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Updated: November 1, 2012 10:31 IST

Towards better governance

Vinay Kumar
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Mooting for accountability: Minister V. Narayanasamy. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu Mooting for accountability: Minister V. Narayanasamy. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

The CAPAM conference held in the Capital recently highlighted the role of public administration to spur socio-economic and political development

At a time when newspapers and electronic channels were occupied with scam-a-day “breaking news stories” in the political arena, a quiet initiative was taken by the Ministry of Personnel by organising a three-day International Conference of Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) and the fourth Common Public Service Ministers’ Forum.

The CAPAM conference was attended by ministers and senior officials from 21 countries, including Commonwealth countries of Bangladesh, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Gibraltar, Nigeria, Mozambique and St. Vincent & The Grenadines, besides India. The theme of the conference was “A Public Service Fit for the Future”. A number of scholars made presentations on the challenges of good governance and public service excellence.

The conference which concluded this past week gave a call for efficient and effective public administration that can enhance the role of just and honest government to spur socio-economic and political development, leading to transformation of societies.

The Ministers’ Forum agreed on the important role of public policy in improving governance and strengthening public administration in support of national development objectives and to meet international challenges. They acknowledged the need for developing countries to address challenges posed by a globalised economy, the competitiveness of markets and the capability of member countries to retain their comparable advantages. It was agreed that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), 2013 in Sri Lanka should consider the elevation of the Commonwealth Public Service Ministers Forum to a ministerial level meeting, scheduled annually. The aim was to deepen and broaden the dialogue and the sharing of knowledge, experiences and best fit practices to build excellence in public administration.

The forum acknowledged the value of using information and communications technology such as the Commonwealth Connects online platform to build peer networks of influence for collaborative working and knowledge sharing. Minister of State for Personnel Public Grievances and Pensions V. Narayanasamy said that good governance was an essential requirement for economic growth and job creation as it builds trust between the state and citizens and stimulates markets and investments. “We realise that public service excellence is a fundamental requirement for good governance but note the possible difference between good governance and developmental governance,” he said, adding while the former is a necessary prerequisite to be strived for over the longer term, developing countries should also consider placing priority in strengthening the capacity of those public institutions that play a critical role in achieving economic growth and development.

The Minister said while much has been achieved, more needs to be done to ensure that we have strong and effective public service institutions with the capacity to effectively and expeditiously implement government policies, programmes and services. Pointing out that good governance based on transparency and accountability at various levels starts and ends with stakeholders or citizens, he said that any system, policy or machinery would only succeed, if it is fully accountable to the stakeholders and its processes are transparent, citizens are engaged.

Mr. Narayanasamy also gave a glimpse of the initiatives taken by the Centre such as implementation of recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission and the Right to Information Act and various other legislative measures such as the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 the Lok Pal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 among others. He also said that CAPAM would play a leading role in extensive cooperation for transfer of human and financial resources, sharing of institutional knowledge and propagating information aimed at strengthening the democratic fibre.

Sanjay Kothari, Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances said for the first time the Conference has been integrated with the Commonwealth Ministers Forum on Public Administration.

Former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi highlighted the role of bureaucracy in India in general and talked about the electoral reforms in India. Kamlesh Sharma, Commonwealth Secretary General spoke about the role of Commonwealth Secretariat in providing best fit solutions suitable for individual country needs rather than following the one size fits all approach.

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