Tranparency in Governance Is the Ultimate Key to Reforms
Submitted By criti05
TRANPARENCY IN GOVERNANCE IS THE ULTIMATE KEY TO REFORMS
India is a developing country. There have been innumerable barriers addressed so far which require the expansion of reforms in India. The barriers are corruption, illiteracy, unemployment, poverty, culture, religion, caste, etc. In such diverse environments, it is vital to have an effective and tolerant government and sustain development.
Indians are well aware of good governance but are curtailed by these innumerable barriers. The closed approach caused by these barriers is the root cause for corruption in the country. India ranks very low in the Transparency index and is known for high levels of corruption.
Slowdown in the growth of GDP , a virtual stagnation in industrial production, and the risk of loosing the investments grade rating by international rating agencies like Standard and Poor’s has rattled the government and industry. The policy makers are favoring the introduction of FDI in service sectors like retail, insurance as a means to reverse the slowdown in the economy. But sustained growth is possible only if there is a healthy manufacturing sector. In the last years India has hardly invested in the physical infrastructure which has hampered the development of manufacturing sector increasing the costs of transportation. India’s overdependence on the service sector and slow growth in manufacturing has been the reason for deceleration in the pace of economy. The presence of corruption and bad governance has made the situation worse. Given the high levels of corruption and bad governance has affected the quality and quality of investment and hence might not be able to make India more competitive. Major scams have broken out in resource sectors like, real estate, mining and ores and spectrum. As a result of these scams the decision making has come to a standstill and the bureaucrats are scared of taking decisions now.
Corruption is a universal phenomenon that undermines the vitals of civic society and vitiates the relationship between citizen and state. Corruption takes place when the important discretionary powers are taken by the decision makers, rules are not clear cut and decision making is not transparent. Transparent governance implies openness in the governance system through clear processes and procedures and easy access to public information for citizens. The way out to this mess is to reform the decision making by making it more transparent and rule based and drastically reduce the discretionary powers of officials. No serious attempts have been made in the administrative reforms so far. In addition to this, the government should also put a certain limit to the cash holdings and cash transactions. Corruption cannot reduce unless the cash transactions dominate.
Winston Churchill on the eve of India’s Independence had said,”Power will go into the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight among themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles”. What appeared as a scandalous outburst then may be called as understatement now.
The perception that every political party and every politician is corrupt needs to be addressed seriously. There is a need to restructure the political and governance institutions otherwise the growing cynicism in despair among large section may shatter public confidence in democratic institutions.
Encouraging citizens and engaging them in fighting against corruption can make the intentions more powerful. Citizen engagement is a new paradigm in reforming public administration. The citizens can function in different ways. One, the role of citizens can be in the democratic process. But the real essence in the governance process would be an effective participative decision making. Citizens must take an active part in sharing ideas and taking part in the governance process. The internet offers different modes of communication like online meetings, blogs, forums, social networking sites like face book, twitter and chat rooms for soliciting citizen inputs. Some interventions are pointed out to build citizen’s demand to curb corruption, for example, having a free press to expose corruption cases, transparency of government processes and public access to official information, encouraging more participation from local people like NGO’s playing a critical role, citizen’s feedback and citizen’s report cards.
Transparency is a way of protecting fairness and ensuring the common good. It is one of the key aspects of good governance. In transparency, important people who must put information to use are an independent judiciary and a free, competitive, responsible press, and an active civil society is critical too. A transparent government makes it clear what is being done, how and why actions take place, who is involved, and by what standards decisions are made. Then, it demonstrates that it has abided by those standards. When citizens know what their government is up to, they have a better chance of ensuring that decisions treat everyone equally and protect the common conditions that are important to everyone's welfare.
Democracy depends on a knowledgeable citizenry whose access to a range of information enables them to participate more fully in public life, help determine priorities for public spending, receive equal access to justice, and to hold their public officials accountable. Inadequate public access to information allows corruption to flourish, and back-room deals to determine spending in the interests of the few rather than many.
Corruption and governance are the two sides of a coin. India has taken active part in the matters related to electoral, judicial and civil service reforms. These include the annual declaration of assets by Ministers and UP’s, assets and liabilities, criminal records, while filing their nominations by each candidate contesting elections to Parliament and Assemblies, speedy trial of criminal cases against Ministers, enactment of Lokpal legislation, forfeiture of illegally acquired property by corrupt persons. Here, one of the missions has been to provide information and knowledge on good governance.
Over the past 3 years, there have been several significant initiatives launched to improve the quality of governance. There have been the two most important developments regarding transparency in governance in India. First, the passing of the RTI Act, in the sense that it has empowered the citizens to seek information on all the public matters and setting a timeframe within which the officials must provide information and also provides for punishments who deny or false fully provide information to the public. It is also set as a tool to unearth the corruption in projects. Second, is the emergence of the concept of E-Governance. The development of Information Communication Technology has brought about a change in the form of information transaction, which has systemized the transparency of governance. ICT for example, has provided relevant and timely information in large quantities and makes the governmental process more open and democratic. Pervasive computing and documentation ultimately will make things transparent in all public and private form of enterprises. These governance initiatives should improve the governance substantially and empower the common man to refuse the bribe.
A series of political reforms have been enacted like electoral funding reforms promoting transparency and fairness, VAT as new Tax regime has been introduced recently.
To conclude, it is imperative to engage citizens in fighting against corruption. The world is becoming a hub for the latest and new sophisticated technologies. The powers of such should be harnessed in promoting anti corruption initiatives with the help of engaged and organized citizens. Because it is the people who can express the demands and have the ability to influence decisions that directly affect them.
A high growth sector cannot be sustained without the vibrant and growing manufacturing sector. Service sector has a minor role to play. Under these environments, the reforms should be aimed at good governance, transparent and time bound decision making and the rule of law.