“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary” – Reinhold Niebuhr

1)The Concept of Citizen Centric Administration:-

The concept of good governance is not new. Kautilya in his treatise Arthashastra elaborated the traits of the king of a well governed State thus: “in the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness, in their welfare his welfare, whatever pleases himself, he does not consider as good, but whatever pleases his subjects he considers as good”. Mahatma Gandhi had propounded the concept of ‘Su-raj’. Good governance has the following eight attributes which link it to its citizens:-

Good Governance

The 4 pillars on which the edifice of good governance rests, in essence are:-

  • Ethos (of service to the citizen)
  • Ethics (honesty, integrity and transparency)
  • Equity (treating all citizens alike with empathy for the weaker sections)
  • Efficiency (speedy and effective delivery of service without harassment and using ICT increasingly)

Citizens are thus at the core of good governance. Therefore, good governance and citizen centric administration are inextricably linked.

2)Perceptions about Governance in India:-

Public administration in India is generally perceived to be unresponsive, insensitive and corrupt.

3)Barriers to Good Governance :-

  • Indifferent attitude of public servants
  • Lack of Accountability
  • Red Tapism
  • Low levels of Awareness of the Rights and Duties of Citizens
  • Ineffective Implementation of Laws and Rules

4)Necessary Preconditions for Good Governance :-

  • Sound legal framework
  • Robust institutional mechanism for proper implementation of the laws and their effective functioning
  • Competent personnel  and sound personnel management policies
  • Right policies for decentralization, delegation and accountability
  • Re-engineering processes to make governance ‘citizen centric’
  • Adoption of appropriate modern technology
  • Right to information
  • Citizens’ charters
  • Independent evaluation of services
  • Grievance redressal mechanisms
  • Active citizens’ participation
  • Rule of Law – Zero tolerance strategy
  • Making institutions vibrant, responsive and accountable
  • Ethics in Governance
  • Single Window System for Delivery of Services

Although pre-conditions above are self explanatory , one of the key per-condition is Citizen’s Charter , which needs further explanation.

Citizen’s Charter :-

  • The Citizens’ Charter is an instrument which seeks to make an organization transparent, accountable and citizen friendly.
  • The Citizens’ Charter, when introduced in the early 19 90’s, represented a landmark shift in the delivery of public services.
  • A Citizens’ Charter is a public statement that defines the entitlements of citizens to a specific service, the standards of the service, the conditions to be met by users, and the remedies available to the latter in case of non-compliance of standards
  • Six principles of the Citizens’ Charter:-
    • Quality – improving the quality of services
    • Choice – for the users wherever possible
    • Standards – specifying what to expect within a time frame
    • Value – for the taxpayers’ money
    • Accountability – of the service provider (individual as well as Organization)
    • Transparency – in rules, procedures, schemes and grievance redressal
  • Criticism:- Though the charter  in letter is ambitious and good, upholding the principles of the charter has been dismal , hence it remained a pomp and show only on paper and lost the true spirits behind it.

5)Solutions for good governance:-

  • The Sevottam Model :-

    • Sevottam is a Service Delivery Excellence Model which provides an assessment-improvement framework to bring about excellence in public service delivery
    • The need for a tool like Sevottam arose from the fact that Citizens’ Charters by themselves could not achieve the desired results in improving quality of public services
    • The Sevottam model has three modules:-
      • Declare the information on citizens’ entitlements thereby making citizens better informed and hence empowering them to demand better services
      • Public Grievance Redressal
      • Excellence in Service Delivery
  • Seven Step Model for Citizen Centricity:-

    • Define all services which you provide and identify your clients
    • Set standards and norms for each service
    • Develop capability to meet the set standards
    • Perform to achieve the standards
    • Monitor performance against the set standards
    • Evaluate the impact through an independent mechanism
    • Continuous improvement based on monitoring and evaluation results
  • Social Audit

