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Rights and duties

“A society that puts equality (of outcome) ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom and force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.”  Thomas Sowell        

Born free, but everywhere in chains – An individual is born free, but in real life, s(he) finds oneself in chains all the time.

An individual as social-person  – A Famous philosopher Aristotle says – man is a social animal. “if a human being does not live with men or amongst men, then surely either he is god or a beast.” While living in a society, one is not supposed to care only for one’s own-self,  one’s own comfort zone, one’s own liberty/rights/needs/conveniences, and unmindful of others’. 

Rights and duties intertwined – Rights and duties are so intriguingly intertwined with each other that one cease to exist without the other. One’s rights become other people’s duties and others rights his/her own duties. Clear-cut vision and a balanced approach towards one’s rights and duties is a must for any matured/civilized society.

Fine and balanced tuning between rights and duties – A fine and balanced tuning between rights and duties is a must for any civilized society. For achieving it, effective systems of checks and balances over arbitrary use of one’s rights is a necessary.

In ancient Indian scriptures, for duties the word ‘Dharma’ is used. ‘Dharma’ embraced within itself different ideas and concepts like religion, law, duty, righteousness, morality and conformity with truth”, “ethics”, “spirituality”, or “responsibility” etc.

Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights forming the natural foundation of human relationship, India had evolved around the concept of duty, tolerance and sacrifice. Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant. In Indian culture, sacrifice is regarded far more important than success, and renunciation is regarded as the crowning achievement.

All the people in the society were governed by Dharma at all times, be it a ruler or ruled, parent or child, teacher or student or man or woman (Prabhu, Pandarinath, H., Hindu Social organizations, P. 30).  The ideal of Dharma gave an abiding sense of purpose to the individual’s life, an aim to be actively striven for, cutting across class distinctions and caste boundaries, bridging the distance between rural and urban folk and between the illiterate and educated. Dharma enabled different groups to act cooperatively and to regulate the behavior of its component members.

During ancient India, Dharma guided individuals to remain true and to fulfil their duties earnestly. Molding one’s life according to Dharma is not an easy task. It requires tremendous will power and a strong character. Therefore, persons with weak faculties found it difficult to observe Dharma.

Such a system in India had prevented ancient India to exercise coercion against its working class, whereas in ancient Greece, Rome or other European countries, people were made to work under the threat of a whip. It stopped people from taking law in their own hands. While other nations passed through many bloody revolutions, Indian systems kept on adapting itself to changing times. It had filled the whole of society with a sense of duty and trained them in obedience. The sense of duty had helped the people to adjust themselves to most drastic changes in the past.  

Constitution of India on fundamental rights – The fundamental rights of Indian citizens are embodied in Part III of the original Constitution.

The Fundamental Rights guarantee civil rights to all Indians. The purpose of Fundamental rights  is to preserve individual liberty and democratic principles based on equality of all members of society. It prevents State authorities from encroaching on individual liberty. It also places  upon state an obligation to protect the citizen’s fundamental rights from encroachment by society.

Seven fundamental rights are provided by the constitution – right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, right to property (Right to property was removed from Part III by 44th Amendment of Indian Constitution in 1978), and right to constitutional remedies.

Dr Ambedkar had said that the responsibility of the legislature is not just to provide fundamental rights but also and rather more importantly, to safeguard them. Fundamental Rights act as limitations on the power of legislature and executive, under Article 13, and in case of any violation of these rights the Supreme Court and the High Courts of States have the power to declare such legislative or executive action as unconstitutional and void. Article 12, includes not only the legislative and executive, but also local administrative authorities and other agencies and institutions which discharge public functions or are of governmental character.

 Fundamental Duties –— Fundamental Duties were introduced by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. Article 51-A describes the duties of Indian citizens saying that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India: To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem; to cherish and follow the noble ideals etc.

Develops de-centralization of control systems – Balanced exercise of rights and duties automatically develops de-centralization of control systems, misuse of authority and prevents chaos. However, a balanced outlook towards rights and duties is very difficult.

Focus of Western and Eastern societies – Western societies give more stress to “rights” of an individual. On the other hand, in India and eastern part of the world, societies put more emphasis on “duty”. Both the systems leaves something more to be desired.

Duties/Dharma of an Individual according to Indian Philosophy – Principles of Dharma, Karma and Varna are the three pillars, on which the culture of traditional Indian society is based. Dharma , along with a ‘Religious Idea’ is also a ‘Principle’ and a ‘Vision’ of an organic society, in which all participating members are independent, yet their roles complimentary. 

What is Principle of Dharma – Dharma specifies duties, privileges and restrictions of each role separately and their relationship with each other. The principles of Dharma not only regulated the behavior of an individual within the community, but also provided universal, practical and eternal guidelines to be followed in personal life, family life, community life, social life, professional life and national life. The principle of give and take guides the human relationships. People are taught to lead a simple life free of covetousness, greed or lust.

