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Development administration in a ‘Welfare State’

                                   

In modern times, of all acts of civilized society, perhaps, governance is one of the most difficult tasks, as it deals with issues – political, economic or social, that directly affect public life of living human beings, who are full of psychological and sociological complexes and prone to unpredictable behavior. Good governance is the foundation stone to build a forward- looking society.

Earlier in the nineteenth Century the main tasks of an administration were universally the maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. But 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, which required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development. The emphasis in administration has shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development.

Civil services in a ‘Welfare State’ 

French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, Industrial Revolution and Contemporary developments had a great impact in widening the scope of State activities. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. The ultimate aim of governance is to help common men live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten. Common-men themselves have started demanding, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses now wish themselves to be benefited as much as possible, from the resources of their nation. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people could have better deal, 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.

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 tries to bring about `social, political and economic justice’. The main aim of initiating and nurturing this concept is to bring about betterment to the lots of weaker section of society by building up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy. It aims to uplift the marginalized sections of society. Provision of basic necessities to 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 are the aims of a national government.

In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. The welfare concept of state has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals – national reconstruction and development – is that of the development of administration through 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.

Maintenance of law and order all over the country is still very important. Then only, desired objectives for the sustainable development of the nation could be achieved. Those engaged in the task of governance could yield maximum results with minimum labor and resources within time and cost parameters and provide convenience to public at large. 

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.

Requirements for efficient governance

 Following are the requirements needed for the civil servants engaged in development administration –

  • Mental framework – it should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
  • Knowledge – it should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
  • Skills – it requires conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
  • Vision – A development bureaucrat requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat.
  • Structures – it requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, and 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.
  •  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.  

                   i.            to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people; and

                 ii.            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.

Decaying trends

Correct diagnosis is necessary for curing a disease. If diagnosis is not correct, it would be difficult to treat the disease properly. Similarly if a nation is not able to assess correctly its weaknesses, which are putting hurdles on the way of its development and tackles it properly, it would become difficult for it to achieve its targets within time and cost parameters.

India has everything, a nation needs for its development – like tremendous amount of skilled and unskilled manpower, all kinds of raw materials in abundance, a good legal system, a huge market and potential to export virtually everything, provided cost of its inputs are kept at international levels. Still success is far away and still much more is required to be done to achieve its desired goals. Everything depends on how those in the realm of authority perceive and handle them.

In India, there are many factors, which have made good governance difficult. As a developing nation, it is reeling between many internal contradictions like between prosperity-poverty, between plenty of resource endowments-scarcity of their management, between its culture of peace and tolerance-its tendency of sliding towards violence, intolerance and discrimination.

Somehow, 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, it purported to solve. Whilst some significant increase in GNP had indeed taken place, poverty, disease and hunger had either worsened or remained unaltered. The same could be said of 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 the major industrial countries and a crisis of liberal democracy in the seventies and the early eighties have dampened most traces of early optimism.

 Due to arbitrariness of few powerful groups or persons, lawlessness is prevalent all over the country. There is a sense of frustration, distrust, venom and agitation/violence amongst masses, which threatens to shake the whole system and its structures. General public has become so inured that any amount of harassment, violence, assaults on human dignity and human rights, bloodshed, caste-wars, carnage, riots, corruption, scams or scandals hardly fazes him anymore. One feels secure, until not affected personally, but how long?

The greatest damage to the nation has been done by intellectuals belonging to six main constituents of national elites of the country – political executive, legislators, businessmen, organized workers, surplus farmers and bureaucrats. In recent past, some unpleasant developments have taken place and are continuously happening in the character, role and inter-relationship of these groups.

In such an atmosphere, it is not easy for upright bureaucrats responsible for the good governance of the country to give free and frank opinion to their political masters. For their own security and career prospects, they have to play safe.

