Accountability and Ethical Governance
This article deals with topic titled ‘Accountability and Ethical Governance.’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’ . For more articles , you can click here
What is Accountability
- Accountability means answerability of the officials for their decisions and actions.
- Accountability is required in case of Public Servants because they have lot of discretion
- Benefits of Accountability
- Checks Abuse of power
- Checks corruption and Fraud
- lack of accountability decreases the legitimacy of government
- Makes system more responsive
- Stops Arbitrary and unauthorized exercise of authority
- Against Accountability points
- Officers spend their time in maintaining records or answering RTIs etc
- It makes them status quoist in their conduct in fear of public scrutiny.
To quote Amartya Sen – ” We don’t need just a democracy, we need accountable democracy.”
Quite often Accountability is misunderstood as Responsibility.
- Responsibility is inner concept like your responsibility to do some work
- Accountability is outer concept like your accountability of some work you have done.
Types of Accountability
|There can be two type of Accountability in Governance
||Accountability of government to persons outside government is ensured by
- Media & Social Media
- Citizens Charter
- NGO & Pressure Groups
||Accountability of Public Institutions/ Servants to Government
||Accountability of Public Servant outside his wing
- Accountability of Minister (Executive) to Parliament (Legislature)
||Accountability of Public Servant inside his wing/department
- Accountability to Superiors
- Internal Audit
- Grievance Redressal Mechanisms
Whenever we have to answer how to increase Accountability , we have to cover all these angles.
Steps to make Accountability more effective in India
- Strengthening RTI act and infrastructure
- Protection of Whistleblowers through legislation.
- Strong Lokpal Act
- Social Audits by local communities, NGOs can enhance accountability in public service delivery, for instance in MGNREGA.
- Using Information and Technology: Maintaining digital records
- Encouraging Citizen’s initiative: e.g. Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
- Promoting Competition and discouraging monopolistic attitude among public service sectors.
- Need to lay down a statutory Code of Ethics for Civil Services (British Civil Services Code can act as a model.)
Side Topic : Lokpal
|This is a Central Institution of Accountability in matters of financial impropriety and corruption .
Which bodies come under Lokpal
- Members of Parliament
- Ministers including PM (Central Executive)
- Higher Bureaucracy (Lower Bureaucracy under CVC)
- NGO falling under cases of FCRA
Various Challenges to accountability in India
- Special Expertise : public administrators are experts in their specific area => difficult for outside agency to surpass them in their areas of specialization & question them.
- Massive Expansion of Bureaucracy: difficult for the political executive to exercise effective control over them.
- Lack of Coordination: The number of agencies increased => CBI, CVC, Lokayuktas, SVC etc without effective coordination among them.’
- Excessive security : Article 311 of the Indian Constitution makes it almost impossible to remove a civil servant.
- Employees’ unions: Tendency of employees’ unions to resist the managerial action against their members even when they have blatantly violated ethical norms.
|Ethical governance is corruption free, moral and people centric Government
Philosophical Basis of Ethical Governance
|People think that concept of Good Governance is modern concept. But they are wrong. Many times in past, scholars have conceptualised what is good governance
- Kautilya in his Arthashastra wrote , ” in the happiness of subjects lies the happiness of king and in the welfare of subjects lies the welfare of king. ” Hence , he has written about Citizen Centric Government .
- Kautilya has also highlighted the corruption & given concept of Kantakshodhana ie king should purge out those elements strictly.
Gandhi’s Vision of Ramrajya
- Vision of Ramrajya involves the governance based on Moral Principles .
- Infact Gandhi has said that Government which is not working in people’s interest is morally corrupt.
- Swaraj ie Self Rule is one of the pillars of his concept of Ramrajya or Good Governance .
- He has divided the Government into two parts
- Perverted Government : Power is used in the interest of Ruling class
- Legitimate Government : Power is used in Public Interest
8 Characters of Ethical Government
Rule of Law
- Rule of Law involves governance based upon rules and regulations
- In modern times, these rules & regulations are codified in Constitution of country .
- Real democracy doesn’t just mean voting to elect government but participation of people in governance itself .
- The mechanism of people’s participation in contemporary times are
|New & Contemporary
- Panchayati Raj Institutions & Gram Sabha
- Social Auditing
- Citizen Charter
- E-Governance (C2G)
- Social Media (change.org, online petitions)
- Ethical Governance is not based on Winner takes all approach .
- Decisions in the government should be taken based on consensus
Equity and Inclusiveness
- Distribution of resources should be based on the principle of equity so that different sections of society receive these resources based on their need
- Inclusiveness involves including weaker sections in decision making (welfare principle)
Effective and Efficient
- Effective government is one which achieves the target in stipulated time
- Efficient government is one which deliver maximum with minimum resources
- Literal meaning is openness
- Tool of Transparency : RTI, E- Governance
- Responsive government is one which positively responds to people’s demands, needs and aspirations in a timely manner