Essay on Making Indian bureaucracy responsible, accountable and result oriented

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In the task of socio-economic development, bureaucracies is required, among other things, to displ accountability, and dilute inefficient, dilatory and cumbersome work procedures, which are the universal known banes of Indian bureaucracy.

With liberalisation of economy since 1991, thrust has been on linking the economy of India with IN of the rest of the world. This requires privatisation, contracting out and shifting the work from government to non-government executive agencies. The role of bureaucracy in linking the economy of India with! World economy is, therefore, very critical and significant.

Major Shortcomings of Bureaucracy

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(1) No Time Limit for Case Disposal: The entire bureaucratic structure of India, officers and employee! Alike belonging to any class, category or position, may keep the file just as long as they wish according! Their whims and fancies for there is no effective provision of time limits as to how long an officer or! Employee could take to dispose the case in hand.

(2) Freedom to Raise Even Inconsequential Query: Any officer or employee, due to selfish inters or being incompetent, can conveniently raise any inconsequential query and delay case disposal there is practically no effective action against such erring officials.

Regarding protection of common citizens, the Report of the Fifth Pay Commission recommended as follows: “At the least, the citizen is entitled to a good explanation or an apology. In many cases, he should have the right to demand redressal and compensation. This would also imply the coverage of all government^ services under the Consumer Protection Act.

(3) Problem of Transfer of Personnel: Any officer or employee could be transferred from any post, and from any place to any place, regardless of the fact whether that officer has specialise in the subject or not, whether that officer might hardly have been there for a few months in that [ from which he is being transferred.

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(4) No Powers for Disciplinary Action: In most of the bureaucratic layers, no single officer or employee is empowered to take direct disciplinary action against his immediate subordinates nor is there provision for any officer or employee to directly reward his immediate subordinates. This lack’ empowerment of officers and employees makes the chain of command very weak and ineffectively.

(5) Official Secrets Act Obstructs Transparency and Permits Malpractices: The British Colony government had initiated and implemented the so called Officials Secrets Act, 1923, which has, I and large, been kept intact during these last 50 years of Independence. Provision of this Act literal makes it impossible for any member for the public to know what is happening in government files about any case, whether of personal interest or of larger societal concern. The cover of secrecy encourages potential wrongdoers to indulge in malpractices of various sorts.

(6) No Participation of People in Implementation and Formulation of Rural Development Programmes: Several thousand crores of rupees are being spent on various rural developmental programmes every year in India.

The implementation of these programmes is left to the bureaucracy in the district without any participation of the rural people for whose welfare these programmes are meant. Consequently, despite pumping of so many thousands of crores of rupees in rural developmental programmes, the net result has been a dismal failure, which is evident from any segment of village life just about anywhere in the country. Most of the planning for the upliftment of rural areas and most of the programmes of socio-economic development for rural areas are planned from top, without any effective feedback from the rural people for whom the programmes are designed. The approach of the Planning Commission in India has clearly been from top-to-bottom, with hardly any input from bottom-to-top. Consequently, most of the programmes of socio-economic development, planned by the Government of India for implementation in rural areas, have

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(a) Generally been unsuitable and irrelevant for the people they are designed for, or

(b) Not been implemented effectively due to lack of preparation and cooperation from people in rural areas.

For effective implementation of economic reforms which are being initiated in India since 1991, structural reforms in the existing organisational structure of bureaucracy are, therefore, essential so that:

(a) Human resources in bureaucracy could be utilised efficiently on the one hand, and

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(b) Economic reforms, being initiated in since 1991, could be effectively implemented.

Fifth pay commission’s recommendations on bureaucratic response

The Government of India had set up Fifth Central Pay Commission which submitted its report in January 1997. The Pay Commission, in the massive three volume report, containing 2144 pages, has under its Part II: Public Service Management devoted 220 pages on the subject covering the following aspects:

It has now been proved in country after country that an honest, professionally sound, contented bureaucracy is a critical element of any programme of economic resurgence.

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The entire machinery of government has got to be reinvented. This is a mammoth task.

There has to be delaying in order to reduce levels and level jumping in order to reduce delays.

A shift has to be made towards accountability in the positive sense wherein a greater emphasis will be laid on achieving the end result rather than a mere adherence to rules and procedures.

In the country, the work of the government is shrouded in mystery and the Official Secrets Act gives furtiveness a legal sanction. What is required is a Right to Information Act, under which citizens have a right to find out exactly what is going on, at least immediately after a decision is taken. Transparency also means that all decisions are reasoned ones and contain an innate justifying logic.

Any premature transfer before completion of the prescribed tenure should be based on sound administrative grounds, which should be spelt out in the transfer order itself. The transfer order must, therefore, contain detailed reasons for the transfer.

In order to ensure transparency in reporting and to serve the intended objective of providing a feedback to employees to improve their performance, partial openness may be desirable. For this purpose, the final grading of employees, as recorded in the confidential reports, should be conveyed to them.

Performance appraisal is another area of reform. If we develop better methods of appraisal, which are linked to actual performance in quantitative and qualitative terms, and link promotion and other incentives to such objective appraisal, we would be creating best motivation for higher productivity.

Wherever discretionary powers have to exist, these should be exercised by a group of officials with separate backgrounds. In such cases, there should always be a recorded decision giving full justification for the stand taken. These groups should never be headed by Ministers.

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