    • Social audit generally refers to engagement of the stakeholders in measuring the achievement of objectives under any or all of the activities of a government organization, especially those pertaining to developmental goals. The basic aim here is to have an understanding of an activity from the perspective of the vast majority of people in society for whom the institutional/administrative system is designed and to improve upon it
  • Encouraging Citizens’ Participation,  installing Suggestion Box,robust feedback mechanism and prescribed timeline for delivery of service

  • Enabling Women’s Participation

  • Easier service delivery to the differently abled

    • Eg- Window of Hope
      • Th e Mayurbhanj District Administration (Orissa) realized that from the point of view of Differentenly-abled Persons (DAPs), service delivery is extremely complex, costly and time taking
      • Th e District Administration launched an initiative called ‘Window of Hope’ with the following innovations
        • A Single Window System with decentralization of service delivery at the block level
        • Re-engineering of complex government processes to suit the needs of the DAPs
        • All facilities provided free of cost at a ‘camp’ site to attract the poorest of the poor
        • Mobilisation of funds through convergence and Public –Private Partnerships to ensure 100% followup action
  • Decentralization :-

    • Decentralization is the process of transferring decision making power closer to the people. It includes politicaldecentralization, fiscal decentralization and administrative decentralization
    • Th e 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments were watersheds in the history of decentralization in India
  • Effective Delegation of Certain Duties to local level by following Principle of Subsidiarity

    • Principle of Subsidiarity – principle that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level
  • Effective Grievance Redressal Mechanisms

    • Central Vigilance Commission
    • State Lokayuktas
    • National/State Human Rights Commission
    • National/State Commission for Women
    • National Commission for Scheduled Castes
    • NationalCommission for Scheduled Tribes
    • National/State Commission for Protection of Child Rights
    • National/State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
    • Independent Police Complaints Authority (recommended)
  • Consumer Courts to follow principle not technicalities:-

    • ’Unfortunately, in the present case, an over-technical view has been taken by the State Commission and the District Forum in dismissing the complaint by holding that father/mother of an aggrieved person or his Power of Attorney is not entitled to file complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (hereinafter referred to as the Act).
    • It is erroneous. It is to be reiterated that under the Act, technicalities are not to be encouraged because the only procedure, which is prescribed under the Act is to follow the principles of natural justice and to decide the matter after hearing both the parties
    • Lok Adalats would be effective in settling many consumer disputes. It should be stipulated by law that cases up to a particular value, say Rupees two lakhs, should first be referred to Lok Adalats
  • Simplifying , Redesigning ,Rationalizing  Processes (Issue of govt documents such as – driving license, pan card, passport, other certificates etc)

    • E.g.- There have been many reforms in the license issuing procedure over the last several years, important among them being the launch of ‘Vahan’ and ‘Sarathi’–
      a computer application to process various issues connected with the issuance of driving licenses.
    • Vahan can be used to issue Registration Certifi cates and Permits. Sarathi can be used to issue a Learner’s Licence, Permanent Driving Licence, Conductor Licence and also Driving School Licence to the applicants.
  • Using Modern Technology

  • Making Right to Information simple:-

    • Jaankari – RTI Facilitation on Phone in Bihar:-
      • Bihar’s unique attempt to accept Right to Information (RTI) applications through phone calls (‘Jaankari’ project) has been selected for the fi rst prize for ‘outstanding performance in citizen centric service delivery’ at the National Awards for e-Governance.
      • Under this facility, anyone can make a phone call at the specified number (a call centre) and the call centre person will record all the details. e charges for making the RTI application are included in the phone call charges
  • Miss:

    • Periodic monitoring and evaluation
    • Robust enforcement institution and mechanism
    • Single Window Clearance and availability of service


Citizen centricity is the essence of any vibrant democracy and is inextricably linked to good governance. Good governance basically means creating an environment in which all classes of citizens can develop to their fullest potential. It also means provision of public services in an efficient and equitable manner to citizens.

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