There is  a  common  Dharma,  general  norms  of conduct, which are applicable to all individuals irrespective of caste or creed. These are nothing,  but   mannerism, leading individuals to the path of righteousness and values of good conduct,  Such as

  • Smritis teaches the people to follow ten principles of steadiness, forgiveness, self control, abstention from appropriating any thing belonging to others, purity, control, correct discernment, knowledge, truthfulness and absence from anger.
  • Kautilya lists harmlessness, truthfulness, purity, absence of spite, abstinence from cruelty and forgiveness as common duties of all persons as members of an organized society. He advised people to abandon lust, anger, greed, vanity, conceit, and overjoy. According to him desires fulfilled, never extinguished, but grew stronger. Therefore, desires should be directed in proper manner towards proper objectives.
  • Manusmriti guides people to control the five faculties of sense and five organs of actions. The purpose of education and learning should be to train the faculties of a person to channelize his/her  energies towards right activities. Discipline and productivity are necessary for education.

In order to maintain a smooth relationship of people belonging to different sections of society, Dharma prescribes a separate Dharma for appropriate to their nature and customs,  Separate Dharma for different sections of society, different classes and different stages of human life. It is based on attitude and aptitude, inherent qualities, and potentialities of its members at different stages in life. Dharma of Brahmin is not the same as that of a Shudra, or Dharma of a student not that of an old man. Separate rules of conduct have been aimed to inspire every one to perform one’s own duties and obligations, giving everybody opportunities- social, economic physical and spiritual – to do their jobs well and preserve the tradition and lifestyle of all communities.

Winding up – Too much importance to rights though gives more opportunities to enjoy life, but makes individuals selfish and unmindful of others conveniences. Too much importance on duties makes a person or a group too much humble, tolerant and submissive.

 

January 27, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | , | Leave a comment

Role of Bureaucracy in good governance

Introduction

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 –

  1. 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”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  • Planning
  • Programmes; and
  • Projects

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 StatesThe 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.

 [LS1]

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

India – Unity in Diversity

“There is more power in unity than division”.  Emanuel Cleaver, US politician

Introduction – 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.[i] 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.[ii]

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: –

(a) Geographical diversity – India is the Sixth largest nation in the world in terms of area, covering a territory of about 3.27 million sq. kms. which is about 24% of the total world area, all divided into:-

  1. Himalayas – forming the northern boundary of India, extending from J&K in the west to Assam, Manipur and Mizoram in the East. These regions are not very well connected with the mainland. Therefore, development processes are slow.
  2. Indo-Gangetic lowland – includes Gangetic, Brahmputra and coastal plains. It is densely populated. Indian civilization spread all over India mainly from this region.
  3. Peninsular Plateau – A mass of mountain hill ranges of Aravalli, Vindhyas, Satpura, Mekala, Nilgiri and Cardamon hills separates it from Indo-Gangetic lowland. This peninsula is flanked on one side by the Eastern Ghats and on the other by the Western Ghats.

The above three areas have different climate, different quantity of rainfall, different quality of soil, different kinds of vegetation, crops and minerals. Therefore, the people living in these parts differ from each other in their needs, way of living, eating habits and approach to a problem.

(b) Ethnic diversity – The assimilation of multi-ethnic migrants into Indian society makes its ethnic diversity a striking feature. The groups, that comprise this diversity, are: –

  • Negritos – the earliest men coming probably from Africa, now represented by tribal population in some interior jungles of South India and Andamans.
  • Proto-Australoids – considered being the original builders of the Indus valley civilization. They had settled in the hilly and forest tracts of Central and Southern India and in the lower strata of North India.
  • Mongoloids – coming from China, they settled mostly in Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal, Assam and the North Eastern States.
  • Mediterranean – Fairly civilized people coming from Southwest Asia around 2000 BC. They are believed to be the bearers of the earliest form of Hinduism and were the architects of later Indus Valley Civilization. Later, they were pushed to the Ganga plain and down the Central and South India.   Today they constitute the bulk of population in South India and bulk of scheduled castes in the North, including Punjab.
  • Alphinoids, Dinarics and Armenoids – Coming from South Europe, now they are found in the Coorgis and the Parsis.
  • Nordics – They came to India around 2000 BC. Their concentration is now in Northwest India and among the upper castes of North India.

