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Good governance and its significance

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Aiming to build a better India, 25th December is going to be observed as ‘good governance day’ across the country.

In a bid to move ahead in its development trajectory, the NDA-led government stressed on ‘good governance’ as one of it key policies.

The basic idea of providing good governance was put forward by none another than the towering statesman Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Commemorating his birthday on 25th December, the government decided to observe the day as ‘good governance day’.

“Mere good governance is not enough; it has to be pro-people and pro-active. Good governance is putting people at the center of the development process.” Narendra Modi said.

Indian politics is ruled by religion, cast and individual character. And this stereotype seems to continue.

The issue of governance always took a back seat in the agenda of the Indian politicians. They only pledged to do welfare for the people but never explained how they would do that.  The pledges never saw the light of the day.

However, following Narendra Modi’s assumption to power, the word ‘governance’ came to light.

Governance does not mean the GDP growth but providing a basic amenity to the people.

What people want is good governance and it should be pro-people.

Another crucial feature of good governance is that it ensures Transparency & Accountability.

While transparency helps in putting the exact picture in front of the people, accountability ensures that the people in the administration remains answerable for their activities. If transparency and accountability are ensured then a citizen friendly government can flourish.

Moreover, it promotes community confidence as people will know that the administration will work for the betterment of the society regardless of their differences in their opinion.

Good governance also features rule of law. There should be a fair and logical legal framework which should be implemented by an impartial, practical regulatory body. Law enforcers should befriend and not be a feared entity.

Responsiveness: Society has a plethora of problems. People stay calm when their problems are addressed. There should redressal cell and the administration should be speedy in resolving problems.

Effectiveness and efficiency: The government should be effective in implementing policies and efficient enough to have a vigil over the whole thing. People must feel that the government is pro-active and the society is progressing towards becoming a developed economy.

However, it is not up to the government to take up all the responsibility to provide good governance. Good governance is by the people and for the people. Active participation in the governance and following the decorum bolsters the endeavor of good governance.

Without the people’s participation, the idea of good governance is like establishing a utopian society.

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Aadhaar number to be treated as Provident Fund number for all coal mine workers in India,

CMPFO is also planning to provide the status of the claim, PF balance, pension payment through SMS services from December 25, the Good Governance Day

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Coal Mining and miners in India. Flickr
  • Coal Mines Provident Fund Organisation (CMPFO) decided that the Aadhar card number will be treated as the provident fund number for all the workers in mines
  •  Target has been set for this is move to be executed from December 25,2016
  • Any employee can access the CMPFO website through his or her Aadhaar number and get related details

Sept 17, 2016: Taking a step forward in transparency the Coal Mines Provident Fund has decided that the Aadhar card number will be treated as provident fund(PF) number.

“Aadhaar number would be treated as Coal Mines Provident Fund number in future. We have targeted to execute it from December 25, 2016,” said L.N. Mishra, Director (personnel) of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL).The collection of master data from live members and contract workers would be completed soon.

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CMPFO is also planning to provide the status of the claim, PF balance, pension payment through SMS services from December 25, the Good Governance Day.

aadhar-card
Aadhar card. adhaarcardandhrapradesh.blogspot.com

The decision was taken at a meeting attended by Directors (personnel) of all subsidiaries of Coal India Limited (CIL), Coal Mines Provident Fund Organisation (CMPFO) Commissioner B.K. Panda and heads of regional offices of CMPFO in coastal town Puri on 16th September.

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The decision was said to benefit all employees, especially the contractual workers, who have been engaged under several contractors.He said any employee can access the CMPFO website through his or her Aadhaar number and get details of PF, pension, and status of application and address all queries.

– prepared by Anubhuti Gupta of Newsgram with inputs from IANS. Twitter: @anuB_11

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Remembering Vajpayee the statesman on ‘Good Governance Day’

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By Rajesh Ghosh

The 1999 General Elections took place under some sort of a national security crisis as the Indian Army had only a month ago claimed victory over the Pakistani army. Earlier that year one vote proved too much for the Vajpayee-led government as it lost the confidence vote just by that margin.

The elections, therefore, were a test of the robustness of the Indian democracy. Under such tremendous upheaval, the BJP-led NDA came out victorious.

The following five years under the leadership of Vajpayee was, in many ways, monumental for India not only economically but also politically.

