|INDEX OF DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN INDIAN STATES|
The Lokniti network has been engaged in a serious study of electoral democracy for over a decade. This has provided some insights into the working of social forces and the dynamics of competitive politics. During this period, the pressures of performance and the burden of reaching out to the citizens have increased manifold. It has become important to develop some method of measuring not only democracy or governance, but democratic governance.
|An Index to measure democratic governance in Indian states must include specific measures of democratisation and critical indicators of governance. This project assumes that the elements of governance are a reflection of democratic processes and their functioning. The many contours of governance are closely enmeshed with the discourse on democracy.
In significant ways, governance reflects the outcomes of democracy. Governance outcomes mirror the `highs` and `lows` of democratic practices. An Index of democratic governance would thus reflect the intertwining of democratic norms and governance procedures and measure both their implementation and practice.
|What does measuring democratic governance involve?|
|Democratic Governance involves engaging with a wide range of laws, regulations, rules and procedures. Three dimensions would merit attention: a) How democratic has been the `process` of arriving at these laws, regulations, rules and procedures; b) How much do these laws, regulations, rules and procedures reflect `popular sentiment and aspirations`; c) Are the objectives with which the laws, regulations, rules and procedures are framed truly reflected in their actual practice. Democratic Governance is also about the capacity of a society and its citizens to adhere to these commonly accepted norms and principles. How important is self-regulation. How much is left to self regulation? What are its implications for democratic governance?
Ideally, democratic governance should have as its core focus the citizens. While citizens may don several caps – client, customer, recipient, stakeholder to name a few, democratic governance needs to be tuned to their status and position as citizens. While any index of democratic governance will attempt to measure what the state has delivered to its citizens it is equally important to assess the extent to which the states has been able to `fulfill` the aims and aspirations of common citizens.
Any measure of democratic governance would also have to budget for an analysis of the `awareness` among the citizens about the administration. This awareness `measure `should cover both what the administration was mandated/promised to achieve and the reality in terms of actual delivery.
Democratic Governance needs to be understood and assessed in a social context. How does that context impact on democratic governance? Does democratic governance trigger change in the nature of societal relationships? While democratic values would necessarily entail citizens being involved in formal ways in governance – in its decision making, implementation and monitoring, equally critical is whether the ordinary citizens have access to the benefits of governance. Are the resources of the state and the benefits it provides accessible to ordinary citizens. This is an equally important governance question.
The Index of democratic governance should focus on `processes` as also on `outcomes`. If democracy too is as much about processes as it is about outcomes, the Index on Democratic Governance too should capture these distinctions/ variations/ differences. Of critical significance and relevance, is the appraisal of the `State’s capacity` to `deliver` which is as much a `process` question as an `outcome` measure.
While developing an index of democratic governance one must recognize the distinction between what constitutes the `public` and the `private` domains. What challenges do modern states face in constructing this distinction? How does it impact on democratic governance? Do the separate norms that determine governance in these two domains impact on democratic governance. Another issue that the Index would need to measure is whether there is a public character to political/public power.
|Measuring the `responsiveness ` of the government|
|An important dimension of democratic governance is the responsiveness of the government. The Index of democratic governance needs to measure the responsiveness of government. How responsive is the government? In what ways it is responsive? Responsiveness is often linked to who approaches the government and for what? Given the wide range of welfare schemes of different government and the fiscal allocation to welfare related programmes, the responsiveness of the government assumes an added significance. How is this responsiveness linked to the fundamentals of democracy – seeking and sustaining electoral support and its implications for governance and governance objectives? Are the wide range of agitations and protests in the public domain linked to this lack of responsiveness? Does the responsiveness of the state take into account socio-economic diversities and inter/intra-group conflicts.
Responsiveness of the government system needs to be viewed not merely in terms of tangible outcomes measures as benefits through programmes and schemes but its capacity to secure dignity and respect to common citizens.
How does the state respond to organgised and unorganized interests and different class groups? Does the state respond to the diversity of interests as manifested in the claims of different groups or caters to those of a limited few? How can this be measured?
