The Indian state needs administrative reforms, writes Manish Tewari – analysis
In the past, I represented a dense urban agglomeration, Ludhiana, once known as the Manchester of India, in Parliament. Now I represent a predominantly rural community, with small cities scattered everywhere, called Sri Anandpur Sahib. Both are in Punjab. While both have diverse problems, a common problem for both is the quality of governance from the grassroots level to the top of the pyramid. This is common throughout India.
A parliamentary constituency invariably covers at least two administrative districts. Sri Anandpur Sahib crosses four. As an elected representative, it is up to you to interact with the district administration for administrative and developmental reasons. In both cases, the experience is far from satisfactory for a variety of reasons. However, before entering the reasons, let’s expand the canvas to encompass the entire nation.
Of 1.3 billion Indians, just over 941 millionlive in rural areas while 420 millionStay in urban areas. For a large part of the people living in the countryside, their contact with the Indian State is mainly with a patwari, the local town official who handles land problems, and higher up in the hierarchy, a kanugo, and rarely, a tehsildar,on the civil or revenue side. In law and order or on the criminal side, most of its interface is with a police officer, the police hack, or, at best, an assistant assistant inspector in charge of a thana (police station).
When the administration interacts with citizens, it is generally not pleasant. It is an autocratic experience, usually extractive and often authoritative. If you live in Jammu and Kashmir, especially after the annulment of Article 370, the areas affected by the extremists of the northeast or the left, especially those areas declared disturbed and fall within the scope of the Law of the Armed Forces (Special Powers ), then perhaps the only face of the State you encounter is one that uses olive green or khaki, and carries an AK-47.
The situation is identical in urban environments. The contact of the majority of citizens with the government is limited to civic authorities seeking income and an exploitative police apparatus. The only consolation is that people can more easily access the complaint repair instruments and the media.
What is the solution to this problem? A remedy suggested by the political right is the massive privatization of public services. From the end of the 1970s until the great economic crisis in 2008, the world witnessed the denationalization of public services, from wastewater to railways, as the state withdrew from its natural role. This had a new impetus after the collapse of the economic command model instituted by the Soviets in 1989. However, the privatization of public services is an inappropriate model for India for the delivery of public goods. Then what do we do?
On average, a deputy commissioner / collector (DC) of a district manages a budget of more than Rs 1 billion for income, capital and development work. This money flows from both the central government and the state government. DC has a workforce of around 1,000 people at its disposal. The central DC team consists of two additional attached collectors (ADC); one that deals with general administration and the other with development. In addition, it has the assistance of subdivisional magistrates and public and income officials in the future. The administrative footprint is not only very slight in the per capita land of the population, even the quality of the human resource is very poor.
There is only one way out: an ascending administrative reengineering of both the administrative apparatus and the application of the law. There have been two administrative commissions. The first was created on January 5, 1966, under the presidency of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. It had an expansive mandate of 10 points: the machinery of the Government of India (GoI) and its procedures or work; the machinery to plan at all levels; Center-state relations; financial administration; staff Administration; economic administration; statewide administration; district administration; Agricultural administration and problems of reparation of citizen complaints.
The second was constituted on August 31, 2005, under the presidency of Veerappa Moily. He also had a broad mandate of 13 points. Organizational structure of the GoI; ethics in governance; restoration of personnel administration; strengthening of financial management systems; steps to ensure effective administration at the state level; steps to ensure effective district administration; local self-government institutions / panchayati raj; social capital, trust and participatory provision of public services; citizen-centered administration; promotion of electronic governance; federal policy issues; crisis management and public order.
Both commissions presented bulky volumes as reports. However, the bureaucracy, skillfully directed in this case by the Indian Administrative Service, buried both reports. Even the political executive has fallen short of dismantling the structures of the colonial era of the mai-baap sarkar(Paternalistic state)implemented by the British to oppress the Indians.
The only thing that stands out is that no government, regardless of its color and political character, would make a cosmetic administrative reform. Therefore, it is up to the legislature to intervene. Parliament must set up a Permanent Standing Committee, chaired by the President of the Lok Sabha to study, update, recommend and, if necessary, legislate even through the process of the Private Member Law Project, comprehensive administrative reforms Since the Parliament He was elected only eight months ago, he has 42 complete months to complete the most important task facing the nation.
Manish Tewari is a lawyer, member of Parliament and former minister of information and broadcasting of the Union.
The opinions expressed are personal.