Need for 'fair governance' over 'good governance'

Fair governance connects with society more than good governance, which is more of a technical exercise, says Norwegian minister at TERI summit

trithesh

Trithesh Nandan | February 1, 2013



With inequality being a rising cause of concern across the globe, Norwegian deputy minister for international development Arvinn Eikeland Gadgil has stressed on the fact that “fair governance”, instead of “good governance”, is the key to address the issue.

According to Gadgil, governments need to change their mindset to bridge the gap between governance and practice, adding that most governing parties or combinations have short-term focus, merely concerned about winning the next election.

"Societies all over the world are getting more and more unequal, which is a worrying sign because there is a great fraction in politics. The only way to fight inequality is through fair governance," Gadgil told Governance Now on Thursday on the sidelines of a three-day conference, called ‘Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS)’ and organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Explaining the difference, Gadgil said “good governance” is a very technical concept, while “fair governance” understands the society in a better way. “Fair governance is about political choices and choosing to understand why inequality is increasing in society,” he said. “It is an abstract concept but needs to seep into policymakers’ mind.

“My view of fair governance is that a government which is able to understand plight of the poorest (section) of the society, to make sure that the poor should not become relatively poorer and (that) they should have a voice.”

Talking about the situation in India, Gadgil said state structures in the country should be made more robust to connect with the society at large. "These are promising times (but) the problem is connectedness with the people, which is very difficult (to attain). It is very difficult (even) for a homogenous society in Norway, which is a very tiny country. India is 250 times bigger than Norway and to make coherent political platform is almost impossible.

“You have to start small.”

Praising the recently launched ‘direct benefits transfer’ programme, as part of which cash would be transferred directly into bank accounts of beneficiaries instead of providing them ration under public distribution system, he said such targetted safety net programmes will tend to equalise income difference at a time when the economy is not doing well. "The Indian government is doing the right thing by launching such schemes for the poor. (The government should) keep following that line," he said.

But underlining the need for the civil society to play a more active role, Gadgil said, "I would recommend civil society to keep track of government progammes.”

Governance Now is a media partner for the event


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