Good Governance: Key to Economic and Social Gain in Indiaby Opinion Express October 24, 2018 0 comments
A lack of proper service delivery and infrastructure has already wreaked havoc all over in India. The only way to make India progress in terms of economic and social gain is good governance.
The movement of people from rural to urban areas (within/or outside a country) is often depicted by two interchangeable words: Urbanisation or migration. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. As per the United Nations Population Division (2014), while the most developed regions (MDR) have higher urbanisation than the less developed regions (LDR) of the world, urbanisation for both groups is anticipated to continue to rise with urbanisation in LDRs towering the speediest. Evidence remains mixed for the success or failure of such an activity, depending upon the stage of development of different nations. Unfortunately, the same is proven to be stigmatised for Asian nations, like India. Often, urbanisation is linked to worsening environmental conditions. While migration to urban centers can mainly be associated with increasing slums, greater population density, resultant pollution and traffic jams, among other reasons behind the same, governance has emerged to play the most pertinent underlying cause in the developing world and more specifically in Asia.
Bad governance (under urbanisation due to land-use changes) along with poor infrastructure and insufficient service delivery, have witnessed not less than a havoc-like situation in India in the form of floods in Kerala, the bridge collapse in Kolkata and many other precedences. It has already been argued that governance cannot be imported. This raises a question: Whether migration should be treated as a problem or a process?
It is often said that governance is expected to begin from rural-urban linkages. To resolve such shift concerns, India has adopted schemes like MGNREGA (to ensure the livelihood security in rural areas to contain migration) in the recent past. But none of them have given much success to realise the economic gains of deterring incentive to intra-country migration, mainly due to lack of sustainability of such schemes. There seems to be an imbalance between the generation of work and prospective demand along with unequal distribution. Poor public services in terms of basic necessities, like water, sanitation and health in rural areas, actually trigger unchecked migration to urban areas. Moreover, villages face the worse form of retention of such services and schemes. In recent times, poor urban governance has given rise to yet another problem in the form of solid waste management and disposal, which is mostly prevalent in urban regions of the nation. Further, this also raises questions about corruption and political lobbies behind mega cities, especially MCDs to clean the respective regions under their jurisdiction.
Moreover, the ecological footprint due to expanding urbanisation (shift to metro centers) exerts real and imminent challenge for energy use to be addressed immediately by our policy-makers. Ignoring or deferring action on issues, such as environmental degradation, is not an option because it risks outcomes in the short-term and greater expenses in the medium to long run. To tackle the ever-growing migration rift, the peculiar set-up of the Indian economy will require thematic changes in areas like governance (history), socio-demographic dimensions (population density, social composition and labour force pattern), economic and financial dimensions (credit disbursement), city finances (budgetary revenues and expenditures), urban poverty (urban-slums), solid waste management, public security and safety, availability of basic physical infrastructure (transportation) and quality of life (pollution-free). Way ahead: Governance needs to capture the holistic approach, which is not just limited to the deliverance of proper infrastructure or public services. The need is to also redefine the criteria of getting employment so that those in need of income can get employment on a priority basis. Push factors, especially for public services, like transport, water supply et al, should be focused more in rural than urban areas. Stricter deployment of regulatory norms could further pave the way.
Prevailing concept of semi-urban villages should be promoted in order to strengthen economic linkages to agriculture, advanced social and living conditions. Moreover, State-run schemes, like the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Town and the Chief Minister’s Small and Medium Towns Development Programme, could be closely linked to the central national legislative policies. Very few are aware of the success and effectiveness of schemes like these. Prospective collaborations through public-private partnerships could also prove to be beneficial in funding of villages via risk-responsibility sharing. For effective implementation, it is crucial to define the roles and duties of all stakeholders so as to hold them accountable in the future. The concept of ‘smart cities’ should be adopted from best practices of the West. Last but not the least, grievance redressal mechanism should be strengthened. The key to unlock prospective economic and social gains can come only through better governance.
(The writer is a Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi)
Writer: Megha Jain
Courtesy: The Pioneer