Plundering the Armenian People. Governance Gone Greedy
Posted on July. 11. 2020
“Leaders say “no” to corruption. Anyone playing a role in governance, and is not ready to do this is not a leader.” ¯ Israelmore Ayivor
By Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian
According to scientific counts, there are more than 20,000 different kinds of fish in the oceans, lakes, and rivers of the world. Of all the fishes, sharks are the fiercest hunters of the world’s oceans. People are very frightened of them, though many sharks are quite harmless. Tiger sharks are thought to be the most dangerous to people, but any shark will only attack, if it smells blood and it hunts mostly at night, attacking other least suspecting denizens of the deep. What a terrifying experience for other fishes as well as mammals in the water.
The counterpart of sharks in the human species is the oligarchs. They tend to monopolize their social, political, and economic environments through their own kind of governance. Like greedy sharks, they hunt day and night. That is why people are afraid of them. Every country has its share of oligarchs, but a concentration of them in the government, business sector, and social institutions debilitates society from advancing to a higher level of prosperity. The Armenian nation seems to have the dubious distinction of being highly infested with oligarchs in every sector and section of society, who are greedy sharks ready to plunder their own people. As a result, Armenia ends struggling with a zombie economy.
Although plundering means looting during the war, it is also used to convey robbing someone of his or her rights to recognition, property, money, equality and equity. A very brief definition of good governance is that those in charge do not plunder the stakeholders of the organization.
So, the act of plundering and bad governance is symmetrically related and sail in the same direction because of greed. Plunder is an old Middle High German word that originally stood for “household goods and clothes”: namely, your belongings, your stuff. In modern days, plunder can mean stolen goods or money obtained illegally, or the act of taking someone’s properties such as the Ottoman Turks and Kurds did to Armenians in 1915-1923. When someone is overtaken by greed, selfishness, plunder becomes a system of governance.
While the word governance comes from the Latin verb “gubernare,”or more originally it comes from the Greek word “kubernaein,”which means “to steer.” Based on its original roots, governance refers to the manner of steering or governing, or of directing and controlling, a group of people (e.g., Catholicos Karakin II’s bishops and faithfuls) or a state (e.g., Nikol Pashinyan’s cabinet and Armenian citizens). As a result, governance is commonly defined as the exercise of power or authority by a country’s leaders, acting supposedly for the well-being of their citizens or subjects.
In recent years, a number of Armenian heads of state, politicians, leaders of not-for-profit organizations and other national figures have come under the scrutiny of the people for bad governance, for illegal activities, for theft and boondoggling. In fact, Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) has begun its investigation of individuals suspected of embezzlement of national resources. For example, the former President Serzh Sargsyan has been indicted on charges of “theft of state money.” The “Velvet Revolution” has given the ruling government a big broom to sweep clean the country of corrupt individuals taking advantage of the people belonging to various organizations.
The ever increasing dissatisfaction with the leaders of these organizations runs the gamut of lack of transparency, accountability to the greed in pursuing personal gains at the expense of the people they rule. Notable among these individuals who have been alleged of acquiring assets illegally are oligarchs and half a dozen of state and church national figures —such as the three former presidents of Armenia Ter-Petrosyan, Kocharyan, Sargsyan, including Catholicos Karakin II, Abp. Hovnan Derderian, and a host of other religious and secular leaders of various organizations in Armenia and in the Diaspora.
In this article, I will first briefly discuss the meaning of governance. Secondly, I will present a set of requisite characteristics to evaluate a leader against qualities of good governance. Finally, I will select one characteristic or indicator to avoid getting in the trap of a greedy leader who is bent on the amelioration of his or her position at the cost of one’s followers as is done in bad governance.
While management deals primarily with the functions of planning, implementation, and execution, governance can be looked upon as the top management of the organization to set norms or standards, mission, strategic vision, direction, and formulate high-level goals, policies and create an organizational culture. Good governance as a necessary pre-condition for creating an empowering or enabling environment for poverty reduction, sustainable human development, and for generating resources for the common good through a robust economy.
Bad governance encompasses a number of situations involving corruption, deceit, and passing of unfair policy. Obviously, we can see that different manifestations of bad governance can vary in severity and potential negative effect on the followers of an egocentric leader or an oligarchic group. As noted, bad governance is not only centralized around the idea of corruption within a system but that it also around lack of transparency and accountability, arbitrary policy making and the cheating of those who are governed.
