Assessing and Analyzing Governance in India

Working and discussion papers
January 2002
Julius Court

As part of the World Governance Survey (WGS) project, a comprehensive assessment of governance at the national level in India was conducted in 2001. 177 experts from four states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and Kerala – completed a questionnaire providing their ratings and comments to 30 indicators of governance. The findings do suggest that even in a country of the diversity and complexity of India it is feasible and valuable to carry out such governance assessments. Nevertheless, due to some methodological challenges, findings are indicative rather than conclusive. The survey does highlight some bright spots, including high levels of freedom of expression and association; high levels of political competition; a respected bureaucracy; and a military that accepts its subordination to civilian government. However, there was an overarching concern that policy-making is rather divorced from the people – especially the poorest members of society. Democracy in India is more impressive in form than substance. More specifically, the survey found that corruption was the most important governance challenge in the country.