By Mahendra Subhash Khairnar,
Asstt. Professor, Bharati Vidyapeeth’s Yashwantrao Chavan Law College, Karad (Courtesy - http://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/Public-Administration-in-India-as-a-mechanism-for-social-change-5309.asp#.UzCFQVdh71U):
"The administration of government, like a guardianship ought to be directed to the good of those who confer, not of those who receive the trust." - Marcus Tullius Cicero
Public administration is "centrally concerned with the organization of government policies and programmes as well as the behavior of officials (usually non-elected) formally responsible for their conduct".
Many unelected public servants can be considered to be public administrators, including heads of city, county, regional, state and federal departments such as municipal budget directors,human resources (H.R.) administrators, city managers, census managers, state [mental health] directors, and cabinet secretaries. Public administrators are public servants working in public departments and agencies, at all levels of government.
Public administration in India plays a very important role, not only as an instrument of governance but a mechanism for social change and progress in the country. Public administration today should not only protect its citizens from internal and external damages, but take an active role in the social, political, economic and cultural development of the country.
Public Administration- The Integral and Managerial Views of Administration
According to some, ‘administration’ is the sum total or the whole complex of activities, manual, clerical, technical, and managerial which are undertaken to realize the objective in view, i.e. the implementation of of the policy or policies in a given field, while according to others ‘administration’ is not the sum-total of the activities undertaken in pursuance of a purpose but just one of them concerned with management, which unites and controls the rest of them as parts of a co-ordinated endeavour. The above two views can be categorized regarding the nature of administration as ‘the integral’ and ‘managerial’ views respectively .
India is unique in many respects with its diverse culture, languages and many states. People of some states enjoy good prosperity, high literacy, developed infrastructure and rule of law while many are wanting in different degrees in some or all parameters although they are all under a common union government with the same financial, legal and administrative system.
In this article the author has focus on the issue of social change due to the effective public administration system in India. How a system of democratic governance can make public life meaningful and more enjoyable. The administrative system, which initially was considered as against the Rule of Law of Dicey, and how it bring vehement change in the Indian Legal and Social system. The present study will be useful for the legal system which still lacks in several respects of public life. This article may be helpful for the government systems, bureaucrats and rulers who have not been focused on the use and effectiveness of the administration agency.
Governance vs. government
Governance and government are interchangeable in the sense the process of governing, but they differ in other senses. Government often refers to the governing body itself, whilegovernance often refers to the act of governing. So members of a government are engaged in governance.
Meanwhile, governance is often the better word for the administration of nongovernmental organizations (corporations, for example), while government works better in reference to the public administration of nations, states, municipalities, etc.
Governance is therefore a vital development issue that government can ill afford to neglect. Government effectiveness and stability, Rule of Law, Public administration, Public finance and outcomes were a few selected governance indicators taken by a study group for evaluating India’s standing amongst different countries. However subjective it could be, this assessment revealed that India compared favorably with many developing countries though it had a long way to go to attain the levels of developed countries. The plus points in our favor are India’s vibrant democracy, unfettered press, fearless judiciary and efficient administrative service.
In the political sciences, governance has been defined as the ‘‘conscious management of regime structures with a view to enhancing the legitimacy of the public realm’’. Today Governance is distinct from Government. Governance is a way to manage power and policy, while government is an instrument to do so. Governance is seen as an alternative to conventional top-down government control, yet issues of legitimacy and accountability abound in the literature on governance.
Public Administration in India
India is a country accepted the notion of social welfare state. The complexities of modern welfare state have resulted in ever growing expansion of the functions of the state; the state today is managing almost the entire life of the community. The Constitution, supreme document of the land has emphasized the need of establishing such governance and government system which should be not only of ‘good governance’ but also of ‘Pro people good governance’. The constitution in its Part IV has laid down some of the principles which are expected to be followed by the state as fundamental in the governance of the country. These principles enunciated the ‘rights of community’, which are to be secured by the government as per its capacity. The well being of the community is becoming increasingly dependent on efficient governmental management i.e. the public administration rather than on the separate efforts of individual.
There is no accepted definition of governance. There is divergence of opinion about the meaning of governance between the conservatives and the liberals, between socialists and the communists. The World Bank, for example, has sought to take a middle position be defining governance particularly as the traditions and the institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. This includes
(i) the process by which governments are selected, monitored and replaced;
(ii) the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies; and
(iii) the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social communications among them.
In recent years the word governance has become a very fashionable term and is being used in a variety of ways and that covers a large number of organizations both in public and private domains.
Public administration is a great stabilizing force in society. Governments often change, but administration seldom experiences violent change. It provides an element of continuity between the old and the new orders.
No theory of governance could be intelligible unless it is seen in the context of its time. India’s democratic experience of the past six decades has clearly established that good governance must aim at expansion of social opportunities and removal of poverty. Good governance, according to the author, means securing justice, empowerment, employment and efficient delivery of services.
However having several benefits one cannot overlook the problems and challenges that are facing by the Indian administrative agencies. Criminalization of politics and corruption are two major challenges that are faced by the Indian administration. Along with this there are several areas of concern that need to be addressed energetically and calls for synergy of efforts between government, the market and the civil society.
Administration as a mechanism for social change
Though there are several defects in working and manner of exercising of decision making, law making etc. power of administration we cannot deny the significance of the administrative wing. The individual in the society is concerned with public administration at every turn of his life from the cradle to grave.
Indeed, public administration begins to interest itself in an individual even before he is born, in the shape of pre-natal care of the expectant mother, and continues till after his death, e.g. recording his death in the official papers, proving his will, taking care of his property etc. when the child is a few years old, he goes to one of the state schools for his education. After education he enters in to profession, businesses which are subject to public regulation and control of one type or of another. We are all concerned with public administration as the payers of taxes and consumers of the various goods and services it provides.
