Good Governance: A Quest For Annihilating Poverty In South Asia – Sumit Sonkar

Our South Asia is reckoned as the region of infinite possibilities. However, because of extreme poverty prevailing in this region the young democracies are yet to optimally utilize the enormous potential bestowed upon us by the Mother Nature. It is mysterious that millions of people are still reeling under severe poverty and living in squalor conditions in a region which is endowed with rich abundant natural resources.We are combating widespread poverty and it’s prolongevity but in the absence of the inept institutions and meaningful governance;it is still battering, humiliating and tormenting the people of our region.

Political freedom is elusive without the attainment of social and economic justice. Even human dignity cannot be assured without the elimination of poverty. The sacrosanct ideas of good governance like accountability, transparency, responsiveness, equity, inclusiveness and rule of law can only equip us to grapple the socio economic dilemmas of poverty. Therefore, good governance plays a seminal role in establishing order, pursuing social and economic progress by eradicating deprivation and backwardness. Commenting upon the contribution of good governance in bridling poverty,former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan remarked, “Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development. By good governance is meant creating well-functioning and accountable institutions –political, judicial and administrative.”

Poverty is a multifaceted phenomenon which is also driven by the political economy i.e. human deprivation. Hence, poverty cannot reduce to the straight jacket dimension of low level consumption and income. Severity of this condition is attested by the fact that 24% of South Asia’s population is scourging under ferocious poverty which has geographical, spatial and gender dimension reinforced by the vicious cycle of poor governance. Therefore, strengthening the governance through broad consensus dialogue is crucial to scale down the effects of poverty from our South Asia.

To curb the menace of poverty there is dire need to abridge the interface between States and its people. And that cannot be achieved without empowering the people and lending voice to the voiceless especially women & indigenous people in making decisions on utilizing and managing the resources. A region, which is committed to reinvigorating and reinventing of its democratic institutions, must deepen the bond between governments and the governed.  Otherwise, this yawning gap between people and the government will prove to have deleterious effects on the society. Thus, strengthening participatory governance is essential precondition to address the perils of poverty.

The complex nature of poverty in the regime of economic liberalization has necessitated wider participation of civil society and has expanded the role of private sector in implementing effective time bound delivery of services and its prompt redressal. The effective and efficient engagement of this collaborative system of government, civil society and private sector will herald a new era in the governance of South Asia in tacking poverty.

Universities and educational institutions are the cradle of future administrators and policy makers where the seed of progressive thinking are sown and nurtured. Employing the younger generation’s potential towards the dynamic and result oriented research on good governance at the Universities and higher educational institutions can launch South Asia on the path of innovation and development trajectory. So, the importance of higher educational intuitions in improving good governance and containing poverty cannot be underrated andunderestimated.

Given the competency of Information, Communication & Technology with the growing proliferation of internet in South Asian countries, we can introduce technology intensive solutions for combating poverty through e-governance.  E-initiatives blended with cutting-edge technology holds promise for a quantum leap in inhibiting poverty by enhancing the governance standards. Thus, by empowering the society digitally,we can write a success story that has few parallels.

India is also confronting the long drawn battle against spurious poverty since its independence through good governance which has been rigorously heartened by the classical notion of “service oriented kingship”, a pyramidal infusion that took place after the advent of the constitution of free India. The Directives to the state policy are the basic substratum under which the state obligation to the polity intended by the constitution is ensured. The provisions seeking minimization of inequality of wealth, mandating human conditions for laborers and maternity reliefs, obligation of state for free education of children and the saga of self-rule through village panchayats are the holistically structured sermons chiseling the poverty expansion.  In sum and substance, it can be said that the constitutional foundation for good governance is, in principle, a measure for poverty alleviation which is precedent upon conferment of socio economic rights to the people of India. In this context, there is no gain in saying that to muzzle the poverty through constitutional measures, the constitutional scheme of India and its experiences can be emulated and echoed in other members of South Asia especially in the countries where democracy is in the making

We should be mindful of the fact that we are one of the poorest regions of the world and in the absence of quality resources many of our perennial problems can only be tackled though cooperation.  Therefore, let’s rewrite Pandit Nehru’s “tryst with destiny” by enhancing and strengthening our joint commitment and cooperation for emancipating our region from poverty through developing a common blueprint for good governance,as only together we can prosper.

In our region slogans have replaced the programs of poverty eradication therefore any efforts to wage war against poverty will be fruitless without putting people in its focal point. For the golden future of South Asia we should not rest on our laurels and pledge together to perform our duties with utmost sincerity which has been entrusted upon us with great hope and expectation to contribute to annihilate poverty from its source.Underscoring that poverty is fallibleDr. B. R. Ambdekar architect of Indian constitution had aptly remarked and I quote: “The thought that poverty is an inevitability and is inborn and inseparable is entirety erroneous”.


Sumit Sonkar is a student of LLM, SAU.


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