Government: South Asia:



Moving Toward Good Governance

in South Asia


by Professor Dr. Nadeem Malik

Dean, Faculty of Management Sciences

University of Balochistan, Pakistan


This paper makes an effort to provide a framework for good governance in South Asia by identifying its essential features.  South Asia has been a region of great deprivation, want and misery, seemingly far from the mainstream of international activity except occasionally in the news as a theatre of politics in the cold war era. This change has occurred together with the endemic ethnic conflicts and violence which have dogged practically every country of the region.  Good governance means securing justice, empowerment, employment and efficient delivery of services. The aims are to discuss some of the important challenges faced by the South Asian countries in revamping their administrative systems in order to discern the emerging perspective of "good governance" in South Asia, as distinct from its Western concept.



The quality of governance is an issue of increasing concern in countries around the world, both developed and developing. The UN Secretary-General has stated, “good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.” South Asia includes eight nations along with 7 SAARC states and Afghanistan. It comprises roughly 1.5 billion people that is nearly one fourth of the globe. It is more than 3 times the total population of EU (25 states) living in half of China’s land area. Here is the largest concentration of the world’s poor numbering 500 million, or South Asia’s one third. There are contrasting estimates of income also. South Asia’s wealthiest 5% enjoy high middle class living which, as per purchasing power parity, vie with the EU average. However, income inequality is not the main problem of South Asia. It is only one symptom of the greatest disease that this region has been suffering from since 1947 when the British colonial rule was formally over, that disease being Poor Governance.


Events after 9/11 have brought South Asia once again into the limelight. Even before the war against terrorism started in Afghanistan, South Asia was endowed with a disheartening picture in almost every social, economic and political context. This region is fast emerging as the poorest, most illiterate, most malnourished, and the most deprived segment of the world. While the region contains one fourth of humanity, just the increase in its population each year exceeds the total population of fifty smallest UN member states.


Human deprivation in South Asia is colossal in scale in the global context, that in turn, hinder the participation to a peaceful open world in this part of the world. Nearly half of the world’s illiterate and forty percent of the world’s poor live here. It produces only 1.3 percent of the world’s income. Widespread human deprivation contrasts with the large armies, modern weapons, and expanding military budgets present in the region. Two of the largest armies in the world are in South Asia. The region spends twice as much each year on the purchase of hi-tech arms as does Saudi Arabia. South Asia is the only region where military spending as a portion of GNP has gone up since 1987, although it has declined substantially in all other parts of the world after the cold war.


Since the significance of good governance for development is now universally recognized, it stands at the core of governance and administrative reforms undertaken in developed as well as developing countries including transitional economies. At the 2005 UN World Summit, the world leaders agreed on the vitality of good governance for sustained development and eradication of poverty and hunger (UNDP, 2006). Accountability, transparency and participation are some of the central themes. However, good governance can mean different things to different countries and can have different implications when it is used as a guiding framework for policy and administrative reforms. Since each country or region has a different context of governance, it faces unique governance challenges. Therefore, it is important that the concept of good governance is understood in the context of each country and region to find indigenous and pragmatic solutions to its unique problems of governance within the framework of universally accepted values.


In the last five decades of the twentieth century, a large number of nations have emerged as independent sovereign states out of the clutches of the colonial rule.  The successor governments not only had the responsibility of establishing identity and legitimacy as unified and independent nation-states, but also to create a new system of policy and decision-making and implementation for socio-economic development leading to corrections of inequalities and injustices existing in the societies either because of caste, ethnic, racial, sex, religious, or land tenure discriminations.  Public Administration has become the critical factor for success in achieving these objectives.  Within the realm of public administration, bureaucracy has emerged as the most important instrument to plan, perform and deliver public goods.  Such a role of bureaucracy is simply not going to whither away despite the worldwide impact of the modernists and the proponents of the New Public Management to contract the role of state and consequently of the public bureaucracy in securing good governance in these so called nations of the Third World.


