Governance is troublesome. It’s become codified and this has lead to its de-humanisation.
Of course, as a professional, I understand why this has happened, but many experts and regulators around the world are realising that this has become problematic.
Swarnima Pandit is a governance professional working in India. She is one of many of us who want to support organisations in their journey back towards the humanisation of governance. I am grateful to her for allowing me to re-publish a blog she wrote earlier on this year. She begins…
The quality of governance dictates towards the lives of millions today, and improvising it can substantially change all of our lives for the better
Above is picture of me interacting with Zubeda and her neighbours from the community, who warmly opened up to us. (Wazirabad, Delhi)
On 18th of February 2020, I had the the chance of meeting Sufiya, a six-year old living in the fringe locality of Wazirabad, Delhi. I was visiting the locality with a team of social activists to conduct an awareness campaign in allied areas.
As the auto-rickshaw went deeper in the area, I was shocked to see the state of affairs. I had never seen any area remotely similar, and I have travelled a substantial amount. Lack of hygiene and squalor were in abundance, almost covering every corner of the locality.
There were puddles of stagnant water acting as breeding grounds for thousands of insects. The odor was difficult to bear and the constant humming of flies didn’t help either.
But this was not what surprised me the most. I was taken aback by how casually the residents of this locality went about their business.
There were children playing in the nearby ground, food being served on the side and people talking about their day.
As I stayed there, ruminating in these thoughts, I decided to settle down with the masses who had gathered to seek audience. Nearby, I saw Sufiya, shy and reticent, with her mother Zubeda. I found immense warmth in her innocence and sat next to her to strike a conversation. Sighting her mother nearby, I asked Zubeda about the conditions near her house and if they had voiced their concerns to any authority.
Only then did I realise how helpless the residents were with respect to these issues. She said that they complained numerous times to the district administration, but to no avail.
They accepted it as fate and concentrated on bigger issues, like what will bring food on their plate or which school will accept their children’s admissions.
My encounter with Sufiya and her mother made me step back, and acknowledge the grave inequality we live with. As a lawyer, I am trained to understand an issue only when a cause of action arises, but as a fellow human, I feel compelled to contribute in a way which prevents this cause of action.
That day, witnessing such a grim condition made me realise the magnanimity of challenges around good-governance, and why it needs unprecedented attention.
As we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, any lapse in public-administration will cost us severely, Wazirabad is a case-in-point.
I fully concur with the opinion of American author Frank Herbert when he says that “Good governance never depends upon laws, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern”.
It highlights the necessity to rethink how we view public administration and what models we should focus on to attain desired results, especially during this pandemic and beyond where the State is expected to reach out to every citizen and ensure accessibility of services.
Keeping this in mind, I started ‘The Good-Governance Project’, with the intention of analysing and comparing acclaimed models of governance across the world. It will focus on how we can calibrate global best-practices to suit India’s requirements and beyond.
This project is close to my heart for another important reason, for it proposes to ‘humanise governance’, at a time when people need it the most.
As I write this I am, yet again, reminded of the smile on Sufiya’s face and the resilience in her mother’s words.
Zubeda was determined to give a promising future to her daughter, come what may. She was willing to go out of her way to ensure a better tomorrow, with unflinching faith and compassion.
Good-governance can truly transform Sufiya’s life, and help countless others like Zubeda in their quest to ensure a meaningful life for themselves and their children.
This project will be a small contribution to connect them with what they have envisioned for themselves, and rekindle their hope in people-centric governance.
Lastly, Sufiya deserves a future better than that of her mother, one where she receives what is rightfully hers without having to ask for it. This project shall strive to achieve just that, and more.
You can find Swarnima’s blog here and I am so grateful to her for allowing us to publish her work on ‘Rethought’.
We, like Swarnima, believe that by moving towards better governance we can improve society.
The Good-Governance Project: by Swarnima Pandit
This blog was written with the support and insight of one of our contributors. Thank you, Swarnima. As a governance professional and experienced practitioner, she is a contributor to the Perrin Carey blog. If you would like to contribute to moving governance forwards towards a more ethical and human centric framework, please contact Perrin.