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The Indian Administration

This volume is an exploration of Indian administration and how it can be equipped to facilitate change.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 13:54 IST

Indian Administration : Politics, Policy and Prospects
Author: Kamala Prasad
Publisher: Pearson Longman
ISBN: 81-7758-929-6
Pages: 406
Format: Hardback
Price: Rs 550
 
The framework of administrative operation is based on the evolution of public policy. This is the sphere of politics and governance, of which bureaucracy is an integral part. The growth and harmony of the executive and legislature provide the foundation for the administration in operation. But does this task belong to the administrative sphere, independent of public policy? The play of public policy appears in the quality of the rule of law. It defines the role of representation, participation and equity in administrative acts.

Politicisation of administration emerged during the ‘internal emergency’ of the 1970s and has grown in dimension and intensity. Administration led the way to post-colonial democratic welfare system and then to socialist ‘growth with social justice.’ Was the administration responsible for the creeping distortions or has the system outgrown its premise? In either case, why is there so much misgiving about administrative attitude and effort in steering post-socialist, post-welfare system? Is it the persistence of the repeatedly mentioned colonial mindset? If so, what happened to the post-colonial grassroots bureaucracy or the ‘ring’ of specialised, technical and scientific bodies/systems that delivers development?

This volume is an exploration of Indian administration and how it can be equipped to facilitate change and is a must read for policy-makers, interest groups involved in seeking better service delivery, NGOs, academics, industrialist, traders, and students.

Here is an excerpt from the chapter titled 'Politicisation of Administration':

People are at the centre of the explanation for politicisation. The political class in general, and the elected representatives and ministers in particular, act in the name of the people and not merely the voting electorate. Administration is accustomed to work in an environment where it is supposed to be faceless and voiceless even though in reality it is not. Politicians claim a monopoly of public will; that is the theoretical position too. The counter claim can well argue that this is confined to the political declarations and their policy output. Public services have a different mandate that addresses its expertise and lays down its processes. The politician cannot validly undermine its creation and the way it has been designed to operate. The way political development has proceeded in India has left the real issue unresolved, namely how to honour both the mandates and work out a viable reconciliation that meets public interest.

The first signal of the mismatch between claim and reality of public will is the level of mounting public grievance. The states with higher levels of politicisation are preceisely the ones with a larger volume of public grievance, more so those grievances are not addressed seriously. The National Human Rights Commission provides uinputs about one aspect, namely violation of human rights in states of the Union and that is revealing. Once the assumption of people's representatives' concern for public will is admitted then serious efforts and at least partial success in this venture world would have been the outcome. One of the fallout of politicisation is a partnership of the wrong kind between the pliant bureaucrat and the thick-skinned politician. When faced with public wrath the political leaders take recourse to passing the blame to administration. In an earlier era, the civil servants did not react. This has changed now. Ways to make the public aware of the real culprit have been found. The officials are not spared but the activities and the ruse of the political masters is public knowledge. The political dispensation has not only failed to reduce public grievance through its intermediation but has added susbstantially to the growth of such grievance. Politicisation has started hurting the political class in two ways. A progressively small number of representatives are able to get re-elected and the anti-encumbency factor is telling on the fortunes of chief ministers, central ministers, and their close supporters. There is the additional punishment of politicians as a class being held in the lowest esteem as emerging from opinion surveys.