Good Governance: An Evolving Concept

The evolutionary process includes the discipline of bureaucracy, development and administration has in the late 1980s.   To that of the broader framework of “governance” and later in 1990s to the philosophy and actions inherent in the concept of “good governance  Good governance included some or all of the following features: an efficient public service; an independent  judicial  system and legal framework  to enforce contracts; the accountable administration of public funds; an independent public auditor, responsible to a representative legislature; respect for the law and human rights at all levels of government; a pluralistic institutional structure, and a free press." (World Bank, 1989 and Leftwic, 1993)


In the later years in the last decade of the twentieth century a number of pronouncements on governance, democracy and development followed, which sought to establish their inter-relationships and inter-dependence.  These were supported not only by all major Western democracies like the British, French, German, US and Nordic countries, but also by the main international development institutions, and a variety of cooperative, intergovernmental and regional organizations, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Organization for African Unity (OAU), the European Communities and the Commonwealth, as also by almost all aid-giving agencies.


However, all these agencies and organizations did not have identical views or interpretation of the relationship between governance, democracy and development.  While some were emphatic on the democracy, others stressed on administration, or administrative development for achieving the goals of development administration, and yet others laid the condition of human rights as either necessary or desirable components of development.  However, despite these differences in approach, a common underlying assumption of good governance has been thought of consisting of three main components, or levels, ranging from the most to the least inclusive: systemic, political   and administrative (Leftwich,1993) From the systemic point of view, the concept of governance signifies more than its institutional or decision-making interpretation to include both internal and external political and economic power and the inter-relationship between the two to indicate the rules by which the productive and distributive life of a society is governed.   From the political point of view, good governance implies a state enjoying both legitimacy and authority derived from a democratic mandate and would normally involve a pluralist polity with representative government and a commitment to protect human rights.  However, with the advent of liberalization and global market economy since the 1980s the above interpretation of good governance had undergone further modification to mean a democratic capitalist regime, presided over by a minimal state which is also the part of the wider governance of the New World Order.  Translated into administrative terms it would be interpreted to mean not only a diminishing role of the bureaucracy, but a continuous process of debureaucratization and a competition (and cooperation) between the private and public sector, with increasing role and participation by non-state voluntary sector the so called NGOs in the process of society’s development.[i] (Jain, 1995) The role of civil society in activating and perseverance of  “Good Governance” is now being perceived by scholars to be very crucial and has received a great momentum during the last decade.


Crisis in Governance

South Asia has a fairly good track record of democratic institutions, but history reveals that the democracy nurtured by people in their respective countries has not contributed much to change, and is not at all conducive to the welfare of the people. The international donor community has become stunned to observe that hundreds of billions of dollars provided as aid to the poor failed to reach the target population except in trickle and had created instead, a wrong group of beneficiaries. South Asia is facing a crisis in governance that, if left unchecked, could halt the region’s democratic progress and the economic social wellbeing of its teeming millions. Almost all South Asian countries face endemic corruption, social exclusion and inefficient/non pro-people bureaucracies, which hinder all programs of development including efforts for a healthy and beneficial open world. For example, Bangladesh’s state-owned telephone company for a decade is preventing the laying of optical fiber network to create a global Internet gateway for the country fearing loss of income. This in turn deterred Bangladesh to become a major software exporting country. According to the Human Development Commission (HDC) Report South Asia is one of the most poorly governed regions of the world, with the exclusion of a voiceless majority, unstable political regimes and poor economic management. The system of governance has become unresponsive and irrelevant to the needs and concerns of the people.


Human Development, Governance, and Culture in South Asia

South Asia consists of seven countries, viz. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, and Bhutan with a total population of 1,364.5 million, which is about 1/5 of the world population. The South Asian population is highly skewed in distribution. India alone has a population of nearly one billion while Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives have 148.2 million, 124.8 million, 22.8 million, 18.4 million, 2 million, and 0.3 million people respectively. The population of South Asia is divided by religion, ethnicity, and languages. There are deep divisions among believers of the same religions on sectarian lines. The countries also vary in size. The smallest country is the Maldives with an area of 298 and the biggest country is India with an area of 3.3 million There are wide variations in terms of living standards and levels of income in countries of this region with the highest in Sri Lanka and Maldives and the lowest in Bhutan and Nepal (HDC, 1999; Government of Nepal, 1999).


Beside all the different characteristics, “South Asian countries are quite similar in terms of the objectives, structure, functions, attitudes, and standards of governing bodies despite variations in forms of government. The colonial legacy of an administrative system characterized by centralization, formalism, secrecy, elitism, rigidity, and social isolation is common to all South Asian countries (Zafarullah, 2003). This is mainly because the modern system of administration and governance in South Asia had by and large evolved under British Colonial rule except Nepal. The post-colonial administrative system in all these countries was built upon pre-colonial administrative traditions such as fusion of administration and politics, absence of elected governing bodies, dominance of a paternalistic state over economic and production, trade and, commerce and the subordination of private capital and entrepreneurship to the state (Haque, 2001). With all these similarities and differences, South Asian countries fall among the lowest group of countries in terms of human development and quality of governance.