Drawing upon a number of social-psychological studies, good governance is expected to be participatory, transparent, accountable, effective and efficient, equitable and promoting the rule of law, which is democracy:
Participation—by both men and women, either directly or through legitimate representatives is the solid foundation of good governance. To be effective, participation needs to be informed and organized, including a culture wherein there is freedom of expression and genuine concern for the best interests of the organization and society in general.
Transparent—means that information should be provided in timely manner and in easily understandable forms and media. It should freely available and directly accessible to those who will most likely be affected by (governance) policies and practices, including the outcomes resulting from the decisions made. Moreover, it should be easily observable that any decisions taken and their enforcement are in compliance with established rules and regulations.
Accountable—is the cornerstone of good governance. Who is accountable for what decisions and practices should be stated in policy statements. Generally speaking, a good governance of an organization is accountable to those who will be affected by its actions and by the applicable rules of law.
Equitable—The organization that provides the opportunity for its stakeholders to maintain, enhance, or generally improve their well-being provides the most compelling message regarding its reason for existence and value to society by being equitable and observing inclusiveness.
Rule of Law—Good governance promotes the rule of law and operates within its restrictions. It requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced by an impartial regulatory body, for the full protection of stakeholders.
Responsive —Good governance requires that organizations and their processes are creatively designed to serve the best interests of stakeholders with a reasonable timeframe.
Consensus Oriented —Good governance requires consultation to understand the different interests of stakeholders in order to reach a broad consensus of what is in the best interest of the entire stakeholder group and how this can be achieved in a sustainable and prudent manner.
Effective and Efficient —Good governance means that the processes executed by the organization to produce favorable results meets the requirements of its stakeholders. At the same time, good governance makes the best use of resources, including human, financial, technological, natural and environmental at its disposal, expressly for the best interest of the people.
Integrity —Finally, a good governance operates on the virtue of integrity, a quality of fairness and righteousness that we all aspire to unless one is dishonest, immoral, scoundrel, of course. Having integrity means doing the right thing in a reliable way. It means a leader or a small group has a moral compass that does not waver. It literally means having “wholeness” of character, just as an integer is a “whole number” with
no fractions, with no inclination to deviate from the right path to defraud by arbitrary policy making and by cheating those who are governed. Staying corruption free is the key to good governance.
Good governance is understood through its above- discussed nine (9) indicators or characteristics. Some people care about transparency, others about effectiveness and efficiency, but for me there is one pivotal indicator. There is one overriding characteristic that if not included in the character portfolio of a leader, then it renders all other good governance traits useless. That is to say, if the leader is corrupt and lacks integrity as discussed in #9 characteristics of good governance, if at the same time, he is very effective and efficient at what he does —does not matter. As you know, experts can also be crooks in their line of business.
Simply put, leaders of bad governance are the land tiger sharks of the Armenian society. They become greedy sharks, when they begin showing an insatiable selfish desire for wealth and possessions at the expense of their own people. Unfortunately, most of the indicted characters listed above, if proven guilty as charged, would fall into the category of being responsible for bad governance. Bad governance is the rot at the heart of the system of any type of organization, be it the state, the church, or a not-for-profit organization. Civil society has no tolerance for miss-governing its fiduciary duties to the people. Fleecing of Armenia should be a crime against the Armenian nation. As such, the law should not admit any exceptions whether the corrupt official is the president of Armenia or just an office clerk.
Whenever a public figure is indicted of wrongdoing, the natural tendency of people is to judge him or her in the court of public opinion. To inject some objectivity in passing judgment over an accused person, it would only be fair to use the above nine (9) characteristics of good governance as a set of criteria or standards against which to evaluate whether the person is innocent or guilty as charged. Hopefully, the accused will have his or her day in court and then we see how he or she was adjudicated in a real court of law.
It should also be emphasized that good governance based exclusively on economic growth would be lopsided. Good governance and development encompass a broader spectrum of areas of achievement, such as protection of human rights, equitable distribution of wealth, enhancement of individual capabilities, creation of an environment to encourage participation and growth of human potentials. Any person entrusted with the stewardship of national resources who fails the standards of good governance is not a leader, but a tiger shark in Mother Teresa’s attire to fleece his own people.
It has already been discovered, sustainable development necessitates empowering people and respecting human rights. Leaders of good governance recognize the necessity of unleashing the full potential of its human resources by recognizing their critical roles in advancing Armenia. Good governance and the people make a great team. As you well know, individuals play the game, but teams win championships.
Be careful not to get caught inside the mouth of a “friendly” tiger shark! List pictures of President Ter Petrosyan, etc. as being a shark …or any other graphic design will do.