Pooja Bhatoo: A critical review of ”Athal,K. 2015. Ramrajya: Chapter 7: Good Governance

Good governance is a topic of growing concern both at the national and international level. In Ramrajya’s 7th chapter the author attempts to provide an overview of how political agents use and influence the concept of good governance to woo the electorate in order to gain votes. More so, it paints the picture of the Mauritian case in terms of what it is, should have been and would ultimately end up as a matter of fact; hence investigating whether this very concept will ever be concretized and establshed or will it remain a beautiful myth?

Conceptually, governance can be defined as the rule of the rulers, basically within a given set of rules.  In other words, governance is the process – by which authority is conferred on rulers, by which they make the rules; ultimately enforced and modified. Typically, good governance is defined in terms of the mechanisms thought to be needed to promote it. The five dimensions of good governance are public sector management, competitive private sector, structure of government, civil society participation and voice, and political accountability. This definition goes well beyond effective delivery of public services and goes well beyond the notion of “economic governance”.

As per the World Bank, governance is the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resource for development while conventional definition outlines the notion of development that underpins a strong pillar of what good governance should actually stand for.  This international institution therefore is using financial assistance as leverage to promote good governance in developing and less developed countries. The idea put forward by the author is basically questioning whether or not the whole process of encouraging good practices in any country through financial aid is a democratic practice. He draws our attention towards the fact that some of the world’s least cooperative country in good governance are from Africa and also forces us to reflect on significant questions of good governance being simply a cyclical concept and deliberately choosing not to do the right things first.

There are important questions that have direct bearing on the quality of Mauritian democratic governance. For a country that is often celebrated in the African continent for its excellent democratic and governance indices (WB indicators, Ibrahim Governance Index, Freedom House), Mauritius is far from being the picture perfect example as evidenced by the successive high profile corruption related events the recurrent wastage / mis-management of public funds detailed by the annual audit report as well as the growing culture of political patronage and cronyism causing many of the best Mauritian brains to migrate to greener pastures.

In fact, what is worrying is that the above mentioned features are becoming an integral part of the Mauritian setup where there is a deliberate collusion between the politicians, certain public servants and a section of the business world. Such a scenario crowds out the population who often has to pay a heavy price for the corruptive practices or incompetence of a small clique.

A first reading indicates essentially a supply –side governance framework which provides for the establishment of independent institutions to promote accountability and good governance principles. Furthermore, Mauritius along with the aging population problem also faces the excessively firm rooting of older politicians into the political process whilst discouraging youngsters to participate into same. The author finds that Mauritius faces the change of consistency and its ability to maintain it. However, it is worth noting that innovative ideas work best when past experiences are studied and taken into consideration; at the time of implementing the new ideas.

State legitimacy and good governance do not only depend on regular elections but a good functioning of institutions which articulate well with citizen engagement. Such articulation can help towards democratic consolidation and can contribute to making societies more cohesive and sustainable. Such societies are more likely to turn into poverty-free spaces and hence more just and fair. Ethical governance is central to all of this. Effective governance is obtained by going into the heart of all developmental processes within a country and having collective participation.

As such, democracy is not a precondition for good governance. As individuals, we should instead take up the responsibility collectively and get involved in the policy and accountability of government to bring about the change.

Samuel Nasralla: A critical review of ”Athal,K. 2015. Ramrajya: Chapter 7: Good Governance

