National Social Watch organized the workshop on “Administrative Reforms for Better Governance” on 26th November 2012, at India International Centre, New Delhi. As a part of National Social Watch’s broad agenda of promoting the accountability in the institutions of governance, National Social Watch came up with a Perspective Paper - "Administrative Reforms for Better Governance".
Dr. N. C. Saxena, Member, National Advisory Council, prepared this paper. He shared the salient features of paper in the workshop to be followed by a panel and open discussion. The paper was released and distributed in the workshop. Eminent personalities like Dr. N.C. Saxena, member of National Advisory Council, Harsh Mander, Centre for Equity Studies, Prof. Vijay Kapur, Delhi University and Rajesh Tandon, Participatory Research In Asia were present at the conference.
Dr. Bhaskar G. Rao welcomed the participants. Amitabh Behar introduced the National Social Watch to the participants. N.C. Saxena, Prof. Vijay Kapur, Mr. Harsh Mander, and Rajesh Tandon released the book.
N. C. Saxena said that India is doing well at economic level but not at a social front. Two sectors are doing well are (i) individual and (ii) corporate. Two sectors which are doing badly are (i) government and (ii) community sector. He further argued that the reason why some projects are successful and some are not is only because of the design of the programme. Our systems are very activity based not outcome based.
He suggested that let the panchayat collect the taxes and let it give 50 % to government, at the end of the day people will ask the panchayat what they did with their money so, there will be greater accountability.
Harsh Mander from Centre for Equity Studies, mentioned that one set of people are saying that Modi’s government is one of the finest governments but there are equal number of people who think that Modi’s government is the worst. He further maintained that Gujarat is the only state where minority children do not receive the scholarships; he raised the question “is it an example of a good government?” First we need to define what is “good governance”? He ended up by saying that efficiency is not the problem for good governance but the politics.
Rajesh Tandon focused on 3 elements in Indian administration firstly, Structure - there is a lack of clarity and management of policy in Indian administrative system. Secondly, Process by which business is done and thirdly, Human Resources Management is third pillar of Indian administration which is not properly managed.
Prof. Vijay Kapur maintained that administrative reforms cannot be done in isolation. He also said that whenever personal utility maximization takes over the public utility maximization, the problem of corruption starts.
High lights of the perspective paper:
The book points out that it is not due to lack of resource, but due to the poor governance and administration, the country is still plagued by the poverty, starvation, malnutrition, diseases, unhygienic and wretched living conditions, etc.
The Government of India transfers close to 6.5 lakh crore every year to the States. If even half of it was to be sent to the seven crore poor families directly by money order, they would receive more than 130 a day!
It is due to the inability of the administration to deliver the quality services and good governance, the politicians are forced to adopt the shortcut to remain in the power and become powerful.
Many problems of bureaucracy in India are quite old and well known. Obsession with rules rather than concern for output, promotions based on seniority rather than merit, delays and mediocrity at all levels are some of the factors inhibiting outcomes in government. Many citizens find bureaucracy in India too slow, extremely rigid and mechanical and consequently not flexible and adaptive to cope with change.
Due to the control that the IAS and the IPS lobbies exert on the system, a large number of redundant posts in the super-time and superior scales have been created to ensure them quick promotions. Often a senior post has been split, thus diluting and diminishing the scale of responsibilities attached with the post. For instance, in some States against the post of one chief secretary, there are many officers now in equivalent but far less important posts drawing the same salary. In one State, previously where one officer used to be the Secretary of Medical and Health, now there are five officers doing the job of one, four are in-charge of health, family planning, medical and medical education respectively, whereas the fifth one, as principal secretary, oversees the work of these four secretaries!
Two decades back there was only one IGP in Punjab, controlling the entire police force. Now there are 16 IGs, and to supervise their work there are 14 DGs and Additional DGs! The ministries in GOI dealing with State subjects have seen tremendous expansion; the Agriculture Ministry has 18 officers of the rank of joint secretaries and above!
In the long term, steps need to be taken to drastically reduce the number of meaningless posts in the IAS, so that only such posts where people can contribute meaningfully are retained. After the first 15 years in service, an average officer spends at least 50 percent of his time doing useless work on posts that call for no challenge.
All organs of state are affected by the malaise of governance. The political executive, legislators, bureaucracy and judiciary –– no class of functionaries can escape responsibility. For instance, 20–25 million cases are pending in courts, and justice is inaccessible, painfully slow and costly. Police reforms will remain ineffective if criminal cases are not disposed off expeditiously.