“For the forms of government, let fools contest.
That which is best administered is best.”
“But what is best must free man still decide.
Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.” Finer
“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pigmies.” V. Hon0re De Balzac
British Government the institution bequeathed to India – The institution of civil services in India is the oldest and most wonderful institution the British Government had bequeathed to India. British rule had evolved the institution of civil service as an efficient, professional and to a great degree incorruptible organization. It was popularly known as ‘‘the Steel Frame’ of British administrative structure”, Fortunately India, along with Pakistan, has inherited from the past, a unique administrative system, which knows, what these strategic posts are and who are the persons to hold them.
Thousands of employees in Administrative set-up – Government of India employs up (civil services/bureaucracy) from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Government makes all feasible administrative, organizational and working atmosphere arrangements for its employees. The administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks.
Best talents – Officers of civil services of government of India are selected by UPSC through a competitive Combined All India/Civil Services examination every year. It is one of the toughest entrance examinations. In order to employ best talents in the services, every year UPSC conducts a common civil services examination (CSE) for to select personnel for many services under government of India like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), as well as for other non-IAS services like IFS, IPS and other central services for different departments like Revenue, Railways, Audit and accounts Services, civil services and Police Service for Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli , Pondicherry.
For civil services examination 2015, 9.41 lakh students registered, out of which 4.6 took preliminary test. Of it 15,008 (+1415 for Indian Forest Service Exam.) 3,308 were further shortlisted for personality test. Finally 1,236 (3.5% candidates)were appointed to the 24 services that come under Civil Services.
IAS propped up as the Elite service – During British rule, ICS was propped up as an elite service. Its officers in their early twenties would arrive to India after being trained at Cambridge or Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. They were responsible for maintaining law and order and revenue collection.
Now IAS officers have wide-ranging authority in districts as collectors. and at centre as policy-makers. They have-
Have easy accesses to levers of power.
Are symbol of power – dealing directly with Ministers at centre and provinces.
Have smoothest career-progressions. And
Occupy almost all senior-most posts at centre and States.
One wonders why the steel-frame of yesteryears has failed to do its job effectively and judiciously, despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to perform their duties freely and frankly. Inefficient and ineffective performance of Bureaucracy/civil services by and large has affected the lives of millions of people. Now sarcastically, people call bureaucracy as ‘babudom’ and bureaucrats as ‘Glorified Babus’.
Why does not bureaucracy take a stand against the unjust dictates of political leaders or corrupt senior officers, who stops them from doing their jobs judiciously? Why and how civil services in India got derailed is a point to ponder. What were the reasons behind ineffective and inefficient performance needs to be analysed.
ICS, the “Steel-frame of governance” during British rule – “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule, and, in a fascinating episode, when Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the rebel Indian National Army, flew to Berlin during the Second World War to solicit help from Hitler, the Fuehrer dismissed him, taking the view that Indians needed “to be civilized by another hundred years of British rule.” “How was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality?
“Gilmour comes to the sensible conclusion that the men of the ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments. A number of individuals were ‘coming to the institution through stiff competition, not the other way round’. Often a District officer in his early twenties would arrive fresh from his ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. The wide ranging responsibilities of the District Officers of the ICS were responsible for almost everything.
Structure of the civil service – The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (From Rup Narain Das, titled ‘Marx and 1857’, published in TOI, P.22, 16.5.07, excerpts quoted from an article of Gilmour on Marx, June July 15, 1857 in New York Daily Tribune as a leading article)
The ICS – ICS (Indian Civil Service) called ‘steel-frame of administration’ Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic “Steel-frame” speech, said it very clearly on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants. He said, “I do not care, what you build on it, if you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India.”
What made ICS so strong and efficient? – What made ICS was strong enough to rear and sustain British rule in India for such a long time? Some of the reasons were as was because –
Family background – Most of them belonged to British professional middle classes.
Educational background – They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge.
Sense of responsibility – The ICS, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work. They had deep sense of responsibility. However, these qualities served mainly the British rulers and not so much the Indian masses. They had full freedom and opportunity to do something worthwhile.
Work atmosphere – So far as it did not jeopardized the Imperial interests, ICS officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, “Care, protection and guidance” ultimately liberty to the people, they ruled (Times of India, August 10, 1997, p2). Mr. Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, “I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager… Here are simple people, who need leadership.” Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, “Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.”
Bright career prospects – Extremely generous salaries and quick promotions.
Slim and trim service – just over a thousand at any given time – made for a strong sense of service loyalty.
Esprit-de’-corps – Philip Maser said that there was esprit-de’-corps amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, “It is the Esprit de’corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code.” It did not need to be articulated. Every body knew it.
Honesty – Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers being corrupt. It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable (Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993).
Balance of Power – Illbert Bill controversy indicates that White bureaucrats were not at all prepared to share administrative powers with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909. When the demand for the participation of Indian nationals at higher levels of administration increased, the dominance of Brahmins in administration, though mainly at lower level, had cautioned the rulers. They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire national movement, agitations and terrorist activities. Therefore, British rulers tried their best to balance the power in such a way, that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India. British rulers managed it by adopting the following measures –
Propped-up other sections of society against Upper-castes – The British thought it necessary to keep a balance of power by propping up other sections of the society in order to stop the preponderance of Brahmins and forward castes in modern callings.
Divide and rule – They divided Indian population, through censuses, into different groups, i.e. upper castes, backward castes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities.
Start of quota system – To counter Brahmin’s dominance in administration, the British designed Reservation Policy. They fixed up quotas in government jobs for different sections on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc.
Separate representation and preferences to non-Brahmins -Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and1932 the rulers provided separate representation to different communities in Legislative Councils and Assemblies. The rulers bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and jobs for different upcoming groups.
ICS remained untouched from preferential treatment till end – Though the British Government gave preferential treatment to upcoming groups in government jobs, British rulers kept the ICS untouched from the quota system till the last. They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for any body, as on it depended, efficient governance of the country. It was told the upcoming groups in clear terms, “With its utmost desire to do so, the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their countrymen for duties of administration and public (Times of India Archives, May 3, 1918).
Breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India – With the intensification of national movement and introduction of Diarchy, the downfall in the quality of work began to fade. Pannikar says, “The Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India, for after that there was no claim, that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished” (Pannikar KM, The Development of Administration in India, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institution of Public Administration, vols. 2 and 3, p14.)
The Rawland Committee remarked, “The present position, in our judgment, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself, as well as, from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…. He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrates and Collectors failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he can not compel… In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further, because activities of the Government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of Provincialized Service and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the Government” (Report of the Bengal Administrative Enquiry Committee, 1944-45, p18).
Transfer of power – In 1935, with the intensification of the nationalist movement, supported by Indian National Congress Party and growing demand for greater Indian participation in Government and its administration at higher levels, the Colonial rulers delegated some authority to the provinces. They were aware of the consequences of delegation of authority to the provinces. Therefore, they transferred to the Provincial Governments only the authority to manage the services engaged in service-functions and kept ‘control functions’ i.e. maintaining law and order and revenue collection in their own hands. Ultimately in 1947, India got its freedom as an independent country.
Civil services after the Independence – With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration had undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic changes. Bureaucracy was now expected to play a significant role in administrative and developmental work of the Government.
Dreams of constitution-framers – The forefathers of the Constitution realized the importance of civil services in order to ensure good governance to the country and providing the safety of the nation. Mr. MV Kamath said, “With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the services have become onerous. It may make or mar the efficiency of the machinery of administration, machinery so vital for the peace and progress of the country. A country without any efficient Government service can not make progress in spite of the earnestness of the people at the helm of affairs of the country. Whatever democratic institutions exist, experience has shown, that it is essential to protect public services as far as possible from political and personal influence and to give it that position of stability and security, which is vital in its successful working, as an impartial and efficient instrument, by which Government of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p585).
Mr. Subharajan said during Constituent Assemble debates, “Without an efficient civil service, it would be impossible for the Government to carry on and continuity to be kept. The importance of the Governmental administration has been in the fact that there is continuity and unless this continuity, there is chaos” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p952).
Vallabh Bhai Patel in his letter to the Prime Minister wrote, “I need hardly emphasize, that an efficient, disciplined and contended (civil) service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work, is a “Sine-quanan” of sound administration, under a democratic regime, even more than under an authoritarian rule. The (civil) service must be above party and we should ensure that political consideration, either in its recruitment or its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether” (Patel Vallabh Bhai in a letter to Mr. Nehru).
After Nehru’s midnight hour speech between 14th and 15th August 1947, Dr. Radhakrishnan warned the nation, “Our opportunities are great, but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability, which would help us to utilize the opportunities, which are now open to us. A free India will be judged by the way, in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and social services.”
Need of efficient employees in administration – Civil services in Independent India Independent India required that the civil administration at every level must be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans would depend largely upon the efficiency of its administrative cadres.
Attraction for the youth – Jobs in the Government have always remained an attraction for the youth. Entry into IAS and central services are the most sought-after jobs for students as it provides the highest entry point in bureaucracy. Government employs officers on various responsible posts after being successful in a well-planned entry competitive examination and then go for rigorous professional training in different training institutions. making processes and their implementation work.
IAS (Indian Administrative Service), the successor of ICS after Independence After independence, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) was created as the successor of ICS, which was till now a reputed, efficient and powerful service. IAS is now an elite service meant predominantly to be engaged in control functions of Indian provinces. political circle. up of the nation.
Functions of the civil services – The civil administration, whether in Centre or in State, can be divided into two groups:
• Working in the Secretariats – Policy making body;
• Working in field organisations – for implementation of policies and plans.
Working at Secretariat level – Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.
Following are important functions at the level of Secretariat: –
- Obtaining decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
- Overall planning and finance,
- Legislative business,
- Personnel management policies,
- Legal advice,
- Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
- Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
- Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.
