• Good governance day is celebrated annually on 25th December to mark the birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • It aims is to create awareness of accountability in government among the citizens of India.

Concept of Good governance

  • The concept of good governance is not new. Kautilya in his treatise Arthashastra elaborated the traits of the king  of a well governed State thus: “in the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare, whatever pleases himself, he does n ot consider as good, but whatever pleases his subjects he considers as good”.
  • Mahatma Gandhi had propounded the concept of ‘Su-raj’.
  • Good governance aims at providing an environment in which all citizens irrespective of class, caste and gender can develop to their full potential. In addition, good governance also aims at providing public services effectively, and equitably to the citizens.

The 4 pillars on which the edifice of good governance rests, in essence are:

  • Ethos (of service to the citizen),
  • Ethics (honesty, integrity and transparency),
  • Equity (treating all citizens alike with empathy for the weaker sections), and
  • Efficiency (speedy and effective delivery of service without harassment and using ICT increasingly)

Good governance should have the following distinct dimensions


  • As a democratic country, a central feature of good governance is the constitutionally protected right to elect government at various levels in a fair manner, with effective participation by all sections of the population. This is a basic requirement for the legitimacy of the government and its responsibility to the electorate.
  • The government at all levels must be accountable and transparent. Closely related to accountability is the need to eliminate corruption, which is widely seen as a major deficiency in governance. Transparency is also critical, both to ensure accountability, and also to enable genuine participation
  • The government must be effective and efficient in delivering social and economic public services, which are its primary responsibilities. This requires constant monitoring and attention to the design of our programmes. In our situation, where the responsibility for delivery of key services such as primary education and health is at the local level, this calls for special attention to ensuring the effectiveness and efficiency of local governments.
  • Governments at lower levels can only function efficiently if they are empowered to do so. This is particularly relevant for the PRIs, which currently suffer from inadequate devolution of funds as well as functionaries to carry out the functions constitutionally assigned to them.
  • An overarching requirement is that the rule of law must be firmly established. This is relevant not only for relations between the government and individuals enabling individuals to demand their rights but also for relations between individuals or businesses. A modern economic society depends upon increasingly complex interactions among private entities and these interactions can be efficiently performed only if legal rights are clear and legal remedies for enforcing these rights are swift.
  • Finally, the entire system must function in a manner which is seen to be fair and inclusive. This is a perceptional issue but it is real nonetheless. Disadvantaged groups, especially the SCs, STs, minorities and others, must feel they have an equal stake and should perceive an adequate flow of benefits to ensure the legitimacy of the State.


Good governance and sustainable development

    • Good governance is considered key to achieving sustainable development and human well-being.


  • Empirical studies show that good governance, has strong positive effects on measures of social trust, life satisfaction, peace and political legitimacy.
  • Studies also show that good governance improves life evaluations either directly, because people are happier living in a context of good government, or indirectly because good governance enables people to achieve higher levels of something else that is directly important to their well-being.
  • This is in particular related to the control of corruption, which has been demonstrated to affect well-being both directly and indirectly. The absence of corruption has often been shown to increase the efficiency of public and private enterprise and thus create favourable conditions for economic growth.


  • There is also evidence that the higher levels of general and specific trust increase the happiness of people even beyond higher incomes.
  • Modern notions of good governance are necessary for attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 16 of the SDGs (or SDG 16), which is titled “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions” and aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.
  • Other SDGs are also strongly linked to good governance: for example, SDG 10 refers to reducing inequalities and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all people. More generally, the attainment of all SDGs depends on good governance

Major Challenges to Good Governance

  • Criminalisation of Politics – The Criminalisation of the political process and the unholy nexus between politicians, civil servants, and business houses are having a baneful influence on public policy formulation and governance.
  • Corruption 
    • The high level of corruption in India has been widely perceived as a major obstacle in improving the quality of governance. While human greed is obviously a driver of corruption, it is the structural incentives and poor enforcement system to punish the corrupt that have contributed to the rising curve of graft in India.
    • The complex and nontransparent system of command and control, monopoly of the government as a service provider, underdeveloped legal framework, lack of information and weak notion of citizens’ rights have provided incentives for corruption in India.
  • Corruption and Electoral Reforms – The hitherto laissez-faire system of funding of elections is the biggest countervailing factor in the emergence of democratic India as an honest state.
    • The state funding of elections in India would also go a long way in reducing the clout of religious, ethnic and some business houses on the government.
  • Lack of Accountability – A common reason usually cited for inefficiency in governance is the inability within the system to hold the Civil Services accountable for their actions. Seldom are disciplinary proceedings initiated against delinquent government servants and imposition of penalties is even rarer.
  • Low Levels of Awareness of the Rights and Duties of Citizens – Inadequate awareness about their rights prevents citizens from holding erring government servants to account. Similarly, low levels of compliance of Rules by the citizens also acts as an impediment to good governance; when citizens do not adhere to their duties they infringe on the freedom and rights of other citizens.
  • Ineffective Implementation of Laws and Rules – There is a large body of laws in the country, each legislated with different objectives – maintaining public order and safety, maintaining sanitation and hygiene, protecting rights of citizens, giving special protection to the vulnerable sections etc
  • Red Tapism– Bureaucracies the world over are expected to adhere to rules and procedures which are, of course, important for good governance. However, at times, these rules and procedures are ab-initio ill-conceived and cumbersome and, therefore, do not serve their purpose. Also, government servants sometimes become overly pre-occupied with rules and procedures and view these as an end in themselves.

Way forward for good governance

  • Through open online discussions people can discuss various problems of the govt. and can give suggestions to solve it which will be beneficial for the govt. itself. 
  • Social media can also help for proper functioning of good governance. 
  • Fair conduct of election is also very important for good governance
  • From the grass root level to the upper level all men and women should have a voice in the decision making so that people from all walks of life can take part in the decision making process. 
  • Requests and complaints should be responded within a reasonable timeframe 
  • Decisions should be taken and enforced in accordance with the rule. In democracy respective govt. should not try to fulfil their own party aims instead of caring the needs of the people. Therefore, decisions, taken by the govt. should be made available to the public
  • The budget should be prepared in consultations with the public. The govt. should constantly monitor the financial matter of the different departments. 
  • State-sponsored development programmes must aim at reduction in poverty and improvement in productivity levels of workers. Towards these, poor people need to be directly involved. 
  • Public Expenditure Review meets should be organized periodically at village, subdistrict and district levels to ensure proper utilization of funds and ownership of development programmes by the people. 
  • Civil service should be given clear responsibility for delivery of services in respect of approved schemes and held accountable. 
  • One third of seats in Assemblies and Parliament should be reserved for women. 
  • Persons charge sheeted by a competent court for heinous offences and corrupt practices should be debarred from contesting elections. 
  • Partial State funding of elections should be commenced urgently.

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