During his US visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed to his audience: “Reform in governance is my No 1 priority. We are for simplified procedures, speedy decision making, transparency and accountability.” As the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi was a “governance”addict. On his assuming Prime Minister ship, “governance” became India's flavour and the Centre's guiding mantra. The stated objective was to have a “governance architecture” that put people at the centre of the development process. The President's address to Parliament in June last year also laid down the motto: “Minimum government, maximum governance”.
Still , even after 16 months there is no such governance architecture or blueprint. In the upper echelons of decision making, there is mixup of government and governance, as if both are the same. They are not. Governance is not just government, it is bureaucracy, laws, rules, policies, programmes, processes and procedures. It is far more than that. In a democracy like India, governance should be “society-centered”. It should include the government, which is its dominant part, but transcend it by taking in the private (farming, business,industry) and voluntary sectors (civil society). All the three are critical for sustaining human, economic and social development.
Governance is not just government, it is bureaucracy, laws, rules, policies, processes and procedures. In a democracy like India, governance requires a dynamic interface between the government, private and voluntary sectors
Governments create a conducive political, administrative, legal and living environment. The private sector promotes enterprise and generates jobs and wealth, while the voluntary sector educates and mobilises citizens’ groups to participate in economic, social and political activities. Each has weaknesses and strengths, so governance is facilitated through a constructive interaction among all three. While government is a politico-bureaucratic entity, governance is a joint venture encompassing all. The difference is huge.
Being a joint venture, governance should adhere to the basic functional norm of involving stakeholders in decision-making and implementation processes. The grammar of good governance is about socio-economic harmony, arising out of the smooth interface between government, civil society, farming and business communities. Unless this is achieved across the board, no amount of reforms can bring about achche din. As to “minimum government, maximum governance,” David Thoreau wrote over a century ago: “That government is the best which governs the least.” Conversely, “that government is the worst which governs the most.” The latter seems to be true of India.