These multi-ethnic migrants came to India in waves. In due course of time, they assimilated into Indian Society as its integral parts. They were allowed to preserve their distinct dialects, beliefs, and values, customs and traditions, which are intact even today. Their assimilation resulted in: –

  1. Linguistic Diversity
  2. Cultural Diversity.
  3. Occupational Diversity

 (c) Linguistic Diversity – According to Majumdar RC, Roy Chaudhary HC and Datta Kalikinkar,[iii] on the basis of linguistics, Indian people could be divided into the following four groups according to their language and physical appearance: –

  1. High Class Hindus – They are known as Indo-Aryan. They account for 73% of the Hindu population. [iv] Their language is derived from Sanskrit. They are usually tall, fair skinned, long nosed, aggressive and martial people. Their religion has been masculine, ritualized and organized.
  2. Dravidians – Mostly living in South Indian Peninsula. They speak Tamil, Telugu, Kanarese and Malayalam. They account for 20% of the population.
  3. Primitive Tribes (like Kol, Bhil and Mundas) – They are dark skinned and snub-nosed. They speak languages quite different from the above two. They account for 1.5% of the population.
  4. People with strong Mongolian features – They are yellow in color, snubbed nose with flat faces and prominent cheek bones, living mostly on the slopes of Himalayas and mountains of Assam. Gorkhas, Bhutiyas, Khasis are some of them. They have their own languages. They account for 0.85% of the total population.

The last two classes of people may be regarded as descendants of the Neolithic people and do not appear to have made much progress till today. They yielded to the forces of Dravidians in the South and Aryans in the North. At present India has 18 major languages included in Eighth Schedule of the Constitution, more than 250 dialects and about 200 to 300 castes in each linguistic region.[v]

(d) Occupational Diversity – The Indian scene presents a unique diversity in occupational structure greatly affecting terms in income, standard of living, way of life, status, economic activities, purchasing power and thinking of people.

Changes in occupational pattern after Industrialization – The modernization and industrialization process, especially under the guidance of British during the 19th Century changed the scene.

  • Gradually, many traditional occupations became less paying and were regarded more hazardous and more time consuming.
  • White collared jobs gained importance.
  • The more, a person withdrew from physical labour, the more civilized, honored and qualified he was regarded by the modern society.
  • It resulted in discrediting many traditional occupations and in destruction of Indian handicrafts and cottage industry.
  • It scattered the efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc.
  • A few of them joined modern occupations.
  • The majority could neither enter the modern sector nor stick to traditional occupations considering the menial work derogatory.
  • Unskilled persons had no option, but to either join the band of agricultural laborers, industrial workers, marginal labour or increase the number of unemployed.
  • The outcome of such a development has been the casualty of workers, first, their work style, commitment, motivation and culture afterwards.
  • Many groups had lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride.
  • Some entrepreneurs with money, education and awareness did market surveys and hijacked many traditional occupations. Occupations like mechanization of fishing or leather industry were modernized by them and made profit oriented.
  • Even less capital-intensive occupation, such as barber, washerman etc., have been taken up by educated middle class. Hitherto, these occupations were viewed with disdain and contempt by modern society. These have been, therefore, re-christened as saloon, laundry etc. It employed workers, largely from poor traditional workers, earlier practicing such occupations independently.

Nature of occupations – There are traditional and modern occupations and occupations in the organized and unorganized sector.

  • Traditional and Modern occupation – There was no choice in the matter of occupation in the traditional system. Maintaining differentiation between various occupations was the main feature of traditional system. It was community based and not individual based. It led the society to have more production, economic efficiency and specialization in various areas of activities. The system had created an atmosphere of high quality of occupational skills in different areas like spinning, weaving, pottery making, bead making, seal making, terracotta, handicrafts, brick-laying, metal work etc. The manner, in which these hereditary occupational skills were transferred, was through practice and experience; not through formal classroom lectures, which often kills the originality and verve of the people.
  • Main Workers and Marginal Workers – The Census classifies Workers into two groups namely, Main workers and Marginal workers. Main Workers are those workers who had worked for the major part of the reference period i.e. 6 months or more. Marginal Workers are those workers who had not worked for the major part of the reference period i.e. less than 6 months.

The Main workers can be classified on the basis of their nature of work into the following four categories:

  1. Cultivators
    2. Agricultural Labors
    3. Household Industry Workers and
    4. Other Workers

According to censuses, the total number of workers in rural and urban areas was as following: –

 Total number of workers (In Percentage)

Area

Persons Males Females

Rural

40.24 52.50 27.20
Urban 30.44 48.95 9.20
Total 37.68 51.56 22.73

Amongst these, a large number is that of marginal workers, who do not get work for the major part of a year. The Census operations indicate that the numbers of marginal laborer has been growing for the last two decades. Their number is higher in the rural areas than in the urban areas. About 85% marginal workers are female.

