All of us cherish democracy. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Nation had said, "True democracy is what promotes welfare of the people. "The success of democracy is, therefore, to be gauged by the extent of welfare its four estates promote for the people. These estates are the four pillars where upon rests the edifice of democracy. But the biggest and the strongest pillar of strength of democracy is the people's support to the system; this trust, faith and support is generated only by good governance that promotes common man's welfare. I, therefore, regard people's welfare as the fifth pillar of democracy. The four estates of democracy ought to nurture and work together to strengthen this fifth pillar; for if this key fifth pillar is shaken, people's faith in democracy as an effective system to promote their welfare would be undermined.
—Extract from the book
Given the vast scope of the subjects covered in the collection, it may be easier to focus on a few topics, as they are the ones that Shri Shekhawat has, in one way or the other, homed in on over the years. A glance at the contents page will reveal how close they are to Shri Shekhawat's heart, and how passionate he is in bringing them to our notice. One subject is the malaise of corruption, and its antidote—good governance, whether it is in the administration of government, in the political arena or in a corporate entity. The other is his pioneering Antyodaya programme, which brought the public into governance, and led to a paradigm-shift in the concept of rural development in Rajasthan. And the insights of the two themes illumine and suffuse all that he touches.
Nowadays a catchword, Good Governance is more often spoken of than it is practised. Also, since it has become fashionable, it has spawned the most arcane definitions, no two of which seem to agree with each other. It is, therefore, of interest to note Shri Shekhawat's understanding of Good Governance, based upon his own keen understanding and long and extensive experience of public administration.
—About the book
Born on October 23,1923 in a humble farmer's family in village Khachariawas in Sikar District of Rajasthan. With grit and determination, perseverance and commitment, he could rise to become the Member of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly on a record number of times, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for three terms. On August 19, 2002 he was elected to the Office of the Vice President of India with a handsome margin. His adherence to the politics of consensus and affable temperament, has earned him the sobriquet of Ajatshatru. By his impeccable integrity, deep commitment to the welfare of the poor and firm belief in democratic and moral values, he lent dignity to these offices and served with great distinction, and also through several proactive and innovative developmental schemes, such as Antyodaya, Food for Work etc., he paved the way for the overall development of the poor and the downtrodden. Being impressed by the commendable results achieved under Antyodaya scheme, the then President of the World Bank called Shri Shekhawat as 'Second Rockefeller', while Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan fervently wished Antyodaya to be an integral part of his movement for "total revolution". He is a strong votary of universal literacy, population control, land reforms, eradication of corruption, judicial and electoral reforms, especially holding simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies and making politics free from casteism,.money and muscle power. Welcoming Shri Shekhawat as the Chairman. Rajya Sabha on November 20, 2002, the then Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behan Vajpayee emotionally said, "You have arisen from the soil to become the sandal wood 'tilak' on the forehead." The then Leader of Opposition, Dr. Manmohan Singh said "your public life, extending over half a century, is an epitome of wisdom, knowledge and experience, which we are very proud to say, will be a very important asset for us as we deliberate in this august House." The same sentiments echoed in Rajya Sabha when Shri Shekhawat completed four years as Chairman on August 18, 2006. On that day despite his unwillingness to dispense with the Question Hob: the entire House cutting across party lines rose to greet and felicitate him and pay tributes on his excellent and impartial conduct of the proceedings of the House. "His Was an unprecedented event in the long history of Rajya Sabha.