This chapter focuses mainly on good governance; different definitions, similar techniques and some comparison within the Mauritius model. The chapter starts with wondering if there is one definition for good governance or not. But before, he was stating that good governance can be just a term without any implementation, whereas this is kind of reality as people would talk about good governance and just idealize it but then never do any practical implementation of good governance. He refers that people just talk about good governance because they are apathy about their country and they feel they are weak to do any changes. Apathy is the root cause to kill good governance, if citizens themselves didn’t feel responsible for their countries and communities who would feel responsible then? He refers to the definition of good governance according to one of the worlds’ biggest development organization such as World Bank defined good governance as the manner in which power is exercise in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development. The World Bank has been referred as one of the key players to make sure that good governance has been practiced not just a term. Therefore we should put in consideration its definition of how good governance related to the economic and social resources for the country. The chapters also refers that the term good governance wasn’t mentioned before 1990’s but then there was an approach for several international organization to direct the term as because they realized the vast resources that African countries have. The thing about international organizations that sometimes it serve a certain agenda, so I am not sure if the writer should have used those organization as a standard of how good governance should be or not. Since that international organization would serve a hidden agenda, we would be in the middle of not trusting their words or even procedures. Getting back to good governance, he refers that good governance is directly related to the development happening in the country, so they are both directly related to each other. We also have to pay careful attention to the administration hand in the government as this the one responsible for acting the good governance acts. By controlling and giving more empowerment to the administration part of the government would ease the process of good governance implementation. One more important pillar for good governance as mentioned by GDCR that good governance should be able to identify and respect differences within the community, they should not only make one rule for everyone but instead to make a huge umbrella that can take different people along the same line. But still here lies some responsibility on the citizens themselves, as they need to compromise a little bit for the benefit of the general rule of the country. Good governance to be modeled should have civic engagements and civil society as this the main outlook you would be looking for, this tells a lot about how a good governance society behaves.

We now move to maybe a second part of the chapter, we start talking now about some principles that need to be followed in order to ensure good governance given by the United Nation Development Program. We start by legitimacy and voice for sure stating that we should have a legalized channel in which people can vote freely without any interruption from external factors. It is also mentioned that we should pay more attention to women in Mauritius not just by telling them they should vote but there is more into this by telling them why they should vote by empowering them and let them know how important are they to the government and they are helping in the development of their own country that would benefit their children in future. Some techniques and mechanics should be followed in order to settle good governance such as accountability and transparency

I admire how the book have started with definitions of good governance and then went all up to techniques and mechanisms. It was also very beneficial that the book modeled Mauritius and showed real life examples and compared to what should be done in good governance. But I still was lacking some information of the political life in Mauritius so I couldn’t relate so much with what’s going on. The chapter didn’t mention any other success stories from other countries followed a good governance model, even though he mentioned that each country is different and has its different circumstances but I thought it would be interesting and benefited just to know how different countries approached the model in different ways and maybe learn more creative ways.

Seechurn Sandya: A critical review of ”Athal,K. 2015. Ramrajya: Chapter 7: Good Governance

The concept of good governance is an indeterminate term that describes how public institutions manage public affairs and public resources.  It relates mostly to the process of decision making and by which these decisions are implemented.  However, if we relate the same with the politics and politicians, it is only just a term on which the latter wholly relies to build up the concept of good governance.

The major characteristics of good governance are that it involves participation, accountablility, transparency, responsiveness and follows the rule of law.  However, from the creation of policies to their implementations, one can see that glimpse of relunctancy while other institutions are being pushed to adopt the same.  In short this reflects the policies as being a tool in the hands of the policy makers.

In the African regional context while many countries are still emerging from colonial rule, the shift in power structures towards independence has had adverse effects like dictatorship, corruption and mismanagement.  It also added to the dire economic state of the continent whereby poverty and famine was on rise.  As such international institutions brought about the concept of good governance to establish cooperation that in turn result to good management and also provided finance as leverage for complying with the concept of good governance.

Further the three aspects of good governance mentioned by the world bank namely: the form of political regime, the process by which authority is exercised and the capacity of the government to design, formulate and implement policies, originates possibly from their interest in funding developmental and sustainable projects.  So it is visibly beneficial and profitable for the World Bank.  So the whole concept of good governance is still controversial.  Again, while on one side the African Development Bank believes that it is beneficial for the development of African countries, can we still not fall prey to corruption or power emergence?