Main and Marginal Workers – (In Percentage)

Category

Persons

Workers Main

Workers

Marginal

Workers

37.64 34.12 3.52
Males 51.52 50.54 0.98
Females 22.69 16.43 6.26

 

Rural

Category
Workers  

Main workers

Marginal-workers

Persons

4013 3567 446
Males 5243 5129 114
Females 2706 1907 799

Urban

Persons

30.46 29.64 0.81
Males 48.96 48.43 0.53
Females 9.73 8.64 1.11

Source: 1991 Census, p 323

Organized sector – Organized sector is the backbone of modern economy. It provides to people, engaged in it, adequate means of livelihood and a specified position in social, economic and political world.   The reasons for its importance are –

Ø         The State authority itself and

Ø         It’s role in development.

Having full knowledge about the system, the persons working in organized sector are able to protect themselves against malfunctioning of state authority, because-

Ø         They are organized to challenge any misuse of authority.

Ø         Whenever the system fails, they can make special arrangements.

Ø         Their future is secured under various schemes.

Unorganized sector – In contrast, people in unorganized sector find themselves helpless and vulnerable, as their awareness and knowledge about the system is very limited. Very often, they are the people living below poverty line, deprived and exploited. Some of them are even unable to manage two square meals a day.

Moreover, their agony is multiplied due to growing underhandedness, insufficient and ineffective monitoring of projects undertaken for their welfare, corruption, undue pressures of influential groups and unholy alliances. The poor even do not get due wages for their labour and skill, because the wage-determination policy of the government does not recognize the value of their knowledge/skill. For example, an agricultural worker, whose work is most skilled, most arduous and working conditions most difficult, has been recognized as an unskilled worker getting lowest wages.

(e) Cultural Diversity – This diversity is based on religion and caste. According to 1991 Census, as quoted by Silverra [vi], the main religious groups, in India, are as under: –

Main religious groups –

Group

% of population

 

% increase since 1981

Hindu

82.41 22.78
Muslims 11.76 32.76
Christians 2.32 16.89
Sikhs 1.99 25.48
Buddhist 0.77 35.98
Other religions 0.38 13.19
Religion not stated 0.05 73.46

(Source: 1991 Census)

In the modern world, no society or nation can exist as a homogeneous cultural monolithically. India specially presents a unique picture of composite culture, which grew out of intermixing of people of different cultures, belonging to different identities. As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every group left its influence on its culture, which came down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations.

The impact of different religious communities on Indian culture is as follows:

  • Vedic Hindu Culture– Vedic Hindu Culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. It is identified with the whole of India. To foreigners, it represents the ancient culture in its eternity. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India. The strength of Vedic culture is proved by the facts: –

Ø         Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.

Ø         Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and cultures.

Ø         It influenced almost all other religions found in India.

The word ‘Vedic’ is derived from the word ‘Vid’ meaning ‘Knowledge’ and signifies’ ‘knowledge par excellence’. The Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of the culture of Aryan invaders, who came to India in waves, with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD.

The origin of the Vedic culture cannot be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text. Its sacred knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations. It has not prescribed final absolutes. It is a constant search for more knowledge. The Rishis and Munies have always held that Vedas are not the end of quest for knowledge. It is a non-ending process. This is what the Indian culture is.

  • Buddhism and Jainism – Both the religions, originated in India itself, have an influence of the later Vedic culture, but with certain basic differences. These religions have influenced the thought, moral and life style of Indian people. Buddhism has attracted equally the elite as well as the lower strata of Hindu society. The main contribution of Buddhism to Indian culture is an attempt to draw the attention of people towards the harsher effects of the caste system, sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings and system of organized education. Major contribution of Jainism is the principle of non-violence.
  • Dravidian culture – After the sudden disappearance of Indus valley culture, of which the most characteristic feature was its town planning, Dravidian culture with its advanced social system, industry and trade made a mark, in the South.
  • Islamic culture– After the tenth century, under Muslim rule, Islamic culture influenced the Indian culture substantially. Its influence could be seen in the rejection of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions. It preached a simple path of faith, devotion, brotherly love and fellow-ship. With the growing political strength of Muslims, the need for mutual understanding and communal harmony gave rise to Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus. Both these emphasized the need for mutual appreciation, tolerance and goodwill. Like Buddhism, Islam also provided an alternative to people, wishing to opt out the caste system.
  • British Culture– Eighteenth century onwards, the British culture influenced the Indian culture substantially, especially that of elite and intellectuals. Access to modern education, Western literature and philosophy gave Indians the understanding of liberal and humanitarian ideas of the West. It produced many great leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel and many more. The efforts of missionaries, reformers and educationists influenced the thinking of the masses. Missionaries converted many people from the lower strata to Christianity. British systems gave India political and administrative unity. Institutions like Parliament, bureaucracy, and concepts like rule of law, unified nationality, a common currency, a common Judiciary are some of the contributions of the British. They gave a new economic structure based on industrialization. The British also gave impetus to social progress and brought many reforms. The British influence on Indian minds was as discussed below:

(a)  Some people welcomed rationality and other good features of Modern English culture, but wished to remain firmly rooted to the Indian Culture. They organized people and made them aware of social evils like Sati, Polygamy, child marriage, un-touchablity and many superstitions prevalent at that time. They advised the people to eradicate the same without foreign intervention. Emphasis was laid on education and science. Brahma-Samaj, founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy in 1928, inspired the people of Bengal, UP, Punjab, Madras and other provinces, to form similar organizations and interpret religion rationally.

