Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government has a reason to rejoice as for the third consecutive year, the southern state has retained the top spot in the list of the best governed Indian states. Bengaluru based think-tank, Public Affairs Centre (PAC) on July 21 had released its annual report, Public Affairs Index 2018 which seeks to examine governance performance of states through a data-based framework.
To derive the results which are based solely on government data, PAC had divided the states in accordance with the population in small and large states. According to the report, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat are among the top five large states which delivered good governance, whereas, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha are ranked the lowest. The latter indicates higher social and economic inequalities as opposed to the states at the top.
Among smaller states with a population less than two crores, Himachal Pradesh is in the first spot, followed by Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura while Meghalaya performed the worst in this category.
What were the parameters of the PAI report?
PAC has been releasing this comprehensive report since 2016, and for this year’s report, the organisation has ranked all Indian states across ten themes such as essential infrastructure, support to human development, social protection, women and children, law and order, transparency and accountability among others.
In aspects such as essential infrastructure (power, water, road and housing), support to human development (health and education), women and children, Kerala secured the first spot, whereas in other parameters, like transparency and accountability and environment, Karnataka bagged the first spot. Conversely, Bihar fared poorly in most of these parameters, thereby, showing the dismal status of governance in the state.
Moreover, 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators were measured to deduce the index. Additionally, the organisation, while developing its data-based report, steered clear of private data sources to keep ‘bias’ from seeping in.
Apart from the themes that have already been mentioned, this year’s report saw the introduction of a new category called “Children of India” which seeks to measure how child-friendly states are. Kerala tops this list as well, whereas, Jharkhand performed the worst.
Speaking at the event, former chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Shantha Sinha said, “Children growing up in poverty cannot be blamed for their situation, and it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that they are provided with opportunities for a better living.”
What is PAC?
PAC is a not-for-profit organisation, formed in 1994 by noted Indian scholar Samuel Paul. The organisation through its various efforts has been trying to mobilise the cause of accountable and good governance in the country. Reportedly, former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation K Kasturirangan said, “The PAI 2018 is one example of a data-based framework that provides some basis, even if rudimentary, to assess the performance of states in India.”
The Logical Indian Take
In 2014, PM Modi spoke about the need to focus on Maximum Governance and Minimum Government, however, the states which have traditionally fared poorly continue to lag behind even under the new government.
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. PAI 2018 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 the 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. The reports point out the fact that it is time for the other Indian states to follow in Kerala’s footsteps and practice good governance.