There have been many Political Philosophers in the world but, I like to start my study of “The State” with Jean Jacques Rousseau, a French philosopher perhaps, because he expresses himself simply and briefly. His treatise, “The Social Contract” [available online] is a brief [abstract] theorization of the construct of a state.
Humankind’s rights are inalienable i.e. these cannot be taken away from him. On the other hand, since humankind is compelled by nature and humankind’s own needs, to co-exist, there has, perforce needs to be governed collectively. Since rights cannot be taken from it, Rousseau theorizes that mankind must, to co-exist, voluntarily, give up some of its inalienable rights on the understanding that the state undertake the responsibility to ensure that each citizen’s rights [the ones he/she gave up] will be guaranteed by the state.
So, e.g. the right to defend oneself and your property. Mankind gives it up and the state assumes that responsibility. But that’s not all. All services that the state is responsible to provide, natural and/or manmade, and facilities must be guaranteed by the state, equally and for all citizens.
It is on these bases that Economic Philosophers, whether Capitalists or Socialists and, political philosophers whether Democrats or Communists, built upon their varying state constructs. And consensus was found on the fact that there are three Pillars of the State i.e. 1) The Legislature; which makes laws, 2) the Executive; which ensures the laws are implemented equally and, if violated, the guilty are punished and, 3) the Judiciary; which not only ensures that justice is meted out in accordance with the law, but also that laws are inherently “good” i.e. the laws in themselves are in keeping with the duties of the state.
All other state organs must act in support of the pillars of state.
But, what is the bottom-line of all this? The bottom line is that the state exists, in whatever its construct, for but one purpose: to ensure justice equally and for each and every one. It is also important to point out that this justice is not merely the duties of courtrooms, but also in all matters of services provided y all organs of state, because justice is all encompassing; e.g. justice in education, health, food, etc.
Having said that, one must admit that this requirement is virtually impossible. Utopia, [the claimed-to-be] perfect construct, can never exist. Deliberately or inadvertently, injustice will exist everywhere.
Therefore, if justice for all citizens is the sole purpose of the state and, injustice will never cease to exist, why should a state exist? If perfection is impossible, we must strive to get as close to perfection as possible and seek to reduce injustice to its possible minimum.
If the foregoing be so, the measure of “good governance” by any state would be judged inversely by the level of injustice [if that can be quantified] prevalent in that state.
Regretfully, our benighted country is likely to be among those where injustice, not merely exists, it prevails. We could draw comfort from the possibility that the largest democracy, which India claims to be, and the greatest democracy, which the USA claims to be, are likely to be on the same list as we. Perhaps even above us.