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What Manipur Needs – Good Governance?

According to United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
“governance” is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are
implemented (or not implemented). It lists eight major characteristics of good governance - 1)
participatory 2) consensus oriented 3) accountable 4) transparent 5) responsive 6) effective
and efficient 7) equitable and inclusive and 8) follows the rule of law. Good governance
further assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account
and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making.
Responsiveness to the present and future needs of society is also an important aspect of good
governance.
Participation:
Good governance necessarily requires participation by both men and women as a basic
element. The participation has to be informed and organized. To achieve this, freedom of
association and expression and an organized civil society on the other hand is a must.
Manipur has a strong and vibrant civil society when the western societies are struggling to
revive them. Clubs, Meira-Paibees in the valleys and assemblies and councils in the hills
representing various communities, along with other various organizations represent the
vibrant civil society of Manipur. But engaging the civil society by the government for good
governance has not materialized so far. There is a huge untapped potential of engaging the
strong grassroots civil society organizations for developmental works. However to the credit
of the civil society of Manipur, they have been the vigilante for democracy in Manipur so far,
fighting the undemocratic and repressive policies of the government.
Rule of law:
“Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially.” Full
protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities is also are also required. For
impartial enforcement of laws, an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible
police force are a must. Full protection of human rights in Manipur does not exist in Manipur
as long as Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 prevails in Manipur. Protection of
minorities is guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. Independence of judiciary in lower courts
in Manipur is doubtful as many decisions are understood to be influenced by the executive.
But an impartial and incorruptible police force is almost non existent in Manipur. Fake
encounters and existence of illegal activities right under the nose of the police force are few
clear signals for this.
Transparency:
When decisions are taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and
regulations it is transparent. Information should be freely available and directly accessible to
those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. For this information
should be provided in easily understandable forms and media. Transparency cannot exist
when corruption and nepotism is the norm for governance. This is exactly what is happening
in Manipur. The number of court cases for appointment and promotion in government
services is a clear indicator. It is not surprising that government officials meet Ministers and
bureaucrats for promotion and appointment more often than for discussing developmental
works.
Responsiveness:
Good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a
reasonable timeframe. Responsiveness in Manipur is sacrificed at the altar of Non-
transparency.
Consensus oriented:
“Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad
consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can
be achieved.” A broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human
development and how to achieve the goals of such development is needed. For this, an
understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of society should be arrived. In
this area, a lot of conflicting issues are still required to be resolved. A consensus on the
perspective for sustainable human development and the path to be undertaken are yet to be
arrived at.
Equity and inclusiveness:
“A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in
it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society.” An opportunity to improve or
maintain the well being of all groups, particularly the most vulnerable is a requirement for
this. While opportunity exists, lack of infrastructure and social barriers are the impediments
for converting the opportunity to an achievement.
Effectiveness and efficiency:
“Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs
of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal.” Sustainable use of natural
resources and the protection of the environment are covered in the concept of efficiency.
Manipur fails miserably in this context. Corruption and nepotism has weakened the
institutions to such an extent that they are not able to use the resources to produce results that
meet the needs of society forgetting about making the best use. The result is there for all to
see – bad roads, flooding, traffic congestion, no employment generation, no industrial
development, decrease in quality of education etc.
Accountability:
“Accountability is a key requirement of good governance.” Not only governmental
institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to
the public and to their institutional stakeholders. An organization or an institution is
accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Institutions in Manipur,
especially those in the government sector, scores very low in accountability. When there is
flooding in Imphal city after slight rain, nobody is accountable. Millions of rupees are lost
everyday due to bad roads, and nobody is accountable. Rightly said, “Accountability cannot
be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.”
The new government in Manipur has promised good governance to the people of Manipur.
Will it then be not be appropriate to prepare a white paper on where Manipur stands on good
governance? Then only we can have a yardstick on which the promise of the new government
be assessed.