Good governance is a wide concept encompassing multiple aspects of public administration and governance. The concept itself has at least three connotations:
1. It is an extension of the concept of public administration and expands the role of the government
2. It is refers to the conditionalities imposed for debt
3. It is an ideal that enhances democracy and participation of the people
In its first connotation, good governance calls for a finer understanding of the distinction between government and governance. While governance is the sum total of institutions, governance involves intergovernmental mechanisms and the societal relationships between the different institutions of the government and relationships of the people working therein with their environment.
Governance itself can be defined as the ability to get things done without the use of a legal force. In this sense, governance stands for establishment, operation, management and networking of social institutions. It manifests itself in the rules and regulations and the decision making procedures. So, in this context, governance is a way of crafting institutions as a matter of public concern.
The second meaning is drawn from the experience of the World Bank in implementing policies in various developing countries. The Bank found that in these countries laws were not enforced properly and there were marked delay in implementation of projects. Thus, the Bank attached certain conditionalities with debt that it provided to these countries. Such conditionalities were also attached to the aid provided by the Western countries.
The conditionalities focused on two aspects of the government:
1. How is the government organised
2. What is the process by which authority is exercised in the management of country’s economic and social resources
Major conditionalities related to public sector management, transparency and information, accountability and legal framework for development.
The third meaning of governance is a form of an ideal which highlights the importance of rule of law, human rights and participatory government.
Role of citizens in good governance: Citizen empowerment is not only an outcome of good governance but also an input into the process. Good governance is not only supply driven; demand plays a very important role in it. The government needs to empower people with literacy, education and employment for them to be able to demand good governance. It is only then that the government would be responsive enough. Development of civil society is important in this respect.