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Objectives of governance in Independent India

 

Since India became a Republic (1950), the aims, objectives and the role of government changed completely. The Constitution lays emphasis on national reconstruction and development—a shift from the traditional task of maintenance of law and order. The objectives of the Government were to launch a massive attach on five major evils of the society—Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness—and to secure to all its citizens “Justice—social, economic and political”.

This change had brought about many new responsibilities pertaining to economic development and social welfare on the shoulders of its civil services. The civil service was supposed to come closer to masses and feel the agony of the millions of underfed, under-read and under-clothed citizens and then design strategies, formulate and execute policies, take right and timely decisions, initiate action and remedial measures for improving the lot of masses and upliftment of the country as a whole. For fulfilling all these responsibilities, the civil administration had to be organized as follows:

(a) work in Secretariat for policy making, and

(b) work in field organizations for implementation of policies and plans.

Secretariat Working

Secretaries function as the nerve Centre of the Government, both at the Centre as well a in the States. While the State Secretariat is located in the capital of India, New Delhi. It consists of the Council of Ministers (elected representatives), the Secretaries (top level civil servants), Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, Under Secretaries and other supporting staff. Here all the policies and programmes get formulated and executive orders originate. It also keeps a watch over the programme implementation and presents a correct appraisal of it to the government, from time to time. According to the Punjab Administrative Reforms Commission, the following are important functions of the 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 the Central Institutions, like Planning Commission, etc.; and

  • Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organisations.

Directly under the Minister comes the Secretary of Department Secretaries may head one or more departments and can be under more than one Minster. All matters to 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, taking of decision normally starts at the level of Deputy Secretary. He puts up proposal for policy-decisions to the Secretary. The work in the Secretariat requires talented officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas.

Field Work

Working in the field can be divided into two groups, namely, working in the field departments or head offices and working in the District. The head offices are to supervise, coordinate and watch the implementation of policies in their own field. Their administrative and financial powers are defined in financial rules, civil service rules, the budget manual and other codes. It is their responsibility to set their machinery—men, money and material—in order, to keep their men in good spirit for bringing about the desired results according to the Plan. Therefore, administration at field level requires men of drive and initiative possessing leadership capability.

The District Civil Administration occupies a key position. 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 people. Its importance arises from the fact that it is at this level that bulk of people come in close contact with the governmental policies, programmes and their implementation. It is here that the people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. It has regulatory as well as developmental tasks. The Collector continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration. Besides collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, he is responsible for coordinating the activities of various Departments at District level. He still enjoys immense power and prestige. Each District has several District officers, who head their respective units at district level. There are some technical departments also, which are entrusted with functions, which require knowledge and experience in a defined field.

Thus, both kinds of work—work at the Secretariat and in the field—have their distinctive challenges. For efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for flow of knowledge, experience and continuous consultation between the Secretariat and the field agencies.

 

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June 18, 2009 - Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services |

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