Governance Index: On study of States on governance

The nation-wide comparative study of States on governance carried out by the Government of India, as seen in the Good Governance Index (GGI), is a welcome exercise to incentivise States to competitively deliver on public services to the citizens. This is not the first time that benchmarking of States has been carried out. Different agencies including NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think-tank, are evaluating the States on different parameters. The findings of the GGI’s inaugural edition are significant in many respects. Although Tamil Nadu has always had the reputation of being a better-run State, it is only now that it is ranked first in any study of this kind. Its strength has been the ability to ensure stable and smooth delivery of services without much ado. But it is not the only southern State to have put up an impressive performance. Three of its neighbours are among the top 10 of the big 18 States, one of the three groups formed for the study with the north-east and hill States and Union Territories being the other two. Of course, traditionally, the south has been ahead of others in several parameters of development. What is more significant about the GGI is that the dubiously-labelled “BIMARU” States are seeking to catch up with others in development. Of the nine sectors, Rajasthan, a “BIMARU” State, has finished within the top 10 in five sectors, Madhya Pradesh in four and Uttar Pradesh in three. In agriculture and allied sectors, almost all the “BIMARU” States are within the top 10 category and in human resources development, U.P. and Bihar figure. In the composite ranking, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are ranked fourth and ninth, respectively. The key message is that these northern States can catch up with others in due course of time, if the political leadership shows the will to overcome historical obstacles and stays focused on development.

Any index of this nature is bound to have some shortcomings, at least in the first round, a feature that the framers of the GGI have acknowledged. Some indicators — farmers’ income, prevalence of micro irrigation or water conservation systems and inflow of industrial investment — have been left out. The indicator, “ease of doing business”, has been given disproportionate weight in the sector of commerce and industries, to the virtual exclusion of growth rate of major and micro, small and medium enterprises. Moreover, there will always be an unending debate over which indicators — process-based or outcome-based — should get more importance in the design of such a study. Notwithstanding these shortcomings, what is noteworthy is that the Centre has made an attempt to address the problem of the absence of a credible and uniform index for an objective evaluation of the States and Union Territories. It goes without saying that the GGI requires fine-tuning and improvement. But that does not take away the inherent strength of the work that has been accomplished, keeping in mind India’s size and complexity.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 12:23:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/governance-index-on-study-of-states-on-governance/article30427523.ece

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