorial Lecture, which had to be rescheduled for unavoidable reasons.

The 4th B.S.Das Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Shri Anil Kumar Sinha, IAS (Retd.), on the subject Disaster Management: Creating Safer Communities, has now been rescheduled for October 14, 2023 as per the following:

Conference Room No. 2, India International Centre, Max Mueller Marg, New Delhi, October 14, 2023 (Saturday)

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Crisis of governance is a major threat to the stability and integrity of the state today in many parts of the world in varying degrees. The symptoms of this crisis are widespread corruption, breakdown of law and order, public protests against the government and alienation of citizens all of which undermine the credibility of the government of the day. This crisis has led to huge popular activism to demand good governance not only in democratic India but also in sub-Saharan Africa, autocratic Islamic countries in the Middle East and authoritarian communist party ruled China. The growing spectacle of civil society activists demanding corruption free governance has jolted the ruling regime in India in recent months as never before since India became independent democratic republic.

Before we proceed to set down the basic components of good governance, it is important to remember that 'governance' transcends the 'government' and encompasses not only the state apparatus but the civil society organizations and the private sector too. In fact, good governance envisages strengthening the civil society and the non-government sector. At the apex of governance, the state apparatus regulates and enforces the Rule of Law, a major component of good governance which is regarded as the bed rock of a democratic society. There is a vital link between good governance and maintenance of internal security. If there is breakdown of law and order, the government will be unable to deliver the much needed services to the people. On the other hand, if the delivery mechanism is corrupt and inefficient, the citizens will lose their trust in the governments ability to deliver and look for remedies elsewhere for redressal of their grievances resulting in breakdown of law and order. This two-way link between good governance and internal security has been amply demonstrated in the rapid growth and sustenance of the Naxal movement in more than a dozen Indian states.

In order to achieve the desired level of Human Development and the socio-economic goals enshrined in the Preamble, Directive Principles and the Fundamental Rights of our constitution, the government must constantly cooperate with the civil society, enlist its support and empower it .Keeping these goals in view, the institutions of the government need to be strengthened by making them accountable, transparent, non-discriminatory, citizen-friendly and participatory. The crisis of governance in India today is a consequence of the breakdown of democratic institutions and emergence of an unholy nexus between inefficient, corrupt civil servants and vote hungry politicians. As a result, more than sixty years after independence, despite lofty promises made in the constitution, democratic India occupies a very low place in the Human Development Index published by the UNDP every year. Higher economic growth rate did not percolate as benefits to the poor and nearly 40 percent of the population live below the poverty line. This grim reality was acknowledged in the approach paper to the 10th Five Year Plan which devoted a chapter to good governance several years ago and lamented that huge amounts spent by way of central and state schemes did not benefit the targeted sections of the population due to misgovernance. Development objectives should be defined not in terms of growth in GDP or per capita income, but in terms of 'enhancement of human well-being as rightly noted in the plan paper.

If follows from the aforesaid arguments that in a well governed state, everything the governing apparatus does must necessarily be in public interest and every service or product should benefit all segments of population. In Indian context, it means what Gandhiji wanted us to do, namely, wipe every tear from every eye.The need of the hour is to select sound management technique which should, inter alia, include the following:
  • Prompt and efficient implementation of policies and plans through greater decentralization of administration down to the lowest level.
  • Greater accountability and performance appraisal of public servants with reference to targets set. They must be held responsible for delaying decisions, not taking decisions or not producing results.
  • People must know what is happening and reasons thereof so that policy making is predictable and there is transparency all around.
  • Bureaucracy must be citizen-friendly, responsive and honest at every level.
  • Finally, the civil society must play a participatory role in governance and remain ever vigilant to ensure that elected representatives and the civil servants fulfil their duties. In a democracy, to quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter, “the highest office is the office of the citizen”. History teaches us the lesson that if the elected government does not deliver, the citizens will come out on the streets and protest.
In order that the goals set above are achieved, we need to reform our administrative structure. Some suggested steps in that direction are as follows:
  • The management of civil services especially transfer, posting and promotion should be assigned to the "Civil Services Board" which may be granted statutory status.
  • The long awaited police reforms and the directives issued by the Supreme Court in 2006 must be implemented by all the state governments.
  • A new comprehensive 'Lokpal Act' should be enacted as early as possible to ensure honest, corruption free governance.
  • Special attention should be paid to Judicial Reforms and Accountability of Judges so that citizens have access to speedy, fair and affordable justice. There is a need for suitable legislation for ensuring judicial accountability.
  • The system of e-governance should be adopted in all departments having interface with the public.
Eventually, we must look beyond the existing system inherited from our colonial masters. The time has come for innovative ideas such as involvement of non-official experts from the private sector and institutes of excellence, e.g., IIT's, IIM's etc. in various department and ministries. The inputs and suggestions provided by such bright young men and women will be of great help in formulating policies and implementing them on ground. This is no doubt a radical step which is bound to encounter stiff resistance from the bureaucrats who resist change and innovative ideas. But if India has to march forward and ensure social and economic justice for its marginalized millions, it is time we look at such radical options a little more seriously. Along with such restructuring of the administrative machinery, there is overarching need for simplification of outdated, cumbersome rules and procedures. The rules and regulations should be simple, easy to understand and citizen-friendly so that people do not have to depend on the so-called intermediaries and grease their palms while availing public services.


The views and facts stated above are entirely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of this Association in any manner.

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