‘Poor governance’ rank raises concern in Meghalaya

GUWAHATI, Jul 23 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 7/24/2018 12:28:27 AM IST
Days after faring poorly in the “ease of doing business” rankings, Meghalaya has cut a sorry figure yet again when it comes to governance, with concerns surfacing and questions raised on the “lack of transparency and accountability” in the system, The Shillong Times reported.
The state was placed second last (29th) in the overall rankings of the Public Affairs Index (PAI) 2018, released by the Bengaluru-based think tank, Public Affairs Centre (PAC), on Sunday.
Among the smaller states (population below 2 crore), Meghalaya slipped to the bottom while others like Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura were ranked among the top five in the category.
Speaking to The Shillong Times on Monday, former state home minister, Robert G. Lyngdoh said there was an urgent need for some seriousness in the system of governance where each pillar of democracy – judiciary, legislature and executive – is given independence and equal importance.
“What I perceive right now is there is not much of a check and balance. There is zero transparency and zero accountability. I feel the executive should be allowed to perform independently and not dictated by the whims and fancies of legislators. Bureaucrats must stand up for their work to ensure they perform their duties,” Lyngdoh said.
“Besides, legislators should put the state and people above party and self, which is not happening at the moment. But once they become accountable and their performances are put for scrutiny by public, the indicators will certainly go up,” he said.
The study by Public Affairs Centre relied solely on government data with 11 themes, 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators measured to derive the index. 
The themes included economic freedom, fiscal management, transparency and accountability, environment, delivery of justice, crime, law and order, women and children, social protection, human development and essential infrastructure.
Lyngdoh further said politicians must give people the space to be independent.
Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) president and women’s rights activist, Agnes Kharshiing, however, said the state’s poor report card on governance was anticipated.
“This was expected. There is no transparency, infrastructure is poor, environment is being destroyed while human development is a farce and at the mercy of opportunists. Besides, crimes against women and children are on the rise. Worse still, corruption is on a high, from top to bottom,” Kharshiing said.
Kerala stood at the top of the good governance list for the third consecutive year followed by Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka.
Meghalaya State Planning Board expert member, Naba Bhattacharjee, said the state only needs to look closer home to make amends.
“Some of the Northeastern states which were formed much later than Meghalaya have fared better in the index which indicates that they have been working on their strengths. For instance, Sikkim has been focusing on its core competence – tourism and organic farming,” Bhattacharjee, who is also the chairman of the Meghalaya People’s Environment Rights Forum, said.
“On the contrary, Meghalaya is yet to focus on its strengths – environment and tourism. We have neglected our strengths without putting in place an alternative. 
There is no constructive approach. Besides, the efficacy of a programme like the Integrated Basin Development and Livelihood Promotion Programme is questionable. Despite crores of rupees spent, the outcome is still not known,” he said.
The planning board expert member however said that the present dispensation has been taking initiatives even as it would “take a while to undo what has been done by the previous government over the past decade or so.”

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