The concern of good governance has been under discussion since time immemorial. In Bhagavad Gita, there are numerous verses for good governance, leadership, dutifulness and self-realization which are re-interpreted in modern context. The welfare of the people was considered to be of paramount importance in Kautilya’s Arthashashtra. Under the Sustainable Development Goals, Goal number 16 is dedicated to improvement in governance, inclusion, participation, rights and security. The importance of governance has been envisioned under our constitution which is built on the premise of sovereignty, socialism, secularism, rule of law and welfare of the people.
According to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, there are eight key attributes of good governance–participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus-oriented system, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency and accountability. In 1992, the World Bank in its report of “Governance and Development” floated the definition of good governance as the “the manner in which the power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development.”
The provisions, like one-third representation of women in legislature, proportional representation, inclusivity in state affairs, equality and equity for mainstreaming the weaker sections, federal structure to frustrate centralizing tendencies and guarantee of human rights, envisaged under the Constitution of Nepal favor the attributes of good governance. But, the problem lies in implementation of law and order in a true and material sense. Every five years, the country goes to election for a fresh mandate. The political parties contesting the elections float ambitious plans and policies through their election manifestos and electioneering but the actual work remains modest.
The new government must work for job creation and improving education and healthcare for the people.
Unemployment, inflation, expensive healthcare services and costlier education remain major challenges. Timely intervention is needed in these sectors. From government schools to government hospitals, everywhere quality of service is substandard. As harsh as it may sound, it is a fact that government hospitals, by and large, are neither well-equipped nor dedicated to serve the patients. Private hospitals, whose main priority is to milk money, can be a lifeline but they cannot be a substitute for government hospitals. In a welfare state, it’s unjust to let the patients die just because they cannot afford medical treatment at private or government hospitals.
An interesting phenomenon that can be seen in our part of the world is that doctors have served as lawmakers—of which some became ministers, while some held higher government offices. Moreover, we had the privilege to see a medical doctor–Dr Ram Baran Yadav–serving as President of the country right after the removal of constitutional monarchy. Despite this, neither legislators nor top officials have contributed anything substantive for the betterment of healthcare services in Nepal. As a matter of fact, similar is the situation with the education sector.
It is sad to observe that the standard of education in our country is continuously deteriorating due to its commercialisation and over-privatization. Our political parties are yet to form a consensus on employment, education and healthcare—which are basics for leading a meaningful life. Our leaders are yet to stand against over privatization of education and healthcare. There is no check and balance for government-aided schools and hospitals. There is a lack of implementation of rules and regulations by the private sector and there is corruption in the public sector.
Even the mandatory laws are under violation by medical staffers. Section 29 of the Public Health Act (2018) envisages that the doctors would prescribe the medicine under generic name. Section 32 of the Act prohibits health professionals working in government hospitals from working in the private sector. But in practice, doctors are reluctant to prescribe medicines under generic names and the civil hospital doctors’ priority for private clinics and hospitals are known facts. They are not abiding by the laws. But they face no actions.
Even the government schools and colleges have measurably failed to upgrade themselves in line with the needs and expectations of young generations. Parents are compelled to send their kids to private schools because of their obsession with English-medium education. Even if they are incorrect, they want to hear their kids say a few lines in English. Unfortunately, many parents now view private schools more as a status symbol that they want to uphold, even if the fee of the school is extremely high.
The majority of government hospitals and educational institutions are victims of negligence, chronic shortage of resources and poor delivery. In addition to this, our governmental initiatives have been poor in providing appropriate jobs to youths who are academically sound. They are bound to leave the country in search of better opportunities. Ironically, there is a common presumption that good students and sound professionals don’t have a better future in Nepal. It’s high time to curb this mindset by creating job opportunities.
Job creation is the only solution to the unemployment problems. Owing to lack of employment prospects, the youths today either live with an apprehension of unemployability or they leave the country to find jobs abroad. We are yet to introduce measures to stabilize and stop the outflow of migrant workers. Remittances are the foundation of Nepal’s economy, constituting about one-third of the GDP, sustaining the national economy as well as adding to household incomes.
Good governance is needed
The people have elected parliamentarians with high hopes and expectations. Better employment opportunities, improved education system, job-oriented and skill-based courses are obvious expectations of the youths from the new government. It’s high time political parties stood on the same page, at least, in case of infrastructural development and ensuring employment. Poor governmental institutions, over privatization of education and healthcare and unemployed youths in every nook and corner would frustrate good governance. We have progressive constitution protecting and promoting good governance. Now, it’s time to deliver and implement our laws, for Nepal deserves to abide by good governance.