Administration at field level – The district administration occupies a key position. ‘District Collector’ continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration. District is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of Civil Administration is concentrated and where officials come into direct contact with the people. Its importance arises from the fact, that it is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation. It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. It has regulatory as well as developmental tasks.
The first five or six years of service in the state are crucial for all IAS officers. During this period, they go on field postings at district level to get the feel and first hand knowledge of real life and social realities. These postings open up the minds of young officers, by bringing them into direct contact with administrative life, with people at grass-root level, with their concrete problems and with different human and social conditions prevailing there. They get acquainted with the administrative structure in the district and the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters. The experience of field work enriches officials with a variety of experiences and makes them ripe for senior positions.
Besides for collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, District collector is responsible. He also coordinates activities of various departments at district level. A collector enjoys immense power and prestige at district level.
Both kinds of work at district and in headquarter equally important – Work at Secretariat and work in the field have their distinctive challenges. For efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for really bright and talented officers. Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ after Independence With many of the old visionary leaders and bureaucrats having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties, a rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up.
Problems of the day
Fall in the standard of governance – After Independence the bureaucracy has started shaking under its own pressure. Undesirable political pressure on it increased continuously. With the result that bureaucracy in India has now appears to be unable to meet the challenges of the day and has become an ineffective and powerless institution. administration.
The political complexion of the nation underwent a revolutionary change after the fall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government and then disappearance of Nehru-Gandhi family from the political scene. The era of instability started. Mr. VN Narayan commented on the climate of 1990’s, “We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalization). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles) There is only one solution to all problems – a human and spiritual solution. We have to consciously move toward humanizing our social institutions and spiritualize (not communalize or secularize) ourselves” (Narayanan VN, Hindustan Times, June 1, 1995, p13).
Bureaucrats known as ‘Babus’ – Since beginning of 21st century, there is decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. Rarely are factors like competence, aptitude, past experience and public spirit taken into account, while making appointments to responsible posts. Instead of known as Government officials, the bureaucrats are called ‘glorified clerks’ and bureaucracy as ‘babudom’.
Most of the bureaucrats find it more convenient to toe the line of political leaders rather than standing up for principles and paying the price for it. The situation has led to the nexus that has developed between unscrupulous politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and criminals, as Vohra Committee has vividly described it. The appointment of tainted officers at crucial positions itself makes the intentions of the politicians clear. ism has corroded the steel frame.
Reasons , that made the difference – Reasons for derailing the whole administrative system are very simple, which are as following –
Intake of the material
Before Independence – Then, during British rule, the British Government was very particular about the intake of the material into its elite service. The British, according to their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of racial discrimination on the dictum of “White-man’s” superiority for the appointment in ICS. For a long time, the Indians were virtually prohibited to join this service intentionally. The rulers never wanted to give Indian any control over the governance of the country. Lord Lytton, in his confidential document, confirmed that the pledge of the Royal proclamation of 1858 was never intended to be carried out. He said, “We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straightforward course.” (Annie Besant, How India wrought for freedom, p420)
Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, laid down in 1893; “It is indispensable, that an adequate number of members of the Civil Service shall always be European.” Viceroy Lord Landsdown stressed “Absolute necessity of keeping the Government of this wide-spread empire into European hands, if that empire is to be maintained.” (Bipin Chandra, Modern India, p158) In 1867, Lawrence said very (clearly, “We have conquered India by force of arms, though the policy and good Government have already aided us. In the like manner, we must hold it. The Englishmen must always be in the forefront holding the post of honor and power, as the condition of our retaining of our rule.” (Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India, p497)
In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they were pursuing with regard to “White-man’s superiority” in Civil Service. “The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigor of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule and any other rule being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.” (Supplement to Gazette of India, June 4, 1904, p937
After Independence – Now, after independence the hope of the best-talent syndrome belied. It was hoped that civil services would attract the best talents and most competent and qualified youth from all over India. There was a time, when it attracted the best talents of the nation. A large number of intellectuals, engineers, doctors, MBAs and other professionals joined the services. One of the reasons is that now 50% candidates are taken into the services on quota basis with relaxed standards in order to give make space for upcoming sections of society. Reservation of about 50% posts has further eroded the charm to join government services for the talented youth.
Civil services no more attract the best brains. The willingness of talented and meritorious youths to join government services is now like a passing tide. For the last few years, constant political interference has diluted the charm to join the civil services. The youth find the work atmosphere suffocating, because there is no freedom to do any creative works. It has created many pen-pushing bureaucrats. Disincentive to hard work, merit and sincerity has demoralized the honest and hard working people. The cream of the society either wishes to join the private sector or to go abroad. Liberalization and globalization has given a boost to this trend.
Under British rule – As said earlier, “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule. The cadre strength of ICS ‘the steel-frame’ and the predecessor of IAS, the elite service of Independent India, had always remained less than 1500. With that cadre strength, they were able to cope with the administrative work of the undivided India efficiently and effectively.
After independence, white elephant – There is a continuous increase in number. After Independence, the civil services have gradually grown into a bloated and top heavy service. In one of its elite service IAS, which had cadre strength of only 957 officers in 1950, is now having 4377 (as on 1.1.2012) administrators in position. The first causality of this obesity is its efficiency. In Independent India, the annual intake in IAS went up from about 33 in 1947 to 138 in 1965 and to 160 in 1985. The cadre strength in various years is given below: –
Strength of IAS after Independence
Year Authorized Cadre strength In position
1951 1232 957 (Includes 336 ICS)
1961 1862 1722 (Includes 215 ICS)
1971 3203 2754 (Includes 88 ICS)
1981 4599 3883
1991 5334 4881
2012- 6154 4377
Source: Civil lists Pay Commission Reports, Report of Deptt. of Personnel.
It is not only in IAS, but the number of civil servants has increased in all the services. Bureaucracy has become like a white elephant.
Outcome of this increase – The rot set in on account of continuous increase in the number of government employees resulted in:
Adverse effect on the “Espirit-d’corps” in the service
Creation of additional high level posts to accommodate timely promotions,
Establishment expenditure is eating away most of the resources generated by the Government for development projects.
Continuous increase at entry point has led to stagnation at Joint Secretary level, resulting in frustration,
Creation of many insignificant unnecessary posts, that has very little work or authority,
Generating resentment in Non-IAS Services against IAS officers for encroaching the preserves of other services,
Side-lining upright officers, thus discouraging excellence of performance. A large number of officers are always there in the queue, willing to toe the line (dictates) of politicians with vested interests.
Leading to poor communication, duplication of work, and delay in action and decision taking.
Creating multiple layers in administrative hierarchy, over the country
During British rule – During pre-independence days there were some 9 All India services to provide adequate manpower at the top of various disciplines + other Non ICS services of generalist nature, which were as popular as ICS was. Even within ICS, immediately after the recruitment, the officers were geared to attain knowledge and experience in specific areas for higher assignments, during probationary period and thereafter-early years of service. Broadly there were three main areas ICS (Judicial as there was not much pressure of Imperial Government on their working) or Indian Custom Service (as they always got postings in big towns). Even after Independence, for some time, there was not much difference in the social status, career progression, standard and behavior pattern of IAS and Non IAS class I services. However since 1960 onwards, slowly but steadily, IAS has become more and more powerful and the only ‘Elite service’ under Government of India. The display by ICS officers for one kind of work rather than the other, their special knack and aptitude for particular type of work was taken into account for deciding their future career. Therefore, in practice and not in theory, the ICS was building a cadre of specialists in administration and also encouraging further specialization in particular field of administration, not through formal training, but through experience by doing job under the supervision of those, having greater experience. (LK Jha, Administrator as Specialist Management in Government, July-September, 1980)
Now, after independence -After Independence, the need of specialization in IAS, one of the most powerful service in Government of India is much more than it was for ICS. But for one reason or other, contrary is the trend. IAS does not have different functional cadres. Its officers move from one functional area to another. With the result that-
• Jack of all trades, but master of none – They are “Jack of all trades, but master of none”. The knowledge of any particular area is not considered important for their appointment to senior posts. Consequently, just as politicians depend on secretaries for knowledge, secretaries depend on their subordinates and technical staff for knowledge and information.
• Blind leading the other blind – Many times, when politicians are to be advised on policy issues, alternatives cannot be put forward by them properly, because they, themselves, are professionally ignorant about the subject. It is often alleged that in technical areas, the system of collecting information, analyzing data and using modern innovations is so inadequate, that policy advice is neither according to time nor fully matured. Therefore, critics say that such a practice leads to a situation, where ignorant politicians are being advised by comparatively ignorant generalist officers. The position is similar to blind leading the other blind.
• Adverse effect of quick changes, from one type of job to another – The quick changes, from one type of job to another, make the knowledge of IAS officers superficial. There are some hard working and sincere IAS officers, who are eager to learn the maximum about the subject matter of their job. But they are also constrained because of the swift changes from one functional area to another. The real knowledge is obtained by sustained hard work for a long period in one type of job, which enables a person to develop innate ability needed for the smooth functioning and development of that area.
• Creation of more posts – In order to solve the problem stagnation, there the government started creating more and more posts at higher grades. As a remedial action, the Government had sub-divided one job so many times that many senior officers have hardly two or three hour of work a day. What is worse, a number of them are doing jobs, which was earlier done by their juniors.
• A battle between IAS and Non IAS – The story does not end here only. In order to avoid stagnation in its elite service, i.e., IAS, the Government is creating many cushy jobs in public sector corporations, which are manned largely by IAS officers. As a consequence, a battle is going on between IAS and non-IAS central services and also between IAS and State Civil Services just to get top posts in the public sector corporations. While this battle has become something of a scandal, no one bothers, whether services are achieving the objectives, for which they are created.
• Multiplicity of these focal points – By creating more and more posts at the top level, the Government has created too many points of control and coordination. Multiplicity of too many focal points has created overlapping of functions and jurisdictions. More men, less wok, duplication of efforts, lack of supervision and control have resulted in confusion and inefficiency.
