Infusing South Asia Governance Challenges in - East

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Infusing South Asia
Governance
Challenges in South
Asia
G. Shabbir Cheema
Director
Asia-Pacific Governance and
Democracy Initiative
Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Part One: Introduction

Over the past few decades, many
transformations have taken place
in South Asia.

Three of those are relevant to our
discussion today.
Part One: Introduction

First, effective "governance" is
recognized as a necessary
condition to combat poverty and
lagging development including
inadequate access to services,
protection of the environment, and
economic opportunities.
Part One: Introduction

Second, because of high incidence
of poverty and exclusion of various
groups, government are
increasingly focusing on human
development defined as enlarging
people's choices, expanding their
freedoms, and enhancing human
capabilities.
Part One: Introduction

Human development as one of the big ideas
presented and advocated by Noble Lauriette
Amartya Sen from India and late Mahbub-ulHaq of Pakistan, both economists and class
fellows at Cambridge

In almost every country in South Asia, annual
human development report where the
question is asked "Governance for what".
Part One: Introduction

Third, all South Asian countries
(other than Bhutan) today are
electoral democracies, with varying
degrees of sustainability of
democratic institutions.
Part One: Introduction
These transformations are taking place in the
context of globalization, with both positive and
negative consequences




increasing poverty and income equalities
impact of trade liberalization on domestic
industries
inability of the private sector to absorb
restructured public enterprises
low capacity of governments to put in place
social safety nets
Part One: Introduction
Two types of pressures for effective
democratic governance


To cope with demands of the global
economy
pressures from citizens for increased
transparency and participation.
Part Two : The Dual
Reality
South Asia is replete with examples of poor
governance, which erode the capacity of
communities and individuals— especially the
poor and disadvantaged—to meet their basic
human needs.

an inefficient deployment of resources and
crippling debt burdens and in some cases
defense expenditures

social divisions drawn on ethnic, sectarian and
regional lines, as reflected in many intra-state
conflicts
Part Two : The Dual
Reality (cont.)

arbitrary law enforcement resulting from
weakness of institutions

in some cases failed political leadership

uneven development and access to services
and increasing income disparities - what poor
governance means for ordinary citizens –
schools without teachers, courts without
justice, local bureaucrats demanding bribes at
every turn..
Part Two : The Dual
Reality
Yet, some great examples of potential, as reflected in

rapid economic growth and ICT revolution especially the
emergence of India as the center of growth,
entrepreneurships and innovation

active civil society engagement in dealing with such issues
as micro-finance and population growth such as in
Bangladesh

Greater participation of women in economic and political
activities especially in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
(1) The need to improve the quality of electoral
and parliamentary process. What is the issue
with regard to free, fair and regular elections?
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh
What is the issue with regard to the
parliamentary process? Capacity, constituent
relations, checks and balances
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
2) To decentralize in order to improve local
governance and citizen participation
o
Pakistan
o
India including the amendment to the Indian
constitution which reserves seats for women
o
Nepal the issue still being debated
o
Sri Lanka the Tamil insurgency and its recent
defeat
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
3)
High levels of corruption – two views about corruption in
the literature
The South Asian corruption has four characteristics:
1. upstream while making fundamental policy decisions;
2. South Asian corruption has wings i.e. smuggled out to
safe heavens abroad;
3. weak process of accountability of senior politicians and
officials the big fish unlike the US—
4. corruption in South Asia leads to mass deprivation in
view of scarcity of resources unlike in the Western
countries
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
3)
(cont.)
Actions needed: accountability mechanisms,
declaration of assets; transparent procurement
procedures; right to information act; national anticorruption commissions; public education
Some good examples – India's right to information
Act; media's role in Pakistan to shame the politicians
and senior officials about corrupt practices; PILDAT
programs to pressure ministers and government
officials to make their assets public
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
4) Civil society engagement – evolution and
growth; legal framework; accountability;
capacity; impact on democratic
governance
Pakistan Lawyers movement; Civil society
in India and Bangladesh in policy
advocacy and access to services
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
5) Capacity and accountability of civil service –
the first level link between citizens and
government for resource allocation, and
service delivery and access




Overblown responsibilities of civil service
during the colonial and post colonial period
Gaps between planning and policymaking and
implementation
Politicization of civil service leading to lack of
impartiality and erosion of this institution
Procedures for recruitment, promotion,
transfers, training and other personnel policies
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
5)

Size Close to 50 civil servants for every 1000 people in Sri
Lanka five fold increase in India from 1950 to early 1990s;
increase in the number of ministries

Impact of huge size of bureaucracy on inefficiencies but
also high cost – In Pakistan, spending on civil service
accounts for more than half of non-defense and noninterest expenditures
with globalization and retrenchment of civil service ratio
is being decreased but the role of civil service continues
to be vital; changing roles of civil service in the global
economy

Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
6) Judicial reform to ensure checks and balances

Modern systems of civil and criminal justice
have been in operation for over a century, but
some issues

Lack of effective access to justice for large
segments of population; case load and long
delays; erosion of judiciary in subordinate
judiciary manned by inadequately trained judges
and high level of corruption
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
6) (cont.)



Separation of powers between Executive and
Judiciary – has been largely implemented in
India but in Pakistan and Bangladesh
Too many cases and too few judges: in
Bangladesh, cases on average take from 5 to 20
years;
Low pays, high cost and rampant corruption: A
TI survey in India showed that 63 percent of the
respondents had to bribe court officials in order
to get a verdict in their favor. Poor do not have
resources to pay bribes
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
6) (cont.)

Constraints on the independence of
judiciary in the past – present situation an
improvement – India, Pakistan

Politicization of justice – engagement of
political actors to influence the supreme
judiciary -----
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
7) Economic dimension of governance in South
Asia – South Asian countries are getting bigger
without getting better

Key problems hindering effective economic
management: states are too big in unproductive
areas and too small in essential areas

Over-extended in production and trade creating
inefficiencies and wasteful expenditures; till
recently on economic controls; unable to
actually enforce legislation such as that dealing
with environment and human rights
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
7) (cont.)

They are fragile in performance in areas
that are essential for any responsible
state – such as social services delivery
and access, redistributing resources
such as land ownership, macroeconomic
stability, coordinating government
policies etc.
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
8) Civil-military relations

The need for professional armed forces and
civilian control over the military as the
cornerstones of democratic governance

The interventions of military in Pakistan and
Bangladesh over the years leading to the
weakening of democratic institutions because of
the break

Reasons for military interventions in both
countries
Part Three - What are the key
dimensions and challenges of
governance in South Asia today?
8) Civil-military relations

long term impact on the functioning of various
institutions because of military's direct control on
defense expenditure, involvement in economy, and
in many cases continued weaknesses of
democratic institutions

Today in Pakistan – democratically elected
government enjoys "entrance legitimacy" but is
suffering from "performance legitimacy" and thus
outsourcing key policymaking such as that deal
with extremisms and terrorism to the military
which continues to weaken democratic
institutions.
Summing up:

Pockets of the entrepreneurship and
innovation; yet, high incidence of poverty
and low levels of human development

Challenge to improve governance which
is both democratic and effective – the
need to build institutions by responding
to the governance challenges
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