New Delhi: The year is coming to an end and there are hopes that 2021 will be better. The pandemic, this year, saw lives being ravaged and economies take a tumble. The governance structure of India plays an integral part in the everyday lives of people, and the government’s response to the pandemic has only amplified this.
We asked readers: What is one big change you’d like to see in India’s governance in 2021?
Here is what some of them said:
‘Government can do better if unnecessary costs are trimmed’
Money management. The government of India has rightly understood that it’s not their business to do business but to regulate. Precious money shouldn’t be wasted in running PSUs. Politicians, officers and bureaucrats involved in financial frauds should be prosecuted swiftly to set a precedence. Public funds should not be used as freebies or subsidies to appease particular sections of society. Also, the government can do better if unnecessary costs are trimmed. On the path of recovery from the deadly pandemic, it would be better that the government moulds itself in this new normal.
Harshil Mehta, Ahmedabad. Twitter: @MehHarshil
‘Criminalisation of politics should be stopped’
Any change in governance will only be effective when those who make laws for us themselves follow it. A major change that is the need of the hour in India’s governance is ‘criminalisation of politics’. Though the Supreme Court has given its decision about publishing criminal record of politicians, they have been selected as candidates over someone who does not have any criminal case against them. The political parties did not abide by the decision of the court in the recent Bihar elections. This leads us to another important change, and that is proper implementation of existing laws and court judgments.
Sakshi Komal Dubey, New Delhi. Twitter: @_dubey_sakshi
‘Governance needs to be more people-centric’
The governance needs to be more people-centric. The people for whom the government brings reforms are not being taken under confidence before their implementation, rather the Centre is choosing to give surprises. This approach of suddenness is not going well, for example the Citizenship Amendment Act, Jammu and Kashmir issue, and currently the farm laws. In my opinion, every new law faces three challenges. First, social challenge, then political and technical challenge. Before bringing big reforms, discussions should happen with the section of society the law is going to effect the most, the political class should be on board and the technicality of the law should be made clear to people on prior basis.
Hardeep Singh, Sangrur. Twitter: @human5555
‘Need for debate, revision of policies to consider reservation’
There is an excessive reliance on caste-based reservations in the merit system. The reservation has exceeded beyond 50 per cent in states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. It is a cause for great concern to see meritorious students being ignored. This, instead of decreasing caste-based discrimination, is increasingly becoming the cause for discrimination. There is a need for open debate and revision of policies to consider reservation and scholarships being given based on economic criteria. The political parties enjoy caste-based politics and rely on it to gain political advantage. Instead of focusing on increasing the efficiency of educational system, all political parties have ignored this issue conveniently. This one change may help reverse the brain drain of meritorious students.
Dr Swanit Deshpande. Twitter: @swanitdeshpande
‘Restoration of fundamental rights for every citizen’
Governance refers to structures and processes designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, stability, equity, inclusiveness, empowerment, and broad-based participation in all public, socio-economic and political affairs of the country. As the pillars of good governance, the Constitution of India gives every citizen six fundamental rights — the right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, and right to constitutional remedies. In India, in the recent past, one can see a sharp erosion of the fundamental rights of citizens, the restoration of which would be the top priority in my list.
Debashiish Das Gupta, Pune. Twitter: @debashiishdg
‘Government needs to push for disinvestment of PSUs’
The government needs to aggressively push for disinvestment of PSUs. India is entering 2021 with bad to worse economic and development indicators all around. The government is facing severe financial crunch, and with the ongoing clash with China. The government needs fiscal space, and for this, it needs to aggressively push for disinvestment of PSUs and use the money on infrastructure spending or for programmes like urban housing schemes, etc. The government would probably also need money to modernise the armed forces with urgency. So the big governance change I would like to see in 2021 is aggressively selling government-run PSUs and move towards fulfilling the minimum government, maximum governance promise of Narendra Modi.
Vidyuth Chikoti, San Francisco. Twitter: @followvidyuth
‘Focus on India’s neighbourhood, open up to smaller nations’
India has a significant role as the world’s largest democracy, on the global stage. The biggest challenge for us right now is China’s aggressive rise. India’s focus must be its neighbourhood, finding ways to open up to smaller countries. Not just making political commitments, we must follow up and deliver on such commitments. For strengthening regional connectivity, there should be motivated coordination between the MEA and other ministries. India should eliminate all forms of bureaucratic, tariff, security and any other barriers to trade and transportation between Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh through Indian territory. We must sustain the variety of regional cooperation initiatives, including BIMSTEC but also recommit to SAARC. As former PM Manmohan Singh had said, “India should engage its neighbours without looking at reciprocity, but in our own enlightened interest.”
Shivam Jha, Gurugram. Twitter: @shivamjha6701
‘Governance lead by civil servants rather than bureaucrats’
The big change would be nothing less than a governance led by civil servants rather than robot-like bureaucrats. That change will simultaneously prepare us to realise the urgency of becoming a citizen in a democratic state of affairs rather than a mere consumer. The last person will be motivated enough to enjoy the benefits of government policies if he or she finds a bureaucrat who is more ethical and human in word and spirit. Humanity will beget humanity and we will love to see that face of governance which will be emerging and that without mask in 2021.
‘Government should take accountability of its decisions’
The most important aspect of any governance structure is its accountability, that is, taking responsibility for decisions taken/initiated. The big change I would like to see is the government taking accountability of its decisions and make a thorough analyses of what went wrong and what went right. There has been a couple of instances in the past, specifically over the past three-four years, where no accountability exists for the decisions taken by the central government.
Once this starts to happen, it is likely that the things around the country would change. The government and the officials would be more thoughtful in decision making and its related process in future. This would also bring a sense of satisfaction and more security among the citizens. We could also see the change coming through our media (print and digital) as well if they start questioning the government on their decisions and make public aware about the facts and outcomes. And I believe, media had and can always play a vital role in bringing the change in governance.
Rahul Singhvi, Jaipur. Twitter: @CArahul_92
‘Enhance government’s sensitivity to issues’
Pictures of migrants walking, hopping and running still scares me. One big change would be to enhance sensitivity. Respecting and following procedures established by law is duty but that duty shall be justified with the notion of morality i.e. due process of law which is present and yet hidden in Article 21.You can also look at the Hathras case. It could have been dealt with a more sensible approach. Political issues would always be there but no punishment shall be given for being sensitive. Communication is powerful than any act of power. We have been working on this, we shall be more serious towards the issues of ground officials to at least allow them to be free. Overall, the policing system shall be looked at and reforms shall be made.
— Syed Ali Ashraf. Twitter: @imsyedaliashraf