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Enabling people to govern themselves

Enabling people to govern themselves

How COVID 19 situation exposed mismatch in our governance systems?

Governance systems at all levels, i.e. global, national, and local, have experienced stress as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Breakdowns in many subsystems had to be managed at the same time — in health care, logistics, business, finance, and administration. Solutions for one subsystem backfired on other subsystems.

What’s the issue?

There is a mismatch in the design of governance institutions with the challenges they are required to manage.

Systems and subsystems are working in isolation and not in coordination.

For example:

  • Lockdowns to make it easier to manage the health crisis have made it harder to manage economic distress simultaneously.
  • Diversion of resources to focus on the threat to life posed by COVID-19 has increased vulnerabilities to death from other diseases, and even from malnutrition in many parts of India.

Challenges to be addressed:

The global challenges listed in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations are systemic challenges.

All these systemic problems are interconnected with each other.

  • Environmental, economic, and social issues cannot be separated from each other and solved by experts in silos or by agencies focused only on their own problems.

Need of the hour:

  1. Solutions must fit the specific conditions of each country, and of each locality within countries too, to fit the shape of the environment and the condition of society there.
  2. Locals must be active contributors of knowledge for, and active participants in, the creation of the solutions.
  3. Knowledge of different experts — about the environment, the society, and the economy — must come together to fit realities on the ground.

A case for local systems (Can be used in ethics answers):

Governance of the people must be not only for the people. It must be by the people too.

Gandhiji and his economic advisers, J.C. Kumarappa and others, developed their solutions of local enterprises through observations and experiments on the ground.

  1. F. Schumacher author of Small is Beautiful, had proposed a new economics, founded on local enterprise, very consistent with Gandhiji’s ideas.
  2. Elinor Ostrom, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, in 2009, had developed the principles for self-governing communities from research on the ground in many countries, including India.

Sources: the Hindu.