(b)       Some people were so influenced by the alien culture, that they developed a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society. With the help of British rulers, Christian missionaries and religious minded Westerners like William Webberforce or Charles Grant tried to Christianize such people.

©Some reformists tried to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of alien culture. Araya Samaj (1875 onwards) founded by Swami Dayanand, asserted the superiority of Hindu Vedic culture. It gave the call for ‘Back to Vedas’, as Vedas were to them the source of all knowledge and truth. Swami Vivekanand founded the Rama Krishna Mission to reveal to the world Indian Philosophy and culture.

Two aspects of Hindu culture received a good deal of attention of the Westerners. These are: –

Ø     The Caste system and

Ø     Reluctance to convert people of other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

The British condemned the Caste system, but the later, they enthusiastically applauded.[vii]

Hindu, Islam and Christian religions had received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period. This way, it could be said that the composite culture of India grew out of: –

Ø         The growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within the land of India.

Ø         The creative interaction between the values of indigenous religions and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zorastarianism etc.

The wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century, between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture. Another assimilation was seen after the 10th century, when the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. Sufi and Bhakti movements are examples of this. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation. Once again, a major cultural synthesis took place during the period between18th century to 20th century, with modernization and industrialization, ushered in by the British.

All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Hindu thinking, practices and systems. It contributed to the cultural richness of India. Such flexibility is not seen in the West. When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions. Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully.

(f)Administrative Diversity – After integration and merger of princely states under Indian Independence Act, 1947, India reorganized the land for administrative purposes into provinces, union territories and districts on the basis of their geographical position, linguistic status, historical developments and other considerations. According to 1991 census, there are about 452 administrative districts (excluding J&K) 19 major cities, 3949 towns and 5,80,000 villages, in 25 provinces and seven Union territories. The provinces are – Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, TamilNadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.[viii] The union territories are – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadara and Nagar Haveli, Delhi, Daman and Diu, Lakshwadweep and Pondicherry.

(g)Demographic Diversity   – Just as the landmass of India has been divided into different provinces and regions, so also the Indian people could be divided into distinct units, politically and socially.

(h)Political division of Indian population – According to 1991 census, 843.9 million people, belonging to 60 socio-cultural region and sub regions, having 12 major religions and 18 major languages, have been divided politically by the government into forward class, backward class, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and minorities for the purposes of admission in educational institutions, employment in the government and welfare planning. The breakup of Indian population is as following [ix]: –

Sl.
Category
%
A. Scheduled castes and tribes
   
A1 Scheduled Caste 15.05
A2 Scheduled Tribe 7.51
Total A 22.56
B. Non-Hindus Communities
   
B1                                            B1 Muslims (Other than STs) 11.90
B2 Christians (Other than STs) 2.16
B3 Sikhs (Other than SCs/STs) 1.67
B4 Buddhists (Other than STs) 0.67
B5 Jains O.47
Total B 16.16
C. Forward Hindu Communities  
 
C1 Brahmins 5.52
C2 Rajputs 3.90
C3 Marathas 2.21
C4 Jats 1.00
C5 Vaishyas 1.88
C6 Kayasthas 1.07
C7 Other Hindu caste groups 2.00

Total C

17.58

Total A + B + C

56.03
D Backward communities 43.70
E 52% of the religious groups under B may be treated as OBCs  

8.40

F Approximate derived population of OBCs  

52.00

 (i) Social division –      Like religion, caste system is an integral part of Indian society. Starting with the arrival of numerous Aryan hereditary kinship and tribal groups in waves, from different parts of the world and their mixing up with the indigenous people gave birth to caste system. Caste system accommodated different groups with diverse belief and way of living, under Hinduism, and bound them into a single cultural system.   The assimilation of numerous racial, professional, immigrants, tribal and other groups into Hindu fold was done through caste-system by assigning each new group a separate caste status.