• Swift changes makes difficult to fix responsibility – Swift changes, from one functional area to another, make it difficult to hold an officer responsible for any wrong policy. By the time, the results of a policy or the implementation of a program is evaluated, the concerned officer gets shifted to another post, department or goes back to his parent state.
• Unlimited Authority without Responsibility – It is said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The concept of “Welfare state” and “Development administration” has bestowed immense authority in the hands of Government, which is mainly exercised by the executive, meaning the ministers and the Bureaucrats. But this authority is without responsibility.
• Always someone else held responsible – Whatever may go wrong, either at the field level or at the secretariat level, an IAS officer is never held responsible. If law and order situation deteriorates in a district, IPS officer is held responsible. If a policy decision goes wrong, it is said that the IAS officers were wrongly advised by the specialists or specialized organizations dealing with that particular subject.
Lack of senior’s support
During British period – During British period, young officers were placed under the strict supervision of senior officers, who used to take keen interest in the development of their capacity to run the administration effectively. It was made clear to senior district officers, that it was very important to pay attention to the young officers, who were put under their guidance. Their success in life and reputation, as good officers, depended greatly on the assistance; they received from their seniors at the outset of their career. (GO No.738, published on April 18, 1916, ICS Manual Madras) As a result, the junior officers were groomed well on job and possessed a marked degree of professionalism in their area of activity. Their claim of superiority, over others, was clearly established.
Now after the independence – However, after independence, the scene is not like the past. Senior officers gradually lost interest in their subordinates. Reasons for it are generally the following –
• There is scarcity of experienced officers at the district level. Most of them have drifted to the central and state secretariats or to public corporations etc
• There is lack of personnel planning.
• Premature promotions – Earlier, ICS officers used to work under senior officers for about seven to eight years, before they were given independent charge as collector. Now officers have to take the responsibility of independent jobs prematurely. After foundation training of two years, hardly a year or 18 months passes, when an IAS officer gets promoted to the responsible post of collector. He is not mature enough either service-wise or age-wise to handle the challenging job of a collector. When officer himself does not have enough experience as a collector (head of district administration), how can he take up the responsibility of training others?
• Senior officers are so occupied with their own work, that they hardly spare enough time and attention to see and guide the work of their juniors.
• Because of changing political culture, senior officers themselves are so insecure, how can they instil sense of security and confidence amongst their juniors?
• Unfortunately, now the main function of the administrative service has become to maintain status quo and defend the wrong practices of its political masters, not to guide well the junior officers or stand by them when in difficulty.
Suggestion of ARC (1968) – ARC had also suggested way back in 1968 that the IAS officers should be confined to areas, which are well known to them and should not be allowed to encroach on those areas, for which, others have acquired special knowledge and experience. (Report of ARC on Personnel Administration in Government of India, 1969, p16) All India Character Professor Maheshvari has said, “In a never ceasing see-saw game of adjustment and bargaining between the center and the states in federal cum competitive politics, neither its all India outlook, nor its talent, nor even its supposed loyalty to the center comes into active play.” (Maheshwari SR, The All India Service, published in the lecture series of 80th Course on Personnel Policies in practice organized by 11PA, 1980, P305)
IAS is fast loosing its all India character. The Union Home Ministry has, from time to time, advised Chief Secretaries of the states not to recommend transfer of cadre members to their home states, but those with influence are able to manage it. In many states like Bihar, Punjab etc, more than 60% of the officers are from within the state. It is mainly because of the political ties. (Saxena NS, IAS and IPS at war with the state cadre, Times of India, April 6,1984) It has become very difficult for IAS officers to take the side of Union Government, while working in states. It becomes more difficult, when other parties than that of the center rule states. Working with state governments compels them to take care of local influences – political and social. In order to avoid local pressures, many officers avoid field postings. They either prefer to have postings in the state capitals or be on deputation in the central government at Delhi, where there is lesser political pressure on them.
An administrator is supposed to maintain links with the people directly through the channels of understanding and persuasion, not through authority or force. Many ICS officers claimed that earlier they had been closer to public than present day administrators.
During British rule – The work experience at district or sub-division level was considered to be a qualification for ICS officers. Personal knowledge of ground realities/village conditions was considered necessary. The rulers insisted on personal knowledge of its executives of what was happening in the farthest village. Administrative officers established and maintained contact with rural masses at the highest level of the administrative hierarchy. Great emphasis was laid on getting young officers thoroughly acquainted with village and the administrative structure dealing with matters, which touched the rural people, such as land, irrigation, Government loans etc. The most important of these, from villagers’ point of view, was his right on land – whether as owner, tenant or worker. It had to be correctly recorded. Rendering effective, just and quick service to the villagers – Also, various exaction of government, such as land revenue, higher irrigation dues, return of loans etc. were to be fairly assessed and collected. The village community had a vested interest in the efficiency and honesty of revenue system. Whatever be the motivation of British administration, it certainly rendered effective, just and quick service to the villagers. The system was so enforced and watched, that there was no escape, whatsoever from acquiring knowledge about village conditions and methods to deal with them. (Mangat Rai, Commitment my style in ICS, 1973)
Exhaustive touring from village to village – The officers used to make exhaustive tours, moving from village to village and lived a camp-life for considerably long period. The symbol and instrument of village contact was horse. This was partly because of the manner, in which these were conducted, were slow, and easy, involving staying out near village and imbibing thoroughly their atmosphere and conditions. Close contact with people, source of strength in a democracy – The close contact with the common men and the people’s faith in their uprightness gave them the strength to become the “Steel frame” of the whole system. Now many retired ICS officers claim, that the nature of functioning before the independence was such, that they had better understanding and knowledge of the people of their area than the IAS officers of today. In a democratic, people are the source of strength – this basic truth is forgotten by most of the administrators, making them weaker.
Now, After Independence – Unfortunately, after independence and progressively over the years, importance of field experience has lost its validity. Mostly, while ‘sitting in an air-conditioned room’ or ‘living in an ivory tower’, bureaucrats are hardly aware of the problems/realities at ground level of the common-man.
Field experience lost its validity – Most of the officers are habitual of leading a comfortable urban life. It is difficult and troublesome for them to spend enough time in rural areas. As a result, they have to depend to a great extent on the advice of their subordinates there. Many times, there is a lack of timely and reliable information. Escape from field postings – Many smart and ambitious officers find their way out and skip sub-divisional or district experience. A study by DPAR, in 1981, has shown that in eight state cadres, 70% or more IAS officers have not done sub-divisional charge even for two years. (Seventy Seventh Report of Estimate Committee of Seventh Lok Sabha, August 17,1984, pp76-77) IAS is fast becoming a secretariat service.
Little grass-root contacts – The same is the story of district charge. Many officers manage their postings at the center and/or state capitals throughout their career and do not care to revive or develop what little grass-root contacts, they had earlier. Because of the improved road network in the villages and availability of fast moving vehicles, such as cars, jeeps etc, the district officers lack the intimate knowledge of the rural areas. The tendency of officers is merely to complete the formality of being on tour, as might have stipulated by the state Government. They make touch and go visits to rural areas, especially the one, which are easily accessible by road, spend the prescribed compulsory number of night halts in some wayside Dak bungalow.
Lack of grass-roots contacts making ‘Politicians’ stronger and ‘Bureaucrats’ weaker –Today, politicians are closer to people than bureaucrats. It is due to this lack of enough field experience, grass roots knowledge and experience in the absence of direct contact with the rural masses that the local politicians could exert pressure on administrators. It has made them stronger than bureaucrat.
Before and after independence – ICS enjoyed the authority to take decisions. The ministers and politicians used to find their authority shadowy over them.
After the independence, the table was turned. Over the years bureaucrats have succumbed to the dictats of its political masters. Now, the minister dictates and the officers obey without any resistance. Dominance of political masters over administrative and economic matters has been one of the prominent features of independent India, which is responsible for the deterioration of law and order and slower rate of economic growth.
The political leaders found the authority to reward and punish officers, through transfers and postings, as an effective tool to make officers fall in line with them and be loyal to them. Honest and upright officers face quick transfers, bad entries, judicial inquiries, and loyalist officer’s prestigious postings, foreign trips special allowances etc. It has made Bureaucrats to succumb almost absolutely to political pressures.
Growing politicization of services and lack of support from seniors has put a negative effect on the initiative and creativity of young officers. Today the efficiency of the service as a whole is at its lowest ebb. Complete breakdown of discipline everywhere is mainly responsible for the disintegration of administrative system and its future.
Until 1960s, there was very little difference between the standard and behavior of IAS officers and class I officers belonging to other services of Government of India. Today, IAS officers deal directly with politicians, plan bigger things, moves all over the world frequently. It has added glamour to the service. The result of this development has been that the IAS has attracted the attention of politicians, especially of those pursuing the sectional interest. To them, entry into IAS is the surest and quickest means to get control over others, to improve one’s status in the society, to command instant admiration and respect of the people, thus in reaching quickly to the commanding position in the society. It is supposed to be the manifest symbol of power. It makes an easy access to levers of authority. It enables them to occupy positions having immense power and privileges at the highest level in the Government. Once in service, a person could lead an easy life, is a general conception. The craze for getting into the service is increasing continuously amongst the newly emerging sections of the society. Most of the new recruits are now not bothered about the high ideals, intellectual competence and high standards of administration, commitment to public service, Constitutional values, or concern for justice. They are mainly interested in exercising the State authority over powerless people and making as much money as possible by misusing their authority.
