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Role of Bureaucracy in India

Role of Bureaucracy in India

  • In the modern administrative system of India, the bureaucracy or the Civil Service plays a crucial role.
  • In a democratic system of government, the power to govern is entrusted to the elected representatives of the people. In Parliamentary democracies such as that of India, the council of ministers with the Prime Minister at the head ‘administers ‘the country. The ‘Council of Ministers’ for all its acts of commission and commission remain responsible to the Parliament. The ministers thus constitute what is known as the political executive. The primary function of the Council of Ministers to formulate the policies of the government.
  • Every administrative department of government is placed under the charge of a minister responsible to the legislature. A minister is thus, the political head of an administrative department.
  • The continuity and expertness in the administration are contributed by the bureaucracy of the civil service. In an ideal situation, the minister contributes policy while the civil service applies the policies in concrete situations. Thus, the minister and the Civil Service together make up the total administrative setup.
  • The founding fathers of the Indian constitution were fully alive to the need for a well-organized bureaucracy in India. Indeed India Bureaucracy is the inherited model of bureaucracy from the British Raj. The Constitution improved on the model left behind by the “Raj.”
  • Thus, since India is a federation there is provision for dual civil service; service under the Union and service under the State governments. In the words of Dr. Ambedkar, “the dual policy is followed by a dual service” in all federations. Ambedkar emphasized that the Indian federation through a dual policy will have a dual service but with one exception. The Constitution provides that without depriving the states of their right to form their own civil services, there shall be an All India Service, recruited on an All India basis with common qualifications, the uniform scale of pay etc.” Thus, the Civil service in India is divided into two categories: All India Services and the State Civil Service. Besides Art 312 create a special category of service—which is common to both the Union and the State. Two services of this type are (1) The Indian Administrative service and (2) The Indian Police Service. The All India Services are designed to give greater cohesion to the federal structure and to conduct to greater efficiency in the administration of the Union and the States. Such an integrated Civil Service is a unique feature of the Indian political system. Given the diversity and divisiveness inherent in the Indian political system, the integrated civil service was an unavoidable necessity.
  • The members of the civil service are recruited on merit on the basis of competitive examinations conducted by the Union Public Service Commission in the case of All India Service and State Public Service Commission in the case of State services. The members of the services hold office during the pleasure of the President in the case of All India Services and of the state governor in case of state services (Art. 310). But the pleasure of the President or the Governor cannot be arbitrary. Such pleasures are exercised subject to legal limitations stipulated by Art 311 of the Constitution.
  • As has already been pointed out, the bureaucracy in India, both at the union and the states level constitutes the backbone of the administration. In Indian administrative hierarchy, the President at the union and Governor at the state level is the constitutional head. The council of ministers constitutes the political executive. But the real, permanent, experienced and expert executive is the Civil Service or the bureaucracy.
  • The role and function of the bureaucracy in India have increased enormously. The normal function of the bureaucracy is to execute the policies of the Council of Ministers. Under the system of delegated legislation, the powers of bureaucracy are steadily increasing. As India has accepted the principle of the welfare state, the economic and social functions of the State are steadily increasing. Every increase in the power of the government means a corresponding increase in the powers of the bureaucracy. It is on the successful and satisfactory functioning of the bureaucracy that the success of the government to a very large extent depends.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Bureaucracy in India

 Advantages of bureaucracy in India:

The bureaucrat in India being the President’s or the Governor’s appointee, and serving during the President’s or the Governor’s pleasure, has to rise above party considerations. The bureaucrat takes order from the minister and acts accordingly within the limits of the Constitution. The civil servants also being administrative experts, remind the minister about the feasibility or otherwise of a particular course of action. Thus, the top civil servant has two duties towards his minister:

  1. He has to remind the minister whether or not a particular course of action is constitutionally permitted, and
  2. Whether or not a particular course of action is practically feasible or not. The advice of the top civil servant on both counts is of immense value to the minister.

The Civil Service provides the permanent element in government. As the fortunes of the civil servants do not depend on political vicissitudes, they can take a dispassionate view on political developments. Their long-term view of national interest, not colored by immediate political considerations, gives the minister a glimpse of long term interest of the nation.

In India, civil servants enjoy a measure of social respectability not easily attained by people in other professions. Consequently, civil servants in most cases are honest and dutiful. The civil servants also are administrative experts. Hence the ministers have to depend on them.

The bureaucracy, through experience, knows what policy is or is not feasible. Hence the minister listens to the advice of the top civil servant as to the desirability of a policy from the administrative point of view. Thus, in a healthy situation, the minister and the bureaucracy are mutually complementary – the Minister contributing the policy decisions and the bureaucracy executing the decisions.

The bureaucracy in India works under the cloak of ministerial responsibility. For every act of the government, the minister is answerable to the Parliament. Though the bureaucracy executes government policies, they remain in splendid anonymity. They do not take part in Parliamentary debates nor are they members of political parties. The actions of the civil servants must be defended by the minister on the floor of the House. This system compels the minister to keep a close watch on the actions of the bureaucracy and the bureaucracy to behave in such a way that the minister is not put into difficulty.

 

Disadvantages of bureaucracy in India:

The bureaucracy in India is however not above criticism.

  • Firstly, As the bureaucracy has not to own any political responsibility, they become insensitive to popular demands. Government becomes inert and file bound.
  • Secondly, the dependence of the ministers on the civil servants develops a sort “dictatorship of the bureaucracy”.
  • Thirdly, the bureaucracy forms a very powerful pressure group, intent on securing group interest. This at times works counter to the national interest.
  • Fourthly, since the bureaucrats execute the orders of the ministers, sometimes creativity on part of bureaucrats gets lost.
  • Fifthly, bureaucrats often become inefficient and even resists to positive changes in state policies.
  • Sixthly, our bureaucratic framework has often been criticized for red-tapism and excessive adherence to rules and regulations leading to a delay in the decision-making process.
  • Finally, charges of corruption and bribery against the bureaucracy are rampant.

Yet with all these defects, the bureaucracy is an institution without which democratic governments cannot work. Bureaucracy may be reformed but cannot be done away with.