Different identities – The political and social divisions, discussed above, have given birth to a set of different identities, is as discussed below:

  • Equal Identities – Although drawn from different cultures or regions, they find themselves at the same level of acceptance in society like Tamils and Bengalis.
  • Marginal or Inferior Identities – Almost in all the traditional societies, women, old, children or immigrants are regarded as inferior. Also some sections of society were perceived as inferior in spite of constitutionally guaranteed equalities like untouchables in India.
  • Deviant Identities– The people, who reject general norms, evaluation and standards, come in this group, such as anti-social elements, drug addicts etc. They are looked down with contempt, though they are insiders to the system.
  • Hated Identities– People, seen as outsiders to the society, are sometimes hated, some-times feared such as British rulers in India. They face many problems of interaction, because of their externality.
  • Religious Identities– Believers of different faiths constitute religious identities. The different religious communities present in India could be divided into people : –

Ø belonging to faiths originated in India like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Ø Migrated to India due to persecution or oppression in their homeland like Jews, Bahai, Zoroastrians, or Tibetans.

Ø Converted to alien religion like Christianity and Islam, the religions of the conquerors.

Necessary to maintain proper balance and harmony for unity – To maintain proper balance and harmony between different sections with so many diversities and numerous identities is a delicate and a difficult task. Too much stress on identities can create problem, confusion and chaos. Situation can become more complicated, if identities are pigeonholed.

In modern times, a person can bear more than one identity at a time. The more a person enriches one’s personality; wider becomes his/her identity. Modernization, technological developments in the field of communication and transportation give added dimensions to the issue of identities.

Unity in Diversity in India

Absorptive nature of Indian culture – In spite of having so many diversities, which unite and divide the nation simultaneously, the dominant pattern that emerges in Indian history is one of accommodating different groups through assimilation and synthesis.

India has developed an atmosphere, where different identities have co-existed, generally in harmony and sometimes in rift. In its long process of evolution, each identity has been carefully nurtured and preserved. It never tried to liquidate or absorb them, artificially, into one main culture of the land. Instead, it absorbed the good points of other cultures and allowed them to flourish and contribute in enriching the composite culture of India.

The multi-centricity has given the Indian society its predominantly syncratic character, its pluralistic tradition and its absorptive nature of internalizing alien influences. Many times, there had been strife, contradictions and discords amongst different identities, so much so that, at times, India appears to be a land of contrasts. Nevertheless, most of the times, the Indian society has been able to develop an attitude of reconciliation rather than refutation, cooperation rather than confrontation and co-existence rather than mutual annihilation.[x]

Factors that Unite India – India exhibits a fascinating picture of unity in diversity. There is co-existence of varied belief, patterns and thoughts due to racial intermixing and cultural mingling. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. This is the reason for its being one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living culture in the whole world.[xi] The factors, which keep its unity and continuity intact, are: –

  • Tolerance – The spirit of tolerance and firm belief in the principles, ‘Live and let live’ has always been the part of Indian ethos.
    • Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion. Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of god and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspired it to accommodate people of all faiths. Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. That is why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without any hindrance.
    • Hinduism has adopted the path of assimilation. Therefore, it does not force others to convert. It does not impose its beliefs, practices and customs on others. Hindu religion has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its established culture off the roots.
  • ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – Tolerance is not confined to religion alone. It is seen everywhere in the Indian way of life. Indians believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the whole world is one family.
    • Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Indian culture. The people endure injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall.
    • John Fischer mentions, Even during Bengal famine, an extreme situation – when necessity knows no laws, people did not take law in their own hands, nor was there any violence. No grocery stall, no rice warehouse, none of the wealthy clubs or restaurants were ever threatened by a hungry mob… They just died with docility, which to most Americans is the most shocking thing about India.’[xii]
    • Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions.
    • Even today, the people are tolerating the criminalization of politics, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficiency of the administration without much protest. Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

Pride in Heritage and value System – C. Rajgopalachari said, If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture.

Indian philosophy, containing a vast reservoir of knowledge, still commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. Basham says, The Vedic literature found in Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras and Smritis contain an ocean of knowledge in a jar.[xiii] Its values give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Its Sanatan Dharma, nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern and takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life.

The Vedic literature is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy. The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity. Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system.

Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from amongst worthless pebbles. A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time. This gold mine of knowledge inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well. Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind.

Principles of Dharma, Karma and Varna – The foundation pillars of the Indian civilization are the principles of Dharma, Karma and Varna. Each are discussed in details in the chapter Indian Social Structure-Caste-system and casteism. The doctrine of Dharma defines the duties and vocations for different sections of society, ensures social harmony and prevents rivalries and jealousies.

  • Doctrine of Varna gives the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure, which distributes and organizes performance of various functions. It has made it possible for the people to lead a quality of life and ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups.
  • Doctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

Conclusion – Many principles and cultures developed in the past, elsewhere in the world, had created such a wave that swept over the entire world for some time. An anti-wave, replacing such waves, emerged soon. It wiped off the previous influence. The Vedic culture, however, has proved to be an exception in this regard. There had been periods, when the Vedic culture became weak, especially under foreign rules. But it re-emerged every time, and whenever it re-emerged, it did not destroy other sects, it assimilated them within itself. It happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture along with tolerance, which are very close to every Indian. These principles have contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole in a systematic way. It organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people. It prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, be it rich or poor. It served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

******

[i]1 Quoted from The Tribune, dated 21.6.92, p21.