Democracy, Development and Good Governance

There has been a considerable debate and argument in the context of Third World countries whether democracy should precede development or the other way round.  There had been a very strong argument amongst the scholars and policy makers in many developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America (with only rare exceptions) that the 'premature' introduction of democracy may actually hamper development in its early stages when there is a crucial choice between rapid development and democratic processes, and when there is the greatest need for effective state action or direction.  It was felt that since the early stages of development require capital accumulation for infrastructure and investment before advanced welfare systems can be adopted.  An argument was convincingly made that democratic systems were likely to curtail processes of accumulation in favour of consumption. However, some critics argued that democracy and development are both compatible and functional for each other.  If there was a trade-off between development and democracy, they claim. a slightly lower rate of growth is an acceptable price to pay for a democratic polity, civil liberties and a good human rights record.[ii](Leftwich, n. 1)


The empirical literature on the subject suggests that there is no necessary relationship between democracy and development nor, more generally, between any regime type and economic performance.  It is a more complex relationship which starts from the hard fact that both democratic and non-democratic Third World regimes have been able to generate high levels of economic development.    From Costa Rica to China and from Botswana to Thailand, the state has played an active role in influencing economic behaviour and has often had a significant material stake in the economy itself.  Thus it is not the regime type but the kind and character of the state and its associated politics that have been decisive in influencing developmental performance.  This in turn highlights the primacy of politics, not simply governance as a central determinant of development.[iii] (Ibid. p.432)


A further argument can be made that apart from the primacy of politics in the process of governance, cultural values, norms, customs and ideological orientations of the Third World countries have direct relevance for good governance, which have to be systematically identified and applied, while administrative norms and values borrowed from another culture have to be modified to suit the local values and cultural systems.  Democratic politics has sometimes been viewed as a struggle between politics and bureaucracy, which is not necessarily so.  The collusion between the two actors is implicit in the corporatist interpretations of modern politics.  Third World countries have provided an equally receptive environment for the development of bureaucratic power even beyond the 'over developed' conditions in which it was bequeathed by the colonial powers to the newly independent state. 


The growing involvement of the state in the direct management of economy in society, the absence of alternative centres of expertise, the colonial hangover of bureaucratic dominance and the frequent fusion of party and state in single party systems have given rise to familiar concerns about the capacity of non-bureaucratic political institutions to fulfill the requirements of political democracy.  All these concerns have led to a most crucial dilemma for societies during the decades of 1960s and 1970s: whether the bureaucratic organization has any advantage despite the costs of maintaining it in terms of its own dysfunctional potential and the political vigilance required; and the concomitant search for debureaucratization and alternatives to the administrative state?[iv] (Asmerom and Jain, 1993, 1-14) This dilemma seems to have resolved in the late 1980s in favour of  accepting bureaucracy as an important tool of governance,  but not the  predominant force  in the process of good governance. 


Global interest in South Asia

The recent global interest in South Asia is not temporary or based solely on the threat of terrorism and nuclearization. It rather reflects a realization that the world community cannot be safe or happy unless it involves the 1.5 billion people of South Asia in the critical decisions regarding peace, security and development. The most serious current challenge facing South Asia is terrorism. But the fight against terror cannot be won by force alone. There is an urgent need to address the root causes of terrorism, such as lack of good governance, low levels of human development and poor openness to the rest of the world. The international community has not brought the region into the mainstream of global development. But the international community needs a peaceful, cooperative and dynamic South Asia; it is in its interest to facilitate this.


One of the millennium development goals (MDG) is halving world’s poverty by 2030. It would not be possible to achieve unless the issue of poor governance in South Asia is adequately addressed. The global community should do it with concerted action policy as soon as possible. Poor governance and poverty are the main hindrances to a peaceful open world. South Asia becoming a healthy partner to the current process of making a more open world, is in the interest of the global community. It is essential for ensuring global development, prosperity, harmony and peace. Minus South Asia, global development shall remain illusive. Let us then call for a global initiative for a concerted action to ensure good governance in South Asia and halve its poverty by 2030.