Social Change Defined
Social change refers to any significant alteration over time in behavior patterns and cultural values and norms. By “significant” alteration, sociologists mean changes yielding profound social consequences. Examples of significant social changes having long-term effects include the industrial revolution, the abolition of slavery, and the feminist movement.
1. The structural transformation of political, social and economic systems and institutions to create a more equitable and just society.
2. Proponents target the underlying causes of critical social problems, such as homelessness, discrimination and poverty.
3. While a variety of organizing and advocacy methods are utilized, social change organizations are characterized by activism, cooperation, persistence, and dedication of their members. (Example: An association of people with developmental disabilities working collectively to address issues of discrimination by empowering its members to advocate for themselves and collectively challenging service providers, government agencies and other institutions to ensure equal access and rights for ALL developmentally disabled people.)
Public administration is a great stabilizing force in society. Governments often change, but administration seldom experiences violent changes. It provides an element of continuity between the old and the new orders. Public administration is not only a preserver of the civilized life as we know it today. But it is also the great instrument of social change and improvement.
In India, the modern democracy has brought in the conception of the welfare state resulting in ever-increasing demands on public administration for more and more services. This inevitably means more of administration than before. In welfare state, the government has undertaken stupendous task of leveling down the economic inequalities, building up a socialist pattern of society free from poverty and starvation, spreading education among all, abolishing untouchability, securing of equality of status, rights and opportunities for women and effecting as all round economic and social development. The burden of carrying out these tremendous social changes in a planned and orderly way rests upon the public administration of the country. If public fails in these tasks, the dreadful alternative is violent revolution.
E-Governance (Electronic Governance) is the application of information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to the processes of government functioning to accomplish simple, accountable, speedy, responsive and transparent governance. It is transforming the existing government. It integrates people, processes, information and technology for meeting goals of the government.
The aspects of public administration which are highly affected by E-Governance are the delivery of services, decision-making, knowledge management, communication, human resources and financial management and regulations.
The Government of India recognized that the objective of achieving E-governance goes far beyond mere computerization of standalone back office operations. It means fundamentally change how the government operates and this implies a new set of responsibilities for the Executive, Legislature wings and the citizenry. Government departments having maximum interaction with the public were identified for use of IT. Some of these are : electricity, water, rural services, sanitation etc. A new group-Electronic Governance Group-exists in the Department of Information and Technology, Govt. of India, in order to accelerate the usage of information technology in all spheres of governance.
Right to Information
The growth of democracy and bureaucracy went side by side. As democracy spread, the bureaucracy enlarged its functions and the state became more powerful than before. Therefore the need was felt for making the bureaucracy accountable to the people. Enforcing the accountability of state is based on a fundamental democratic right to know.
The Right to Information Act was passed by the Indian Parliament, which came in to force in Oct. 2005. The object of the Act is to ensure that all citizens are able to seek information which is under the control of any public authority. The idea is to give transparency, accountability and openness in government administration.
India’s democracy is at the centre of governance architecture. It creates opportunities, sustains leadership and generates hope. Good governance being central to the Indian democratic experience could be seen more clearly when we look at what is happening in our part of the world. The major shifts in India’s national value system made impact both on the nitty and gritty of administration as well as the intellectual build up of the civil service, the police and the judiciary. This is not the occasion to analyze how it came in the way of India’s successes and failures in the social, economic and political domains, but whenever there is a major shift in political discourse governance gets affected both in its content and emphasis.
The major challenge is to put in place institutional arrangements for service delivery that are workable in a particular district or a region and are made to function in a manner that are intelligible to the local people and that also encourages them to participate. Such institutions would be responsive to the citizenry and reasonably efficient in the delivery of public services.
The concept and practice of good governance in a country demands that there should be constructive mechanisms and procedures that will enable the three principal actors – government, market and civil society – to play in concert and to supplement each other’s capability.
The working of all governments at the Centre and in the States has clearly revealed the existence of powerful interest groups who have a strong vested interest in preserving the status quo. This comes in the way of government becoming the effective agent of change and guarantor of social justice. The entrenched power group always resists attempts to alter the status quo and that too in favour of disadvantaged and poor. The poor are largely unorganized and cannot be mobilized easily because of their large numbers. The leadership at various levels placed in the task of striking a balance between the demands of the powerful interest groups and voiceless poor have rarely gone against the powerful.
Women are key to good governance. Their increasing representation in democratic institutions have provided stability to Indian polity. Women can bring constructive, creative and sustainable solutions to the table. Women participation in economic programmes needs to be augmented for in women we get expendable providers, educators, caretakers and leaders.
Scholars as well as administrators agree that participation of civil society in decision-making, public sector capacity building and rule of law are essential for quality and timely delivery of services.
It is being widely appreciated that good governance is dependant not merely upon good policy advises but more importantly on the processes and incentives to design and implement good policies themselves. Dysfunctional and ineffective public institutions are increasingly seen to be at the heart of the economic development challenge. Misguided resource allocations, excessive government interventions, and widespread corruption have helped in perpetuation of poverty. The weak institutions of governance make an adverse impact on service delivery.
 Public Adminsitration in Theory and Practice, M. P. Sharma, B. L. Sadana, Harpreet Kaur, Kitab Mahal, 47th Edn. 2011
 (http://blogs.ivarta.com/The-good-governance-where-does-India-stand/blog-90.htm, The good governance: Where does India stand? By: K Parthasarathi)
Mahendra Subhash Khairnar,
Asstt. Professor, Bharati Vidyapeeth’s Yashwantrao Chavan Law College, Karad