Dialogue October-December, 2011, Volume 13 No. 2






Ethics in Governance**

Yatish Mishra*



The book under review “Ethics in Governance”, edited by T K Mishra, S P Aggarwal, and Bipin Kumar Tiwary is divided into five parts such as ethics in public sector governance, corporate governance and ethics, ethics in policy making, ethics in health care governance, and ethical leadership challenges covers almost all gamut of the governance.

     The book is the product of the deliberation in a two days national seminar held at India International Center, New Delhi, organized by Deshbandhu College (Evening), University of Delhi, sponsored by University Grants Commission. The deliberators for the seminar were drawn from different walks of life viz., academicians, journalists, bureaucrats, advocates, doctors, politicians, managers of public as well as private sectors, who have their rich professional experiences and exposures.

    Ajay Maken in his paper identifies the problem: “when corporate sector starts the business of vote bank rather than note bank and interferes in the upper political process to benefit the corporate sector. When the politics of note bank is done by the political sector then it is considered as a bad form of ethics”. To correct this practice, he says that the beginning, of course, should be made from the top to bottom and not from the bottom to top.

     Prashant Bhushan dwelling up on the issue of corruption says that one of the major forms of loot in this country is the loot of the natural resources, including land. The natural resources of this country have been given to private companies through contracts or leases after privatizing the mining causing a great loss to the nation. Touching up on the other issues like governance, accountability, corruption in judiciary, naxalism etc. he suggests that the decision making by the government should be based only on public interests, and not driven by any extraneous considerations. Seeing the growth of a large number of resistance movements against corruption or malafide intention of the government in our country, he is hopeful that the things will improve.

   The view of governance from the fourth estate was expressed by Siddharth Mishra with a premise that the governance of this country has really failed. He sees the political will as an important ingredient for the better governance. When government has this will, it can prevent violence from taking place, and when it has political design, it can allow certain goons to go free to create mayhem, beat up people because it has an eye on the vote bank. Citing the case of developments in Bihar and Delhi he says that it is the mindset of the politicians that matters and ‘ability to bring change and initiate progress would be the buzzword for future’.           

      Questions like what is ethics, does it dictate our decisions, should a public official be able to hire his\her own company to work for the government, should elected representatives be allowed to accept expensive gifts from the lobby groups etc. are raised in the article “Role of Ethics in Governance”, by Bipin K Tiwary & Rajiv Nayan. Article further cautions that the impact of ignoring ethics in governance can be dangerous as happened in the US and alerts Indian organizations especially small and the medium sized ones that they not only need to be ethical, they have to be seen to be so in their globalization journey. Even the global customers will demand to see the proof of ethics & governance system taking place in their functioning.                  

      The book reflects an ardent endeavor to seek the timely answers of the dogmas and dimensions arising out of liberalization, privatization and globalization (LPG) as well as the interface with the various actors of society and in the governments. The problems such as challenges of governance facing the public and the private sectors in the age of knowledge, communication and technology; the interaction between legal rights and moral rights;  political decision making; institutionalizing ethics in governance; market oriented or public oriented governance; corrupt practices in public life etc have been discussed threadbare in this book and all efforts are made to find out suitable solutions of the issues filtered during discussions keeping in view the changing world order as well as internal socio-economic- political milieu.

       The contributors have suggested insights about the depth of  knowledge, skills and approaches which are required by our policy

makers and executives for the future. Most of the articles included here are not only informative but also reflect analyses that are diagnostic, pragmatic to revolutionize the issue of ethics in governance. These apart, thought provoking questions & issues that are fundamental in nature are raised that warrant urgent identification in order to provide a better governance.

      The book, lacks proper editing, a complete bibliography on the issue at the end of the book, and also indexing. Despite these shortcomings, the book would be a valuable addition to the existing literature in the field of political science as well as public administration, as it provides an insight into the functioning of the bureaucracy, policy making, and a compelling vision for world’s largest democracy.


Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)                                                Astha Bharati