In view of his achievements and widely appreciated statesmanship, the Modi-led government declared, last year, that December 25 (Vajpayee’s birthday), would be observed as ‘Good Governance Day.’

Having taken into cognizance the relevance of the day, let us walk back into the intrigue of history and discover the major achievements of Vajpayee, the statesman.

On the economic front, the Vajpayee government continued with the economic liberalization initiated by the Narasimha Rao government a decade back. The unprecedented economic growth witnessed in India from 2004, after the end of his term, is on many accounts a result of the major structural changes brought about his government.

The process of privatization saw a major boost during his period, especially in the telecom sector with spectrums being sold, for the first time, to private players with the aim of improving quality. The Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), then a major public sector telecom company, was privatized, opening the sector to competition.

Other major achievements included information technology, industrial parks and special economic zones (SEZ) across the country which have since bore major fruits for the country.

His vision went beyond India as he saw the importance of bringing on board the Indian diaspora, for they were a major source of investment and economic growth. To realize this, he launched the ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Saman’ in honor of the diaspora.

But his major economic achievements, which were also his pet projects, were the National Development Highway Project and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Accepting this achievement, the UPA in 2013 admitted before the Supreme Court that in the five years under Vajpayee nearly 50% of the total length of National Highway in 32 years was constructed.

On the foreign policy front, his work was cut out by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the freshly concluded three-month war with Pakistan. But it’s during these adverse times the statesmanship of a leader is truly tested. And he passed these with flying colors.

In early 2000 he welcomed President Bill Clinton in a first bilateral engagement at the highest level in 22 years. It also came close at the heels of the Pokhran nuclear test in 1998, which was strongly condemned by the US.

This was seen by many as a major achievement by Vajpayee as it symbolically represented the gradually changing US foreign policy, which till then had isolated India. It brought about major breakthroughs in the economic and trade ties between the two nations. Further engagement with the US in his term laid the foundations for the milestone nuclear agreement which was later, in 2008, inked by Dr Manmohan Singh.

But his foreign policy highlight was his initiation in the thawing of the frozen Indo-Pak relations after Kargil. His gesture of inviting Parvez Musharraf, who presided over the Kargil war and had subsequently become Prime Minister after orchestrating a coup, was hailed within the foreign policy circles. The visit, however, achieved little in concrete outcomes.

His second term as Prime Minister also saw a raft of crises in foreign affairs ranging from the hijacking of an Air India aircraft in 1999 to the Parliament attack in 2001. Both these events brought India perilously close to a military expedition. But his statesmanlike acumen handled these crises with impeccable resilience.

Vajpayee the politician also had another side to him which molded him into a unique political leader. He was also a renowned poet. In Vajpayee’s words – “My poetry is a declaration of war, not an exordium to defeat. It is not the defeated soldier’s drumbeat of despair, but the fighting warrior’s will to win. It is not the dispirited voice of dejection but the stirring shout of victory.”

On this spirited note as we remember the good governance of Vajpayee, the statesman and poet, let us strive to learn and adapt his policies to suit the contemporary challenges. (image courtesy: mptravelogue.com)

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Yogakshema: The ancient Indian concept of Good Governance

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Yogakshema

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India is observing ‘Good Governance Day’ today. The concept of good governance is qualitative in nature, and is intimately connected with the concept of the welfare state.

‘Governance’ basically refers to the process of framing rules, decision making, and implementation of those decisions, such that a society, a country, or an organization is sustained and taken forward towards progress. A UN document defines ‘Good Governance’ as being participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and follows the rule of law.

Yogakshema– the goal of good governance

In India, the concept of the welfare state and good governance is very old and an exposition of them can be found even in their oldest scriptures of the Vedas. Thus, Shukla Yajurveda (6.31) includes a prayer wherein a ruler prays thus: “let my subjects be satisfied, my herds be satisfied, my people be satisfied, let not my people be needy.

Similarly, Manu Smriti (7.3) says that without a proper ruler (i.e. government), the anarchy will result in citizens living in fear and thus, Kingship (i.e. government) was instituted for the protection of the subjects. This is further attested in the Mahabharata (Shanti parva ch.58) which declares the protection of subjects as the ‘cheese of kingly duties’ and then includes the various factors of good governance, ranging from punishing the criminals to supporting meritocracy, from ensuring security to enabling financial transactions, as the means for ensuring this ‘protection of the subjects.’

