Minimum Government and Maximum Governance ?

“I believe government has no business to do business. The focus should be minimum government and maximum governance”- Narendra Modi

The concept of minimum government, maximum governance” has become his tag line. The basic definition of minimum government belies on the lines of limiting the size and capabilities of the government. The real aspect of maximum governance is difficult to pin down. However, in common usage, it is a major indicator of the governance and its accountability. But if we think that increasing or reducing the size of government will lead to the better performance governance, then the main problem still need our attention. There has been a widely-accepted metric for measuring a government size, by calculating the ratio of public expenditure to GDP. Using this metric, many European as well as American nationals are exceeding their public expenditure by 50% more than their real GDP. Also, many affluent Scandinavian countries, are often seen as models of good having expenditure GDP ratio close to 60%.

On the other hand, major developed Asian countries like Japan (42%) and South Korea (30%) have much smaller governments. In contrast to this, India (27%) is way below. Over the year, size of Indian government has hardly got doubled while its real GDP has grown by 15 folds. One of the contributing factor that explains this major gap between European or Latin American and Asians countries is the benefaction of substantial welfare payments that has increased the public expenditure of the former. Also limited social safety nets in Asian countries like India is another factor which has added to the pain.

But, the recent study published in a major international journal shows that the developing countries tend to have much smaller government than many developed nations. Also, several studies on gauging the sizes of various government worldwide have explained an inverse relationship between size and economics growth in the developed countries. Hence, there is, as such, no consensus on the link between economic growth and government size. Many Scandinavian countries have contributed in expanding their size of government in the last decade, while achieving significant GDP growth rate that exceeded the growth rates of many other countries with smaller governments.

For example, throughout the 20th century United States government has grown in size and yet its professionalism and growth record GDP are still indisputable.

But we must also understand the fact that countries, over the period of time, have expanded the scope of their government in order to respond to the external pressures without contributing much in the public welfare and waste management. The slow progress of public-private partnerships in India itself indicates that it would not be consider as a hub of attracting private sector to invest in very long-term and high-risk profile sectors. Since, most of the developing countries have a shorter term viewpoint and invariably very limited government budget spending and functions. Because of this, more public finances and support from government are planned for. Governments have become the prime investors here. Therefore, we find government size is growing in many developing countries. Moreover, size can also be reduced by getting external agents to provide public services within a national. Many citizen centres runs by various private sectors can provide varied public services like e-governance and help in reducing the burden on government. But for these initiatives, governments need to be smart and should design an efficient systems. The focus of the government should be on improving the functioning rather than its size. Government size also may grows for many other reasons such as expanding the reach of essential services to the general public like food, water, infrastructure, etc.

Our Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has said that every state should consist of 255 pillars (the 255 Talukas) rather than 26 pillars (the 26 districts) on which most of the states are modelled. Under the leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi, foregoing minister of Gujrat, ATVT was launched in which Gujrat is empowered to provide a local platform to achieve double digit growth and socially developed entire within its defined boundaries. The decentralisation of administration up to the sub-district level has made growth speedier, more effectively transparent as well as citizen centric. Now, every Taluka makes its own plans based to its requirements and challenges, and carries out the focussed implementation of schemes accordingly. Now, People, especially farmers, who had to travel long distances, can avail easy access to various subsidized services by government and its related agencies through the platform of ATVT. Narendra Modi believes that government should act as a facilitator for the businesses. The economic freedom index shows that Gujrat under able leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi, has become a self-driven small-size state machinery, and exemplified in providing an efficient governance in protecting life of human and its property vis-a-vis the quality of the justice mechanism measured by the completion rate of cases by court. Narendra Modi has shown that even with a very small governance, a good justice delivery mechanism and an entrepreneur-friendly environment is possible.

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Gujrat was a state where only 20% of the mainland area had 71% water resources and remaining 80% of the areas had merely 29% of the water resources. Modi, in 2002, created a call WASMO (Water and Sanitation Management Organisation) in order to empower various panchayats across rural areas to manage their own water situation. ATVT (Apno Vibrant Taluko) was one of the few scheme launched to empower villagers to direct the growth process of their areas through a citizen-centric approach where both governance and development are activated at the grass-root level.

Modi’s approach will lead to lesser control by the centre over the states. This will bring freedom to the bureaucrats to deliver as there will more responsibility for delegated authority rather than bureaucrats and this will benefits the states. However, D. Raja, a senior CPI leader and Rajya Sabha member from Tamil Nadu says Modi model either a snoop upon citizens or a well drafted scheme to provide handsome concessions to big businesses and corporate houses. The focus should be on connecting various ministries of the central government where one cabinet minister will be the in charge of various ministries working in diverse sectors. This activity will epitomize the beginning of a new transformation in the hierarchy of the various ministries and departments where various ministries will be fused together to act under the stated regulations of cabinet minister. These changes will bring more unity among various ministries, make them more self-reliant and efficient process of governance.

With new administration and governance body, Modi is trying to make the process of decision-making much more efficient and has, in turn, scrapped four Cabinet Committees who made the process a bit slowed down. Those committees includes Cabinet Committee on Prices, Cabinet Committee on Management of Natural Calamities and Cabinet Committee on World Trade Organization Matters. Next, Modi wishes to re-constitutes Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, the Committee on Economic Affairs, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs and the Cabinet Committee on Security which will definitely improve the decision-making process. While the top layers governance will reduce, the bottom line will expand.

What Modi has done in Gujrat is expected to be done at the central level. Gujrat has progressed by leaps and bounds since Modi took the reins of Gujrat in his hands. Open data can help realise “minimum governance.” Globally, open data is used to measure performance of the government. The government of UK and World Bank are among those who have undertaken such open data initiatives.

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Minimum Government and Maximum Governance ?

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