Nepal | July 09, 2020

Good governance: New hopes

Sisir Bhandari
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In Nepal, bureaucracy or public sectors have suffered most from the rampant corruption. In fiscal year 2015/16, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Nepal received a total of 15,126 cases of corruption

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Governance is to steer or to govern a group of people, society, a nation or a state. Definition of governance was traditionally associated with government which was used interchangeably. This definition was later changed in the 1980s, which broadened the meaning of governance by incorporating the role and interconnection of three different actors: Government (state actors and institutions), Civil Society (civil alliances and non-governmental organizations) and Private Sector (households and companies). In this context, the goodness of governance will not just depend on triumph or disappointment of one actor but a collective success or failure of all three actors. These actors of governance are correlated. If one of the actors is ineffective, corruption becomes inevitable.

A corrupt actor will lead to spinning spiral effect on whole system of governance. This signifies the inter-relation of governance with the whole social and political entities of society, community and a state.  What is good governance? It is all about effective and proper utilization of resources with inclusive decision-making, implementation and participation.

The most repeated word and ideology that Nepal assimilates in every political and social revolution agenda since 1951 was “good governance”. Critics and political analysts believe: bad governance under different political leadership (whether it be totalitarian, or democratic or republic) has ignited and significantly contributed to a series of political and armed revolutions (including the decade long Maoist insurgency that took lives of more than 13,000 Nepalese) that transpired in Nepal.

However, not a single political party, regime or movement has been able to quash the contributing factors of bad governance. For the last six decades, Nepal has become the zenith of corruption that is leading Nepal toward a failed state. Many types of corruption are prevailing in Nepal that range from petty corruption, grand corruption, legal, moral and political corruption to organized crimes, which have become one of the impeding formidable forces in ensuring good governance. Critics further believe that corruption itself is not the “only” factor in making good governance a mirage in Nepal but it’s nexus among the governance actors that has diluted and shrunk the pillars of good governance.

In Nepal, bureaucracy or public sectors have suffered most from the rampant corruption. In fiscal year 2015/16, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Nepal received a total of 15,126 cases of corruption. Among these cases, most came from the department of education, local development, and health.

Corruption cases are in ascending order since the inception of CIAA in 1975. Furthermore, according to corruption perception index, Nepal ranks 131st out of 175 countries in the world. From 2004 to 2016, Nepal’s average rank on corruption index has been 133 out of 175 countries. This helps us to internalize, contextualize and meticulously analyze corruption in Nepal.

If we talk about ownership and responsibility, private households, business owners and general public are not giving proper and needed attention on accountability, transparency, rule of law and responsiveness. The social and political psychology of general public does not seem responsible and prudent. This is evident through the several decades long voting trends of Nepalese people. They have been choosing their leader who are engaged in large scale corruption, haven’t contributed in socio-economic growth, lacks visionary ambitions and have low morale.

The level of education and professionalisation capacity of government officials, political instability (Nepal has had 27 governments in 27 years) and greed of political parties further adds fuel to the fire. Private sector is not accountable in tax payments. It is engaged in promoting black markets, substandard quality goods and organized crimes. In good governance, many of the scholars embrace eight indicators as prerequisites; inclusive participation, rule of law, transparency, effectiveness and efficiency, responsiveness, accountability, consensus oriented and inclusiveness. Corruption becomes inevitable when one or the series of indicators of good governance do not function. Nepal lacks inclusive participation, rule of law, accountability and consensus orientation indicators.

The corruption in Nepal is the immediate outcome of bad governance, and the relations of good governance with its stakeholders needs to be further debated in new discourse. The pillars of governance have failed. Good governance is a daydream.  We see collective failure of different actors, structures and indicators. But one hopes. Collective contribution, collaboration between government, civil society and private sectors towards robust implementation of aforementioned indicators of governance can help Nepal towards sustainable and inclusive socio-economic and political growth.

At the same time, such practice can eradicate corruption from its core. Nepal should enshrine the values of good governance in order to meet its envisioned goals to be a developed country by 2022.

Furthermore, provincial and parliamentary elections in November/December can be the champion opportunity to ameliorate the past errors and misconceptions of all the actors of governance.

A version of this article appears in print on November 24, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.

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