Probity in Governance

Probity (Satyanishtha in Hindi) literally means a complete and confirmed integrity; having strong moral principles. Every day, we hear and talk about probity in public life. We expect our political leaders and bureaucrats to be transparent in their dealings. Their alleged misdeeds, scandals and scams are publicized and discussed threadbare. We seek revenge and demand their heads. But have we ever thought of our own personal lives and wondered will it withstand our own scrutiny.

We tend to lead a twin-faced life. On the face of it we profess honesty and integrity but are we clean in our dealings. This dichotomy in our thoughts and actions is a source of pain and sorrow in our life.

The first step towards self improvement is the probity in the personal lives. Guru Nanak Dev divided the study of life in four compartments: Dharma, Karma, Lajja and Kripa.

Guru Nanak says whenever we prepare to do an act we must ask ourselves “will I be able to place it in front of the God. Will it withstand His scrutiny?” Only if our act can pass this litmus test shall we do it.  However it is easier said and done. There are temptations and pressures which push us towards the opposite.

Once we become aware of our acts and become a witness gradually; we tend to be filled with a feeling of shame (Lajja). Nanak says lajja is a form of prayer which heralds the onset of His Kripa which fills us with anand or fulfilment.

Good Governance and Probity

Governance means the act and manner of managing public affairs. Through the process of governance, the essential link is established between the civil society and the State, giving a shape to the way decisions are made for serving public interest.

Constitution and laws provide the legal framework of governance whereas probity is the integrity, uprightness and rules of conduct, in the legal framework for those institutions that determine the nature of governance and the relation between the government and the governed.

Governance is judged based on certain guiding principles that have been established and followed to ensure good administration and these can be summarised as follows:

  • The good governance should follow the principle that an administrator is a servant of the general public.
  • The mode of administration should be above one’s own selfish aims and goals. It should be beyond caste, creed or other considerations with sole aim being developed with equal benefit and justice.
  • There should not be any evil or corrupt motive behind administrative actions and the sole motive should be the larger interest of society.

Behind every administrative act to achieve good governance, there, should also be kind, sympathetic and humane approach and the act should not be harsh and such that the human touch or sensitivity it lost. The probity in governance should be followed in its right and actual spirit so that administration can be synced with development.

Information Sharing and Transparency in Governance

Sharing information and transparency are indispensable pillars of good governance that compel the state and civil society to focus on results, seek clear objectives, develop effective strategies, and monitor and report on performance.

Access to information

Many laws were enumerated to bring transparency in governance for sharing information to the public by putting information in the public domain and which includes the following

  • Right to information Act
  • Ombudsman Office in the local/state level
  • Accountability bill for disclosure of Income and Assets
  • Records Management laws
  • Whistle Blower Protection
Ethics and Integrity

The morality is maintained by formulating and employing model code of conduct for ministers, bureaucracy, judiciary, and civil society groups.

  • Removal of all discretionary which may lead to misappropriation in government
  • Public hearings & Public meetings for review and by establishing social audit
  • Consulting public in the process of policy making for participatory budgeting and Independent auditing
  • Legislation providing for transparent and accountable administrative action.
Institutional reforms
  • Introducing public delivery of service agreements by executive agencies for ensuring accountability, objectivity and transparency
  • Allowing stakeholders like citizen committees to participate in various decision making processes and encouraging and facilitating public participation through the following
    • Public Hearings
    • Study Circles
    • Citizen Advisory Boards
    • Government Contract Committees
    • Public Watchdog Groups
    • Independent Anti-Corruption Agencies
  • Capacity building of citizen and civil society groups
Targeting specific issues

Easy access of government officials to the public

  • Availability of Contact numbers of senior servants to Public
  • Details in Departmental websites
  • Facilitation counters for citizens
Assessment and Monitoring

Performance Measurement Appraisal should be carried out.

  • Monitoring through performance indicators
  • Annual Performance White Papers

Developing and Implementation of citizens’ charter in all government departments which gives timeline of service delivery.