Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Practice of Governance, Democracy and Inclusiveness

Governance is how we are governed by the authority in charge of running the affairs of the country. The ruthless dictatorship that threatened the world was a form of governance but had lost legitimacy because of its ruthless inhumane approach. Most people turned towards a participatory form of running the state affairs and has chosen democracy as the ultimate humane form of governance to meet their needs and expectation. The obvious expectation of people is to receive a good return from the legitimacy bestowed by them on the authority out of free choice. The agreement mandates the authority to protect the people and this includes the disabled, poorest and marginal sections of society.
Hence, the success of democratic governance can be measured firstly by the level of fulfilment of people's needs and aspiration, and secondly by the inclusive policy and practice and the authority must not have favorites. The measurement of governance on these two basic yardsticks appears simple but it is hard to practice considering the mortal exploitative human character.
I take pride that my country is the largest democracy and one of the most successful democracies in the world. But my boastfulness bemoans the reality. The perennial security threat is not disappearing in large part of the country. The root cause is poverty. Democratic experience of over sixty years has still left behind majority in the development process. They are denied basic living condition of life as they struggle for every day survival. The evidence has beaten my pride and stuck my boastful words to my tongue.
On my way from a trip, I travelled in a cab on a cold chilly winter night. During the drive, the cab driver, for some reason reposed his confidence on me and narrated with a heavy heart, his ancestral homeland in a village near Delhi Airport being grabbed away for 'Delhi's Modern Airport', the most visible pride of the nation in 2010. According to him, more than fifty uprooted families are still struggling to find shelter. He has eight children to feed with no home to shelter them. In his version, he belongs to the untouchable caste, and therefore, his representations to various competent authorities including the court are not sympathetic to his plight. I advised him to revert back to me with a brief of his case and relevant documents to help him find a savior. I wonder if he would revert back to me and even if so, I am doubtful if I could ever find a savior for him.
The price of prosperity and development at the cost of human lives, usually at the bottom level is a major concern of global governance and the problem is not of a specific location on earth. To develop without exploitation is a dilemma. But if the two are put on a balance and the weigh is measured by placing the value of life at the centre, the weigh will show the extent to which the exploitation can be tolerated and compensated if necessary. In this case, the poor old man has not been compensated.
The contract between the voted and the voters in a democracy, mandates fulfilment of primary human welfare needs and to include the deserted bottom level category in the delivery. The poor old man seems to understand the contract agreement and the power vested in him to question the failure to fulfil the agreement. But without shelter and with meagre income to sustain his family, will the homeless poor old man survives to pass his judgment on the governance imposed upon him?
The author, Ms. Margaret Gangte is a writer and thinker on issues of governance. The presentation of the concept expressed in simple words is for the benefit of readers to understand why the good intention does not produce the expected results.

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