Maharashtra has made a farsighted attempt in trying to rate government departments on their financial prudence and clean record. By tightening the loose nuts and bolts of its administrative machinery, the government will not only improve governance but at the same time create a contented and disciplined bureaucracy, which is at the moment wary of taking any decisions post a slew of scams in the recent past.

This better-be-safe-than-sorry approach of the bureaucracy has not only pulled back Maharashtra’s relative growth, but left the state at the mercy of a bloated public debt of over R3 lakh crore, and inviting constant criticism from the judiciary over cases of financial mismanagement in various departments. The state Public Works Department (PWD) is under the court’s lens for a R119-crore scam in repairing of the chief minister and deputy chief minister’s bungalows at Nagpur, while the tribal department, too, is facing court heat over an alleged R6,000-crore scam in welfare schemes meant for the poor.

This grim scenario leaves the government with no choice but to go back to the basics and work from within a system, which is regressive at its core. Crudely put, the scamsters have been effective because the government refuses to decentralise, clutching onto its powers of transfers of officials and purchases of welfare goods meant for the poor.

This approach must change at the earliest and a ranking based on the operative parameters of good governance will only help government rid of this perceived policy paralysis.

It is widely believed that good governance could only be achieved when there is healthy competition within departments, greater accountability, transparency and well-oiled machinery that thrives on persuasion. Ensuring departments compete with each other, keep record of their bills and spending, pending cases in court, fewer cases of misappropriation, will help state reclaim its tag of a progressive state, which currently looks like it’s slipping away from its clutches.