Evolution Of District Administration – Paper II

Evolution Of District Administration

The nature and scope of district administration totally depend on the legal definition of District under the government of a particular country. District administration in India involves the management of the list of activities to be performed by the government with the purview of the succeeding authority in the hierarchy of the government. The district administration structure in India is designed wisely depending upon local values and systems.

The functions of district administration in India are

  1. Collection of land revenue
  2. Law and order
  3. Developmental activities
  4. Regulatory functions like control, prohibition, excise, etc
  5. Citizenship issues and elections
  6. Municipality Administration
  7. Dealing with emergencies
  8. public grievances

The district administration hierarchy in India starts with different assistant commissioners, tahsildar, revenue inspectors, village accountants.

The concept of the District’ as a unit of administration in India, apart from the fact that it has proved a convenient and practical mode of governance and administration, derives somewhat from the pattern of the French Prefecture’, with the District Officer’ as the Prefect.

The first stage during the British period was characterized by the fact that the principal representative of the East India Company in the area marked out as a district was their factor’. As the East India Company’s sway extended further and further towards and into the heartlands of the country, and also as the Company itself became the governing agency of the British government in London, their principal representative in the district became the Collector’ of land revenue. Trading was replaced by the levy and collection of land revenue. And since the army at the disposal of the East India Company could not be present everywhere, and law and order had to be maintained with or without the army, the collector of the district also became the official responsible for maintaining law and order. In the process, the collector became a civil servant of the British government.

The Collector levied and collected the land revenue and other taxes. As District Magistrate, he maintained law and order, and in doing so administered a system of justice which was, because of his British origin, rooted in the great traditions of justice and equity which had been built up there.

To assist him there was a police official, the Superintendent of Police, commonly known as the captain sahib, an appellation that persists to the present day. It signifies the earlier linkage of the police force with the army. Thus a senior Superintendent of Police would be known as the major sahib and the Inspector General of Police, even though he might never have served in the army, would be known as the general sahib. Many of the earlier police officers were indeed drawn from the army. This incidentally is probably one of the reasons why police organization in India is patterned somewhat on army formations,

As time progressed, the need began to press itself upon the government and its agents in the districts for at least some minimal arrangements for medical attention. This led to the creation of the post of Civil Surgeon of the district.

Thus, gradually the district administration grew into a complex apparatus; the collector and magistrate the superintendent of jails, the civil surgeon, then the District judge and then the executive engineer for public works; and thus on to include a district inspector of schools, a district agriculture officer, and the rest of the components of the district administration which exist today.

Introduction Of Local Self Government

The introduction of local self-government institutions and the new system of government were introduced by the British as part of the reforms of 1919 and 1920, soon after the first world district. Created a new situation, and led to a new phase in the arrangements for governance in the district, and the functioning of the district administration. The official apparatus in the district retained its structure for most matters, including, under the constitutional reforms introducing dyarchy, those subjects which were more or less transferred to the charge of ministers responsible to the provincial legislatures (but responsible only in a very limited sense).

District administration under the dyarchy was called upon to function in a way somewhat different from before. A number of matters were also rendered over more fully to the change of the local institutions of self-government. such as the district boards. These included, again in a limited way, education, health, the minor roads and works, and a few other things as an incident of the division of political powers under the system of diarchy, the separate departmental lines began to be established more and more. One result of this was that we former overall cohesion of the district administrative apparatus began increasingly love intermeshed with separate departmental lines, leading also in some cases to a sense o departmentalism, and working in mutual isolation.

The district administration following the reforms of 1919-20. thus came to be somewhat broken up in the method of its functioning. This second period was in many ways administratively the least satisfactory of the patterns of district administration and its functioning, especially in the sphere of economic and social development.

However much one may try to separate, and place in different departmental compartments the different administrative functions and the lines of responsibility concerning each of them, the total administration is one organic whole. We see this characteristic of administration while considering the district administration in its parts, and as a going concern, a dynamic whole.

Despite the division of political and administrative powers and responsibilities under dyarchy, the residuary representation, the total presence of government a whole continued to be contained within the old apparatus of the district administration. This apparatus also provided the main line of communication between the local self-governing institutions, such as the district boards, the municipal committees, the town boards and so on, on the one hand, and the provincial government on the other. The district magistrate was also invested with certain powers of supervision, and with some minor sanctions to make his influence felt in the working of these institutions.

The pattern of district administration continued administration after Independence also.

Check out public administration notes in detail.

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