Improving Governance in India

“Addressing governance issues is important because whichever silo you work in, be it education, sanitation, food or health, you would eventually hit the governance deficit,” says Rohini Nilekani. Dasra’s report, Good to Great highlights key challenges and solutions to creating governance that is open, accountable, participatory, inclusive and responsive to the needs of all Indians – across the continuum of policymaking to the delivery of services on the ground.
Consider this:
  • Health: Despite having the second largest number of trained doctors in the world, 200 children under age 5 die every hour in India.
  • Education: Despite a Right to Education Act that guarantees free and compulsory education for all children aged 6-14, six million children in India still don’t go to school.
  • Livelihoods: On average, MGNREGA, the world’s largest social security program, has provided less than 50 days of employment per person, compared to the guarantee of 100 days.

And now consider this:
  • When governance is improved by just one standard deviation, infant mortality declines by two-thirds.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, decentralized governance has increased the probability of a child completing grade 5 by 21%.
  • Utilization of MGNREGA funds increased by 25% once payment methods were made more reliable and transparent.
Dasra has identified four key themes to build a strong and enabling eco-system for good governance in India:
  • Develop media as a key stakeholder: Independent, inclusive and accessible news media can have a tremendous impact on governance and accountability, by effectively playing the roles of watchdog, agenda-setter and gatekeeper.
  • Strengthen local governance: True democracy calls for empowering local governments and creating a culture that promotes direct citizen participation and engagement in planning and development processes – beyond the act of casting a vote every few years.
  • Advance women-centered leadership: Improving women’s participation and leadership in governance structures has shown to lower corruption, improve policy outcomes, and increase attention to urgent social issues.
  • Leverage technology: Technology can bring greater efficiency to government systems, processes and interactions. Benefits to citizens include increased convenience and transparency in access to services, greater accountability, and avenues to expand the citizen voice.
Most organizations focus on one or more of the following areas of work, and can broadly be classified as:
  • Research and policy: These organizations are a mix of think tanks, typically at the national level, focused on broad matters of public policy, specific sectors or interest groups; and those that work directly with legislators and policy makers, providing knowledge and implementation support.
  • Citizen journalism and independent media: These organizations take innovative approaches to reporting – long-form investigative stories, data journalism, and hyper-local reporting; provide voice-based and other media platforms to democratize access to news and information in media-dark areas; serve as a resource for other media organizations, often working to mainstream important development-related stories; and serve as media watchdogs.
  • Transparency and accountability: These organizations advocate for policies and legislation that enhance transparency and accountability; push for electoral reforms; supply information on the performance of elected representatives and the government; and drive accountability at the Union, state, local or sector level.
  • Local governance: These organizations work on the demand side with citizens to enhance participation and mobilize demand for better governance and service delivery; on the supply side, they build capacities of local government and advocate for policy change.
  • Fund high-impact organizations that have been identified by Dasra after an assessment of ~150 organizations.
  • Contact one of these organizations to explore opportunities to partner.
  • Share this page with people you know to direct more support to the cause.