[ii]   Palikawala, We the People – The Lost Decade, p3.

[iii]3 Majumdar RC, Roy Chowdhary HC and Datta Kalikinkar, People of India, IV edition, and 1978.

[iv]   Francis SRS, Advanced General Studies, p153.

[v]   Khan, Democracy in India, p8.

[vi]   Silverra DM, India Book, p19.

[vii]   Sharma A, Hinduism of Our Times, p75.

[viii]   Four new states – Delhi, Uttrakhand, Vanachal and Jharkhand – are likely to be created in near future.

[ix]   Report of Mandal Commission, Chapter XII.

[x] Khan, Democracy in India, pp 4-5.

[xi] The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece

[xii] John Fischer, India’s insoluble Hunger – 1947, pp 7-8.

[xiii] Basham, Wonder That Was India, p51-52.

 

January 18, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Fusion of many cultures in India

Introduction – As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every social, political or religious group has left its influence on the composite culture of India, which has come down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have left their influence on its indigenous  religion – Hinduism, its thinking, practices and systems. All the religious communities present in India have also influenced the culture of India.

 Following cultures have contributed in enriching the composite culture of India : –

 The growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within the land of India.

 The interaction between value-system of indigenous religions of India and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zorastarianism etc.

Vedic Hindu Culture

Vedic Hindu Culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India. The word ‘Vedic’ is derived from the word ‘Vid’ meaning ‘Knowledge’ and signifies’ ‘knowledge par excellence’.

The Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of the culture of Aryan with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD. The origin of the Vedic culture can not be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text.

Its knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations. It has not prescribed final absolutes. It is a constant search for more knowledge. Vedas are not supposed to be the end of quest for knowledge. It is a non-ending process(Neti-Neti).

The strength of Vedic culture is proved by the facts: –

 Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.

 Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and cultures.

 It influenced almost all other religions found in India.

Buddhism and Jainism

Budhism and Jainism has influenced the thought, moral and life style of many Indians. Buddhism attracted equally the elite as well as the lower strata of Hindu society. Buddhism drew the attention of people towards the harsher effects of the caste system, sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings and system of organised education. Major contribution of Jainism is the principle of non-violence.

Dravidian culture

After the sudden disappearance of Indus valley culture, of which the most characteristic feature was its town planning, Dravidian culture with its advanced social system, industry and trade made a mark in the South.

Islamic culture

After the tenth century, Islamic culture influenced the Indian culture substantially. Its influence could be seen in the rejection of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions. It preached a simple path of faith, devotion, brotherly love and fellowship. With the growing political strength of Muslims, the need for mutual understanding and communal harmony gave rise to Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus. Both these emphasized the need for mutual appreciation, tolerance and goodwill. Like Buddhism, Islam also provided an alternative to people, wishing to opt out the caste system.

British Culture 

Eighteenth century onwards, the British culture influenced the Indian culture substantially, especially that of elite and intellectuals. Access to modern education, Western literature and philosophy gave Indians the understanding of liberal and humanitarian ideas of the West.

Some of the contributions of the British to India are political and administrative unity, many democratic institutions like Parliament, bureaucracy and concepts like rule of law, unified nationality, a common currency, a common Judiciary. They gave a new economic structure based on industrialization. British-rule gave an impetus to social progress and brought many reforms.

The British influence on Indian minds was as discussed below: –

  • Many reformers welcomed rationality and other good features of English culture. They advised people to interpret religion rationally and make efforts to eradicate social evils like Sati, child marriage, untouchablity etc. prevalent at that time.
  • Some people were so influenced by the alien culture, that they developed a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society.
  • Some reformists tried to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of Western culture. It gave the call for ‘Back to Vedas’.

Two aspects of Hindu culture received a good deal of attention of British: –

 The Caste system and

 Reluctance to convert people of other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

The British condemned the Caste system, but the later, they enthusiastically applauded. iv

Hindu, Islam and Christian religions had received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period.

Assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century, between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture. Another assimilation was seen after the 10th century, when the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. Sufi and Bhakti movements are examples of this. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.

Once again, during the period between 18th century to 20th century, a major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British.

Winding up

Many principles and cultures developed in the past, elsewhere in the world, had created such a wave that swept over the entire world for some time. An anti-wave, replacing such waves, emerged soon. It wiped off the previous influence. The Vedic culture, however, has proved to be an exception in this regard. There had been periods, when the Vedic culture became weak, especially under foreign rules. But it re-emerged every time, and whenever it re-emerged, it did not destroy other sects, it assimilated them within itself.

