Philosophical And Constitutional Framework Of Government – Paper II

Philosophical And Constitutional Framework Of Government

If we are to discuss what is philosophy of the constitution, we need to understand the basic framework of Indian constitution. The framework of Indian constitution comprises of three major pillars namely, Executive, legislature and judiciary.  the philosophical foundation of the Indian constitution is, “The constitution declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic, assures its citizens justice, equality and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity”. Here is some Philosophy Of Indian Constitution Notes featuring a detailed explanation about philosophical and constitutional framework of government and factors affecting the constitutional framework of Indian administration like constitutionalism and bureaucracy and the relationship between constitution and public administration.

I) Constitutionalism

Formal legal and institutional arrangements for the governance of India have been laid down in great detail by the Constitution of India. The philosophy and legality underlying the Constitution establish a democratic, federal, secular and welfare State in India. Carl J. Friedrich, in his classic Constitutional Government and Democracy, observes.

Constitutionalism by dividing power provides a system of effective restraints upon governmental action. For studying it, one has to explore the methods and techniques by which such restraints are established and maintained. Putting it in another, more familiar, but less exact way, it is a body of rules ensuring Fairplay, thus rendering the government responsible’.

The Constitutional Democratic State of India is the best example of Friedrich’s picture of constitutionalism. The Indian Constitution has provided for the complex web of checks and balances to ensure accountability and responsibility of every public institution and public functionary. Parliamentary democratic State ensures accountability of the political executive and competitive politics and periodical elections, based on universal adult franchise, are meant to ensure popular control over the political executive. The political executive is dependent on the verdict of the voters and it has to abide by the decisions of the independent Supreme Court which is the Guarantor of the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Relationship Between The Indian Constitution And Public Administration

The Relationship between the Indian Constitution and public administration is reciprocal: they influence each other. The Constitution. provides the basic framework for public administration. Bureaucracies, the main instrument of public administration, may help the Constitution to survive or undermine it by its actions. This is so because bureaucracies are centres of power in their own right though not the dominant ones. They are at once constraints on action and instruments of action. The nature and purpose of their interfaces with other power centres and their respective clientele and their strategic relationships with external reference groups and the political elites influence their normative framework and standards of professionalism. In this context, the Constitution provides a frame of reference, certainly the most salient one. As such, the character of public administration is influenced by multiple sources and all of them are under the spell of the Constitution.

Constitution And Framework Of Governance

The Indian Constitution establishes a complex web of institutions providing channels of accountability:

  1. An administrative system that is responsive to the public and accountable to the elected functionaries and operative within the bounds of the law, the due process in particular.
  2. A hierarchical system in which administrative positions are organised in such a way that the top generalist administrators have a dominant role in policy-making; and
  3. An expert system backed by a plethora of professional organisations that are interfaced with generalist-based organisations, but subordinate to the latter.

The Constitution provides the normative framework of governance. It sets the rules of the game for the public policy process, for the formulation and administration of public policies. The overall effect of the rules set by the Constitution is to facilitate actions as well as limit the discretionary power available to government officials. Some rules, as in the case of specified rights of the citizen, prohibit officials from acting in a contrary direction. The Constitution also sets several political veto points in the policy process. The federal structure and judiciary set other structural limits. The limits to discretionary power are intended to discourage the self-seeking behaviour of pure officials and the unfair, arbitrary or exploitative use of coercive power against the citizenry. The Constitution also prescribes limits to government power to prevent policy errors ta p unanticipated costs on the citizens. Rules are also developed as a means of coping with uncertainty and to make officials accountable for their actions. The notion that constitutional public administration is extensive, subject to its operation within the framework, needs recognition.

Does a highly centralised administrative state flow from the constitutional imperatives?

