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Ethics-01 (Brijendra Singh)


4. Governance is a neutral and dynamic term. This means that governance by

itself is neither good nor bad but can move in either direction, depending upon
the actions of each of the participants. Thus, it is critical for each participant,
individual or institutional, to conduct its affairs in a manner that contributes to a
better quality of governance.
5. Governance is as much about the process as it is about the outcome. The
better the process, the better will be the outcome. Ideally, we seek to maintain a
balance between the two. But even if the objectives or ends are noble, the
processes or means through which they are to be achieved should not be


Good Governance is defined as the existence of effective mechanisms, processes

and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise
their legal rights, fulfil their obligations and mediate their differences. It has 8

1. Participation: Citizens must have a voice in decision making, either directly

or through legitimate intermediate institutions. Such participation needs to be
informed and organized. This requires freedom of association and expression
on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other.
2. Rule of Law: Legal frameworks should be fair and enforced impartially.
Human rights must be protected, particularly those of minorities. This requires
an independent judiciary and an incorruptible police force.
3. Transparency: This means that information should be freely available and
directly accessible to those who will be affected by any public decisions. This
requires that adequate information be provided in a manner that is easy to
understand and monitor.
4. Responsiveness: The institutions and processes involved in governance
should serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.
5. Consensus orientation: This means that there must be mechanisms that
enable the mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad
consensus on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how
this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on
what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the
goals of such development.
6. Equity and Inclusiveness: This means that all groups, but particularly the

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most vulnerable, should have opportunities to improve and maintain their well
7. Effectiveness and Efficiency: This means that processes and institutions
produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of
resources at their disposal. This includes the sustainable use of natural
resources and the protection of the environment.
8. Accountability: This means that governmental institutions, the private sector
and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their
institutional stakeholders. Most importantly, an institution must maintain
accountability towards those who will be affected by its decisions or actions.


Promoting good governance involves two elements, Assessment and Enforcement.

Assessment involves establishing expected benchmarks, identifying deviations from
expected standards and determining corrective measures. This is enabled by
considering governance as a framework of five broad dimensions.


Exercise of Rule of Law Efficient, Effective Corporate Social
Franchise and Economical Governance Equity &
Virtuous Access to Citizen interface & Profit + Civic Sense
Political justice participation Welfare &
Representatives Participation
Constructive Transparent Quality of Fair trade Independent
Legislative Judicial Service delivery practices Media
Functioning Appointments
Political Judicial Responsiveness Corporate Forums for
Decentralisation Activism Social Public
Responsibility Opinion

Enforcement refers to the enactment of preventive and corrective measures

wherever deviations or problems are witnessed. This can be achieved by adopting
regulation or inculcating self-regulation. Regulation is relatively easier but is effective
only till supervision is maintained. If supervision is withdrawn, people often revert to
their old, poor behaviours.

This makes it vital to inculcate willingness within each participant to introspect upon
their own actions and self-regulate themselves. This can happen when people act
out of a sense of responsibility, rather than only when they are answerable to others.
Therefore, it becomes important to promote an ethical quality of governance, based
on a strong value system.

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To overcome the problems in value-based governance, it becomes important to

promote probity in governance. The foundation of probity is based on understanding
and upholding the distinction between answerability and responsibility and relying
upon the latter rather than the former.

Answerability refers to the obligation created upon an individual or institution to

provide justification for its actions or decisions. Such an obligation is based upon
external criteria, such as orders, rules, commitments, charters etc. This makes it
easy to identify deviations and, if required, impose material or professional penalties.
As such, answerability is capable of being highly objective and easy to enforce.
However, answerability is of limited value without the presence of adequate
authority, knowledge or time. Therefore, if governance is limited only to
answerability, some individuals may escape the consequences of their actions.

Thus, an indispensable component of ethical governance is a sense of responsibility.

Responsibility also involves an obligation to justify ones actions but such an
obligation is now self-imposed. This makes it more dynamic and wider in scope than
answerability, since the individual can assess changing situations and select the
most suitable course of action.

The problem with responsibility is that it is self-determined and hence subjective.

This makes it difficult to arrive at a standardised evaluation of what would constitute
responsible conduct. This also makes it difficult to impose penalties that would affect
an individual’s material position. The only penalties that can be imposed are feelings
of shame, guilt or regret. Even these penalties cannot be imposed without self-
realisation. Thus, enforcing responsibility becomes extremely difficult and
necessitates the establishment of accountability.

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