One of the main reasons behind it is that there is difference of opinion amongst decision making authorities about the issues to be tackled on priority basis and its possible solutions. Like Four Blind Men and the Elephant, different people and groups in power echelons or leaders of political parties perceive and project disparate parts of nation’s issues differently. Usually they ignore harsh realities/facts and see only those aspects of a problem what pleases them ignoring the root cause of the problems or bothering about the psyche of the common men. Damage is usually done by vested interests of various pressure groups, which usually form opinions on half cooked knowledge or incomplete data. They are interested in short term gains.

It is easier for the authorities to play on emotions of the populace rather than to make efforts address real issues. To  divert mob attention from real issues, most of the politicians put emphasis on abstract ones based on the emotions of the people, like Equity, Secularism, Social Justice”, “ reservation” etc., which gives at-least some hope to the people. But the end result of all this is that instead of bringing prosperity, it has incited people to pit emotional venom against each other, bred in them intolerance, inflexibility, narrowness, unadulterated materialism or/and feeling of otherness/estrangement. The result is persistent backwardness and endemic instability.

 Constraints

According to Ferrel Heady (Ferrel Heady, Public Administration, A comparative perspective), the main hindrances on the way of effective development are:

  • 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 deficiency in skilled manpower necessary for development program. It is caused by inadequacies and deficiencies in the educational system, training schemes and brain drain. There is lack of achievement orientation.
  • The emphasis of civil servants is usually not on programme goals, but on personal expediency, status-orientation on ascriptive grounds. Reason for this is the persistence of traditional value system. Results of this tendency are `institutionalised’ 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 decentralisations, eye-washing reports and actions with continuing backwardness.
  • Bureaucratic Autonomy – Due to various factors like colonial tradition monopoly and prestige of expertise for development available in bureaucracy, monopoly of coercive power, the tiredness, inadequacies and instability of political leadership and the near absence or weakness of groups exercising countervailing force over bureaucracy, have all made it more self-serving than development oriented.

According to Valson (E.H. Valsan, Development Bureaucracy, A Tentative Model) 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 has to face:

  • 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.

Remedy

Making civil service capable to serve development is not an impossible thing. It requires a development of administration itself. Development of Administration means “a pattern of increasing effectiveness in the utilisation of available means to achieve prescribed goals”. (E.H. Valsan – Development Bureaucracy – A Tentative Model) Administration mainly means increasing the effectiveness of the human resource of administration termed as personnel or civil service. For an effective development administration, the role of entire personnel system should be efficient. But relatively speaking, the role of the higher civil service or the managerial class of service is always more important, because in development administration, it can generate and apply with vision, values, ideas, plans and programmes necessary for the development of the nation as a whole. Mr. Bata K. Dey has rightly said, “By and large, for development administration, the bureaucrats of major interest are those, who occupy managerial roles, who are in some directive capacity in either central agencies or in the field, who are concerned with the policy and plans formulation, programme implementation and evaluation”. The directing services are obviously the higher generalist, specialist and managerial services.

An appropriate designing and sincere shaping of the civil service for making it an effective instrument for the required purpose can be done by:

  • Renovating the Administrative structure; and
  • Re-patterning the behaviour 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.

Apart from renovating the bureaucracy, the development of nation demands awareness and a sense of responsibility amongst masses as well. Political leaders need to find out honestly the real issues posing challenges before the government rather than wasting their efforts on peripheral/abstract issues for their short terms gains. Everybody together needs to make sincere efforts to address basic problems.

Until and unless basic issues are analyzed and tackled sincerely and honestly taking the total scenario in view, it will be difficult for India to achieve the sustainable development of the nation as a whole. 

 

http://india-futureofchange.ning.com/profiles/message/listInbox?xg_source=msg_mes_private

I read your wordpress blog – “Development Administration in a Welfare State”. Your study and analysis on the administrative and bureaucratic scenario of India is remarkable. It is indeed correct that prescription works on correct diagnosis. 🙂

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September 19, 2011 - Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | , , ,

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