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CHAPTER – Ethics - The Other Name For Good Governance R.C.
CONCEPT OF ETHICS AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
MEANING OF ETHICS
A sociological understanding of ethics would be that they
cover normof behaviour which emerge from self-discovery by people who have
several subtle ways to integrate social cohesion with self-realisation. The two
indicators, to show that the social system is in happy equilibrium, comprise
1. The system does not induce people to do to others what they would not like
to be done to themselves.
2. The s yst em would yi el d the grea test being defined the way the
individuals want it.
MEANING OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
A cold systemic definition of governance is found in the Oxford Dictionary.
It is the act or manner of governing or the way of control. Good governance is,
therefore, that system which is accepted as good. Peter Drucker draws our
attention to his concept that governing is not doing, it could b inducing or
making it easy for others to do.
Pai Panandiker sees good governance as it pertains to a nation state which
handles its people to lead a peaceful, orderly, reasonable, prosperous
Vivek Chopra defines good governance as unambiguously identifying the basic
values of society and pursuing these.
Minocha” quotes World Bank guidelines and more operationally
define its criteria as political accountability, availability of freedom, law
abiding bureaucratic accountability, information available transparently, being
effective and efficient, and cooperation between government and society”. One
may see that good governance has been defined sometimes in terms of goals,
sometimes in t erms of mea ns, someti mes l eft enti rel y to democratic choice
of goals and sometimes with pre- ordained goals.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ETHICS AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
One may surmise from previous paragraphs that ethics and good
governance cover the same ground except that governance is concerned with the
acts of the ‘state’, the ‘administration’ and the ‘bureaucracy’. Nevertheless,
if one chooses to judge the goodness of governance only by the outcomes, and
ethics only as covering the means, the two terms may not mean the same thing.
However, it is proposed to treat the two terms to mean the same except the
governance would cover the role of the ‘State’ and the ‘bureaucracy’. The role
could be both as ‘doers’ as well as providers of the impetus for other actors in
Is Pol iti cal Commit ment a nd E t hical Desidaratum for Bureaucracy?
Earlier ethical texts laid great emphasis on the political neutrality of the
bureaucracy. It was one of the institutional values sought to be nurtured.
A natural corollary of this was that policy making was the
exclusive right of the political masters and the bureaucracy was to implement
it. The socialist phase in India, spearheaded by Mohan Kumaramangalam, shook
this up The bureaucracy and the judiciary were expected to be ‘committed’. The
was enough evidence to show that both bureaucracy and the judiciary being
staffed mostly by the upper class and castes were dragging their feet in
implementing policies which would break t he a ge- ol d oppres si on. The rhetor
i c of commitment had another face. Politicians, who worked under a system of
short tenures, tended to take a very short-term view of things and this ha d a l
so a n ugl y feat ur e of pers onal aggrandizement and corruption. Civil
servants, who had a longer tenure, were expected to take a longer term view of
thing; one may call this as the more ethical view of things. In this situation,
it may turn out that planning and policy were the more natural functions of
bureaucracy. Further, it was soon evident that policy-making and implementation
can never be neatly separated in practice. The older ethics of aloofness and
anonymity, therefore, lost their validity.
But soon the rhetoric of commitment of bureaucracy was no different from
expecting the civil servants also to fall in line with short-term
perspective of the politician; it was an ethical booby-trap. Commitment is,
therefore considered a bad word by some.
BURDEN OF POVERTY
It is a legitimate ethical expectation of the abjectly poor
in India that the State and its bureaucracy would bring them up to a minimum
standard of quality of life. 32 This would require them often not only to
‘govern’ but actually to ‘do’. Bureaucratic effectiveness, efficiency and
managerialism in poverty alleviation then becomes an important ethical guideline
for the civil servants.
Another important role which the situation demands is that
civil servants would provide mechanisms and assistance to the society to resolve
their conflicts. Many would consider it the prime role of bureaucracy.” Some
civil servants have felt that they are in better position to do so than some of
the other institutions provided by the Indian Constitutions.
TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS
Anot her s trong r ole emerging for the bureaucracy is to
provide a mechanism for people t o come t oget her and ens ure l ong- term
conservation of the environment. Individualism has been fostered for reasons of
efficiency. But efficacy is lost as the players keep away information from each
other. Some have tried to correct this with carefully crafted economic
legislation, using free market mechanisms. But the more useful way is by direct
negotiation and collaboration. All that good governance (and ethics) will do is
to pick up the threads of the sources of collaboration in the past and provide
institutional mechanisms in the context of today.”
LIMITS TO TRANSPARENCY AND PARTICIPATION
There is reason to believe that a totally universal rule of
transparency and participation may be disfunctional. It is for us to discover
the circumstances in which this would be so. Would it cover decisions to
partition the country or to be the nuclear bomb or change the tax structure or
levy a new excise duty?
MISTRUST IN TAX ADMINISTRATION
The mistrust between the civil servants and t a x- pa yi ng pub li c is
phenomena l i n t ax admi ni st ra ti on. The t r ue t est for ethi cs in
governance is for this mistrust to be broken.
