THE CHANGING CONCEPTS OF GOOD GOVERNANCE: ROLE AND PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN

Divpreet Kaur

Siddhartha Law College, Dehradun (Uttrakhand), divsandhu11@gmail.com

The nature of law is dynamic so as the concept of good governance is as it keeps changing due to overall societal changes. With the emergence of modern democratic system many roles and responsibilities automatically got transferred to the government as an instrument of the state and participation of women in it thus becomes a major part of it. There has been a drastic change in the status of women over the past few millennia. Much of it includes women’s position in society, their education, health, economic position, gender equality etc. what one can conclude from such discussions is that women have always held a certain paradoxical position in our developing country. The country has seen an increased percentage of literacy among women and changing ideologies about them. Yet the practices of female infanticide, poor health conditions and lack of education still persisting still continue.

A developing country like India has to keep pace with the changing atmosphere of the world the new changed policies of the present government are going to decide the fate of its people in few decades and women are a part of it. The changed concept of good governance and women empowerment are to be taken into consideration for a sustainable development of India. In order to redefine the concepts of VASUDEV KUTUMBAKAM the contribution and study a socio-legal analysis of the terms indicated becomes necessary.

India will shows a mixture of India’s soft power and hard power in its policies. In this paper, following a doctrinal research we shall examine the present and futuristic scope of India to become a sustainable state using its regional diplomacy, ancient principles and the part women are going to play in it.

Keywords: Constitutional Safeguards, E-governance, Good Governance, Grassroots              

                     Development, Regional Diplomacy, Special Laws, Vasudev Kutumbakam.

 

 “Prosperity of nation is prosperity of its total population and women also collectively contribute to the population of a nation.”

 

Introduction                                                        

India is a land of mixtures in the ancient text also if we see the advent of administration the Devi Pooja and Dev Pooja was a major factor as a part of spiritual rituals. Examining the roots of female class in the society it was majorly given to different authorities headed by females (DEVI), for example according to Hindu mythology,

  • Department of Knowledge : Saraswati Ma
  • Department of Wealth: Laxmi Ma
  • Department of Power: Durga Ma with other eight forms of Shakti, better to say powers.

It was very symbolic and yet if we look at the current scenario of the world the women constitute half of the world’s population but their say or contribution in different aspects of society is in question. Women contributing to the governance and administration of society will help it to grow and develop in a sustainable way. The methods can be many but it is evident that we establish a equilibrium among the two and proving not only good governance but and effective and efficient governance.

Women broaden horizons of participation

India is a land of diversities. We the people of India are dual faced. The constitution of India has established equality in social, economic, political justice. The mere fact is that law in books and law in practical are always different from each other. In this growing economy there is a need to sustain the real essence of gender equality for prosperous and sustainable development. Women in India are given the status equivalent to Gods we every year celebrate the Holy nine days known as Navdurga and remember them as the greatest source of power and nobility ever existed in the earth in various form. She was given the status of Ardhangini’[1] (one half of husband’s body).It was made necessary for husband to perform all the religious ceremonies jointly.

As a mother, sister, daughter-in-law she was linked with various religious ceremonies[2] and was given a status which was highly dignified in the society. The society was linked with relations and to preserve them there were customs. India the own land is given the status of ‘Bharat Ma’.

However apart from this on the other side of the river there were customs  like  Child Marriage, Devdasi and Parada which still prevails in some sects of the society in deep roots of orthodox behavioral approach to the developing world and infringing the dynamism of law. These Evil customs like sati, Purdah, child marriage, enforced widowhood, dowry system, crept in the society and this led to decline in women’s status inside and outside the home.

Women in ancient India occupied a dignified place. They participated in outdoor life as circumstances and situations demanded and there were hardly any prescribed positions exclusively earmarked for men. All the high avenues of learning were open to women who excelled in learning and their hymns were included in vedas. Women continued enjoying the same position more or less until Muslim invasions took place from. North West a slow and steady decline in the position of women had begun. With coming of invaders this process accelerated and decline was marked. The political instability, consequent migration of population and economic depression extending over period of about three centuries affected the women adversely. [3]

The world ever keeps on changing and deriving its own new definitions of civilization and customary laws which is are transferred from generations to generations and keeps on passing just like the genetic code of human beings. The modern forms of this evil customs are commonly named as sexual harassment at work place, eve teasing, abduction and female foeticide has given an inclination of the horrible behavior patterns prevailing in the society. Which results in the downfall of her status and social insecurity. The government tackles these evils with certain types of Laws specially focused on women up-liftment and security under the name of Women Empowerment and different schemes or programme launched from time to time which have helped a lot in eradication of these evils but yet more is to be done to ensure complete equality and justice to the females.