The Constitution does legitimise an activist State and one that is highly welfarist, if not socialistic, the latter being a later addition. There is also a clear mandate for solving many public problems emerging in a multi-ethnic society. In the economic and social spheres, it is not expected to be a minimal government. In the social sphere, its role is vital as a consensus-builder. Having gone through the colonial phase of authority and the Independence movement, the framers of the Constitution were not intent upon a centralised administrative state. Consent and consensus were to be the basic ingredients. The Constitution also provides for equity; all parties should have relatively equal access to the decision-making process in public administration. It implies that public administration must be responsive to the public interest in a broad sense. Equality under the law is ensured. So is the centrality of human dignity. The Constitution emphasises a mix of values to guide public administration to ensure that it is human, democratically responsive and efficient. The values are not hierarchically ordered. The goal of trying to make public administration legitimate through the implementation of efficiency measures tends to often conflict with representativeness goals or the imperatives of political and social mobilisation.

The Indian Constitution did not explicitly suggest anywhere the specific option as to whether the government should be an economic regulator, an economic administrator, or an economic player. As a regulator, it is an umpire refereeing the behaviour of competing interests by applying specific sets of rules. The design and application of a particular set of rules would, however, have specific policy outcomes. Controls on monopolies, licensing, imports and exports are examples of such rules. As an economic administrator, the government executes directly some operations, applying particular decision criteria and following set procedures. As an economic player, it pursues specific outcomes on a case-by-case basis, putting together packages of incentives and disincentives, some persuasive and others coercive. In shaping particular outcomes or preferring some sponsors over others, it exercises discretionary power. Over the years, the Government chose to play all three roles. The transformational character of the State provided scope for an activist public administrator.

II) Bureaucracy And Development

After the attainment of independence, a fundamental change was expected to take place in the role of bureaucracy. In the colonial regime before the advent of freedom, the state was described as the ‘law and order state’ or the ‘police state’ or the ‘night watchman state and bureaucracy was, as a result, considered to be an instrument for the maintenance of law and order and collection of land revenue. On the other hand, after the attainment of independence the proclaimed purpose of the state was to usher in rapid economic development and social change for raising the levels of living of the masses of people and therefore, bureaucracy as the instrument of the state, was expected to play a positive role in pushing forward development in all aspects and undertake a large range of functions, a variety of tasks, needed to sustain and accelerate the process of development.

Concept of Development

To consider the role of bureaucracy in development, it is necessary to analyse the concept of development itself. The economists in the early years tended to consider development as an increase in the gross national product or per capita income. The rate of growth would be determined by the size of the investment. However, even economists came to realise soon that such a view on development was hardly adequate since several other factors other than investment-often called the ‘non-economic factors came into the picture in determining the rate of growth. They included social attitudes such as attitude to work, attitude to wealth, attitude each other-institution, traditional as well as modern economic, social as well as political; development also depended on science and technology and their dissemination.

Above all, development depended on the standard of public administration, otherwise called management in government’ since it was through the medium of ‘administration’ the many tasks of development would be affected.

For administrative purposes, development could not be conceived in the abstract terms of the economics described above. It had to be conceived in terms of concrete tasks of development and these had a wide spectrum because of the comprehensive and planned approach to development adopted by us in the early years after independence. We rejected the laissez-faire approach in favour of the approach to development as one sponsored by the state. In the laissez-faire context, the state and therefore the bureaucracy had only a limited role to play. The state discharged only sovereign functions like currency, coinage or laying down a framework of the law. The actual tasks of development were left to the initiative of the private enterprise spurred by the motivation of self-interest. However, we felt that such an approach to development would not be suitable for India. First, because development through private enterprise would be a long-drawn-out process. India had to accomplish in a few decades what the countries in the west accomplished over a century and accelerated development required a positive role of the state. Secondly, it was felt that in several spheres which are essential for development, private enterprise would not be forthcoming at all viz. exploitation and mobilisation of natural resources and development of basic industries or industries requiring heavy investment with a long gestation period. Thirdly, development might require economic activities not justified in purely commercial terms, for example, development of the backward areas deep in the interior would not be possible without the initiative of the state. Finally, it was argued that development required a structural change whereas laissez-faire policy and free-market operation, would only bring about marginal or incremental change.

As the provider of public services to citizens, public bureaucracies can determine the character of government to a significant extent. They are instruments by which government serves or burdens citizens. Indirectly, the limits on administrative discretion help to limit the discretion of political leaders to impose costs on citizens or in making attempts to enrich themselves.

