KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF GOVERNANCE: Governance aims at bringing an overall holistic development. According to United Nations Development Programme (1994), the goals of governance initiative should be to develop capacities that are needed to realize development, that give priority to the poor and women, sustain the environment and create needed opportunities for employment and other livelihood.



Several international institution researchers and policy-makers have identified certain basic characteristics of good governance. These include:

PARTICIPATION: Any democracy to be truly representative needs to seek the participation of its citizens to the maximum extent in public affairs.

In India, for example, the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRIs) at the local level and municipal bodies participate in the management of the local rural and urban bodies.

These bodies comprise people’s elected representatives who have an important role in participating in matters that affect their lives.

RULE OF LAW: Governance needs a fair legal framework to ensure the smooth functional of administrative machinery. Rule of law protects the interests and rights of citizens.

TRANSPARENCY: Information is not generally shared with the citizen by organisations public or private.

But now people have become aware and are demanding that relevant information be made accessible to them. Governance is attempting to ensure openness and transparency in the system.

RESPONSIVENESS: As a citizen, you tend to avail different services from the government, for example, a driving license, ration card, passport etc.

You also expect a positive response from the service providing agency. This applies to getting basic services from the government such as electricity, drinking water , better roads etc., where a desired response in awaited.

We want responsiveness from the elected political representatives. Similarly, the administration is expected to provided effective and efficient services to the citizens.

Responsiveness has become a two-way interactive process between citizen and government.

EQUITY: Governance has to ensure participation and equity bringing all sections of the society within its purview.

EFFECTIVENESS AND EFFICIENCY: This implies better utilization of resources toward improved service delivery.

For instance, you go to the Railway Reservation Office for booking a ticket, it is expected that the service is provided efficiently and effectively without causing inconvenience to you in terms of effort, time and money.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Accountability is making one responsible and accountable for actions. You are accountable for the completion of work assigned to you either in house, college or at your work place.

Governance requires accountability on the part of government, private sector, civil society or community based organisation for their activities.

For example, during the question hour in the Parliament the Ministers, Members of Parliament, are held accountable for various aspects of the functioning of their ministries, and implementation of various programmes.


This is one way of ensuring accountability. The recent case of manufacturers of an aerated water company being held accountable for the quality of their product is a significant pointer in this direction.

Good governance, about which we have discussed in the previous Sections, has certain significant characteristics. These include;

  • Democratic policy;
  • People’s participation;
  • Effective and efficient administration;
  • Decentralization;
  • Use of Information Technology; and
  • Cooperation between government agencies, private sector and people.

These terms which have become popular in recent times, are now the key concerns of government all over; and several measures are being taken up to operational these principles.

India has initiated several strategies over the last few years to improve the governance system and mechanisms.

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