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Can Modern India do without bureaucracy?

The famous quote describes the crucial role played by a bureaucratic set-up as –

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.”

 Theoretically the administrative machinery, known as ‘Bureaucracy’ is subordinate to the political arm of a government, but in practice, it plays a potent and vital role in the governance of any country, anywhere in the world. It exists in any type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic, and is an indispensable part of each and every political system, be it communism or socialism or capitalism. It deals with human beings with many complexes – psychological and sociological and its dealings extend to society as a whole.

In a democracy, the responsibility of political chiefs is supposed to be formal. Though decision making power rests with political masters, they are compelled to listen the advice given by the civil servants, who dig the expert knowledge from raw material, give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Therefore, civil service’s role in relation to the politicians is that of influence and not of power.

The salient features of a bureaucracy are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature and speedy working. It is always connected with the exercise of authority as members of a class of power elites. Due to exclusive and specialised nature of work and the need for more and more expert knowledge in administration for improving the quality of service, the importance of the civil service has increased tremendously in modern times.

India, still, is a transient society moving from traditionalism to modernism. Earlier the main tasks of this huge administrative apparatus was maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. However, after the Second World War and its independence, its emphasis has shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development.

Since 1971, especially during and after the era of Emergency, when the concept of committed bureaucracy developed in political circles, the Indian bureaucracy has started losing rapidly its past reputation. It has lost its courage to give free and frank advice to its political bosses and has already become spineless.

Its long tradition of authoritarianism and institutionalism has made it more self-serving rather than development oriented. It gives more emphasis now to personal expediency, status-orientation on ascriptive grounds rather than to the interests of common men and that of a nation as a whole.

At higher level, Bureaucracy suffers due to disagreements with political bosses, more stress on seniority and patronage than qualifications in recruitment, postings and promotions, and fear of losing power and plum positions in power echelons. At middle level, its constraints are conflict with higher bureaucracy and local politicians, corruption and low commitment to development. At lower level, its suffers from  loss of initiative, corruption, arbitrary/blatant use of authority, while on field duty and dealing directly with common men, liaison with anti-social elements, crippling subservience to seniors and local politicians.

In addition to it, carry-over of the colonial heritage/bureaucratic traditions like elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies has led to its downfall. People got so fed up that contemptuously, they along with media call bureaucrats ‘Babus’ and bureaucracy ‘Babudom’.

Some people think that with liberalization and globalization, India can do better without its huge bureaucratic set up, but practically it is impossible to carry on the tasks of governance & maintain continuity in governance without it. Service functions can be handed over to private sector and public sector, but control functions – meaning maintenance of law and order and revenue work – requires presence of an efficient and crisp bureaucracy. Bureaucracy may be called the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests. It can make or mar the sustainable development of the nation as a whole. Weakening of this pillar could only spell disaster. A country can not make progress without an efficient bureaucracy inspite of the earnedness of all the people at the helm of affairs in the country.

 

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January 3, 2010 - Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services |

8 Comments »

  1. although india stands on its democratic structure with bureaucracy as its important pillar,it consists of some peoples honesty as well their wish to perform well,………
    Bureaucracy makes power of making decisions in on hand…bt the bureaucrats have the tschnical datas based on their studies and researches…….. .but it is not totally affected by corruption,fear….it is upto only a certain context….

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