Yet Again, Kerala Tops Public Affairs Index; Bihar Last
South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu secured first and second rankings for the second time in a row in Public Affairs Index (PAI) in governance in states.
The rankings were done separately for large states and small states (population less than 2 crore), with Himachal Pradesh and Goa securing the first two ranks in governance indicators in small states.
The Public Affairs Index on good governance was introduced last year, measuring aspects like economic, social and infrastructure development in states. It was released by former Chief Justice of India M N Venkatachaliah.
The survey was based on 10 themes, 26 focus subjects and 82 indicators.
In the matter of the state providing basic and essential infrastructure developments (power, water, roads and communications and housing), Punjab maintained its top position from last year, while Tamil Nadu (5th in 2016) and Andhra Pradesh (4th in 2016) secured the second and the third ranking.
Kerala secured the first ranking in the indicators – support to human development, social protection and, women and children, while Tamil Nadu secured the first ranking in the indicators – crime, law & order, delivery of justice, and the environment.
In women and children, the government made new developments with the introduction of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2016, Draft National Policy for Women, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 and the Maternity Benefit Act, 2017.
In crime, law & order, most of the data of PAI 2017 is taken from the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) which reports that the rape rates in our National Capital, Delhi, have increased by almost 350 per cent since 2012, while crime against women have tremendously increased among the six north-eastern states, as reported by NCRB during 2014.
There is also a view that most crimes in India are not reported and one of the major reasons why metro cities show a higher incidence of crime is the high reportage due to public awareness and closer vigilance.
For the theme transferability and accountability (the level of openness and participation in government administration), Haryana performed the best, overtaking Kerala’s top position in 2016. New developments in this area were taken place since last year with the introduction of BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money), geo-tagging the assets created under MGNREGA and digital India.
Telangana was the best performer in fiscal management while its neighbour Andhra Pradesh was the worst performer and secured last rank.
In the category of economic freedom, Gujarat performed the best, while Telangana and Maharashtra secured the second and the third positions respectively. Startup India, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Atal Innovation Mission and Stand up India were the government innovations made in this area since PAI 2016.
In the aggregated ranking of all states, Kerala was placed first, while Tamil Nadu and Gujarat were second and third respectively. Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam were at the bottom of the table in PAI, maintaining their last four positions of last year.
In the category essential infrastructure, Goa and Delhi interchanged their last year’s rankings of second and third respectively.
The north-eastern states of Mizoram and Manipur performed the best in the human development index, while Jammu and Kashmir and Tripura were the best performers in the social protection category.
The indicators for governance in social protection are Public Distribution System (PDS), social justice and empowerment, minority welfare and employment.
In crime, law & order, Nagaland ranked the first, followed by J&K and Manipur, however, J&K was placed 9th in delivery of justice (one rank lower than Delhi) among 12 states. The state’s ranking last year was 4th. Meghalaya was the worst performer in this category.
In the category environment, with indicators forest cover and renewable energy, the best and worst performers maintained their ranking of last year. Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were the best performers, while Uttarakhand and Delhi the worst.
The state with the best fiscal management was Goa, followed by Delhi (1st in 2016) and Jammu and Kashmir (7th in 2016).
Delhi maintained its first ranking in economic freedom since PAI 2016, while Goa was placed second.
In the aggregate ranking in governance in all states, Himachal Pradesh fared the best, followed by Goa and Mizoram. Among the 12 small states, Delhi was ranked 9th (3rd in 2016), Jammu and Kashmir 10th, while Meghalaya secured the last rank.
The Logical Indian take
South Indian states have performed better in good governance as compared to the states in the north. Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha have continued to fare poorly, while the nation’s capital slips in ranking.
PAI 2017 points out the challenges faced by India. We have differences that do not die away and persist to weaken the unity of our country. The index shows the poor manner in which women and children in our society are treated, the way crimes plague us and our apathy towards the environment.
This acts as a call for the government to implement more efficient regulations to uplift the country in areas where overhaul is needed. Health, education and infrastructural development remain a challenge in northern India.
While as individuals we can target the flaws by overcoming social prejudices, providing amenities lies in the hands of the government.