farther removed state action is from the citizen, the higher
are the chances that the state will not function in the best
interests of the citizen.
example, take the case of school education. Even though the
school is located in the community, the functioning of the
school is completely out of the control of the community.
It is widely known that 95 % of teachers who work in government
schools do not send their children to the schools in which
they teach! Neither the parent nor the locally elected political
executive has any right to enforce accountability in the functioning
of the school. So is the case with the functioning of the
public health system. Every one in a community knows that
the government doctor at the primary health centre rarely
shows up and instead has his own private practice. And yet
people are helpless as they do not have any control over him.
too long ago, in this state itself, both these institutions
used to function reasonably well under the aegis of the local
government. I myself was privileged to study in a government
school in my village, which has given me a world-class education.
When I go to the same school now, I do not see a future for
any kid studying there - and that not only makes me angry
but also depresses me. Human resources are the greatest wealth
we have and we should be doing everything in our power to
enable them achieve their full potential - that's what state
is all about and that's what good governance means.
as a result of our colonial legacy and partly because of the
traumatic experience of partition at the time of Indian independence
we have created a system of governance, which is extremely
centralized. Accountability has been eroded leading to inefficiency
and corruption in almost every sphere of government.
the constitution envisages transfer of 29 subjects ranging
from education and health to agriculture to the local governments,
in reality the states are extremely reluctant let go of any
of their powers. As a result of this over centralization,
the common man feels very much alienated. People lost all
trust in the ability of the government to safeguard their
interests. Centralized governance is often reduced to legal
plunder. This in turn leads to a very cynical attitude towards
the state and the political process itself, which is very
dangerous in a democracy.
need of the hour is a radical redesign of our governance process
and institutions to adhere to the principle of subsidiarity.
This means true empowerment of local governments with control
over every subject that effects their daily life and which
can be handled locally. This entails transfer of funds, functions
and functionaries completely to the local governments. Only
when the citizen sees a link between the taxes he pays and
the services he receives will he regain a modicum of trust
in the governance institutions and shed the cynical attitude
towards the state. True decentralization with proper accountability
is the only way to improve the quality of public services,
reduce corruption and restore people's faith in the state.