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Enabling people to govern themselves

Why in news?

  • The health and economic crisis as a result of COVID 19 pandemic has revealed the  inadequacies of the governance structures at various levels.
  • Besides the siloed approach towards economic, social and environmental issues has resulted in breakdown of one system while revamping the other.

Issues with current governance structures

  • Flawed Design
  • The COVID 19 pandemic has revealed the design flaw in governance systems which is functioning in silos. This has made it difficult to manage multiple sub-systems like health care, logistics, business, finance, administration etc at the same time
  • For instance while the lockdown has managed to contain the health crisis it has resulted in economic crisis
  • Within the health system most of the resources are diverted towards managing the epidemic resulting in neglect of other health issues including communicable diseases, maternal health, malnutrition etc.
  • Failure of global governance structures
  • Global governance structures of the post-World War II era like United Nations, WTO etc have failed to respond to the crisis effectively.
  • This is elicited response from national and local governments and has thus resulted in countries closing their borders in the changed geopolitical milieu.

A case for alternative approach

  • Systems Approach
  • The SDGs framework lists down 17 interconnected goals for the world which require treating them using the ‘systems approach’ which emphasises on
  1. The need to treat the dependence of one sub system on the other. (economic, social, environmental, political etc)
  2. The role of each sub system on survival of the entire system as a whole.
  • Strengthening the local governance structures
  • One of the 8 pillars of Good Governance as given by World Bank is Participatory Governance. (Others being consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and rule of law)
  • Though 73rd and 74th amendment acts to the constitution envisaged a government by the people this has not been implemented in the true spirit. For instance the development functions are too concentrated in the office of the collector through institutions like District Rural Development Authority in most of the states.

Thus governance structures at the rural level should evolve as ones which are accountable to representative institutions at the local level. 2nd ARC has recommended the establishment of  “District Council” headed by the District Collector fully accountable to the District Council on all local matters.

June 2024