Good Governance is About Responsibility to People’s Welfare

PERSPECTIVE

The foundation of a good democracy depends on its ability to ensure solid governance which is accountable and conducive to people’s needs.

Dorothy Fernandes is an educationist and Founder of Aashray Abhiyan- an organization working on right to shelter in Bihar.

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph.

Haile Selassie

Today our country stands at crossroads-what is happening is a sheer violation of human rights and of our constitutional values.  I begin to wonder whether those who stand as candidates for election even know why they are contesting or what does governance mean?  The slur that is being thrown upon and the fear that is being instilled in the hearts of the citizens is something that was unheard of.

Governance today means accumulation of wealth, security for the politician’s own family and acquaintances at the cost of the denial of schemes meant for citizens. 

There is a need to take stock of the years gone by.  I would like to take our readers down memory lane.  Many of us would remember the time when India had just attained freedom and the kind of leaders that we as a nation looked forward to.  

Political parties election hoardings . Photos credit : Ramesh Pathania/Mint

India was governed by statesmen who were well qualified and who had left their imprints internationally and the world admired them as leaders with vision and clarity. They had a vision for India which was inclusive; who worked for the well being of the country.  Alas, but today we witness a rapid degradation of governance. 

Let’s begin at the very lowest level of our society- the leader of the Gram Panchayat and the Ward Councilor.  Who are the candidates who contest for these elections, what have been their key achievements in working for the grassroots issues, what kind of political credentials do they have? Does the person contesting election hold a legitimate public record; do people consider him/her capable of understanding their needs? The only criterion to my understanding is whether he has enough money to buy a ticket. Often it has been my experience and the candidates have no hesitation in saying, we spent 35 lakhs during the election, so now we have to make it up.  How they make it up, that’s another sordid story.  Money meant for schemes are siphoned out, if someone needs a signature they have to pay for it.  Everything is based on the amount of money you are prepared to spend.  Is this what governance means?

Lok Sabha election to the Vellore constituency was cancelled on April 16 following recovery of huge amount of cash allegedly from a DMK candidate’s office a few days ago.  Image Credit : Daily Hunt

So, the story continues right from the lowest level of governance to the highest.  Power that the candidate enjoys is never at the service of the citizens.  Life becomes more of an ordeal for those who are on the peripheries, who struggle to make both ends meet and who look up to their representatives for some respite. 

If governance does not mean taking care of the marginalized, of the poor and of the ordinary citizens and making life livable for them then what core purpose does governance serve?

Some of the elected persons are not hesitant to shout at people who go to their doorstep for some work, saying you did not vote for me.  Such audacity, so much for service and they claim it’s their right to decide who really needs to be helped out.

In the truest sense of the word, governance is about executing the constitutional values, of ensuring that people get justice, treated equally and live in harmony with each other.  But today that’s not the case; the emphasis is on how one can make enough of money so that they can come back to power for the next five years.  

Like in every walk of life, when one applies for a job the person has to qualify for the given post.  But it is only in the political arena there is no need for any qualification, even soft skills are missing.

When one visits the communities on the periphery in any part of our country, I wonder how they survive. 

They have an inbuilt resilient that makes them take every situation in stride.  Actually their economic and social status never rises, from one generation to the other.  So how can we say that our representatives whom we elect are truly thinking of the well being of the community?

There is a dire need for a right turn to indicate that people matter, somewhere we need to change, and if we do not then nature will teach us the hard way.

It’s an appeal to the young generation and especially to those who are voting for the first time to exercise their franchise maturely and independently and not be carried away by false and wrong thinking.

We are a young nation and the future of this nation depends on the youth. 

There’s an urgency that is inviting us to groom the youth on a path that will make us an inclusive society…the largest democracy has to pave t way into the future.  I will conclude with a quote from Nelson Mandela:  Where globalization means, as it so often does, that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the pooraer and weaker, we have a responsibility to protest in the name of universal freedom. 

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