Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thoughtful Governance

It is ironical that while we want every trivia around us to be scientific but no one questions about the logical foundations of the government structure and its workings. The Governance has become an inanimate being which would not change and which one has to live with. While scientists conduct studies to improve every aspect of human lives from the way one sits to the way one sleeps, there has not been a considerable contribution of science in the way our nation is governed.

Governance and politics in India attracts very little of talent and research. Albeit the IAS officers have a very good caliber and are selected via a very competitive exam, they, as IAS officers, do not have the power to challenge the governance structure. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the general perception remains that it is solely the job of the politicians and government employees to bring about change in the nation. The high threshold of political capital required to make yourself heard, in the corridors of power, restricts nation building and social change to an exclusive club.

There is a need for institutional mechanisms to involve more creativity and fresh breeze of thoughts into the process of building a nation and helping every human have the opportunity to realise his/her dreams and potential. The method of scientific discovery must not remain confined only to the traditional sciences. They are badly needed in many areas which directly influence our lives. While ample research is undertaken on the government policies and social structure, only a negligible fraction of it sees the light of the day and gets implemented. The need of the hour is to make governance inclusive of scientific thought. Fresh ideas must be tested in a conference of experts and be published in peer reviewed journals, and should form a part of the government policy. Government should be open to experimentation in governance and promising ideas on various aspects of governance should be allowed to be tested in real experiments in a small scale.

The case of the Gramin bank and its founder Mohammed Yunus is a classic example of the benefits of such an exercise. Mohammed Yunus was an economics professor in a university in Bangladesh( whose governance system is similar to that in India) who was appalled to see the condition of the destitute in the country. He started the Grameen bank as his own initiative to provide cheap credit assistance to the poor in the neighbourhood. While his idea succeeded in his locale, he had to struggle a lot to make him self heard in the corridors of power and bring about the change in the whole country. He was lucky to have met acquaintances and encouraging officials in the midst of naysayers. After years of toil, his efforts finally bore fruit and the Grameen bank lifted many people out of distress. Today countries around the world want to replicate this model. While no political leader would have been against such wonderful effort to eradicate poverty, the problem here lay in bringing the idea to the notice of the rulers.

The power of Wikinomics is well established today. Many corporations and establishments are scrambling to exploit its power and open source movements have come in the lime light in software and information industry but Governance still remains a closed source. We must realize that democratic closed governance is a contradiction of terms and to make governance an effective tool for social and economic change, it needs to get constant doses of innovation like science does and must not remain static as a dogma.


  1. Governance or Public Administration is definitely a science. Like Economics has been recognized as the mother of all sciences, there is a need to promote PA too so that it attracts researchers and academicians. After all, the human model of thinking gives rise to all theories of administration.I agree that it needs constant renewal as the human mind keeps evolving.

  2. Totally. But theory devoid of experiments is very abstract and hence we need to encourage pilot programs in small taluks/blocks to test the efficacy and then try to emulate the successful schemes on a larger scale.