 

Good Governance

There is as such no definition of good governance. It is rather an ideal-typical construct (somewhat in a Weberian sense) which delineates the parameters of governance through certain indicators. The qualifier “good” clearly denotes the better standards of such a formulation and hence the imperative to achieve them.  The World Bank has identified three discrete aspects of governance which needs to be emphasized for reform:

  • The form of political regime.
  • The process by which authority is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.
  • The capacity of government to design, formulate and implement policies and discharge functions.[4]

This again establishes the close link between democracy, economic development and good governance. As far as the criteria of good governance are concerned, UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) sets out eight major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective & efficient, equitable & inclusive and follows the rule of law.[5]

Now the question arises what this actually means in pragmatic terms, what is the shift from mere governance to “good” governance? This new agenda of good governance, though based on the premise of early liberal theories puts emphasis on a market concept of equality which strives for empowerment of citizens by making them economically self-sustaining and enabling them to enter into market transactions. The cooperation of private agencies and NGOs are crucial for this purpose. Under this new found concept of equality and active participation of different actors citizens are often viewed as end users or customers whereas the government acts as the service providers. Improving the quality of these services and reaching out to a wider base of customers with the help of the private and non-governmental stakeholders are the central objectives of the governance reform projects and calls for complete overhaul of public administration.[6] Therefore, as an issue of public policy good governance has moved not only into the agenda of World Bank but has also become a common parlance of national governments and local political actors. In short good governance provides a universal recipe with a gradually growing mix of deregulation, privatisation, civil service reform and decentralization[7] which are deemed to produce better governability across societies.

 

The changing concept of E-governance in India

E-governance deploys information technology (ICT) for improving information and service delivery to citizens (consumers) by enabling them to participate in the decision making process through a wider network of private and civil society organisations. Therefore the government becomes more transparent, accountable and efficient[8] and hence fits perfectly into the agenda of good governance. Not surprisingly, ‘E-governance for Development’ has been a prominent slogan in India which has been heavily influenced by international agencies such as DFID, UNDP, G-8 and World Bank. Ministry of Information and Technology was found, National IT task force was implemented and National E-governance Plan was adopted as part of such development initiatives.[9]

There are many core projects both at the national level and regional level such as smart card, national ID card, computerisation of revenue departments, generic office management system. Some of the well-known state initiatives have been Gyandoot of Madhya Pradesh government, Friends of Kerala government and Bhoomi of the Karnataka government. However, most of these national and state government projects fail to remain sustainable even after a successful pilot phase. For example, one of the secondary sources pointed out that Gyandoot which started with much hype has already died down. The level of awareness about services available under such projects is very low among the villagers and in addition infrastructure appears to be the strongest barrier. There could be multiple reasons for such failures which might differ from one project to the other. However, on a generic level it is believed that citizens and officials both are equally habituated to the hierarchic, non-transparent system of governance which has been operating for many decades now. Furthermore, there is a considerable gap between citizen’s expectations and government’s visions which renders these schemes not so attractive for the villagers. Adding to these systemic drawbacks, are often strong resistance from local politicians. Many instances from Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh show that villagers have to depend on the middlemen to access information from computers installed in Panchayat offices.[10]

Therefore, e-governance cannot be seen essentially as an administrative innovation facilitated by ICT but should also be recognized as a social process which involves not only change in the mental scape and the ways of governmentality but also contested area of social forces shaping the evolution of this technocratic innovation. Technical processes defining the contours of e-governance are embedded in the structures of power which might also become reactionary. This is particularly evident in villages where local elites play key roles in the implementation of the ICT-based projects and enjoy the greater benefits from this public good.

                        “The idea that ICT is inherently a liberating technology, and hence e-governance, is a new way of transcending inept and inefficient bureaucratic systems, which empowers ‘end-users’, appears to be completely inaccurate in the rural societal setting.”

