According to World Bank, governance is:
“Manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic social resources for development”
Thus governance is how a government of the day carries out its functions, its responsibilities, how it provides services to the people and how it conducts business, how it rules over the territory and how it interacts with other governments.
Essential features of good governance are as under:
Rule of law:
There has to be set of preexisting laws i.e. constitution, statutes, rules, regulations which are inviolable. That means all subjects, rulers or ruled people in authority king or pauper and foreign nationals irrespective of their social status, caste creed sex must be governed by given set of rules.
Laws must be for uniform application to all. No discrimination in any manner.
Rules should not be amenable to biased interpretation
This is an important feature. Ruler must be accountable to ruled for its actions. Here premise is that ultimate source of authority are the people and the authorities exercising the power on their behalf, it be responsible to them either through legislature, committees, people’s councils, Ward committees etc.
In government system various authorities exercise the power from bottom to top. Each official not only must be accountable to the superiors but also in way accountable to public. In democratic system this accountability is established through higher officials and ministers to the legislatures. With the passing of budget and asking for performance, asking questions, getting the audit done, looking into the audit reports, audit of policies etc. by the legislature and its committees. Accountability ensures that people get to know what is happening in the system.
this is another important feature of good governance. It is required that government responds promptly to any demand and needs of the people be it in terms of granting justice, food security , health initiatives etc. A speedy response of Govt. creates a sense of security in the minds of the people and thus leads to good governance.
It must be realized that government exists for responding to needs of people be it emergencies natural disasters , immediate services, law and order or any other thing in which case citizen must receive immediate response from the related functionaries. In a welfare state prime responsibility of the govt. is to serve the citizens with full commitment and promptness.
Independence of judiciary:
Judiciary is an important element of any governing system. Separation of powers among the judiciary executive and legislature is a feature that any government needs to instill. In its system and independence of judiciary is a must. Judiciary keeps a check on the “rule of law” principle and if there is no independence of this pillar. All the mal practices in system will increase manifolds. It is because of this pillar that the government is always on its toes and thus ensuring good governance.
Transparency is a very important pillar of good governance. It means that government should function like an open book. Citizens should be able to see the basis of decision taken or the same should be in public domain. The procurement system in the government must be based on accepted norms of competitive bidding and same is true for disposal of precious resources controlled by the state such as mines, minerals, permits, licenses or any other thing.
The procedures must be simpler and available in public domain to eliminate corruption.
Efficient service delivery:
Any government provides large number of services-be it education, health, banking, railways, law and order, public utility services etc. It is rightful demand of citizens that these services are provided in an efficient manner such that these are available in most economic manner to the citizens at their door step. Service delivery apparatus must be adequately sensitized and driven by the sense of service to the masses. Prompt delivery of services can also be made by use of IT in the form of IT enabled services. In fact the people who are getting the services must be able to monitor the effectiveness and promptness of services in the form of ward committees or welfare associations or village development committees. There must be adequate provision of grievance redressal mechanism in the form of different forums leading to sanctions against the defaulters.
It is rightly said that information is power. So the govt. not only proactively put the large amount of information for its citizens in the public domain but also be legally bound to supply the information asked for by anyone. More is the information with the citizens stronger will be the capacity of citizens to demand for the accountability of functionaries of the government.
Free speech and freedom of press:
Freedom of Press is another pillar of good governance which strengthens the right of citizens to demand for accountability of their representatives. Independent press can generate intelligent debate on important issues facing the society and help in formulation of appropriate policies.
Media can ensure that govt. is kept on its toes and makes maximum effort to ensure that their grievances are redressed promptly and that the resources are utilized in most efficient manner.