Assembly Polls 2021:Vote for Good Governance
In industry what differentiates a successful company from others is quality of management. In government, what distinguishes a good one from the other is quality of governance. In industry, success is also measured in terms of profits, turnover, share valuations and net worth. In governance, it is most often the list of new projects undertaken or crisis management that becomes the criteria for judgement. Ultimately, good governance is about making citizens happy. That may be the reason New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was re-elected or glorious words are said about Angela Markel in Germany even after the end of her fourth continuous term in office. Some nations such as Bhutan have already implemented Gross Happiness Index which is valued higher than Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is based on 33 indicators grouped under nine domains including health, good governance, psychological well-being, education ...
In India as well as in other democracies, governance is based on written or unwritten Constitution, cultural and historical factors that influence structures of government. This determines how administration is carried out from village to highest levels the nation's capital. Good governance can be felt by people when they walk into a government office or institution- the reception they get, the simplification of procedures and addressing of grievances. This was proven in Aiymanam Grama Panchayat and Kizhakkambalam.
Many times we find politicians indulging in self glorification about what they have done in the past five years. A cursory glance at State Budgets show that more than 30% of revenue expenditure goes into salaries and pensions for employees. With a large army of people and infrastructure, the elected representatives are duty bound to bring progress in society and it can happen only through good policy initiatives. The ruling Left Front Government in Kerala always talks about the two floods, Nipah epidemic that it had to face and the brave stories of outliving it. But most often they also hide the negative side of the story- the Indian Institute of Science report on unscientific opening of dams that may have caused the disaster , the large participation of voluntary agencies and people in rescue and rehabilitation or the fact that Nipah management undertaken by them was based on the WHO protocols which were developed during the outbreak of Ebola virus.
Most often ministers want to create the impression that they are fighting all odds and insurmountable problems. Just as in politics, governance is also a ludecy ( a game as Edward De Bono puts it in I am Right You are Wrong)or they have made it so. When Covid-19 virus was already known to not survive soap water despite being contagious, the best option might have been to distribute good quality triple layer masks or even soaps free of cost to people. In addition, to keeping children below 10 years and those aged above 60 with co-morbidities at home for a longer time. But incentives drive decisions so does big numbers. Unless, hospitals are full, large orders for PPE kits and ventilators are made, the government may not be seen by the public as doing something for them. "Politicians necessarily have short-term horizons because of the need to get re-elected," according to De Bono. Doing something simple and unpopular may not help a politician survive the long term. In a nutshell, good governance can be expected only by changing the rules of the game- it applies to education, public health, bureaucracy... environment etc.
Manmohan Singh, who steered the economy through difficult times in 1991 as Finance Minister and later on served as Prime Minister of India for two terms, once said that he was not indispensable. He was simply doing what anyone with knowledge of finance and economics might have done in that situation. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister wrote in An Autobiography that his experience of public life has shown that popularity was often the hand maiden of undesirable persons. "It was not certainly an invariable sign of virtue or intelligence. Was I poplular because of my failings or accomplishments. Why indeed was I popular?"
On the big screen, the heroes are the ones who may be doing daring acts or acts of courage beyond the ordinary. In politics, heroes are those who bring a smile on the faces of citizens. Indeed, this is the time to cast your vote for good governance.
Tips for Educators
Schools and colleges should arrange visits to nearby government offices and establishments and understand the problems of common citizens. Such data collection and analysis may help children ask intelligent questions about the functioning of government and come up with some solutions too.