In other words, ‘Yogakshema or the welfare of the people was the ultimate goal of any ruler or government and good governance was the means to achieve it. But, this exposition of Yogakshema and thus of good governance was not limited to the material (social, political, and economic) welfare of the people, but included spiritual and moral well-being as well.

Thus, writing about the Indian conception of Yogakshema as expounded by Kautilya, M M Sankhdher notes: “Kautilya over-reached the modern concept in that his Yogakshema aims at an all-round development, material as well as spiritual, of the society as well as of the individual. It involves the well-being of the poorest of the poor. The Kaultiyan state, we are told, ensured freedom, happiness, prosperity, and full-fledged development of human personality. Yogakshema demanded a higher moral consciousness both at the elites’ and at the common people’s levels.

Dharma – the basis of good governance

The concept of ‘Yogakshema cannot be perceived in isolation. Welfare is driven by human actions. But, all human actions do not by default lead to happiness and welfare. Thus, Gita (16.24) says, one should learn to differentiate between the actions that ought to be performed and those actions that ought to be avoided. And this division of actions into obligated and prohibited is in turn rooted in the concept of ‘Dharma.’

Dharma which literally means ‘that which upholds’ refers to all those actions which will cause material welfare, happiness, and spiritual upliftment of an individual in the human context. And these Dharmic actions have been enjoined as duties upon each person so that by their performance an entire society or a country achieves overall welfare and development. Thus, Yogakshema of a nation is directly dependent upon the performance of Dharma (i.e. Dharmic duties) by each individual starting with the head of the state.

Governance being the prerogative of the government, and the head of the government being the most important person who drives the whole governance mechanism, his performance of his duties, and his adherence to Dharma becomes the most vital element for achieving Yogakshema of all citizens. Thus, the popular saying stated ‘yatha raja, tatha praja’ (As is the king, so are the subjects). An able administrator who strictly adheres to Dharma will implement proper measures to ensure the welfare and progress of the people, whereas an incompetent Adharmic ruler will push the nation into chaos and suffering.

Also Read: Why duty-based rights narrative is essential

The head of the government cannot and should not act according to his whims and fancies. His sole purpose and duty is to implement good governance by adhering to the principles of Dharma so that the overall development of his citizens is achieved. Atri Smriti (verse 28) says that punishing the wicked, honoring the good, enriching the exchequer by just methods, being impartial towards the litigants, and protecting the kingdom are the five yajnas i.e. selfless duties to be performed by the ruler. Mahabharata (Shanti Parva Ch.90) says that a person becomes a King for protecting Dharma and not for acting capriciously. Similarly, Manu Smriti (7.27) says, a ruler who uses his power of ruling in a proper way, i.e. for the welfare of his citizens, will achieve all desires, wealth, and spiritual merit. On the other hand, a ruler who misuses his power for his selfish reasons will end up in destruction.

In other words, an incompetent and Adharmic person should never occupy the seat of the government. For this reason, the Hindu scriptures stress again and again regarding the required competencies of the kings. Kaultiya’s Arthashastra (1.19.39), for example, states that a ruler’s happiness lies in the happiness of his subjects, in their welfare his welfare, whatever pleases him (personally) he shall not consider as good. Whatever makes his subjects happy, he shall consider as good. He also lists receptive mind, firmness of purpose, and training in all activities of the government as some of the qualities of a King. Similarly, Mahabharata (Shanti Parva Ch.90) says that a king should never abandon righteousness and should always be rooted in it. On the other hand, Manu Smriti (7.30), declares a person who is weak, ignorant, greedy, without discrimination of right and wrong and attached to sensual desires as being unfit to govern.

Hence, Dharma in its twin roles of duties and righteousness is the very basis of ensuring good governance and welfare of everyone. The government and the people involved in the governance are mere enablers who implement principles of Yogakshema. Thus, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1.4.14) calls Dharma as the king of the kings and states there is nothing superior to Dharma.

Elements of Good governance

Though, good governance is a qualitative term, it can be analyzed using certain parameters which can give definite information regarding the state of governance. The World Bank determinates of good governance include factors like political accountability, transparency, democracy, legal framework, an independent judiciary, importance to the rule of law, effective administration, and cooperation between the government and civil society.

