News and Events

(79) Ms. Shikha Jha on the Importance of Good Governance in Developing Asia

11 June 2015 – As part of the Zuellig School’s Development@Work Series, Ms. Shikha Jha, Principal Economist of ADB's Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, visited AIM last June 4 to discuss Prof. Anil Deolalikar’s findings about the relationship of governance and development in Asia.

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Prof. Deolalikar's book, ‘Governance in Developing Asia’ is the first regional report on governance, empowerment and inclusive development. Having evolved from the Policy Report on empowerment and because it shows how the quantity and quality of public services in a country can be improved through solicitation of citizen involvement, it provides important analysis for policy makers, businesses, academics, and civil society.



ADB defines governance as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of social and economic resources for development” (ADB 2000), observed and measured through transparency, accountability, rule of law, and effective and legitimate institutions. Given this definition, common sense places good governance as instrumental in growth and development – in fact, it is considered among the top 5 development concerns in Asia.

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(Further reading: ADB Medium Term Review of Strategy 2020 – Governance and Public Service Delivery)


The Asian Context

Despite the prevalence of weak governance among many Asian countries, rapid growth, economic development, and recovery from the global financial crisis have been witnessed in the region.

Asia has the highest growth among all regions, with 700 million people rising out of extreme poverty (living on $1.25 or less per day), near universal primary education achieved at 89% for girls and 91% for boys, and improved access to safe drinking water per household at almost 86%. 

While Asia continues to close the income gap with rich countries at 24% in 2013 versus 6% in 1980, it has little progress in closing the perceived governance gap. South Asia, in particular, has the lowest average performance within Asia.

Given this conundrum, the question must be asked: does good governance matter?

(Further reading: Worldwide Governance Indicators by the World Bank)


The Road to Sustained Development: Development-Governance Relationship

Data gathered shows that countries in developing Asia with better governance grew faster by 1.9 percentage points annually above average.

The conundrum was observed in developing Asia because the relationship between governance and development is complex. Further findings in the book point to the fact that while investments can support the initial thrust of development, better governance and citizen empowerment are still needed to sustain it.

 How could Asia leverage this information? Prof. Deolalikar’s findings zero in on public services, through which countries can operationalize good governance.

Covering the three levels of citizen needs (essential, social, and regulatory) through public services is the government’s direct route to economic development. The direction of which can be traced from (1) increase of individual well-being via access to essential needs to (2) empowerment and awareness through access to social fulfilment (healthcare, schooling, housing, etc) and finally, (3) maintenance through regulatory needs (property, licenses, environmental standards, etc).

After all, the data gathered about Asia is still an average. Statistics such as Asia hosting half to a third of the world’s poor as well as the rising inequality in 80% of Asia’s population still call for better public services. These statistics and other manifestations of weak governance in Asia hinder them from taking advantage of opportunities for business and citizen empowerment toward sustaining development.


Delivering Public Service

ADB recommends a “multipronged strategy” for better public services. This involves complementary policies that (1) empower citizens and communities, (2) engage sub-national governments and the private sector, and (3) expand the use of ICT as a catalyst. This can be implemented through proper coordination among the central government, local governments, private sector and NGOs, and the citizens.

There is also no set pattern that would be applicable for all countries: governance reforms must be tailored according to needs and available actionable areas.


To download materials from the event, click the links below:

Presentation on Governance in Developing Asia_MDM_AIM_06042015.pdf (2.7 mb)

To watch a recording of the forum, [link to be updated].

To purchase a copy of the book, click here.



About the Author

Anil Deolalikar is Professor of Economics and Founding Dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. He taught previously at the University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University, and served as Lead Human Development Economist for the World Bank in India during 2002-03. Deolalikar has also served as consultant to a number of developing-country governments and international organizations, including the ADB, World Bank, UNDP and USAID, on a variety of research and policy projects.

Deolalikar has published five books and nearly 75 articles on the economics of child nutrition, health, education, poverty, and social protection in developing countries. He is co-editor of The Journal of Asian and African Studies and The Journal of Developing Societies. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Earlier in his career, he was awarded the Robert McNamara Fellowship for International Development by the World Bank.

He obtained his BA summa cum laude in Economics from Harvard University, Diploma in Economics from Cambridge University, Ph.D. from Stanford University, and a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Economic Demography from Yale University.

About the Speaker

Shikha Jha is principal economist at Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of Asian Development Bank (ADB), where she leads research on topical development themes and serves on the Steering Committee of Governance Thematic Group.

Prior to ADB, Ms. Jha was the professor of economics and dean of graduate studies at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in India. She taught microeconomics, public economics and development economics and advised Ph.D and M.Phil Students. She also worked as economist at India's National Institute of Public Finance and Policy and visiting lecturer at Indian Statistical Institute. She was also an academic visitor at London School of Economics; long-term international consultant to World Bank and UNDP; and Global Associate for the International Service for National Agricultural Research, CGIAR; in addition to consulting for other international organizations.

Ms. Jha completed Ph.D. in Economics at Indian Statistical Institute in Delhi and postdoctoral studies at London School of Economics on a Ford Foundation fellowship.

About the Development@Work Seminar Series

The AIM Zuellig Graduate School of Development Management hosts numerous talks and public lectures on different aspects of development management. These seminars and lectures are free and open to the public, unless stated otherwise. For information on future seminars, visit the News and Events section of this website or like us on Facebook (



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