If the government and policy makers apply the concept that every action has an equal and opposite reaction and everybody applies the same , i.e, I think about other person’s needs before mine, it will definitely improve the life of the citizens and in turn result to development.  The ideal Mauritian model would therefore, be the one who’s not only fair and equal but also demonstrates its actions as a result of reaction. In other words one should not only stop after formulating policies but go further and involve the citizens in cooperating, working together and implementing these policies.

Today the image of politics and political leaders is surely grey but with a positive approach promoting cooperation, transparency, information and participation, we are sure to over that greyness.  The involvement of one and all including women shall not only provide the experience needed but also enhance their capacity to perform better and thereby result to sustainable development.

An ideal is definitely difficult to achieve but if we equip the younger generation with the tools that instils civic engagement, optimism and inspiration and add to it the guidance and experience of the older generation of politicians, we are sure to have better leaders and better governance in future.

Finally, one always has the power to take the responsibility of the future of the country and bring a change to the lives of one and all.

 

Davina Chowreemootoo: A critical review of ”Athal,K. 2015. Ramrajya: Chapter 7: Good Governance

The main focus is to take Mauritius in a fundamentally new direction by applying the principles of good governance. Participation being one of them highlights equality in decision making and freedom of expression and association. Participation is important for public services to be efficient. There is also much concern on the undemanding trend of women involvement in the political arena and in decision- making related to state affairs. There should be  constitutional reforms to uphold women rights and ensure admissible access  to the political arena.

While the basis of good governance is to promote human rights and decrease corruption, countries and their leaders tend to cause a deformity to the interpretation of good governance and its principles so as to adapt to their own personal schedules. This causes breakdown of the economy and brings about more corruption. When we think of fairness which relates to justice, it doesn’t to show a clear pattern. The government and its nominees do not seem to be subjected to the very same law as the citizens of the country are. Good governance will be achieved in totality only when the strategies adopted to tackle any form of defect is methodical. The restriction from civil servants on freedom of information is acting as a hindrance for the media to perform efficiently and as a result, they tend to publish information which is biased. This again digresses us from good governance as the government’s works and decisions require constant analysis from external bodies and the public.

Recent elections have shown that a bitter tie exists between our politicians, where they feel they can do or say anything to demean their opponents or win an election. This kind of anachronistic politics is unfortunately still ongoing. It is a kind of politics that is using religion as a pawn to feed the habit that prevents us from existing as one nation, by creating cultural rifts among us. A politics that believes that its young people are aimless and laid-back. This shows that there is a high level of communalism in our politics. We have at the moment, politicians who can go to any extent to cling to power. The type of politics is only holding behind our progress and creating divides among us which will take time to heal. This will unfortunately lead to an ingrained crisis in this country. Good governance will only be promoted when sound policies are systematically executed.

An unwillingness of the younger generation is greatly threatening our democracy. This is indicative of a political malaise targeting the country. This encourages our politicians to  highlight centralized power in the government. The disinterest of our politicians also sends the message that their views are passive and not valid.  Also, prior to the advent of the Mauritius Youth Parliament initiated by YUVA, there were no adequate platform for youngsters to express  their  views  on the ongoing political  matters of the country. Youngsters need to learn how to restore democracy.

A chief quality of good leadership is having a sharp acumen. The best leaders are those who embrace challenges and focus on the task at hand. They take national interest at the center of their hearts and are able to democratically pass power to the next leaders in line. Also, good politicians serve in representative democracy and show no form of partiality. Good leadership and good governance are inter-related and it is important to identify the synergy between them.

Mauritius needs leaders who are able to fight their own doubts and cynicism. We require a politics which is not between religion or gender, we require a politics which is anchored to its principles, which brings us closer to a futuristic approach of handling state affairs. Leaders need reach a politics of shared vision and sacrifice which will heal the cultural rift which is holding back our progress. Most importantly, we are to educate the population on the importance of bringing a transformational change to this country. Youngsters need to be trained on how to restore democracy and innovate smart strategies to achieve good governance in totality.