Most of these factors could also be observed in the ancient Indian concept of good governance and Yogakshema. Arthashastra, for example, deals extensively with law and order, political and bureaucratic accountability, the establishment of the rule of law and elaborate legal framework, prevention of corruption, human resource management and meritocracy. Similar issues of law and order, the judicial system and the delivery of justice, punishments for the offenders, etc. have been elaborated in Manu and other Smritis as well.

Summarizing the elements of good administration based upon ancient Indian scriptures, Aruna Goel lists following elements:

  1. Openness in the sense of having wide contact with the people administered.
  2. A sense of justice, fair play, and impartiality in dealing with men and matters.
  3. Sensitivity and responsiveness to the urges, feelings, and the aspirations of the common people.
  4. Securing the honor and dignity of the human being, however humble he or she might be.
  5. Humility and simplicity in the persons manning the administrative machinery and their easy accessibility.
  6. Creating and sustaining an atmosphere conductive to development, growth, and social change.
  7. Honesty and integrity in thought and action.

In addition to these, the Hindu scriptures stipulate the rulers to carry out actions that cause spiritual upliftment of the society and create a social condition wherein people can freely practice their social and spiritual duties. The heads of the governments are obliged to serve its citizens, both materially and spiritually. Thus, the kings of the old supported various Brahmanas who dedicated their entire life to performing religious and spiritual duties and the rulers themselves indulged in charity, rituals, and other spiritual works. Manu Smriti (7.43) says that the ruler himself should be well learned in Vedas and other spiritual scriptures apart from learning about governance, etc. that are necessary to rule. Thus, the ancient concept of Good governance did not create a separation of secular and spiritual aspects of life. Dharma, which upholds life, was the guiding beacon of good governance and it catered to the welfare of all aspects of society – sacred and secular.

Comparison between Dharmic and modern Western models of good governance

The ancient Indian model of good governance, which can be more properly called as a Dharmic model of Yogakshema, contained within itself most of the elements that are present in the western models prevalent today. But, the glaring difference is in the fact that Yogakshema model perceives welfare in a wholesome integral manner, whereas the modern models perceive development as a secular activity that involves the accumulation of wealth without any reference to ecological, ethical, and sacred aspects of an individual and the society.

Thus, elements of ethics and spirituality play no role in Western models, whereas they are very central to Yogakshema model. The western models further create a distinction between religion and secular affairs which is largely rooted in the fact that European nations where secularism had developed had severely suffered from the regressive and anti-science temperament of Semitic religions. India, which has always existed on the foundation of Dharma, never faced any necessity of creating artificial exclusive categories of sacred and secular. Thus, the Yogakshema model perceives governance in a more integral manner catering to all aspects of society.

The Yogakshema model not only enables the society to raise its overall quality of life on the mundane level but also assists to raise the level of consciousness on a universal level. It aims to provide full freedom for every citizen to carry out his Dharmic duties without hindrances so that everyone can attain overall welfare and happiness in their lives. This it does by positioning the entire process of good governance and welfare state on the firm foundation of ‘Duties.’ This duty based narrative ensures that welfare state is not a privilege, not an entitlement that could be misused the way it is being misused in the modern rights-based narrative.

Instead, the welfare state and good governance are made the prerogative of every citizen and the ruler’s sole purpose is to serve his citizens, and he is bound by same obligations, same duties as his citizens. The only difference between a ruler and a citizen is that the magnitude and scope of those duties in case of the ruler is many times greater than in the case of citizens.

This stress on personal duties in the Yogakshema model naturally translates into the emphasization on ethics. In fact, ethics like truth, honesty, non-injury, etc. have been enumerated as Samanya Dharma– universal duties in Hindu scriptures. On the other hand, though professional ethics is stressed in the modern models of governance, ethics as an obligation or duty are still missing.

M M Sankhdher, who examines this difference between Yogakshema and modern welfare state models comments: “There are conceptual differences between the modern welfare state and Yogakshema…the distinctive features of Yogakshema, such as, Dharma, versus religion, selectivity versus universality, duties versus rights, self versus ego, self-employment versus state-employment, above all the role of family in welfare.”

Thus, Yogakshema model of Good governance has better vision and definite advantages over the model models of governance. It is high time that India government realizes the effectiveness of Yogakshema model and bring them into practice.

(Photo: www.rcc.int)