“We are transforming the wheels of government and integrating latest technology to make systems more transparent, effective and participative. Each and every citizen of India will benefit from this.” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi
In the conventional sense, Good governance is the striving for rule of law, transparency, equity, and accountability in exercising political, economic, and administrative authority. However, Good Governance in the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi has defined has acquired another dimension - that of 'Jan-Bhagidari' or Participative Governance. The combined effect of the two - transparent and clean governance by the executive while simultaneously involving the citizens in the process of policy making and in ensuring its effective implementation - has had a salutary effect on the nation state as whole. Consider the following.
In the last two years, India has emerged as the fastest growing large economy in the world. Because of the consistent rise in GDP (as recently reported, GDP growth numbers for Jan-March Quarter 2016 are 7.9%) ), controlled rate of inflation, and stable prices benefitting common citizens, the International Monetary Fund has highlighted India as a bright economic spot in the world. The rapid economic growth in India has caused foreign investors to stop and take notice. Amidst a long global slowdown, India has emerged as the frontrunner in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and is now even ahead of China in the global FDI stakes. In 2015-16, India received its highest ever FDI, which has given a big push to a many key sectors including Railways, Defence, Insurance and Medical devices. In the year 2016, India improved its position in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings by 12 ranks and scored its higher rank ever. Initiatives like simplified one page MSME registration form for Udyog Aadhaar, simplified forms for industrial licenses, online application process for environmental and forest clearances has made things exceptionally easy for the investors. The welfare of the working class has not been neglected either – Online portals for labour issues, Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) were set up which proved to be extremely helpful and effective.
But how does the government score on the key metrics used to judge Good governance - of being transparent, responsive and smart? Do the numbers of the initiatives add up?
Reforms were long overdue in the Banking sector and the government took up this issue in earnest. Indradhanush framework, the most comprehensive reform effort undertaken since bank nationalization, enabled Public Sector Banks to compete in the fast evolving financial service landscape. It has also led to the end of political interference in personnel decisions. The Bank Board Bureau was set up to facilitate ‘no interference policy’ which gave the banks the freedom and authority to make crucial decisions. By March 2017, India Post Payments Banks (IPPB) are to be set up targeting rural unbanked and under-banked citizens, with every post office having a micro-ATM for making the money transfer and withdrawal process easier.
Additionally, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has assured fast track insolvency resolution process while safeguarding the rights of the employees. This will act as a big boost to ease of doing business and will encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Other economic reforms include amendment in Factories Act, 1948 to allow night shifts for women and increased hours of voluntary overtime, and FDI in Insurance (49%) to transform the insurance sector. This alone has already resulted in over Rs.9,000 Crore of FDI in the insurance sector. It is evident that the government has taken numerous measures to ensure that rapid economic reforms in order to simplify procedures, while ensuring the safeguarding of interests of all stakeholders. It has just been two years since this government has assumed office, but judging by the way governance has progressed it would not be an exaggeration to say that India is being fundamentally transformed for the better.