Understanding South Asia

South Asia is the most misunderstood region in the world. We should first find out why the international donor community failed miserably during the last three decades to reduce poverty and globalize South Asia. One of the obvious answers is that the global community failed to understand or properly appreciate the real internal political dynamics of South Asia that was necessary for any effective development intervention. If it were so it is probable that the governing elite in South Asian countries, who are prone to misrule and corruption, have misled the donors. South Asian governments also allege that foreign aid bureaucracies are corrupt and attempt to build an evil nexus with their counterparts. In both cases the respective bureaucracy violates the mandate given to them by their electorate. The donor officials must try its best to ensure that aid reaches its target beneficiary and meets the objective. Dealing effectively with a South Asian official/ politician is a difficult task for a foreign national. It requires knowledge, training, skill and experience to become effective in South Asia. With regard to pressure for policy reforms, South Asians frequently complain about infringement of sovereignty that works well with sensitive western officials. They are also capable to manipulate the press and civil society organizations through underhand payments to stage a backlash. Recently a World Bank Country Representative in a South Asian country alleged to the press that she had received death threats for asking immunity for World Bank officials. Another government adopted strategy is accusing citizens who criticize poor governance of anti-state activity.


All of the above activities and numerous others are repressive acts that create fertile grounds for extremism to flourish. Continued deprivation and alienation helps extremism to graduate into fanaticism or terrorism. Due to global negligence on the impact of South Asian repressive governance, there are emerging threats of terrorism in some parts of South Asia now that may at one point be aimed to destabilize the western society including the European Union.


Good Governance: A South Asian Perspective

As argued by Professor O P Dwivedi, “Good” is a value-laden term which involves a comparison between two things or systems by using some standard of measure. A government or a system of governance is considered good if it exhibits certain fundamental characteristics suggested by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which offers the most comprehensive definition and an idealistic model of good governance: Good governance is, among other things, participatory, transparent and accountable.[v]  It is also effective and equitable. And it promotes the rule of law. Good governance ensures that political, social and economic priorities are based on broad consensus in society and that the voices of the poorest and the vulnerable are heard in decision-making over the allocation of development resources[vi] (Dwivedi, 2007). From the above, the following characteristics of good governance can be suggested: (a) public participation (b) rule of law (c) transparency; (d) responsiveness (e) consensus among different and differing interests (f) equity assured to all individuals (g) effective, efficient. responsible and accountable public institutions and the statecraft. (h) Strategic vision of the leaders towards broad range long-term perspectives on sustainable human development; (i) stewardship of governance where governing elites dedicate their lives for service to the public, and where amoralism does not reign supreme.  Good governance and sustainable human development, especially for developing nations, also requires conscientious attempts at eliminating poverty, sustaining livelihoods, fulfilling basic needs, and offering an administrative system, which is clean and open. It is important that these characteristics are not only enshrined in a constitutional document but also are practiced.


Based on above, Dwivedi suggests following four models of Good Governance: (1) the Public Service Model of Good Government, (2) Judicial Model, (3) the New Public Management Model of Good Governance, and (4) the Deontological or Spiritual Model of Good Government. These models, individually, do not represent a comprehensive and an accurate description of bringing better governance; rather they provide a useful means to consider various options for further analysis. The first three models seem to emphasize on the end results. However, as ends and means both are the two sides of the same coin, and a solid interconnection between the two ensures the preservation of good administration, while the fourth, a morality-driven model strengthens those broad principles that ought to govern our governmental conduct, because they mark the direction towards which those who govern must channel their acts if they are to serve humanity.  Spirituality, deriving from such foundations thus provides an important base to the governing process.  Confidence and trust in liberal-democracy can be safeguarded only when the governing process exhibits a higher moral tone, deriving from the breadth of ethical and spiritual sensitivity.


In the light of foregoing analysis, a number of questions arise; Are the West-originated theory and practice of governance—it basic concepts, assumptions and values—relevant for the South Asian nations? Should not consideration be given to various indigenously developed alternatives more suited to tackle the satisfaction of people’s basic needs, the eradication of poverty and the protection of human dignity? Is not the current crisis of governance faced by the South Asian nations precisely a consequence of the inability of the West to incorporate the substance of the West to incorporate the substance of other non-Western developmental experiences into the prevailing conceptual mould.?