Despite of having different kinds of diversities, most of the times, the Indian society has been able to develop “an attitude of reconciliation rather than refutation, cooperation rather than confrontation and co-existence rather than mutual annihilation.”v

It has happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture along with tolerance, which are very close to every Indian. The principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma have contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole in a systematic way. It has organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people. It prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, be it rich or poor. It served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | Leave a comment

Theory of biological Evolution

Let us see how the theory of evolution has been developed by Darwin (1809-1882) and by priestly schools in ancient India.

Theory of Evolution

English naturalist Charles Darwin and others, had developed a theory of biological evolution stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor: the birds and the bananas, the fishes and the flowers — all related. Darwin’s general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) “descent with modification”. That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism’s genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival — a process known as “natural selection.” These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature).

Theory of Evolution according to Hindu Mythology – In Hindu Mythology, the theory of evolution has been described in the form of Dashavatar as following -.

  1. Matsya Avtar – According to it, the life in this world begins with Matsya Avtar. It means fish. It is true as well, because it is said that life began in water.
  2. Kurma Avtar – Second phase came with Kurma Avtar. Kurma means the tortoise. During this phase life moved from water to the land. life moved from water to the land. The Amphibian. So the tortoise denoted the evolution from sea to land.
  3. Varaha Avtar – The third avatar was that of Varaha., which means the wild animals with not much intellect. It may be called Dinosaurs.
  4. Narasimha Avtar –  The next was Narasimha Avtar – half man and half animal. The evolution Of life from wild animals to intelligent beings.
  5. Waman Avatar – Waman means midget or dwarf, who could go really tall. To understand it, one must know that there are two kinds of humans – Homo Erectus and the Homo Sapiens. And Homo sapiens won that battle.
  6. Parshuram Avatar– The sixth Avatar was Parshuram – the man who yielded the axe, a man who was a cave and forest dweller. He was an angry man and not social.
  7. Ram Avatar – Next was Ram Avatar, the first thinking social being, who laid the laws of society and the basis of all relationships.
  8. Balram Avatar – The Eighth was Balram Avatar, who was a true farmer and showed the value of agriculture in life.
  9. Krishnavtar – The Ninth avatar was Krishna, the statesman. The politician, the lover who played the game of society and taught how to live thrive in the social structure.
  10. Kalki Avatar – Yet to come, a genetically supreme human being, on whom the modern scientists are working on.

 According to Hindu philosophy the process of evolution never stops. No stage is supposed to be final. Neti-Neti (not an end) is the principle.

About Indian philosophy – The priestly Indian philosophers in Ancient Indian had also developed the theory of evolution. Indian philosophy contains “an ocean of knowledge in a jar.” It is supposed to be a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life.

Use of Symbolic language – For expressing their thoughts, Indian priests had used Symbolic language. The purpose of using symbolic language was perhaps to make it easier for human mind to remember. In Upnishads, Hindu epics and Geeta, there are many examples of symbolic mentality. Shiva–Shakti stood for Divine masculine-feminine union, Purush and prakriti for ideal man-woman relationship, Som ras as a symbol of divine bliss etc. Four elements of nature (i) Om stood for the sound of creation, (ii) Trishul for trinity, (iii) Lotus for balance, (iv) Venus-star for creativity, Sacrifice for an offering to gods.

Thinking of Indian sages was passed on orally from one generation to another – In ancient India, in the absence of any written material, the scholarly thinking of Indian sages was passed on orally from one generation to another. It involved three basic processes, one, which included ‘Sravana’ (stage of acquiring knowledge of ‘Shrutis’ by listening). Two, ‘Manana’ (meaning pupils to think, analyse themselves about what they heard, assimilate the lessons taught by their teacher and make their own inferences,) and three ‘Nidhyasana (meaning comprehension of truth and and  apply/use it into real life).

System to transfer their thoughts to coming generations –  The learned sages and munies devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring it to succeeding generations in form of hymns. They restricted it only to those, who possessed the capability to understand, had brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep its extreme sanctity. It gave their thinking a sacrament, religious and sacrosanct shape.

Later on developed in the form of mythological stories – With the passage of time, the people, who lost the mindset to understand the true meaning of this symbolic language gave everything an imaginative, mysterious, mystic or divine shape. This trend with some additions and deletions took the shape of mythological stories.

 Mythology makes sense – In India people know some amazing things, but they do not know how to interpret it scientifically. So developed their thoughts through mythological stories. Mythology makes sense. It is just the way one looks at it – religious or scientific. In mythology, quite often the symbolic language has been used to express thoughts.  There was infinite scope to develop these stories.

(Quoted from Jyotsna Sinha’s message and edited by Lata Sinha)

 

January 1, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment