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Opinion: The Idea Of ‘Good Governance’ Is Blurred In India Today

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On the occasion of Good Governance Day, the Prime Minister got the tranche of Rs 18000 crore released which is supposed to reflect in the bank account of 9 crore farmers. Hopefully, it will reach to almost 90% farmers as there are problems in the DBT bank account operations and hence some of the farmers are not able to receive the money. Nonetheless, it’s a good sum of money when seen from the source of release.

More than its utility, the more significant part is the paradigm in which it has been done. The major part of the paradigm consists of farmers’ protest on the Farm Law Reforms, oppositions’ campaign over new parliament building, COVID after-effects on the economy, the defeat of PM Modi’s friend President Trump in US Elections, and intrusive resistance of China on LAC.

Representational image.

On the birth anniversary of two celebrated and darling Prime Ministers of India, who focused on making India a power fuelled by knowledge capital and good governance, all these things happening bring a distinct picture. The targets in the picture appear to be a radical non-state transformation in the core job of India i.e. agriculture, by plugging Indian human energy supply chain in the global food production stream and bringing more commerce to the farms of India.

Now, the question that arises is that even when the motive of the government is to bring more value to the farm and its produce, what is it that the government is unable to communicate to those who are challenging the chilling winter in Delhi for the life of the protest? There hardly seems any communication gap from where I approach this deadlock. The silence of academia is a testimony of the same. Nor is there any moral fault in the new laws which is underlined by the free ride of the opposition for gaining media presence through farmers’ protest.

Bureaucracy is waiting and rehearsing to implement this law as there is a substantial incentive. The corporate world already making silent moves in partnership with the power-desks. So what’s wrong with the farmers?

The farmers are scared. Because there is a deep sense of insecurity in their community as the track record of the Indian policymakers and bureaucracy has an exposed legacy of elite capture. The same is felt the most when your affluent neighbour in a village gets richer by availing government schemes and doors are shut on your face. At that moment, the ordinary farmers console themselves with their landholding which can help them grow at-least the food for themselves.

Since they are born on this land and are paying tax to this system, have mandated the officials to take decisions on their behalf, this system has to be responsible to them and they cannot be left on god’s will. It is not to be ignored that even if the protest is being branded politically motivated, the government has no guts to guarantee that it will ensure that the not a single farmer will be forced to be landless through the debt trap while trading with the corporates directly. Because the government knows that it has no solution to the administrative inefficiency and it is in no position to check the capital grab from the farmers.

Donation of life by an individual for the life of the protest is a slap on the peripheral observations and declarations that the protests are only of Khalistani separatists, or of opposition or of middlemen. If the person who died on the protest is a middle man or a Khalistani separatist, the government cannot show its back. If the government thinks that it is the government which runs India and India is the result of its efforts, it is completely wrong. Its ‘We– The People’, each and every Indian who makes the country whatever it is.

The people of India fuel the progress of India by their energy which is absorbed from the nature in farms and presented in the form of grains. And if a threat at a level is due to the physical and ideological threats created by the dysfunctionality of legal forces, it is a major problem to the government and it should invariably eradicate them.

farmer protest india 2020
Image credit: Navneet Singh/Instagram. Representational image.

It is important to understand that having a great policy idea is neither the guarantee of its successful implementation nor of the achievement of desired outcomes. It takes efforts at a micro-level with commitment, coordination and cooperation and the absence of the same in Indian governance is globally known. This is easily visible in the expectation of the government of India to serve and secure its 1 million population (average population in one district) through one single bureaucrat.

When it comes to the representation of people in the parliament, the average number may go even higher. Now when banks are providing personalised solutions, Google is providing customised information, civil society organisations are on a war footing for awareness about individual rights and media is demonstrating live the fight between citizen and the bureaucrats for human rights (Hathras case) and making bureaucracy leave its status quo, the government has no scope to take people for granted, especially those who have no business in the government’s business.

This is again a situation which has been created by successive governments of the country, where the votes of the informal sector are counted, but they have not been provided with a facilitative system. They are literally on the will and charity of the formal sector individuals.

COVID-19 has taught us a lesson to most of us, that in India, the individual security is the individual’s responsibility and that cannot be left on the state.

The evidence of the same is available in developed countries as well. Hence, the existential livelihood security of the vulnerable groups is directly getting affected when an inefficient government facilitates the powerful to do business on the land of the vulnerable groups. Hence, the farmers have assumed their individual responsibility to secure their negligible final capital. After all, people are left with themselves to act as the enforcement agency for fundamental rights in Indian polity.

A part of the middle class is certainly anguished by the farmers as it has become a stumbling block in capital flow in their pockets from the Gulf and global north.

We are in an age where the idea of good governance is seeming to be unachievable by the policymakers and administrators. Because it requires fundamental reforms in the paradigm which has brought power to the current power centres. The required reforms will eradicate the reformer itself.

Hence, the idea of good governance doesn’t seem to be a goal to the policymakers and administrators; rather it is going to be a challenge to them.

As we are witnessing an increment in people’s movements against the governments of the day across the world, it signals that people are assuming the fundamental responsibility. As people go ahead with it, they will assume greater power and there will be a proportional pushback to the state. In the 90s, as the national and supranational governments assumed that Good Governance is the way forward for a better world, the fragility of the world highlighted recently is indicating for a comprehensive goal. The climate of civic movements is directed towards probably an idea of Better Governance and this seems to be non-state in nature.

The protests of farmers may seem weak, but it is carrying signals which can claim the sleep of the monopolistic elements visualising things from colonised mindset. The discretionary energy and will of people are at work and those who are delegated with responsibilities will either have to deliver peoples’ way or they will be shown highway. Good Governance day is a great reminder of this for all.

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  1. Poonam Chanchlani

    The government by introducing these 3 laws, proved their unconditional love for the corporates. Farmers feel insecure regarding their land, and are not willing to trade directly with the corporates, to which the government had the audacity to still offer reforms, when the farmers’ demands were loud and clear, ” scrap the 3 bills and ensure MSP “. The condition of farmers in Bihar is not unknown, regardless of who won the recent state elections. The very intention of the government is clear and in my opinion, the farmers’ lands and the MSP could not be guaranteed once APMC shuts down. It is clear that all these protests, which have been more common since last few years, are the reasons of lack of good governance and a better policy idea. The bottom line is, to reduce the protests, dissent against itself, the government must take experts and the people, who will be affected by the laws made, in consideration while taking a step towards ‘their betterment’. This article contains everything one needs to understand farmers’ stand and government’s inefficiency in policy making and false claims of “it’s only for the betterment of farmers”.
    Thank you

    1. Ankit

      Thank you Poonam for being an unbiased reader.

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