Thus before another paradigm of good governance emerges  in the West (along with the notion that any problem can be solved by providing a detailed blueprint, promising a little foreign aid, and insisting on changing the existing political equation on the part of a recipient nation), has not the time come to focus on results instead of keep on creating grand visions because such grand visions keep on multiplying as each international institution tries to broaden its idealism and scope of activities in the field of human development. 


Strategies towards Good Governance in South Asia

In the perspective of these developments around the world and in India, the fundamental question that arises is to devise the strategies that would be conducive for the developing nations, particularly India, to strive towards sustainable development.  Besides the institutional and structural innovations that make for a system of good governance, a corruption free sustainable development requires a “moral determination”.[vii]   Recognition of that moral determination in governance marks the direction in which those who govern must channel their efforts toward the common good if they are to justly serve the society.  That direction calls for individual moral responsibility and accountability, sacrifice, compassion, justice and an honest effort to achieve the common good.  Ultimately it is the moral determination which provides the foundation for good governance.


 (i) Adopting a Normative Model of Good Governance:

Thus the need of the hour at present seems to be to adopt a normative model of Good Management Approach incorporating both the politico-administrative as well as the moral dimensions of good governance.  This should, include (a) A more strategic or result-oriented (efficiency, effectiveness and service quality) orientation to decision-making (b) Replacement of highly centralized organizational structures with decentralized management environment integrating with the new Rural, Urban and Municipal Institutions, where decisions on resource allocation and service delivery are taken close to the point of delivery. (c) Flexibility to explore alternatives to direct public provision which might provide more cost effective policy outcomes (d) Focusing attention on the matching of authority and responsibility as a key to improving performance, including mechanism of explicit performance contracting (e) Creating of competitive environments within and between public service organizations. (f) Strengthening of strategic capacities at the Center to steer government to respond to external changes and diverse interests quickly, flexibly and at least costs (g) Greater accountability and transparency through requirements to report on results and their full costs  (h) Service wide budgeting and management systems to support and encourage these changes and  (i) The most important task to break the growing nexus of bureaucrats, politicians and criminals leading not only to a breakdown of the total system but also to a sense of cynicism amongst the citizenry (j) Adapting of innovations and evolving  suitable mechanism  to eliminate corruption at both political and administrative levels and strengthen citizens’ grievance redressal system (k) Improving the system of delivery at the cutting edge of administration by replacing the existing archaic bureaucratic procedures by absorbing some appropriate precepts inherent in the philosophy of New Public Management and (l) Making improvements in the working atmosphere of  the government institutions and offices to reflect a new work culture and a changed administrative behaviour incorporating the principles of transparency, responsiveness, accountability, participative and citizen-friendly management.


(ii)  Public-Private Sector Synergy for Capacity Building:

There is no doubt that the process of globalization and the simultaneous rapid economic and technological changes have greatly affected the pattern of governance in modern times. Scholars have argued that the actual pattern of governance in internationalized environments can be related to the respective governance capacity of public and private actors, which hinges in turn on the strategic constellation underlying the provision of public goods. The specific strategic constellations vary along three dimensions namely, the congruence between the scope of the underlying problem and the organizational structures of the related actors; the nature of problem; and the institutional context.  For their part, each of these combines a number of factors.[viii].  The relationship between public and private actors is not free from conflict; neither is it paralyzed by conflict.  In essence there are dynamic and synergetic relationships, with public and private contributions reinforcing each other over time.   However, such mutual dependencies between public and private actors and their concept to cope with specific problems are apparent only in the implementation of certain regulatory arrangements  and do not take into account the problems related to accountability and  the democratic legitimacy of regulatory structures.  Thus  a crucial question becomes important: how is it possible to ensure that private governance activities are kept responsive to wider societal interests?[ix]  The question of accountability, therefore, becomes a key factor and an  issue of  good governance.   


 (iii) Transparency and Accountability as Basic Requisites for Good Governance:

If the concept of accountability refers to the degree to which public servants and others in non-governmental sectors providing public programs are responsive to those they serve, then there is a need for multi-dimensional methods to measure how different institutional arrangements advantage different forms of responsiveness.  The traditional measures of accountability that rely upon line or top-down measures do not necessarily provide a good guide to the accountability culture as a whole.  As service delivery systems move to more complex forms of agency, accountability at other levels must be expected to undergo a dynamic process of evolution, adaptation, and in some cases--crisis.  It is clearly not enough to bemoan the decline of a parliament or the weakness of the consumer.  Institutional development must fit each case.  Vertical strength can be improved with stronger roles for parliamentary committees, ombudsmen, and so on.  Tools for greater horizontal accountability will need to be different for competitive systems  and for those using  more collaborative methods.  In both cases, a focus upon the role of reflexive feedback or improvisation offers a means to reopen the organizational process box without the perils of re-regulation.  This new  domain of accountability will take sometime to develop its  own regime of measures, standards and rules.  Perhaps the most important step needed is the recognition that multi dimensionality of accountability means both multiple measure and new mandates.