Even contracts for VLEs (village level entrepreneurs who run the IT kiosks) are fraught with corruption embedded in local political society and bureaucracy.[11]

This brings us to the issue of change and continuity involved in any social process and interaction. New technology can hold novel promises for improving the system and structure of governance and hence the quality of life. Nevertheless, it also leads to many open-ended questions; what is main agenda of ICT led development initiatives? Does it help bridging the digital divide or boost the divide? How far does it contribute in the development of our communities and everyday life? It might be too early draw any conclusive answers to these questions. However, it becomes quite evident from the experiences of already implemented projects that technology is not ethically and socially neutral. For that reason, instead of focusing on an irreversible impact of technology on a community, it would be much more effective to see the reciprocal cycle of influences binding together technology, individual choices and consequently social shaping of such technologies.

The Present Status Of women

Women of India slowly started recognizing her true potential. She has started questioning the rules laid down for her by the society. As a result, she has started breaking barriers and earned a respectable position in the world. Today Indian women have excelled in each and every field from social work to visiting space station. There is no arena, which remains unconquered by Indian women. Whether it is politics, sports, entertainment, literature, technology everywhere, its women power all along.

Girl dropout rates have fallen by 16.5% between the year 2010[12] and 2014[13]. Programs like ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ and ‘Saakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy’ has helped increase the literacy rates from less than 10 percent to more than 50% today[14]. The result of this is that India has world’s largest number of professionally qualified women. In fact India has the largest population of working women in the world, and has more number of doctors, surgeons, scientists, professors than the United States.

The Modern Indian woman, does not let social constraints to keep her behind, but prioritizes her education or her career before anything else. From a time when there no woman writer in India who was taken seriously, today names like Arundhati Roy, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, Shobhaa De, Jhumpa Lahiri can put any other writer to shame. In the field of cinema, women like Rekha, Smita Patil, Shabana Aazmi and Vidya Balan and Konkona Sen are such names who don’t play feminized roles, but have asserted themselves over this male-dominated realm. In the field of Politics, from Indira Gandhi to Shiela Dixit, Uma Bharti, Jayalalitha, Vasundhra Raje and Mamata Banerjee today, women are making their presence felt.[15]

Today modern woman is so deft and self-sufficient that she can be easily called a superwoman, juggling many fronts single handedly. Women are now fiercely ambitious and are proving their metal not only on the home front, but also in their respective professions. Women in Indian are coming up in all spheres of life. They are joining the universities and colleges in large numbers. They are entering into all kinds of professions like engineering, medicine, politics, teaching, etc. A nation’s progress and prosperity can be judged by the way it treats its women folk. There is a slow and steady awareness regarding giving the women their dues, and not mistreating them, seeing them as objects of possession. Despite progress, the very fact that women, along with being achievers, also are expected to fulfill their roles as wives or mothers, prioritizing home against anything else. This point of view hasn’t changed much. There is still a large section of women who are uneducated, and married off before the age of 18. Families are required to supply a chaste daughter to the family of her future husband. Also very few women are actually employed in good-paying jobs, and hence parents don’t see the point of spending money on girls’ education. Statistics say that close to 245 million Indian women lack the basic capability to read and write, which is a large number. Only 13.9% women are employed in the urban sector, and 29% in the domestic and agriculture sector, where too a majority of women are exploited by the men.[16] The sex ratio of India shows that the Indian society is still prejudiced against female, and a lot is yet to be achieved in this context.

The path towards total gender empowerment is full of potholes. Over the years women have made great strides in many areas with notable progress in reducing some gender gaps. Yet realities such as 11,332 women and girls getting trafficked every year, and increased practice of dowry, rape and sexual harassment hit hard against all the development that has taken place. Thus, if on one hand women are climbing the ladder of success, on the other hand she is mutely suffering the violence afflicted on her by her own family members. As compared with past women in modern times have achieved a lot but in reality they have to still travel a long way. Women may have left the secured domains of their home, but a harsh, cruel, exploitative world awaits them, where women have to prove their talent against the world who see women as merely vassals of producing children. The Indian women has to make her way through all the socialized prejudices against her, and the men yet have to allow and accept the women to be equal participants in the country’s way forward.[17]

WHAT IS WOMEN EMPOWERMENT?

In the simplest of words it is basically the creation of an environment where women can make independent decisions on their personal development as well as shine as equals in society. Women want to be treated as equals so much so that if a woman rises to the top of her field it should be a commonplace occurrence that draws nothing more than a raised eyebrow at the gender. This can only happen if there is a channelized route for the empowerment of women. Swami Vivekananda once said “arise away and stop not until the goal is reached”. Thus our country should thus be catapulted into the horizon of empowerment of women and revel in its glory.

