Good governance: Key for equitable, inclusive growth
Cities and human settlements cannot be made inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable overnight but through well designed plans and their honest implementation
If we really aspire for peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, then a whole approach from all stakeholders is required
There is no point in being parochial in matters of development. An evenly developed society promises stable peace, prosperity and sustainable growth, which ultimately translates into inclusive progress. Interpretations apart, good governance intends to do well to all and guarantees justice, protection from coercion, ease of life and hope for betterment. Though no country can promise good governance in an absolute sense, a responsive and accountable governance is required if we have to ensure that no one is left behind. In a country as diverse as India, good governance will always be the need of the hour so that our diversity is never allowed to snowball into a burden but remains an asset which keeps adding value and verve in our national life. The Good Governance Index-2021 (GGI-2021) brought out by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, shows many states having registered improvement in the field of agriculture and allied sectors, commerce and industries, human resource development, public health, public infrastructure and utilities, economic governance, social welfare and development, judicial and public security, environment, and citizen-centric governance. After 75 years of independence, if we are showing improvement in overall governance, that is certainly not a bad omen. However, the pace of progress may be painful but still gives us the hope to stay afloat.
The GGI-2021 comes close on the heels of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report of NITI Aayog, which estimates that 25.01 per cent of our people are multidimensionally poor. NITI Aayog chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar has claimed that India's national MPI measure used the globally accepted and robust methodology developed by Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Global MPI for 2021 – launched by the UNDP) and OPHI – has shown that 27.9 per cent of India's population are multidimensionally poor. Our country ranked 62nd out of 109 nations on the index, which was based on 10 indicators such as lack of improved drinking water, adequate nutrition or at least six years of schooling. Other estimates suggest that a little less than 30 per cent people in India live below the poverty line, which means that they live in abject poverty. Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), free ration at the scale of 5-kg per person per month over and above regular monthly NFSA food grains is being given to nearly 75 crore beneficiaries, with the Central government incurring an expenditure of nearly Rs 2.60 lakh crore in PMGKAY Phase I-V.
One can see and believe that a vast chunk of our people continue to struggle for food. Forget the quality and quantity of food they get to survive along with the kind of drinking water, living conditions, and education and health facilities for their children. It requires just a figment of imagination to assess hardships they face on a daily basis. Good governance, though not a panacea to end poverty and hunger, is of critical importance in alleviating people's multidimensional miseries and also accelerates the pace of achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Can we think of ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, and hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture without good governance? Perhaps, not! Hunger and poverty are the worst manifestations of our abject collective failure. It is the failure of every educated and enlightened person that even after 75 years of Independence we have not been able to address the problem of starvation. Of the 135 crore people, 196 million are victims of chronic hunger while another 180 million suffer from obesity; 47 million children have stunted growth while another 25 million are wasted. 500 million are deficient in micronutrients and 100 million suffer from food-borne diseases.
India needs a multifaceted good governance to meet SDGs by 2030. Healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages; inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all; gender equality and empowering all women and girls; availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all; sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth; full and productive employment and decent work for all; resilient infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation are some of other SDGS, which we cannot achieve without a wholesome governance. Good governance is not only about transparency, law and order but is also about reducing inequalities, ensuring prompt justice and fair share to all in national opportunities and facilities. We need to know that good governance has to be "participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law."
As we resolve to realize the dream of Ek Bharat, Sarvshrestha Bharat, we need to get into the mission mode to firm up our commitment to good governance by setting aside our parochial considerations. Realization of SDGs needs the best of governmental efforts. Cities and human settlements cannot be made inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable overnight but through well designed plans and their honest implementation. For want of sustainable consumption and production patterns, our food security is at stake about which we rarely talk among ourselves. We do discuss climate change and its impacts but are least bothered about conserving and using sustainably oceans, seas and marine resources for holistic human development. Sustainable management of forest resources and reversing land degradation and halting biodiversity loss rarely get their due place in our intellectual discourse. If we really aspire for peaceful and inclusive societies, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, then a whole approach from all stakeholders is required. In a sentence, let good governance be our common concern for larger benefits!
(The writer is a senior journalist and author. The views expressed are strictly his personal)