  (iv)  Adoption of  IT and  the concept of  E Governance:

The revolution in information technology has brought into focus its adoption for good governance. There is a talk of e-governance all over the world.   E-governance implies a smoother interface between government and citizen.  While it cannot entirely replace manual governance, even its limited applications are good enough to affect day to day living.  It can fulfill roughly speaking, the four purposes for which citizens generally interact with the government (i) paying bills, taxes, user fees and so on (ii) registration formalities, whether of a child's birth or a house purchase or a driving license. (In Tamil Nadu for instance, one can download 72 application forms) (iii) seeking information  and (iv) lodging complaints.  E governance can reduce distances to nothing, linking remote villages to government offices in the cities, can reduce staff, cut costs, check leaks in the governing system, and can make the citizen-government interaction smooth, without queues and the tyranny of clerks.  But it must be remembered that E-governance is only a tool for good governance.  It can't succeed independent of responsive officers, and it has to be owned by the political leadership. Otherwise it will only be a bureaucrat's game.[x] How to rebuild the system of governance on these new premises without the majority of population even being literate is a real challenge for all concerned with new innovations in the performance of the government in India.


(v) The Citizen-oriented Paradigm of Good Governance:

The corporate millennium has brought into focus a new concept of governance based on the interests of the share-holders i.e. the citizens, which has signaled the role of transparency, accountability and merit-based management and a sense of morality and ethics that rests on the principle of "concern for others." An ethical organization, more so a government not only stands for people with a set of values, but a positive attitude which generates a culture within the organization in which every member feels a sense of loyalty and belonging and the leaders are responsible for initiating dialogues across a wide range of levels and functions so as to operationalize values in practical policies.


Modernization of government and public administration involves a redefinition of  government responsibilities.  The state system of the 21st century will have to see a redistribution of duties and responsibilities between government, business and society.  The guiding principles is the idea of the ”empowering state”, which leaves more space for society and individual commitment.  The internal structures of government administration should also become part of this developmental process.  This would require introduction of modern management techniques with quality control, budgeting and cost-benefit analyses.   


 (vi) Combating Corruption for Good Governance:

From the foregoing discussion, it is more than evident that the concept of quality governance is premised on a corruption free administrative system.   Combating  corruption for sustainable development calls for (a) reducing opportunities and incentives for corrupt behaviour and increasing the sense of accountability on the part of public officials and (b) effective implementation of anti-corruption measures, which would imply that measures should be logically consistent with regard to the phasing of a time table for speedy investigation and conviction; a strong political commitment to implement the strategies and enforcing anti-corruption measures; and people’s active participation from below in the enforcement of administrative, legal and judicial measures, thus mobilizing the public against corruption in public life.


Apart from the above fundamental conditions, it must be emphasized that fighting  corruption requires:  (a) formation of a national coordinating body that should be responsible for devising and following  up on a strategy against corruption, along with a citizen’s oversight board (b) the existence of a high powered independent prosecuting body to investigate and prosecute all such known cases of corruption (c) and the setting up of special courts for trying such cases at a stretch so that the cases come to their legitimate conclusion without any delay (d) thoroughly overhauling and reforming the system of electoral laws and economic regulations minimizing the temptation to indulge in corruption practice  (e)  enactment of an appropriate legislation to limit the number of Ministries and Departments both at the Centre and the states so that the temptation of expanding ministries only for political gains could be minimized and (e) by providing specialized technical assistance to anti-corruption agencies organizing high-level anti-corruption workshops or strategic consulting or hiring international investigations to track down ill-gotten deposits overseas.


At the same time, it is also important that international institutions should take steps to encourage participatory approaches in developing countries in order to build consensus for anti-corruption drives and associated reforms.  Civil society is likely to be a major ally in resisting corruption.  More and more it is this ally that seeks concrete support from more developed Western countries and  international agencies in actively combating corruption.[xi] International cooperation can help national leaders develop political resolve, and international action can convey the useful truth that we are all involved in the problem of corruption and that we must find solutions together.


