“A truly democratic country should be of complete transparency.”
Government transparency means placing all financial and public information online in an easy-to-use, readily understandable system. Such a system allows taxpayers to see clearly how public servants are spending tax money, and gives citizens the ability to hold their elected officials accountable. Transparency of government is essential for two reasons;firstlyit is necessary to build trust between the government and general public and secondlyit is the ultimate right of general public to decide their future.
In a democratic society, public awareness and understanding of government practice ensure stability and confidence in governing systems. Awareness and understanding of government practices rely greatly on the public's ability to access the information relevant to its interests. Ease of information access and understanding is more succinctly referred to as “transparency.”
The idea of transparency in government practice is fundamental to successful democratic process. Transparency has been a recurring topic of focus for leaders of democracies throughout history. The manner in which government conducts itself in its business transactions immediately affects public opinion and the public's trust in its political leaders.
Today, transparency in government operations is no less important and is discussed at all levels of government. Driving the demand for information are accountability, understanding of spending priorities, economic conditions, identification of businesses opportunities and political scandals.
US President Obama in his 2009 inaugural address emphasized the importance of transparency in government practice and its value in holding government accountable for its actions “…And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”
The same sense of responsibility and accountability is also needed in a democratic country like India.
Although today's democracies enjoy the benefits of evolved information technology systems unfortunately, not all government entities including the government of India are equally financially able to provide their public with the technology-based information systems that maximize transparency. Though perhaps unintended, the consequence is that the community is less able to ensure that its government is acting in a manner that effectively balances the needs of all its constituents.
This is important to understand that ultimately the goal of transparency is to provide sufficient information so that the general public or private individuals can view or monitor the government’s spending. Access to information is the best way to protect taxpayers’ money against abuse and fraud. To this end, entities should align financial and human resources to support existing and proposed transparency legislation appropriately; utilize the capacities of contemporary data technologies; and identify a procurement liaison to facilitate requests for data and guide its appropriate use.
In the democracy of India the picture is totally different. The public had and still has no idea of what government is doing. The government on the other hand makes, takes and implements decisions that have the potential to effect the lives of millions of people in the country without appropriate consultation with the general public probably because it is of the opinion that the masses would not understand the pros and cons of the policy making. This assumption is totally wrong!! The public is made up of intelligent individuals, most of them are literate and well educated. Surely if properly presented with the merits and demerits if the policy that is to be implemented such persons could be trusted with the capability of judging whether it would be in their best interest or not. Only one individual or a particular committee constituting of a few individuals do not have any right of taking an important decision on which the future of the entire public depends.
“Open government is critical to an informed public, and an informed public is critical to democracy.” –Judith Zaffirini
The transparency in government is an issue that cannot be overlooked but as per the general concept or we can say as per “Government’s Views” on the issues that need to be given emphasis, this issue is not an issue on which overemphasis should be given. This is because transparency is the true litmus test of government. This implies that in case if more importance is given to this issue government’s real working strategy will be revealed and obviously who would want that!!!
Here as the topic itself suggests the solution; emphasis should be given to the transparency in the government strategy because this is the only solution to all the problems prevailing in the society. These problems are endless starting from corruption to black money, from poverty to inflation and many more. These problems cannot be resolved in a day or two. Lots of efforts, planning and most importantly a strong will-power is required to bring these changes.
Nowadays, transparency in the government workings has come out to be of an utmost need because now it is a high time and this is highly recommended that the general public should get a chance to participate in the national decisions. This is important, as public engagement enhances the government's effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions.Further knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge.In my opinion executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.
On the other hand government should also be collaborative.Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. They should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.
Concluding the topic “transparency in government is the ultimate key to reform” the need is to discover the ways of bringing transparency in the government. Also government should take the initiative for the same because if government is not sensitive enough , the same objective cannot be fulfilled. Transparency in government can be achieved through; Freedom of information acts; administrative procedures acts; televised parliamentary reports; advertised government positions etc. Ultimately the decision is ours , whether we want to live in a true democratic country which is really for the people, to the people and by the people or a democratic country which is just a described in the papers of constitution of India and there is no practical approach for the same.
CS Nisha Sharma