Jayant Narlikar, an eminent scientist, describes government functioning as the soulless movement of files. According to him, India has one of the most obdurate, cold, insular and inflexible Civil Service, the free world has ever known. (Narikar Jayant, Two Cheers for Bureaucracy, Times of India, December 13, 1995, p10) Lord Curzon’s remarks are, “Round and round like the diurnal revolution of the earth went the file – stately, solemn and slow”. Similarly, decades later, Malcolm Muggeridge observed, “It was governments pure and un-defied, endlessly minuting and circulating files, which like time itself has neither beginning nor end.” (Times of India, December 25, 1995)
What should be done?
Sufficient knowledge of the area, in which one works
The role of civil services have become more demanding and challenging due to the complexity of modern times and fast changing social, political, economic and technological developments of the recent past. Specialization with varied experience, in present atmosphere, means that an officer for strategic senior post should have sufficient knowledge of the area he is supposed to work. In addition to that in their own discipline, there should be varied experience of different aspects and activities concerned with it – such as planning, coordinating work at different levels, advising ministers on policy matters, taking into account the social, legal and economic constraints, particularly in his/her functional area etc. All this could be achieved only after working in any area for a reasonable period.
Basic qualification – It appears rather odd that a simple graduation is required to enter into the most prestigious service i.e. the IAS. While in other services like Indian Economic Service and Indian Statistical Service, the requirement is a post-graduate degree. In Engineering or technical services a degree in Engineering, which takes four years of rigorous graduation course. The time demands to have a cadre of more and more qualified administrators, more than in the past. Either the administrators should be selected earlier and then trained properly for their jobs as is being done in Defence Services or MBA degree needs to be made compulsory for appearing in competitive entrance examination. Lateral entries could also be made by including bright persons already employed elsewhere, like: –
•Technocrats having sufficient experience in management,
•Professionals from other civil services,
•Entrepreneurs, willing to switch over.
Promotion policy – Promotions in the service should be strictly based on good performance. Administrator should be encouraged to upgrade, sharpen, and focus their knowledge towards analysis and problem solving Closer contact with people could save bureaucrats from undue political pressure – Today’s politicians think themselves to be exclusive guardians of the people. The Administrators have, at present, lost the faith of the people.
The people doubt their credibility and efficacy of occupying policy level posts. Alienation from the common man leads the administrator to base their decisions on second hand information. Because of inadequate data, inefficient resource allocation and inward looking project monitoring; plans and policies remain, often, far away from the reality and actual needs and aspirations of the people. Closer contact, coordination with people and their confidence in administrator could save them from undue political pressure.
Many reports reveal that although an increasing number of IAS figures in corruption cases, the wheels of justice are not moving fast enough to punish the guilty. Procedural delays, political patronage and resistance from within the bureaucracy, appear to be helping corrupt officials evade the long arm of the law. People are given all kinds of excuses for the corruption prevalent in the service. Corrupt and self-seeking administrators have become expensive parasites on the system and society.
Independent machinery for transfers and promotions – Extensive political controls over transfers and promotions give vast powers to them and unlimited opportunities to make money. Through delays, dilatoriness and excuses they help the greedy and power hungry politicians. In return get their patronage and good postings.
In order to provide bureaucracy functional independence and give a chance to conscientious and competent bureaucrats to contribute for good governance, recently Supreme Court ordered setting minimum tenures for bureaucrats and put curb on arbitrary transfers and postings. But lack of political will is the hurdle on the way to much required administrative reforms.
In short, the reasons of the corrosion of the steel-frame are poor personnel policies, excessive protectionist policies of the Government, bloated size, unbalanced infrastructural development with concentration of authority in a few hands, cumbersome office procedures, increased paper work, delay in action and decision – taking, disincentive to hard work, talent and sincerity, lack of accountability, alienation from the common man and the last but not the least tolerance of people of India, who accept sub-standard administration, giving very little challenge to the officers to upgrade their performance.
Following are the steps to be taken by the government –
First of all, the Government of India should merge all its civil services, technical as well as non-technical, into one unified service with an integrated pay structure and career prospects. The Government should ensure complete parity in pay scales, same time- frame for all services for getting promoted into next grade, promotional avenues and career development.
For efficient and effective administration, the 21st century administrative machinery needs to be lean, thin and down-sized.• The attainment of high standard of administration depends a great deal on the environment of work, which requires selection of capable officers, proper placement of officers and proper atmosphere of work.
On their part, bureaucrats require a change in attitude. They should be accountable for their decisions.
There is need to do field duties in districts more seriously, to get the feel of the pulse of the nation and to get people’s cooperation, not by force or use of authority, but by prompting, persuading, suggesting, stimulating and inspiring them.
It must be realized by every bureaucrat that he are there because of the people, not the people because of him. People are not an interruption to his work, but the purpose of it. In a country like India, where most of its people are illiterate or semi-literate, mere functional efficiency can not stir warmth. A little glow of welcome in the eyes of civil servant converts disappointment into exhilaration in the public. People, after meeting a civil servant, should return with satisfaction that they were heard patiently and sympathetically and that some one would be taking interest in their problems.
In the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development. Ferrel Heady1 says, “The importance of administration is almost universally recognised among commentators on development. Usually an effective bureaucracy is coupled with a rigorous modernizing elite as a pre-requisite for progress”.
Development and Development Administration
The term `Development’ is explained in dictionaries as `end oriented’. It is defined as a growth into a better, fuller, higher and mature condition. In the context of post war efforts at development, the term development also means a state directed and planned effort at change. Mr. Bata K. Dey1 says, “Development is a total plan of action, to bring about a directed or guided change in all aspects of social activity geared to national progress, with a heavy import of achievement of pragmatic goals”. If such is the meaning of development, naturally, the government and administration are jointly and deeply involved.
The administration concerned with developmental activities is called “development administration”. Development Administration is actually an action and goal-oriented administrative system geared to realize definite pragmatic values. These values are usually referred to as `nation-building’ and socio-economic progress’. Weldner2 defines Development Administration as “the process of guiding an organization towards the achievement of progressive political, economic and social objectives that are authoritatively determined in one manner or another”.
Fainsod3 , considers development administration as “a carrier of innovating values”, which also “ordinarily involves the establishment of machinery for planning economic growth and mobilization and allocating resources to expand national income”. Panandikar4 defined it as an “administration of planned change”. William J. Siffin5 says, “the essence of development administration is holistic change undertaken through integrated, organized and properly directed governmental action”.
J.N. Khosla4 points out “Development Administration not only envisages achievements of goals in a particular area of development by making a system more efficient, it must also reinforce the system imparting an element of stability as well as resilience to meet the requirements of future developmental challenges. Apart from putting emphasis on `pragmatic goals’, `innovating values’ or `holistic change’, also required is the `development design strategy’.
William Siffin and Milton Esman says there should be a focus on ‘Institution Building’. Siffin emphasizes that the essence of development is not to maintain, but to create effective institutions as and when required. For it, Development Administration needs efficient institutions having “ability to design, problem solving and making arrangements (involving technology)”.
Maximum utilization of all the resources
In the words of Donald Stone3 Development Administration is the blending of all the elements and resources (men, money and material) into a concerted effort to achieve agreed upon goals. It is the continuous cycle of formulating, evaluating and implementing inter-related plans, policies, programs, projects, activities and other measures to reach established development objectives in a scheduled time sequence.
Role of Bureaucracy in development Administration
According to Charles T.Goodsell2, Bureaucracy/civil services are essentially a mechanism for processor to provide planning and an institutional infrastructure to convert inputs of objectives, capital and know-how into developmental outputs. Valson1 says that owing to the other pre-occupation of political leadership and its lack of technical know-how, the role of civil service in policy making, which in theory is advisory, has become actually a determining one.
Main responsibilities of Bureaucracy for making Development successful
Converting policies into directive plans, programs and projects is an inevitable function of action oriented development bureaucracy. At higher levels, the development administration has to see policy formulation, goals and strategy; appropriations and allocations of funds; fixing priorities; execution of policy; direction and training. The middle level is usually responsible for learning and interpreting; energizing and supervising; coordination and collection of information. The lower level undertakes the role of mass contacts, demonstration of innovations, introduction of new institutions and collection of taxes.
Requirements of Development Bureaucracy
The following are the requirements needed for the personnel/civil servants engaged in development administration should have –
- Mental framework – A scientific outlook. They should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches. They should never be rigid.
- Knowledge – They should have enough knowledge in their respective areas of the work – be it in the field science, technology or general administration.
- Skills – They require conceptual skills – ability for innovative thinking, problem – analysis, planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
- Vision – A bureaucrat working for development administration requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat. Along with vision is required dynamism, integrity, drive and passion to convert dreams into reality.
- Structures – Development Administration requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, Corporations etc.
Behavior – The behavioral pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.
Besides, there should be –
- A working partnership between the civil servants and the people.
- Transparency in their working
- A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
- A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher civil servants should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
- Constant field inspection by senior officials.
- to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people; and
- to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
- Smooth relation between generalist administrators and experts specialists.
- Training from time to time to understand the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.
Weaknesses of Development Administration
According to Valson1, the higher-level development bureaucracy suffers from four constraints:
- disagreements with political bosses;
- the relatively better economic and social status of civil servants;
- Supremacy of seniority and patronage than qualifications in promotions; and
- Unwillingness of bureaucrats to accept new ideas and technology for fear of loss of power and positions.
Middle level is constrained by: –
- conflict between young and old minds in civil service;
- a high level of corruption;
- low commitment to development; and conflict with higher level development bureaucracy and local politicians.
The lower level is facing:
- insufficient qualifications;
- poor salary;
- loss of morale and loss of faith in development ideology due to frustrating field experience; and
- loss of initiative, crippling subservience to seniors and sacrifice to developmental objectives.
According to Ferrel Heady1, the main hindrances on the way of effective development are:
- The growing gap between the rich and the poor nations or between different social strata within a nation. By seventies, the decaying trends had become noticeable in all the nations of developing world. Events like fast developments in the developed countries and a crisis with liberal democracy in the developing or under-developed nations in seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.