Intra-Regional and International Cooperation in fighting “Terrorism”

One of the essential pre-conditions of ushering in an era of ‘good governance” in South Asian nations is to build, strengthen and enhance the capacity of political and administrative structures in each of the nations to be able to fight terrorism at is door. Apart from strengthening the internal security system, the nations of South Asian region not only have to come to terms to forge intra-cooperation among themselves by sharing information, help and cooperation in purging terrorists, extradition, built-in technological innovations of warning of terrorist activities, taking the view that terrorism is not only a problem of individual nation alone, but has both intra-regional and international ramifications.  An international movement has to be initiated by developing a mechanism to fight on both intra-regional and international levels.   


Restoring Moral Standards in Public Life:

Finally, one of the important primary conditions towards good governance in South Asian countries is to restore moral standards in public life and all political, administrative and others.  I agree that that is easier said than done. But given the incidence of rapid decline in public values and behavior, it is an essential strategy towards “good governance” in all countries of South Asia.  This will also help in combating corruption in these nations.


Thus, in addition to the many suggestions already made above, like the adoption of  various legislative measures to effectively curb defections, operation of black money, break the nexus between electoral politics, economic resources and criminal support,  and establishing the institution of Ombudsman, it is necessary that a rigorous Code of Conduct  be drawn for both Ministers/Legislators and also for important functionaries of all political parties, which should incorporate what the Nolan Committee in the U.K. has suggested  as the seven principles of public life-- viz., selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability,  openness,, honesty and leadership. 


Good Governance in South Asia

On the institutional front, it is necessary to regenerate political and administrative institutions from the virtual collapse that India has experienced in the last three decades -- restore the legitimacy and effectiveness of the legislature, bureaucracy, the judiciary and the non-state actors of the civil society.  As the 'sustainability of transition' in India has been greatly affected by the gradual incremental loss of the capacity and effectiveness of the democratic institutions, it is necessary that a radical package of reforms to revamp the institutional framework be implemented immediately. At the same time, it is necessary to consolidate and operationalize the gains of decentralization of authority and empowerment of the people especially the weaker and vulnerable sections of the population in reality.


In respect to the administrative system, there is an immediate need to cut down the    size of the government and its expenditure as early as possible. Downsizing of bureaucracy has always been a controversial and complicated task.  But the excessive fat of governments has to be trimmed down to make them run faster.   


One of the other measures adopted in many western countries to ensure transparency in the functioning of the government and to fight corruption and mal-administration is the enactment of Public Interest Disclosure Acts popularly called Whistle-blower Acts.  The object of such elements is to improve accountability in government and public sector organizations by encouraging people not to turn a blind eye to mal-practices taking place in their organizations and to report the same to the appropriate authority in a confidential manner or by a public report. Besides absorbing the values of participatory democracy, decentralization of authority and power, bureaucracy has not only to observe a modicum of transparency and concede an appropriate right of information to the people in its decision-making process, but has also to secure a balance between a rule-bound administration and an administration that can effectively and quickly deliver results, particularly in developmental and social welfare activities.


The bureaucracy is also both under legal and moral obligation to exercise its authority and discretionary powers with a view to meet the norms of responsiveness and accountability. Apart from its professional norms of efficiency, effectiveness, economy and cost consciousness, the core public service values of integrity, impartiality and responsibility need to be observed if the gains of the process of liberalization are to be consolidated for protecting human security.


On the economic front, it is of utmost importance that a comprehensive and concerted policy strategy based on general consensus be developed for (I) revamping public distribution system (ii) disinvestment in public enterprises in key economic sectors like power, energy, oil, transport, telecommunication and in sick industrial units, and (iii) reconsideration of proportion of subsidies in agricultural. oil, and other key sectors of the economy, which are at best counter-productive, (iv) creating public-private synergy in collaborative governance, and adopting a viable pattern of   contracting out and outsourcing of delivery of public services at the local levels of governance with appropriate safeguards for accountability, standards of services and redressed of public complaints.


In respect of social security, the system of governance faces a massive challenge to provide for adequate employment generation, good health, universal education system, shelter, and the basic facilities of sanitation and drinking water.   Providing for higher outlays and spending on items like primary education and primary health-care is not the solution alone, the real challenge is effective management on the part of the administration to deliver these goods at the lowest costs and in an equitable manner. 