Different Levels of Empowerment

In line with most theorists on empowerment the one has to view empowerment as taking place on different levels and that change on all levels is necessary if the empowerment of women is really to occur. We have to relate empowerment at three levels: empowerment on the individual, group, and societal/ community- level and the interaction between these.

  • The individual level deals with individual women’s abilities to take control over their lives, their perceptions about their own value and abilities, their abilities to identify a goal and work towards this goal.
  • The group level deals with the collective action and sense of agency that woman experience together, in a group.
  • The societal level deals with the permissiveness of the political and social climate, the societal norms and the public discourse on what is possible and impossible for women to do, how women should behave etc.

The different levels are seen as interconnected and mutually reinforcing, e.g. when empowerment on individual level occurs, this will have effect on the group and societal level.

Women who are empowered on an individual level will most likely go on and affect the other levels. Empowerment on a group level e.g. women organizing around a particular need is likely to have effect on the individual empowerment of the women in the form of increased self-esteem and sense of agency.[18]

The 81st Constitutional Amendment Bill

 

The Women’s Reservation Bill (WRB) was first introduced as the Constitution Amendment (81st) Bill on 12th September 1996 by the United Front government, particularly after the effective implementation of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional. The Bill envisaged that:

  • As nearly as may be one-third of all seats in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies shall be reserved for women.
  • Reservation shall apply in case of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) as well.
  • Seats to be reserved in rotation will be determined by draw of lots in such a way that a seat shall be reserved only once in three consecutive general elections.

 

The Role of Panchayati Raj in Women Political Empowerment

  • Article 243 D of the Constitution provides that not less than one-third of the total number of seats in every Panchayat shall be reserved for women including Chairpersons in every Panchayats and such seat may be allotted by rotation to different Constituencies/ Panchayats at each level.
  • The 73rd Constitutional Amendment provided for the increased participation of women in the political institutions at the village, taluka and district level. This has enabled several women, who had never been in power and even those illiterate, to enter politics.
  • There are 27, 82,293 elected representatives in Panchayats out of which 10, 42,282 are women which constitute to 37.46 %. In states like Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, the number of women elected in panchayats is quite high.
  • To further facilitate the process of women’s empowerment in the Panchayats, which is, of course, related to greater empowerment of the Panchayats themselves, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is implementing a scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Yojana. The Ministry has also initiated the Panchayat Mahila Shakti Abhiyan. [19]
  • Karnataka tops the country in the representation of the women in the Panchayati Raj institutions with women winning 43.7 per cent of the seats in gram panchayats, 40.2 per cent in taluk panchayats and 36.4 per cent in zilla panchayats. [20]
  • Bringing women into politics through the Panchayat Raj Institutions system (PRI) was an act of positive discrimination. Crucially, PRI has helped to change women’s perceptions of themselves. Women have gained a sense of empowerment by asserting control over resources, officials and, most of all, by challenging men. PRI has also given many women a greater understanding of the workings of politics, in particular the importance of political parties.
  • PRI has given many women a greater understanding of the workings of politics, in particular the importance of political parties. PRI has helped to change local government beyond simply increasing the numerical presence of women. There is now a minority of women who are in politics because of their leadership qualities or feminist consciousness.
  • Some of the ways in which women, through PRI, are changing governance are evident in the issues they choose to tackle; water, alcohol abuse, education, health and domestic violence.
  • Women are also taking action against child marriage and child domestic labour, whilst promoting girl-child education. As with education, women have used their elected authority to address quality health care as a critical issue. [21]

Conclusion

Reservation provided for political empowerment of women and weaker sections is much appreciated. It gave social justice and promoting equality to these sections of the society. It also raised the status of rural women. But it is noted that there are many problems and challenges, which have become obstacles for the women’s active political participation in panchayats. Hence, to overcome these problems and challenges, there is need for education and orientation of women panchayat members. For the growth of GDP in a developing country like India participation of women in every aspect of life is very much important as they are also the part of Indian population and collectively contribute to the development of a democratic country. Some of the steps which are to be taken for their up-liftment are:-

  • Removal of khap-panchayat in areas like Haryana.
  • Implementations of the articles of the Indian Constitution.
  • A strong and reliable baeurocratic departmentalization of the panchayat is very much necessary which is not done yet.
  • As the development at the grass root level increases many more areas of participation and their scope will also increase.
  • We need to emphasis on the futuristic aspects of women development.
  • Cases like Malala Yousafzai who is nominated for ‘Children’s Nobel’ prize we all need to advertise such things and encourage the backward women in the society.[22]
  • First of all we should start from the initial that is basics then only we can explore complexities and proceed for further development.

