“Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development”

--Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General)

Governance is broadly the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It consists of the mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences. It is now recognised the world over that no amount of developmental schemes can improve the quality of the citizens’ lives without good governance.

The biggest challenge at the governance front is to ensure that those at the helm of affairs do not abuse it and the goods and services meant for the poor and weaker sections are delivered to them in a fair, just and efficient way. Poor, inefficient or corrupt governance mechanism generates and reinforces poverty and subverts efforts to reduce it. And that is why strengthening governance is an essential precondition to improving the lives of the poor, according to an approach paper of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.

Challenges of governance have increased since the liberalization of the Indian economy in the early nineties when the government started retreating from key areas of governance leaving vast gaps in control and regulation of vital sectors such as education, healthcare and civic amenities. Obviously a lot of lessons need to be learnt from global best practices and also from our own experiences in different states. A vital lesson is that globalization is inevitable in an interconnected world but changes do not have to come at the cost of the people. That is why globalisation also requires strengthening the institutions of the state – legislative, executive, and judicial – in order to make the system responsive to the needs and aspirations of a rising and restless younger generation.

Common Cause believes that citizens can intervene in making governance more responsive and efficient in order to ameliorate the sufferings of the common citizens and to create an environment of hope, fairness and compassion. We recognise that the issues of governance are complex and intertwined with each other. We also recognise the complexities of challenges of modern administration in critical sectors like policing, justice delivery, education, healthcare, transportation, land management, infrastructure, skill promotion, employment generation, and urban management. The issues also need domain expertise, goodwill, and deep insights, besides structural changes.