In conclusion, however, it should be remembered that for achieving good governance, no amount of planning and thinking in all these areas would be useful unless the governments at all levels of the polity are capable enough to take hard and unpleasant decisions and have the will and capacity to implement and continuously monitor and evaluate their impact. At the same time, the political leadership has to demonstrate its strong determination to undertake reforms by first cleaning its own stable from corrupt and criminal influences, and setting ethical standards of quality governance both at the political and administrative levels. For changes to come, it is necessary to change the mindset and attitudes of both the public administrators and the politicians in power. [xii] 


In the perspectives of the worldwide developments this paper has attempted to discuss some of the emerging challenges to quality and “good governance”, on which the strategies for growth and sustainable development in South Asia and in other transitional societies can be built and operationalized.  It is heartening that people in almost  all South Asian  states  have recognized their importance, and it is likely that the growing  concerns towards poverty removal, fighting  corruption and devising  innovations for ‘quality governance” may turn out to be a concerted international movement, not confined merely to the realm of academic discussions or writings in specific contexts like South Asian region, but  of  taking constructive actions  for positive results transcending  the jurisdictions of national boundaries.  This is the only hope for achieving universally good and corruption-free good governance in South Asia, for the very survival of humanity, towards which we must all strive.


Measures recommended for the global community to help establish good governance in South Asia:


1.     Increase the level of surveillance on South Asian states on the issues of governance through human intelligence network, research cooperation and interaction with civil society, think tanks, academics and scholars.


2.     Initiate to become active policy dialogue partners of South Asian governments, NGOs, local government institutions, press and political parties.


3.     Reforms rather than projects should be the development priority for South Asia.


4.     Donors need to adopt a people-centric, empowerment approach to development and remain aware of the deception and diversion tactics of governments.


5.     Trade, aid, transaction and immigration -- all should be tied to compliance requirement.


6.     Research to be intensified that is primarily based on local knowledge.



End Notes:


i.  For a detailed study on this subject see, R. B. Jain (ed.) (1995), NGOs in Development Perspective (Delhi, Vivek Prakashan, 1995.)


ii. Leftwich,(1995),  n.1,  p.431


iii. For an extended discussion on the subject, see  H. K. Asmerom and R. B. Jain, (1993) Politics, Administration and Public Policy in Developing Countries (Amsterdam, VU University Press, 1993), esp. pp.1-14.


iv. Quoted by O. P. Dwivedi, (2007),”In the Matter of Good Governance” in R. B. Jain (ed.) Governing Development Across Cultures: Challenges and Dilemmas of an emerging sub-discipline in Political Science (Opladen, Germany, Barbara Budrich  Publishers, 2007), p 170.


 v. See O .P. Dwivedi, (1987) “Moral Dimensions of Statecraft”, Canadian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 20, No. 4 (1987), pp. 609-709 And “The Challenge of Cultural Diversity for Good Governance”  a paper prepared for presentation at the UN meeting on Managing Diversity in the Civil Service, organized by the UN Division of Public Economics and Public Administration (DPEPA), UN Department of  Economic and Social Affairs, New York, NY, USA 3-4 May 2001. Also see Dwivedi , n. 13, p. 170.


vi. Dwivedi, n.13. 


vii. Christoph Knill and Dirk Lehmkuh (2002),, “Private Actors and the State: Internationalization and Changing Patterns of Governance” in Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration and Institutions (Oxford), vol.15, No.1 (January 2002), pp.41-63.


viii. For a feature on E Governance see, India Today (2000), 11 December 2000, pp. 70-76.


ix. Daniel Kaufman, (1997) “Corruption: The Facts”, Foreign Policy,  Summer 1997, p.130.



x. R. B. Jain, “Implementing Party Reforms in South Asia: Challenges and Strategies” in  NDI-CALD, Political Party Strategies to Combat Corruption (Bangkok,  Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats, 2002).


xi. For a detailed discussion and  analysis of the enactment and implementation  of the Right to Information Act, see R. B. Jain, (2006), “Opening Government for Public Scrutiny: An Analysis of Recent Efforts  in India to make Governance more Transparent and Accountable” in Indian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 52, no. 3 (July -September 2006), pp.539-65.


xii. See B. P. Mathur, (2005) Governance Reform for Vision India (New Delhi. Macmillan,  2005). p. 343




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