If responsiveness of the government is at the core of the analysis, the index would need to measure this responsiveness. The important questions that would need to be
The services/ benefits that the state provides to its citizens could be divided into several categories: the minimal responsibilities that every state is required to fulfill - ensure law and order, maintain and support dispute settlement mechanisms, enforce contracts among citizens, protect basic liberties of the citizens; the collective services and benefits meant for citizens irrespective of one's social background, class status or gender – such as transport, roads, electricity, schools, and hospitals; collective services meant for citizens as members of some group based on ascriptive identity- dalits, adivasis, minorities, and OBCs, or differently abled; individual benefits on the basis of some economic criterion - subsidies on petrol or cooking gas, subsidies on agricultural inputs, fixing minimum support prices, agricultural extension, subsidized food, cloth, and other essential consumer goods, old age pensions, employment, provision of credit of low interest rates. The index of democratic governance needs to measure how citizens rate the efficiency of the delivery mechanisms that provide these services/benefits
A common phenomenon in the modern state is the effort at different forms of enumeration. There are different forms of identification/certification that citizens are required to obtain. These may include a ration card, drivers license, a PAN number, multi-purpose house hold cards, death and birth certificates, BPL cards and employment cards under RLEGP. Many of these cards are issued/distributed, monitored, controlled by the central government in India. As a result, in the context of constructing an index of democratic governance of Indian states, they may not be an appropriate measure of the effectiveness of the State government. Are there state specific identification forms/ norms/ measures/ methods in place especially to provide benefits to citizens? Can there be a comparison of the utility/perception of benefit among ordinary citizens about some of the forms of identification listed above.
While developing the Index of democratic governance, the focus will be on different agencies/institutions and processes that represent both the state and local governments.
|The present study on developing an Index of Democratic Governance is unique in significant ways. It will examine issues related to democratic governance from the perspective of the common citizen. For a more authentic appreciation of the complex issues involved and to permit a more accurate narration of the quality of democratic governance across various groups of citizens and different policy arenas the present study would include a slew of field experiments. Three pathways have been identified in order to help develop a robust index :
The study is divided into two phases. In Phase One, the project would develop a baseline level of governance indicators for the various states. Prior to any assessment of citizens response to issues of democratic governance, it is imperative that such a baseline measure be developed. Subsequently, in Phase two a more detailed survey of the levels of government performance and indicators of democratic governance would be developed and validated.
In addition to these surveys and field studies, the project would collect and collate secondary data from government agencies, statutory bodies and the like on issues linked to democratic governance. Other studies that have tapped the response of different actors - political parties and their affiliated bodies/mass organisations), interest groups, multilateral bodies, civil society organisations, resistance movements, intellectuals and the like , to the governance efforts and initiatives would also be reviewed. Studies on governance, especially those based on empirical data would also be analysed. The Human Developmental Indices constructed for different states would also be examined. Studies that have compared different states on different governance indicators would be reviewed.
In the first phase that aims at creating a baseline for the development of an Index of democratic governance, the effort would be to focus on two themes – participation and empowerment on the other hand and delivery of government/public services on the other.
To tap citizen participation and empowerment, a comprehensive survey would be undertaken in December 2008- January 2009.
To assess the delivery of government/public services a field study would be conducted in October – November 2008. A pilot field study could be undertaken in conjunction with the August 2008 round of SONS.
A preliminary report on the baseline study could be released around Republic Day 2009.
This phase of the study would build on the baseline assessment undertaken in Phase 1. It would include a comprehensive survey of citizens attitudes and perspectives on important indicators of democratic governance. This survey will be a more conventional and representative survey of Indian citizens about empowerment and governance.
It may also be useful to pursue a few select themes from among those investigated in the first phase with regard to delivery of public services. The study could include tracking compelling life stories in this regard and they could be recorded for ‘broadcast’.
At the end of Phase 2, comprehensive Index of Democratic governance could be released.
|The index developed will be a defining document for two reasons. First, before beginning the field work in India there will be wide consultation with scholars concerned with issues of governance in other parts of the world and also with survey researchers and methodologists. A formal meeting on the Berkeley campus will be held once the various elements of the survey have been decided. Second, the project will involve and consult different stake holders to ensure that the Index is indeed measuring what needs to be measured.
|Dissemination of Results|
|It is proposed, that with the media partners, the results of the study be disseminated as broadly as possible. A large public event could be held at Delhi to release both the baseline study and the final report. The format of the report will be similar to the report on the State of Democracy in South Asia.|