WHAT IS excellence in governance?
For former Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, it means that “policies meant for people must reach them in a transparent manner… the lowest on the ladder must get the benefit, that is true governance”.
Justice Lodha headed the jury that selected the winners of The Indian Express Excellence in Governance Awards, which will be given on February 28. The biennial awards celebrate the finest work done by District Magistrates across the country.
The other jury members included Wajahat Habibullah, former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities and first Chief Information Commissioner of India; Nirupama Rao, India’s Foreign Secretary from 2009 to 2011 who had also been India’s Ambassador to the US, China and the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka; and K M Chandrasekhar, former Cabinet Secretary.
For Chandrasekhar, good governance means “adapting to social and economic change and create administrative forms that would best serve the needs of the people”. For Rao, it involves, “first of all, integrity of purpose and conduct”, and the “ability to think out of the box, to be innovative and to be well grounded because you have to be people oriented”.
These were also the parameters on which the jury judged the winners.
According to Habibullah, the winners were judged on the “basis of their achievement” in “how successful they were” in implementing government schemes on the ground.
Justice Lodha said “ultimately, it’s the impact” of the projects that mattered. Rao said: “You are looking for this ability to innovate, to understand the needs of the situation and not to be straitjacketed.”
Chandrasekhar said the “really good administrator… is one who can imagine the country, the region, institutions and entities as they would be ten years in the future and work towards making the administration change in the direction of peace and prosperity for all”.
As many as 249 entries poured in from 84 districts in 24 states for the awards that will be given to DMs in 16 categories.
KPMG, the knowledge partner for the awards, conducted a thorough check on the parameters of innovation, impact, implementation and people participation for all the entries. The shortlist was then verified by reporters and editors of The Indian Express by field visits and an audit after which the jury chose the winners.