PRINCIPLE OF REASONABLENESS
The- power of administration, which is a combination of
legislative, adjudicatory and discretionary powers, needs always to be exercised
for public purpose. Administrative law prescribes the parameters boundaries for
proper and rational exercise of public power. The legislative power of a dmini
st rat ion i s subj ect ed to s t anda rds of substantive as well as procedural
ultra-vires doctrines so that the exercise of this power should not become
unconstitutional and unreasonable. The concerns of t he j udi ci ar y in r ega r
d t o t he reasonableness of subordinate legislation is the testimony to the
fact that the rules/regulations formulat ed b y t he a dmi ni st rati on under
its delega ted aut horit y mus t b e reasona bl e. Reasonableness of rules and
regulations is essential for non-arbitrary exercise of power.
If the source of power itself is arbitrary then the possibility of exercise of
power there under in an arbitrary manner cannot be ruled out. In addition, the
judicially evolved limitation, at the stage of delegation of legislative power
legislature to the administration, is also enforced to uphold
the sovereignty of the Constitution. The existence of the doctrine of
‘essential’ and non- essential legislative functions serves as a reminder to the
legislature that it must always perform the essential legislative functions
itself and may delegate only non-essential legislative functions.
PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS
The administrative adjudicatory powers, in the same way, are
subjected to the requirements of natural justice or the principle of fairness.
Right of hearing, rule against bias and reasoned decision are the essential
major requirements of principles of natural justice in administrative
decision-making process. Today, the law on applicability of the principles of
natural justice in administrative decision-making lays down that administration
is under obligation to act in accordance with the requirements of natural
justice whenever its actions/decisions are having adverse consequences on the
rights, interests, freedom, property and even on the expectations of the
CHECKING MISUSE OF DISCRETIONARY POWERS
The discretionary power of administration i s t he most i
mporta nt a s well a s the most dangerous kind of power. It is said that there
is no invention known to the human history which is as dangerous as the
invention of discretionary power. Not even a nuclear or chemical weapon. It is
so, beca us e the nucl ea r weapon a s such i s not dangerous. What is dangerous
in this context is the discretion involved in its use. However, it is difficult
to devise a system devoid of discretion. Therefore, what is important in this
context is that there must exist a system to control the exercise of
discretionary powers so that it may not be abused or misused.
OPENNESS, IMPARTIALITY, RATIONALITY AND PARTICIPATION
Finally, the fundamental values of admi ni st ra ti ve l a w a r e opennes s,
fai rness, impartiality, rationality and participation which go beyond the
traditional concern of judicial review of administrative action.
MEASURES NEEDED TO PROMOTE GOOD GOVERNANCE
Making Administration Citizen-friendly and Citizen-caring
Conceptually, the ideals of good governance, broadly
speaking, are the same as we have seen in case of fundamental values of
administrative law. The hope, expectations and aspirations of citizens from the
government a re that the syst em of governance should be citizen-friendly and
caring, res pons i ve a nd a ccountab l e, effecti ve a nd efficient, just,
reasonable, fair, open and impartial.
ITS BEING ALIVE TO CITIZEN COMPLAINTS
The institutions of governance must be alive to’ the
complaints of citizens. There should be effective and efficient complaint
redressal system which must be inexpensive, transparent, impartial and rational.
The internal grievance redressal system in the various government organisations
needs to be restructured and reoriented to’ make it citizen-friendly.
MUST BE OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE
To b e good, i t i s ess enti al t ha t the government must
be open and ready to provide information. In a democracy, it is supposed that
the people will participate and offer creative contribution in the process of
governance. For this, it is essential that they must be provided reliable
JUDGING PERFORMANCE ACCORDING TO SET STANDARDS
One of the criteria of good governance is that the government
lays down its standard of performance and is prepared to be evaluated against
those standards. Though the trend of setting standards of performance has
recently been started in the Union Government departments through citizen’s
charter, but much more is required to be done in this direction. To some extent,
the role played by t he Cons umers Court s under the Consumer Protection Act,
1986 in enforcing the standards of performance in the public utility departments
Recently, the World Bank has, inter alia, identified the need
of political and bureaucratic accountability as one of the requirements of good
governance. The need of accountability is always linked, as mentioned earlier
with the concept of power. There is no power which is not linked with a ccount
ab ilit y. The power mus t a l wa ys be disciplined for its rational and
In the global scenario of privatisation, deregulation and
degovernmentalisation, the issue of ethics in public service will occupy a
position of priority. In government contracting, there is considerable potential
for conflicts of interest, particularly in sensitive areas. In private sector,
there is no duty of independence or impartiality as their primary concern is
share holders’ interest and not the public interest. There is also the q ues t
ion of t he effect of pri va t e s ector contributions to politicians and
political parties which might compromise neutrality of those employed in pub li
c s ervi ce. The i ss ue of independence, impartiality, integrity, objectivity,
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