Dr. Pradeep Kumar Chakravarty, IAS
Secretary, Tripura Human Rights Commission

December 17, 2022, 08:02:30   


The Government is an authority, having the power to embark upon a policy or decisions for the well-being its citizens. It’s a public institution, machinery and has resources with men and materials.

‘Governance’ is the Government in action. An action may be utilization of available resources for the effective and efficient implementation of the policy or decisions already taken. The term ‘Good governance’, however, is a relative or qualitative thought on governance. It’s a principle for fair, moral and just decisions. The actions as referred to above includes actions of public, private, civil society organizations (CSO) and others. Historically, the term ‘Governance’ came up as an issue post the Second World War, when the Super Powers either themselves or through international funding institutions were providing development aids to developing countries. Thus, ‘Governance’ is mostly used in the development literature or parlance. ‘Good governance’ definitely adds values to the life and welfare of citizens of a nation.
‘Governance’ can be used in several contexts, such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance. An analysis of governance focuses on the formal and informal actors involved in decision-making and implementing the decisions made and the formal and informal structures that have been put in place for that purpose. Actors may be several, e.g., influential landlords, farmers’ forum, cooperatives, NGOs, CSOs, research institutes, religious leaders, financial institutions, political parties, military forces, various interest groups and others at the regional or local level. At the national level, lobbyists, international donors, MNCs and factors like globalization, technological advancement etc. play a key role in influencing the decision-making process of the Government. The ultimate objective of good governance is to “bring ease of living in the life of a common man.” (a statement of one Union Minister of India).

‘Good Governance’ is a comprehensive concept and has the following major characteristics/core elements:
(a)Broad Consensus, that is arrived at through mediation of diverse interests in the society for achieving sustainable human development goals. 

(b)Participation, a key cornerstone of good governance, implying freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other with a pre-condition of normal and law order situation.

(c)Accountability of governmental institutions, private sector organizations and CSOs is required to the public and their institutional stakeholders for being accountable to those who will be affected by decisions of such institutions.

(d)Transparency mandates that decisions are taken and enforced in a manner that follows rules and regulations clearly established. It requires that enough information is fairly available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by actions. 

(e)Responsiveness in the context of good governance prepares institutions and processes to deliver ultimate goods/services to stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.

(f)Effectiveness and Efficiency element calls for processes producing results as per the societal needs while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and protection of the environment.

(g)Equitability and Inclusiveness: “A society’s wellbeing depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of the society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, to have opportunities to improve or maintain their wellbeing”.

(h)Rule of Law element sets fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. Full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities, is the sine qua-non for ensuring this. “Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and impartial and incorruptible police force”. 
Thus, the Rule of Law is the moot point for establishing good governance. That in India, the judiciary is working independently is more or less an acceptable proposition. But whether or not impartial and incorruptible police forces are at place is questionable. The evaluation of the administrative machinery in this context may tell us the actual position. An independent opinion survey of stakeholders or citizens on the whole can establish any claim on this. 
Let’s now look at as to what the consequences of poor governance are.  
Poor governance happens when there are lacks in regulatory and qualitative mechanism, government’s effectiveness and poor control on corruption. Weak governance is linked to many risk drivers, e.g., poverty, inequality, poor economic growth and development. Sometimes, failures of corporate governance occur due to falsifying Company Accounts –concealing assets and debts, lack of transparency between auditors and management and lack of professionalism, e.g., Satyam Fraud in India followed by a sudden collapse in stock market indices. Poor governance erodes the public trust and reputation in the government. Corruption can prevent good governance principles and structures from being put in place or enforced. Corruption in a system develops owing to the violations of core principles of good governance, i.e., transparency, accountability and Rule of Law. In a bad governance situation, the government is unable to: carry out its responsibility; protect human rights including property rights; deliver basic public services; lay infrastructures for development and earn bad name.   
On the other hand, benefits of good governance in a country are many.
Good governance improves the business performance, helps business to flourish/become more stable and productive. It unlocks new opportunities and reduces risks. It fosters trust and reinforces reputation of the government. It encourages foreign investment. Good governance at all levels is a pre-condition to economic growth, political stability and security. 

As for improvement of governance in the system, multiple suggestions may be thought of. 
Apart from establishing the 8 major elements of Good Governance as discussed in the foregoing paras, other measures may include: engaging competent staffing at various levels; zero tolerance in ‘Red Tapism’, enhancing diversified actions of the government; ensuring timely information to members of the public and private business persons; prioritizing risk management; establishing better management, evaluation and monitoring system in the governance etc. 

To establish good governance, ensuring Rule of Law in the system is a must. Legal frameworks have to be fair and enforced impartially, especially, the Government should ensure laws on protection of human rights, because these are basic provisions agreed upon by all nations, who were signatories to the Bill of Rights.  
However, it’s very challenging to establish good governance in the modern society in the 21st century. The government faces many challenges in the matter of economy, healthcare, education, national safety and security, climate change, building trust in government. There are also issues like hunger, poverty, population, pollution, floods, droughts, food security and other externalities for which solution lies in enhancing awareness, educating, increasing research and adopting better environment friendly alternatives. Challenges like COVID-19 faced in the recent past and currently Ukrainian War being faced are burning examples acting against bring about good governance. That’s why, positive action plan at an executive level, cross-ministerial, cross-agency level may be critical to success in sustaining good governance. 
As for the question, who the violators of Human Rights are, the answer may be too long.
The most common human rights violations that occur include abductions, arbitrary arrests, detentions without trials, political executions, assassinations, torture, atrocities against women/socially disadvantaged people and many others. 

Denying services and furnishing required information about healthcare- right to health; discriminating based on race, gender and sex at work places, not paying minimum wages – right to work are some examples of violations of human rights.

From the case records of the Tripura Human Rights Commission, it appears that police officers, doctors and civil service officers are the major violators of human rights of a few individual citizens and common violations pertain to custodial deaths, rapes, harassment and ragging in educational institutions in Tripura.   
Worthwhile to mention here that human rights violations occur more or less in many countries of the world. The Amnesty International’s 2009 World Report and other sources reveal that individuals are tortured or abused in at least 81 countries and face unfair trials in at least 54 countries. (Human Rights Violations- A Curse to Society, Culture and Humanity by Bhaswat Praksh …>legal>article-422).

The Black people were tortured in the very recent past in the US, the best claimed democratic country in the world.  

In India, the ‘Good Governance Day’ is observed on 25th December annually since 2014 commemorating the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with a view to foster awareness of accountability in government. The theme of Good Governance Day in 2021 was "Good Governance through E-Governance". 

Conclusion: Good governance is an ideal that is difficult to achieve in its totality. Very few countries and societies have come close to achieving ‘good governance’ in its totality. However, to ensure sustainable human development, actions should be taken to work towards attaining this ideal with the objective of making it a reality.