- By the late sixties, a spirit of frustration and despair with `development administration’ and with `development’ in general had set in. For one thing, it became evident that externally induced modernization had failed to eradicate the basic problems of under-developed sections of society, it purported to solve. Whilst some significant increase in GNP had indeed taken place, poverty, disease and hunger had either worsened or remained unaltered.
All developing nations have inherited many things from their past. Their colonial heritage has meant
- a carry-over of the colonial bureaucratic traditions like elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies;
- There is a lack of incentive for talented and skilled for manpower necessary for development program. It is caused by inadequacies and deficiencies in the educational system, recruitments, training schemes and brain drain.
- There is lack of achievement orientation. The emphasis of civil servants is usually not on program goals, but on personal expediency, status-consciousness, and pleasing the political bosses. Reason for this is the persistence of traditional value system. Results of this tendency are `institutionalized’ and `socially sanctioned’ large-scale corruption and `over-staffing’ in lower bureaucracy.
- Discrepancy between form and reality. There is wide gulf between the administrative form and reality due to a superficial change to modernizing values and substantial continuation of the traditional ideas. As a result, we find superfluous and excessive legislation or rules (which are normally violated), false delegations and decentralizations, eye-washing/superficial reports and continuing backwardness.
Due to all these factors like colonial tradition; monopoly of some elite civil services over technical and professional services; excessive control of general administrators services involved in the sustainable development of infra-structure sector of the nation; coercive power gained by some self-serving politicians; the tiredness, near absence of strong political leadership; committed bureaucracy etc. have all made it more self-serving rather than working for development oriented administration.
An appropriate designing and sincere shaping of the civil service for making the administrative system an effective instrument for achieving developmental goals can be done –
- Development Administration mainly requires increasing the effectiveness of the human resource of administration termed as personnel or civil service.
- For increasing effectiveness in administration, the entire personnel system should be efficient.
- The role of the higher civil servants or the managerial cadre of service is always more important. As in development administration, they have to gear up their capacity to deal with continuous changes with vision, values, ideas, and monitor effective implementation of plans and programs of the government and its evaluation.
Making bureaucracy/civil service capable for development administration and achieve its goals within expected time is not an impossible thing. It requires a development of administration itself. Development of Administration means “a pattern of increasing effectiveness in the utilization of available means to achieve prescribed goals”. It can be done –
- through patterning the Administrative structure; and
- through patterning the behavior of civil servants.
Behavioural changes in bureaucratic patterns are obviously more important. These dimensions can be achieved either through reforms (structural) or through proper education and training of higher civil servants.
“Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” Lao Tzu
“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.”(Kofi Annan) – Everybody desires to be empowered enough to lead a peaceful and comfortable life-style. But how? Hardly anyone tries to understand. Quite often, while talking about empowerment, many intellectuals and political leaders are trapped within the caucus of economic and political empowerment, not the real one. The real empowerment comes from within. Do not wait for any outside agency , government or society for power to be given.
Therefore instead of empowerment, emphasis should be more on enlightenment – enlightenment through wisdom. Wisdom is required to choose the right path, generate positive energies and saves human mind from confusion as what to do and what not. For enlightenment and wisdom, knowledge is important. Knowledge is necessary for giving “deeds or actions” its due meaning, direction and value. Kofi Annan comments “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.” Liberation to do what one wants to do is empowerment.
Politics on empowerment – Today in political world, leaders talk about empowerment. Politics and government is there mainly to take care of its people and look-after their welfare. Merely talking about empowerment does not empower the people or leads to their sustainable development. Sri Sri Ravi Shanker says, “If everyone understood this, the country will gain a lot. We need to spiritualize politics, socialize business and secularize religion. Devoid of spirituality, politics breeds corruption.”
Wisdom/Enlightenment, “Knowing others, is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom” – Hindu philosophy shows high regards for wisdom/knowledge, virtues, characters and will power. According to it, senses are superior to body, mind is superior to senses and knowledge/wisdom/intellect is superior to mind. Bhagwat Gita’ suggests that human action/deed needs to be combined with wisdom/intellect for enlightenment and empowerment.
According to Hindu philosophy, the whole world of activities is a result of complex intermixing of three basic qualities of human nature – goodness (Satwa), Passion (Rajas) and dullness (Tamas). `Goodness” is associated with purity, peace and knowledge; `Passion” with comfort and action; and `Tamas” with ignorance, sloth, sleep and carelessness.
These qualities determine the tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of individuals and give them direction for action. `Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) are responsible for negative behavior like becoming victims of evils, unhappiness and miseries.
Balance between desires and righteousness – People should be empowered enough to enjoy material success and fulfil all worldly desires. If desires are suppressed, one day it may erupt like a volcano and create troubles. But simultaneously, it is also necessary to achieve one’s dreams in a right way and keep a balance between desires and righteousness. It is the wisdom that balances the two and leads to the path of knowledge and righteousness.
Materialism influences most of the people in modern times. It is difficult for them to resist worldly temptations. The desire to enjoy sensual pleasures and be happy without much efforts traps them in a vicious circle. To save their comfort-zone encourages, they desire to hold enough economic and political power in their hands, so that they can do what they want and control the destiny of masses. People with weak minds easily become the victims of such ambitious leaders. Their ignorance makes their efforts futile and destroys their sense of direction. Awareness, knowledge and discipline needs to be inculcated amongst poor masses to empower them and save them from negative forces. Wisdom/intellect needs to be developed to make their mind strong and deeds rational. A mind governed by wisdom makes a person empowered, calm and content.
Empowerment – Meaning of empowerment and approach to be empowered differ from person to person and place to place. As Toffler says, there are three main sources of power – ‘knowledge, wealth, and muscle’. In a way, ‘empowerment is an inter-play of all these variables. During ancient times in agricultural societies, power was mainly based on force. After Industrial Revolution, wealth was the source of power and in modern times, it is mainly based on knowledge.
Power achieved through money or force is short-lived. It can never lead to sustainable development of the poor and needy people. In agricultural society, power was based on force, in industrial societies on wealth and now in present information -technology period, it is based on knowledge. long long ago, even Chanakya also believed that knowledge is wealth. Knowledge was his greatest weapon, strength, asset and power through which he created emperors like Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka.
Positive and negative energies – There are choices before human beings to follow the path of positive thinking or opt for negative mindset. Developing positive attitude/thinking is not an easy task. For attaining it, one needs tremendous perseverance, hard work, and dedication and determination/will power.
Style of thinking and working of people with positive or negative attitude differs very much from each other. People having positive attitude are empowered in its true sense. Positive energies develops the mind, enlarges the vision, enlightens and guides a person to take wise actions with using one’s intellect or wisdom.
Negative mindset – Negative mindset makes mind weak. Actions taken with weak mind is bridled with suspicion, lust and desires – mainly depending on emotions, impulses, hatred, greed and selfishness. It, quite often leads to agitation/aggression and discontentment.
Role of wisdom in empowerment – It is a reality that it is wisdom that empowers a human being and enlightens his/her path. Wisdom can be achieved:
- Through reflection, which is the noblest;
- Through imitation, which is easiest and
- By experiencing, which is the bitterest.”
Role of empowerment – ‘Empowerment’ or sharing of power has become a keyword of the modern political world. In politics, everything revolves around the world ’empowerment’.
Problems created by over-emphasizing ‘empowerment – Following are some of the problems –
- Split in society – Recently, focus on empowerment has created split in society. The attention of the people on empowerment has given rise to the pursuance of sectional interests.
- Encouragement to sectional interests over national interests – In the name of ‘empowerment’, various pressure groups are encouraged by the authorities to pursue their own sectional interests. Almost all the political parties make different kinds of promises to ‘empower’ the upcoming or deprived groups. They do not even hesitate to adopt such populist/paternalistic policies, which are against the national interest in a long run.
- Means to grab the political power – Present day politicians care for knowledge only up-to the extent, so far as it enhances their chances of entering into the corridors of ‘power’ and control the levers of authority.
- Rat race – Attitude to be ‘one up’ does not encourage healthy competition. Rather it pushes individuals/groups towards ‘rat-race’, pulls others down and care only for ‘I, my and me”.
- Increasing corruption and manipulation – With this sole mission in their mind, most of the upcoming politicians concentrate on amassing more and more wealth/empires to buy muscle-power and conscience of common man. They concentrate their efforts/energies to acquire as much money as they can by hook or crook. There is no limit to their greed. The only mission is to hold so much economic and political power in their hands, so that they could lead a luxurious life-style on tax-payers money and whenever they or their supporters are caught doing something wrong, they can get away easily.
- The word ‘empowerment’ exclusive not inclusive in nature – Empowerment, by nature is ‘exclusive’, which separates individuals/different sections of society starts a cut-throat competition amongst different individuals/sections of society/nations. The word ‘Empowerment’ generates excessive desire in individuals to establish their superiority/authority over others, so that they can control the destiny of others.
True Knowledge necessary for enlightenment – For enlightenment, acquisition of true knowledge is necessary. It is knowledge, which inculcates in a person, qualities like self-confidence, self-reliance, self-discipline, self-control and self-respect.
Sound education necessary for enlightenment as well as empowerment – True knowledge inculcates positive attitude, which ultimately leads towards happiness and prosperity.Wisdom depends on knowledge. Sound education is necessary to make people knowledgeable.
Negative mindset – People with negative mind-set care about knowledge only up-to the extent, that enhances their chances of entering into the corridors of ‘power’, get control over levers of authority and over the destiny of masses. They concentrate on amassing wealth/empires to buy muscle-power and conscience of poor people.
In political world, politicians and political parties are generally not much interested in maintaining law and order in the country. They are more interested in propaganda, creation of vote banks and grabbing power – become PM (Prime Minister), CM (Chief Minister), DM (District Magistrates) and GM (General Manager) by hook or crook and thus accessing more space in the corridor of power, so that they can control the destiny of masses/common men and hold the reigns of state authority.