It is evident that a women is not only a single object but it creates a world while being in the same world. Learning from the history and implementing the participative gender equality will include everyone’s say from the lower to the zenith of the governmental structural framework and certainly will alter results in form of:

  • Increased accuracy in decision making process.
  • Effective and efficient functioning of the government.
  • Higher rate of success in implementation of certain policies.
  • It is always important that an equal say in framing policies, regulation and laws the female gender must be given an opportunity.

Good governance is not only a theoretical aspect it is an approach by which a government can ensure a level of satisfaction among the common mob about administration. E-governance can be an effective tool to directly interact, understand, rectify and solve with the policies, governance and programs of the government, but what is more important that the government should make measures to fill the technological gap in the society by means of

  • Training and endorsement programme.
  • Awareness and campaigns coordinating with the NGO’s and SHG’s will be an effective measure.

The principles of establishing a global village (Vasudev Kutumbakam) is expected to be a future dream because without these things the dynamism of good governance and the effort to establish equilibrium in the society is likely to be unsuccessful. Lack of monitoring and control can lead to its distorted effects which will ultimately make the scenario worse.

 

“Establishment of equilibrium in all aspects of a prospective, futuristic and sustainable growth is a major essential.”

[1] Manu Explained „Ardhangini’ – one half of husband’s body in the Ancient Hindu law.

According to Manu, “In childhood a woman must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband and when her lord is dead, to her sons. A woman must never be independent.” (Jain et al, 1997: 39).

[2] Religious ceremonies like Kanyadan, rakshabandhan, and matripuja are examples of some old religious ceremonies still in practice.

[3] ‘Women in India’s Freedom struggle’ by Manmohan Kaur ISBN 81207 13990.

[4] D. Bandyopadhyay. Administration, Decentralisation and Good Governance. Economic and Political Weekly.1996, Vol.31, No.48 (Nov) 

[5] What is Good Governance in http://www.unescap.org/pdd/prs/ProjectActivities/Ongoing/gg/governance.asp 

[6] Sarah Joseph. Democratic Good Governance: New Agenda for Change. Economic and Political Weekly. 2001, Vol.36, No.12 (March 24-30)  

[7] Stuart Corbridge, Glyn Williams, René Véron and Manoj Srivastava.Seeing the State: Governance and Governmentality in India. Cambridge University Press. 2005 

[8] C.S.R. Prabhu. E-governance: Concepts and Case Studies. Prentice-Hall of India, 2005. 

[9] T.T. Sreekumar. Decrypting E-Governance. In: Ashwani Saith, M.Vijaybaskar and V.Gayathri (eds.) ICTs and Indian Social Change: Diffusion, Poverty, Governance. Sage, 2008.  

[10] Santosh Panda. Globalisation, Culture and Information Communication Technology in India in Kameshwar Choudhary (ed.) Globalisation, Governance Reform and Development in India. Sage, 2007. 

[11] T.T. Sreekumar. Decrypting E-Governance. In: Ashwani Saith, M.Vijaybaskar and V.Gayathri (eds.) ICTs and Indian Social Change: Diffusion, Poverty, Governance. Sage, 2008.  

[12] Gopalan, Sarla and Mira Shiva.(eds). 2014. National Profile on Women, Health and Development: Country Profile India. Delhi: Voluntary Health Association of India And World Health Organization

[13] Ibid.

[14] World Bank (2014) Gender Equality & the Millennium Development Goals, World Bank Gender and Development Group, Washington D.C.

[15] Available at:- http://facweb.northseattle.edu/echriste/India.udaipur.women.html

[16] OECD  2014, Aid in Support of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Statistics based on DAC Members’ reporting on the Gender Equality Policy Marker, 2011-13 Creditor Reporting System database, OECD-DAC Secretariat, Paris.

[17] http://global_india1.tripod.com/current.htm

[18] Indian Journal of Gender Studies October 2004 vol. 11 no. 3 291-343

[19] Women Representation and Empowerment in Panchayats,” May 3, 2007

[20]“Women excel in State panchayat bodies,” January 21, 2007; www.thehindu.com

[21] : “PANCHAYAT RAJ: WOMEN CHANGING GOVERNANCE,” Devaki Jain (September 1996); www.sdnp.undp.org

[22] http://results.amarujala.com/current-affairs/malala-yousafzi-nominated-for-children-s-                

    noble/#sthash.fb3MuWhR.dpuf.