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In The Name Of Governance

In The Name Of Governance

Admittedly, the social, environmental and developmental scenario in South Asian region leaves a lot to expect despite plethora of NGOs, International funding agencies and individual governments slogging hard. What emerges as a basic question from this tug-of-war is: who dictates the demands – the beneficiary or the donor? K.N. Vajpai shares his insight on the question.

Based on my understanding of various social and environmental developmental issues and processes in South Asia, I feel that the governance system in this region, in general, is going through a very critical phase. This has led to disrupted ecosystem and various social developmental issues.

Let us take examples of environmental governance system in the region, which are directly linked to social and economic development, therefore, to various ecosystem functions.  With time the basic concept, quality and perceptions of such governance system are gradually changing and weakening. Our water bodies are diminishing and forest laws infringed, the quality of our land gets deteriorated slowly due to poor policies and actions. This has hit hard the overall quality of environment and the life support systems.
In my opinion there are two important and major reasons for this and they are related to clumsy and corrupt bureaucracy and politics. Nonetheless, I also see the role of various international agencies and organizations working in Asia in environment and development sector not above question for this downfall.

Since, mostly we discuss about the role of our bureaucrats and politicos, here I wish to highlight the factors related to the involvement of international actors working in various social and environmental policies and programs in Asia.

I see a huge gap in the plans and actions of our international agencies in defining and implementing the programs in various arrays of environment and social development to influence our bureaucrats and politicians. It starts with the decisions regarding the plans of action, which, in general sense, talk high about the mandate, output and outcomes. These again remain skewed and influenced with the ideas of our donors, but, not exactly  by the demand of the community, so there always remain a missing link of using ‘demand driven approach’ in deciding course of action and benefits going to be gained by the target community or group. This applies to all sectors like water, forest, land, disaster, livelihood, women, climate change, environment, etc. and in framing and scaling up the policies in these sectors.

Another important aspect is about the understanding of the people in the managerial positions in these organizations. Lack of understanding of the way of local life a big question mark, and this leads to ultimate failure of major programs. In my view, a person may be good in mathematics, statistics, technical aspects, accounting and writing good reports in English, but, not always in managing, communicating and implementing a social and environment development project or programme in developing countries effectively. The administrative processes of providing funding and implementing programmes in majority of cases remain influenced by international politics and this leads to failure of most of such programs in Asia.

One can observe unwarranted inbuilt bureaucratic systems in various international organizations working in Asian countries, which directly affect the overall implementation and outcome of any social or environmental program, in the absence of any basic framework of building a ‘better’ governance system. In this way we encourage our partners in showcasing or stage managing their work, which in most of the cases are not the ‘showcases’ or ‘sustaining models’ in real sense.

I am of the opinion that we need to break the repetition of such an approach or system which after huge investment could not yield better results in the ground. In real sense we need to plan our policies and programs through a ‘decentralized’ approach and with the involvement of local players and some technical or managerial support of actors from outside.

Time has come when we need to come out of the dilemma of tweeting to implement and showcase the outputs in proportion of our exhausted resources (finances). We can only think about the existence of good ‘governance’ in Asia or in other parts of world when our technical support, facilitating and funding institutions follow similar spirit of ‘governance’ in their actions. That’s not a big proposition!

Post Written by
A native of Himalayas, his work and interest remained in these mighty and beautiful mountains. A seasoned professional, worked on various environment and development issues over decade in India and its mountains. Vajpai is trained on various ecosystem approaches in water resources, bio-diversity, farming and climatic issues. At present he is working as Convener and Environment Specialist at Climate Himalaya, and involved in developing the first phase of knowledge networking and partnership among interest groups. His quest is about various social, environmental and developmental efforts in Himalayan Mountains and their impact to its dwellers. They are about various practices, policies and institutional functioning and about contemporary to traditional science. His writings are contextual, and entail the veracity of development in Himalayan Mountains!

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