Role of enlightenment in a democracy – Atifete Jahjaga has rightly said, “Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, rule of law and accountability, there is abuse, corruption…”
Many superficial measures are being taken by the government or other organizations (governmental or NGOs) to help and empower poor and underprivileged sections of society. But it has not yielded desired results. Why, because no superficial measure or action can empower any person or section of society. The efforts for empowerment should be from within – be it an individual, a group within a society, a society or a nation.”
The enforced measures of empowerment leads to conflicts and even denial of the rights to other section/sections of society. One’ own efforts and intellect can empower a person in its true sense and guide him how to apply his knowledge gainfully. Lack of intellect leads a person to vices like egoism, superiority/inferiority complex etc. and creates many problems for him as well as for others around him. Only intellect can control human mind and lead his mind towards Enlightenment. When intellect becomes weak, negative thinking and reasoning take over mind.
How to become empowered – Lao Tzu says “Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” True empowerment can be achieved not through holding political power or access/entry/influence in the corridors of authority/power, but through ‘Enlightenment’/true wisdom’.
Emphasis only on empowerment leads to rat race – Present day’s scenario more emphasis is given to “Empowerment” without understanding what ‘empowerment’ really means and how to make people really empowered. Such an approach has led to a rat race between different sections of society for being one-up by hook or crook.
Too much emphasis on the word ‘empowerment’ incites/agitates the minds of people and generates negative energy in them. It has done irreparable loss to the society and given rise to different kinds of problems.
‘Empowerment’ of ‘Haves-nots – Almost all the societies are divided into two sections – ‘haves’ and ‘haves-not’. There is unrest in the minds of ‘Haves-not’. They also desire and naturally so, to lead a peaceful and comfortable life-style. Modern politicians allure poor by talking too much about ‘empowerment’. They are not concerned so much about the advancement of poor section of society, as about creating vote-banks necessary for holding the reigns of state authority/power.
False promises to allure poor masses – In the modern materialistic and consumerist world, everyday many new gadgets are coming in the market every-day, which makes the life more comfortable. But for majority of people, it is difficult to afford it. Many a times, it becomes difficult for the poor people or persons with weak minds to resist the temptations. False promises of present day politicians attract such persons easily.
Enlightenment ‘inclusive’ by nature – Enlightenment develops respect for positive attitude, right knowledge and respect for truth and ethical values. It teaches people ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. It inculcates in people an attitude to work for common good, to support each other and move forward together. It guides people to keep their ‘ego’ under control. The only way to control it lies within each human being.
Acceptance for others – Enlightenment tells people to be respectful to others knowledge. Access to knowledge through sound system of education is the basic right of every human being. As Jyotirao Phule has said “Lack of ‘Education’ leads to lack of ‘Wisdom’; which leads to lack of ‘Morals’; which leads to lack of ‘Progress’; which leads to lack of ‘Money’; ‘which leads to ‘Oppression’ of vulnerable classes.”
Conclusion – ‘Enlightenment, not empowerment, is the real source of power’. ‘Enlightenment’ through self-introspect can only lead to sustainable development and true ‘empowerment’, not through extraneous/artificially/superficially imposed measures. Focus on ‘empowerment’ by superficial means quite often leads to negative attitude. ‘Enlightenment’ through right kind of knowledge makes people intelligent, generates positive energies in them and leads to their sustainable development.
Resist temptations? – For making mind strong enough to resist temptations, one has to raise the level of consciousness. Human mind has three dimensions – conscious, sub-conscious and super-conscious mind. Once the conscious mind is regulated, sub-conscious and super-conscious state of mind automatically gets controlled.
Conscience is always guided by intellect. Intellect automatically develops the inherent potential of individuals and keeps them away from lust and greed. Only ‘intellect’, knowledge, education and positive attitude of enlightened persons can make them so powerful that they can contribute to make a difference for betterment and not to indulge themselves in sinful activities for their self-interest. It would ultimately bring in prosperity and transform the whole society.
Important variables in governance – Of all the acts of civilized society the task of governance is perhaps the most complex one. The governance is not done in vacuum. For the governance/administration of any country, amongst all, two variables are most important. One who governs, and two who is to be governed. It is the government of the country that governs. And it is people of the country, who are governed. The quality, the tools and the style of governance, therefore, depend on variables like the characteristic of the nation, its social structure, nature, behavior and their value system of its people.
Role of Bureaucracy in governance of a democratic country
How well the crucial role of bureaucracy in governance has been described by Finer as following –
“For the forms of government, let fools contest.That which is best administered is best.” And also,
“But what is best must free man still decide. Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.”
Government that Governs
Amongst the three wings of government – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary, executive is responsible for governance/administration of a country. Executive consists of elected representatives of the people and bureaucracy. The Government roughly falls on the following two general processes: –
- Process of politics, which consists of activities of the elected representatives of the people, and
- Process of administration which consists of the activities of permanent civil servants/bureaucracy.
Role of Bureaucracy vis-à-vis elected representatives – One needs to understand, what is the role of both the wings – elected representatives and Bureaucracy in governance of a country?
Relation between the political and Bureaucratic/administrative wings of a government – That being so, an examination of the relation between the political and administrative wings of government would be the starting point for determining the role of civil service for delivering goods to public at large.
According to Fainsold (quoted from Administrative Culture, Need for conceptual Clarity and Further Rearch by Puranik, S.N. IJPA Sol., XXIV No. II April-June 1978 PP 467-468). famous thinker in the field of administration, the area of the activities of civil service depend upon-
- Relation with political authority;
- Range of functions which it performs
- Military dominated civil service as are in Bangla Desh, Pakistan, some nations in Middle East or Africa,
- Ruling Civil Service – as was in India before independence.
Bureaucracy an indispensable part of any political system – Bureaucracy has become a very potent and vital element of any government all over the world. It is an indispensable part of each and every political system be it a democracy, monarchy or aristocracy. It can exist in a type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society. It role is crucial everywhere – in nations following the principles of communism or socialism or capitalism.
In theory – Theoretically the administrative machinery is subordinate to the political arm of a government. The decision making power rests with ministers. But bureaucracy assists the elected representatives of the people in governance of the country of administration. But, in practice, its role is very important in governance of a country.
Position of political chiefs vis-a-vis bureaucrats – Due to exclusive and specialized nature of work and the need for more and more expert knowledge in governance for improving the quality of service, the responsibility of political chiefs is becoming exceedingly formal in matter of governance. They are forced to listen the advice of the bureaucrats, who dig the expert knowledge from the raw material, give it a shape with a sense of commitment.
Bureaucracy’s importance, is of influence and not of power – The civil service’s role in relation to the ministers is that of influence and not of power. It is this administrative apparatus, which actually runs the government. Owing to other preoccupations of elected political leadership and its lack of technical know-how, the responsibility of bureaucrats in governance, policy making and its implementation, has become a determining factor. Converting policy into directive plans, programs and projects is an inevitable function of an action-oriented administration.
Bureaucracy a permanent link between successive elected governments – Elected representatives come for a fixed period. They come and go. But Bureaucracy is permanent, which forms a link between successive elected governments. Therefore, its becomes vital in guiding the social changes and development in desired direction, especially in the case of less developed or developing countries, where society is in a state of transition.
Importance of bureaucracy in governance – Being so, as far as governance in a country is concerned, bureaucracy could be regarded as the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests. Weakening of this pillar could only spell disaster[ii]. For any administration to be good and efficient as a whole, the right type of men placed in crucial positions of bureaucracy is more important than laying down rules and methods of operation.[iii]
What is Bureaucracy? Bureaucracy according to Max Weber – According to Max Weber2, whose study on bureaucracy has become a base for the modern exponents of the science of administration, the main characteristics of a civil service are as following:
- Division of labour – defined rights and duties prescribed in written regulations;
- Hierarchy – (a) Systematically ordered authority relationship;
- Promotions regulated by merit and seniority;
- Merit based selection and training – technical competence as a formal condition of employment;
- Full time career-based service with fixed monetary salaries;
- Impersonality – strict separation of office and incumbent in the sense that employee does not own the means of administration and cannot take the advantage of their position for promoting self-interest.
- A system of rules and files – its operations are government by a consistent system of abstract rules.
- Team-work – One of the important feature of bureaucracy is team-work, i.e. ability to work together toward a common vision. It is ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” (Andrew Carnegie, TOI, P.18, Feb 7, 2017)
- Loyalty to impersonal authority like the State. Cal.J. Friedrich rejected this ‘ideal-type’ theory as neither ideal in the platonic sense nor real in empirical sense.
Criticism of Weber’s theory – Friedrich, Alwin W. Gouldner, Philip Seiznic, Michel Crozier and others emphasised certain behavioural characteristics of civil service as more important.
- Peter Blau introduced an element of positivism, when the emphasized ‘efficiency’ as the core and goal of bureaucracy or civil service. His approach permits structural and behavioral flexibility in response to ecological reaction, as long as they contribute to efficiency. His approach is dynamic and covers ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ aspects of civil service and welds the structural and behavioral aspects in terms of ‘efficiency’.
- F.W. Riggs, John Forward, James Brady4 and others have developed a new approach of ecological and developmental administration. In this approach the civil service is to be explained and designed in terms of local influences as well as the influence of developmental tasks and goals. This approach has been admired, because of its open-minded realistic and flexible character, particularly for purposes of designing a developmental bureaucracy.
- V.A. Pai Panandikar and Kshirsagar (Pai Panandikar and Kshirsagar, Bureaucracy in India, I.J.PA.Vol. XVII No.2 PP 187-208) are of opinion that bureaucratic model cannot be a single type. According to them while the Weberian Model is most suited in Secretariat type of Organisation and the Blau’s model operates well in dynamic field of development type of agencies like the agriculture or industrial departments.
Whatever the merits and demerits of the above models may be, it is a fact that no single model is sufficient either to explain the complex bureaucratic universe empirically or to Guide the designing of a bureaucratic system normatively.
In short – It can be said that civil service is a “professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled”2. It is always connected with the exercise of authority as members of a class of power elites. It is engaged in the governance of the country and its administrative work. Its officials are professionally recruited, permanent, paid and properly trained in various disciplines of administration. Its main characteristics are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature, and its impartial and speedy working. It is always associated with exercise of authority. It has to deal with human beings with many complexes – psychological and sociological and its dealings extend to society as a whole.
The people who are governed
Government has to deal with living human beings prone to unpredictable behavior. It also deals with the issues and challenges in all the spheres, whether political, economic or social, which directly affects public life.
Governance a difficult task in India having many kinds of Diversity – Way back on December 9, 1946, Mr. V.N. Narayan had said, “At best of times, India is ungovernable country of diversities, conflicts and problems”. A touch here, a push there may make India ungovernable. Governance of a pluralistic society, like India, is a sensitive and challenging exercise. Mr. Nani Palkiwala expressed the same feeling after 50 years of self-rule, which gave to India empty coffers, unfulfilled promises, political instability, fractured society and perpetual divide among different groups along caste and community lines. He said, “Our legal systems have made life too easy for criminals and too difficult for law abiding citizens”.
India comprises of different identities – India comprises people of different identities – ethnic, religious, castes, linguistic and regional identities. While, these identities lived together for centuries and presented a mosaic culture, there have been periods of discord. The diversity made the divide easy. However, the forces of unity have always been stronger than the divisive forces. It is for this reason that India occupies a special place in the global society. It is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. It presents a fascinating picture of unity amidst diversity, cultural richness, largeness of area and huge population. It has assimilated multi-ethnic migrants into its fold. The diversities, that exist, are many like:
- Geographical diversity
- Ethnic diversity
- Linguistic Diversity
- Occupational Diversity
- Cultural Diversity
- Demographic Diversity
- Political division of Indian population etc.
As we have seen, in India, there exists perplexing diversities in geography, language, race and culture since ages. It pervades every aspect of life. Equality in each and every sphere of life is just not possible. In such a situation, no compromise should be made to work hard and to discourage healthy competition on the ground to reduce social inequalities artificially. For unity and sustainable development of the nation, a strong and healthy competitive system of placement at all levels of administration according to the requirements of the posts needs to be followed.
Concepts of ‘Welfare-State’ and ‘Development- administration”
The “Laissezfaire” theory of government’s function prevalent during 19th and beginning of 20th centuries. During this period, the main task of the government was generally maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. Now the emphasis has shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development.
Concept of ‘Welfare State – French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, Industrial Revolution, two World Wars and other Contemporary developments gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration. The former being the objective and the later the machinery to achieve these objectives.
Care of citizens rom womb to tomb – In a welfare state, the government assumes and aims at improving the quality of life of its masses and the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It aims at bringing `social, political and economic justice’ for all irrespective of their caste or creed, the voluntary abdication of riches and power – that these riches brings and establishment of a productive, vigorous and creative political and social life. In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.. The main aim of initiating and nurturing these concepts is to bring about betterment to the lots of deprived sections of society and build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy.
People also desire to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people should have a better deal. It has widened the responsibilities of the State’s government. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. Millions of people have started demanding, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses started wishing that they themselves should be benefited a much as possible, from the resources of their nation.
“Concept of Development Administration” – The welfare concept of state has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. The government now work for establishing “Socialistic pattern of society”.
The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals – The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals national reconstruction and development – is the institution of civil service, which puts all its energies at bringing about socio-economic and political development of the nation as a whole. An efficient administration can successfully comprehend what is attainable, what is practical and what can help the agencies in the community to formulate plans and policies, by which the community can seek to assure welfare of all its members.
The emphasis in governance has resulted in –
- Increase in the responsibilities of Bureaucracy – Both the concepts of ‘Welfare nation’ and ‘Development Administration’ have increased the responsibilities of bureaucracy manifolds. In addition to their traditional regulatory work to maintain law and order situation in the country, the national governments have gradually assumed the responsibility of welfare of all its citizens from “Womb to tomb”.
- Regulatory and service functions of Bureaucracy – Activities of Bureaucracy have penetrated into different spheres of social, political and economic spheres. Its functions are now divided into two – Regulatory and service functions. It is an irony that Services engaged in Regulatory and Economic functions always remain at the top at controlling-end. Services responsible for service functions in different spheres busy to provide convenience, relief and to give common men a better deal always remain at asking end. So is the fate of bureaucrats engaged in development of the nation by building-up the infra-structure for a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy always remain at the asking-end.
- Arising the aspirations of people from the government – Recent developments and various revolutions have aroused the aspirations of people and expectations from the government. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common man and weaker sections of society could have better deal, forced the national governments to take upon themselves the responsibility of protecting and nurturing them in such a manner that people get enough opportunities to grow to their fullest stature and prosper.
- People more assertive of their rights – People are now more alert and aware. They are assertive of their rights. Misery, ignorance and economic deprivation, which were earlier accepted as a lot of masses, are no longer acceptable. Now they wish to taste the fruits of development and get benefited from the resources of the nation. Millions of people started demanding with persisting insistence better standards of living, housing, education and medical facilities. In a way, they demand protection from five major evils of an underdeveloped or developing society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.
Bureaucracy includes all the Government services – At present, in any nation, aiming at Welfare and Development administration, Bureaucracy includes all the Government services, Financial, Technical and Specialists as well as Managerial and Generalist. There is police force to maintain law and order, diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs for providing services in their respective area.
Bureaucrats in the role of knowledge managers – In the increasingly knowledge-based society of twenty-first century bureaucrats/administrators have to play the role of knowledge managers. They are supposed to find out knowledge based solutions for problems in different spheres. The major goals of development administration could be said to be national integration, holistic change and modernization of social and economic process, welfare and ultimately equality, liberty and justice. Development Administration has to concern itself with four `Ps’ standing for –
- Policy making
- Programmes; and
For doing justice to their work, bureaucrats needs to develop observation skills, alertness and awareness of their surroundings. They need-
- Intelligence or basic applicative skill to create solutions;
- Relevant data;
- Ability to understand pros and cons and alternatives;
- Mental alertness to deliver results within time and cost parameters.According to Valson, the whole bureaucratic set-up needs to be organized properly at different levels and the government should be specific about expectations. Different skills are needed at different levels of its administrative-setup.
Role of bureaucrats at different levels – At all the levels, an administrator has to meet the challenges of modern time. The higher, one goes in the ladder of bureaucratic set-up, more his role becomes of analyzer and synthesizer, break a problem down into many parts, then put those together again in a rational design. Some-times, an official has to make rationality a compromise/fusion of opposite ends and means. One needs to be sensitive enough understand the sentiments of colleagues, value the good work done by his colleagues – individually and in group, and give reward for good performance. He should be capable to maintain discipline within his respective organization.
At topmost level – At topmost level, bureaucrats are responsible for policy formulation; setting goals and designing strategies, appropriation and allocation of funds, fixing priorities, execution of policy, direction and training. Therefore, at this level they need the conceptual skills to look into the future; to look at the organization as a whole; to visualize the whole scenario rather than in tit bits. at the topmost level, they suffer from disagreement with political bosses, weight to patronage and seniority instead of qualities required for a particular post or promotion, and unwillingness to accept new ideas and technology for fear of loss of power and position. They are constrained by conflict between young and old minds in civil service, high level of corruption, low commitment to development and conflict with or influence of politicians on their superiors.
At the middle level – The middle level administrator is usually responsible for learning and interpreting, energizing and supervising, coordinating and collecting information. Therefore, at this level, officers are required to have human skills along with technical skills. At senior and middle levels, skill of communication/networking within the organization and outside is also required for successfully saving effort, time and money.
At lower level – The lower level administrator undertakes the role of mass contacts, demonstration, innovation, introduction of new institutions and collection of taxes. Therefore, at entry level and during the initial years, the administrators are supposed to possess knowledge about the subject, they have to deal. The lower level administrators suffer due to insufficient qualifications, poor salary, and loss of morale, loss of faith in development ideology due to frustrating field experience and loss of initiative crippling subservience to seniors and sacrifices to develop objectives.
Government that governs in India
India opted for the most difficult path, for its governance – India has chosen the most difficult form of government, democracy, which are working successfully only in a very few nations that too in developed countries. This poses many challenges before the administration. The Government of India has accepted the planning process. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans solely depends upon the efficiency of its bureaucratic cadres. Therefore, India requires that every level of its administrative set-up must be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India.
Federal structure – India has adopted is a system of federal parliamentary democracy. Its federal structure consists of Union and State Administration.
Three arms of the government – To govern the country, the Constitution of India has established three arms –
- Executive – The Union Government at the Centre consists of a ‘President’, (in states Governors) in whom all the executive power of the Union is vested. It is exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution [Article 53 (1)]; the Vice-President – only a ceremonial dignitary; and ‘a council of ministers with prime Minister (Chief Ministers) as its head “to aid and advice the President in the exercise of his functions”. The President is the nominal head of the executive. The Prime Minister and his colleagues are real political heads of different government departments. Their executive power, in practice, is exercised by permanent bureaucracy/civil service (civil services mean all the streams of functional, technical and specialist cadres as well as managerial and generalist cadres).
- Legislative powers are vested in Parliament/Assembly. It lays the policy and frames laws of the land for governance. The Executive implements the policies, the laws and the programs.
- There is also an independent judiciary, which acts as a watchdog of the Constitution and is the supreme law of the land.
Government at State level – Different provinces or states in India have their separate political set-up similar to that of Centre. The Judiciary acts as a watchdog. All the three Arms of the State go together in improving the quality of life of public at large. Instead of President and Vice-President, Governor is there as the head of the executive in every state. It also includes the officials at regional or state level, which works under ministers and serves as a link – so essential to maintain continuity of policy and consistency of administration between successive ministers.
Set-up of a Department in Government – Directly under the Minister, comes the Secretary of a Department. A Secretary may head one or more Departments and can be under more than one minister. All matters of the cabinet are routed through him. He is the Chief functionary of his Department(s) Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries help the Secretary in the discharge of his work. In Secretariat, decision taking, normally starts at the level of Deputy Secretary. He puts up proposals for policy decisions to the Secretary. Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.
Working of the bureaucracy in India – The bureaucracy’s work is divided into:
- Work at Secretariat for policy making and
- Work in field organizations for implementation of policies and Plans.
Working in Secretariat – Secretariat functions as the nerve center of the Government, both at the Center as well as in the States. State Secretariats are located in the capital cities of respective State and the Central Secretariat at New Delhi.
Bureaucrats assist the minister in formulating and monitoring policies and programs. Executive orders originate from here. It keeps a watch over the program implementation and presents a correct appraisal of it to the Government, from time to time.
Directly under the Minister, comes the Secretary of a Department. A Secretary may head one or more Departments and can be under more than one minister. All matters of the cabinet are routed through him. He is the Chief functionary of his Department(s) Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries and Under Secretaries help the Secretary in the discharge of his work. In Secretariat, decision taking, normally starts at the level of Deputy Secretary. He puts up proposals for policy decisions to the Secretary. Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.
Functions performed at Secretariat level – According to Punjab Administrative Reforms Commission, the following are important functions of the Secretariat: –
- Making decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
- Looking after Planning and finance work,
- Legislative business,
- Personnel management policies,
- Legal advice,
- Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
- Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
- Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.
Fieldwork – A large number of bureaucrats play a crucial role in state administrative work. Working in the field can be divided in two groups-
- Working in the field departments or head office,
- Working in District.
Field departments or head office – The Head offices are to supervise, coordinate and monitor/watch the implementation of policies within their specific field-area. Their administrative and financial powers are defined in Civil Service Rules and Financial Rules, the Budget Manual and other Codes. It is their responsibility to set their men and machinery; money and material in order. Administration at field level requires men of drive and initiative possessing leadership qualities of leadership.
District administration – The district administration occupies a key position. In a district, officials have to perform regulatory as well as developmental tasks. It is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of Civil Administration can be concentrated and where it comes into direct contact with the people.
The importance of field-work arises from the fact, that it is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation. It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. Collector continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration.
First five or six years of bureaucrats are crucial for all. During this period, they go on field postings to get the feel and first-hand knowledge of real life and social realities. These postings open up the minds of young officers, by bringing them into direct contact with administrative life, with officials working in other departments, feelings of people at grass-root level. They get opportunity to understand the concrete problems. They come to know about people belonging to different sections of society and their social conditions prevailing in that particular area. They get acquainted with the structure of their own as well as of other departments working in a district and coordinating activities of various departments at district level and with that of district headquarters. This period enriches them with a variety of experiences and makes them ripe for senior positions. A collector enjoys immense power and prestige at district level.
Both kinds of work – work at Secretariat and work in the field have their distinctive challenges. For efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for really bright and talented officers.
Tasks of the Government – Like most developing nations, India has yet to cover distance of centuries in decades, making the transition from agrarian society to industrial-society and then to information society. Science and technology have made their debut here rather late. Time never ran so fast, as it did for India, after independence. Yesterday was not long ago and today is nearly over, with so much still pending to be done.
Great transformation under way – A present, a great transformation is under way, not only in India, but every- where in the world. Time never ran so fast, as it did for India, after independence. Yesterday was not long ago and today is nearly over, with so much still pending to be done. Like most developing nations, India has to cover distance of centuries in decades, making the transition from agrarian society to industrial society and then to information society. Science and technology have made their debut rather late in India.
For sustainable development, right person at right place – To absorb such a transformation, the main thrust of the authorities should be employ persons at all the levels of administration according to the requirements of the posts. Good governance needs as many persons as possible with knowledge, expertise, efficiency and who are capable to apply science and technology in the work of administration. It would expedite the task of governance and provide transparency and give relief to the public. To find out right persons for good governance, a system of healthy competition for placements is required. Government should give more importance to sustainable development of nation rather than to employ people just to reduce social inequalities artificially. This is truer in a large country like India, where perplexing diversities exists in geography, language, race and culture since ages, and pervades every aspect of life.
Role of executive in governance – Amongst all the three wings of the government, the Executive affects the daily life of the people the most, as it implements the policies, the laws and the programs. Bureaucracy is an important component of the Executive. Any laxity in the performance of this Service would jeopardize the objective and push the developmental goals behind.
Challenges before the present Government – Some basic problems after the Independence have been – Poverty, low per capita income, illiteracy, dependence of at least ¾ of her population on agriculture, industrial backwardness, capital deficiency, rapid population growth, unemployment and under-employment, prevalence of backward technology, under-utilization of natural resources and unsuitable social structures.
- Population explosion – Population is exploding virtually unchecked. Standards of education have declined beyond any remedy and it has become inefficient, wasteful, dysfunctional and increasingly unrelated to national needs and aspirations. Illiteracy of masses is still a problem in the society.
- Challenges on economy-front – Because of the factors mentioned above, the growth has been very slow and the economy of the country has always been in a bad shape. In the absence of enough capital or skilled personnel or able management and efficiency, the level of productivity has remained low, leaving little surplus for saving and capital formation. In addition to all this, by and large, the absence of able and honest leadership and lack of efficient and clean administration are the main reasons for persistent economic backwardness.
- Periods of strife and conflict – The periods of unity, in our history, have been lesser as compared to periods of strife and conflict. The partition of the nation, the three wars, the swelling streams of nearly a crore of refugees from Bangla Desh and Sri Lanka, the periodical terrorist attacks, famines and floods, recent economic depression has adversely effected the whole nation. Each has to be tackled firmly and speedily.
- Divisive forces – There are new divisive forces due to diversities India, which base themselves on cultural and linguistic variations of the country. Today the violence in West Bengal, Bihar, J&K, Assam and Punjab is a serious challenge before the administration at various levels and that unless local problems are solved speedily, they are likely to pose a new threat to the unity and stability of the nation as a whole.
- Regional Disparities – There is a wide gap between the rich and poor and between region to region. Some states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Punjab are marching ahead rapidly under the stimulus of the plan schemes, while others are lagging behind and re unable to find adequate resources to implement the schemes. Therefore, the gap is widening between the prosperous and backward states. Besides, within each state, there are pockets of poverty amidst plenty – such as dry and hilly areas as well as those with tribal populations are still far below the national average. This gives rise to new tensions – social and economic and the stability of the society is threatened. The administration of the country has to face this challenge and take up lead in reconciling regional interest with national unity.
- Challenges at Social front – The administration of the nation has to face many challenges at social front also. Pervasive corruption and indiscipline has weakened the social fabric beyond repair. Generally law follows social change, but in India the Government is trying to foster social change through law. Some unpleasant changes took place in the past and are increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the main constituents of the national elites – the political executive, the legislators, media, the businessmen, the organized workers, the surplus farmers and the bureaucrats. Sectoral and regional imbalances are also sources of great social and psychological tensions.
- Bitter relationship between Centre and the States – The political and administrative atmosphere is also not in harmony with the developmental activities of the administration. Due to India’s unique federal structure, many complexities arise due to tense Centre-State relationship. Also there exists a great deal of friction, tension and mutual suspicion between different political parties, as well as the political leadership and the administrators. This results in delay in decision-making, lack of coordination of policies among departments and lack of dissemination of information for effective decision making and thus either procrastination and long delays or inadequate and inapt policies.
- Corruption – “Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is to keep it to a minimum.” (Alan Greenspan) In India, after six decades, the country’s democracy has given too much space to corrupt and inefficient governance without any accountability towards public. People have also become immune to corruption, inefficiency and poor governance in public life as normal.
Conclusion – Spiritual Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shanker says “Peace and progress can only happen through reconciliation and reform. Reform cannot happen out of anger or hatred. We need a calm and clear mind, a compassionate approach, along with the whole-hearted participation of the parties concern.”
Common man in India is still waiting hopefully for good governance. People are hopeful that with the result of previous few elections in centre as well as in states, majority party is forming the government instead of coalition governments, the situation should become easier for the ruling authority to provide good governance to the nation. Advancement in technology also is helpful in making the task of the government easier.
However, at present, all political parties pay more attention to ‘propaganda, publicity and populism’, attention-catching slogans and stunts rather than working for the welfare of common-men, and giving relief to the common man. They are busy to connect themselves with people through media, “publicity driven” campaigns, print-media, social-media, television, radio, advertisements etc. Instead of working for the welfare of people and development of the nation, they are wasting or misusing lots of money and public funds on propaganda. Rival national and regional parties are also fighting all the time over distribution of powers between national and provincial governments.
[i] Paipandikar VA, Bureaucracy in India – An Empirical Study, IJPA, pp187, Vol. xvii, no.2, April-June, 1971.
[ii] Shourie HD, Bureaucracy Baiting, The Tribune, June 18. 1992, p6.
[iii] Rajagopalachari C, Talk delivered on August 14, 1955, under Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel lecture.
[iv] Valson EM, Development Bureaucracy. A tentative Model, IIPA, vol. XVIII no. I, pp36-50.
- Weaknesses of Indian bureaucracy
- Dalit Assertion
- Factors, that changed caste-system into casteism
- Development Administration
- Wisdom/Enlightenment and empowerment
- Rights and duties
- Role of Bureaucracy in good governance
- India – Unity in Diversity
- Fusion of many cultures in India
- Theory of biological Evolution
- Dalit Assertion, A Journey from ‘Shudras’to Outcastes, to’Panchamas’ and to ‘Dalits’
- Untouchables (“Dalits” of modern India) in Ancient India