Sphere Of State Activity And The Scope For Public Administration

The concrete tasks of development which the state had to undertake included modernisation of agriculture, industrialisation and economic diversification, and building upon d om including irrigation electrification, communication, transport, education, health and process science and technology.

Agricultural and Rural Development

In the field of agricultural and rural development, was made in 1951-52 with the establishment of the community development programme and a network of national extension services. Simultaneously, a multi-tier structure of cooperative institutions was also established in the field of credit, supply of inputs, marketing, processing, consumer distribution, rural industries etc. The administrative mechanism set up, for the community development programme soon gave way to the three-tier Panchayati raj system to make rural development administration responsive to the elected representatives of the people.

In the Sixties, it was felt that the general approach towards community development was not adequate and there had to be a special thrust and single-minded approach to agricultural development to deal with emerging food crisis A. number of programmes were, therefore, introduced like intensive agricultural development programme, command area development programme and the new strategy for agricultural development. This approach of intensive development in agriculture ushered in the ‘green revolution in some parts of the country, especially Punjab and Haryana.

In the Seventies, there was another major change when a realisation came that the green revolution approach had benefited only better sections of the rural society and the weaker sections were left out of the mainstream. Several programmes know as ‘anti-poverty programmes’ were, therefore, introduced to specially care for the weaker section of society. These included small and marginal farmers and agricultural labour agency programmes and special programmes called the DPAP for the 70 drought-prone districts in the country like in the rain shadow areas. These programmes were later integrated into the Intensive Rural Development Programme.

To fill in the gaps in rural credit, commercial banks were also asked to enter into the field and a network of rural branches of the commercial banks as well as Regional Rural Banks were established. They became a part of the comprehensive network concerned with rural development.

In the early years, a great deal of attention was paid to land reforms to introduce structural changes in the rural economy. The land reforms were aimed at elimination of intermediaries, protection to tenants making the cultivators the owners of the land, the introduction of a ceiling on land holdings, distribution of surplus land among the landless, co-operative farming and consolidation of land.

Employment programmes were introduced beginning with the crash scheme for rural employment, food for work programme and culminating in the national rural employment programme. The Twenty-Point Programme also contained several points for the poorest section of the society like the liquidation of the rural indebtedness, provision of house sites for landless, and enforcement of minimum wages.

It was left to the bureaucracy to implement all these programmes in the field of rural development. Their success depended to a great extent on bureaucratic performance. Neither political nor social workers, nor any non-bureaucratic agency had much to do with all these programmes. org

The formulation and implementation of these programmes required bureaucracy to play a new role the role of an agent of development or agent of change as compared with the traditional role of the past as the agent of status quo. Furthermore, since most of these were people-oriented programmes. the bureaucracy had necessarily to work with the people. Motivating and mobilising the people communicating programmes to them, eliciting their co-operation, building up grassroots popular solutions-these were the new methods and techniques of administration which bureaucracy had to adopt. They contrasted sharply with the traditional functions of deciding cases according to prescribed rules and regulations. The bureaucrats had to go to people as development workers rather than just passing orders on cases of people approaching them with their grievances.

To undertake these new tasks of development, new types of functionaries emerged in the bureaucratic system-functionaries like the village level workers, extension officers, black development officers etc. At the higher levels also new positions like chief executives of the Zilla Parishads or development commissioners came into being. The bureaucrats had to be programme planners, innovators and change agents.

To enable them to equip for their new functions, programmes of training and new training institutions were also established like the village level workers’ training centre, orientation or study centres, social education officers training centres, Panchayati Raj workers’ training centre etc. Some of these institutions were later wound up and merged with more traditional administrative training centres.

How far has the bureaucracy been able to play a significant role in development?

An attempt to answer this question has been made in some of the empirical research studies.

Pai Panandikar and Kshirsagar in their study “Bureaucracy and Development Administration” concluded that while bureaucracy is not antipathetic to development, there are several structural and behavioural problems that impede their development orientation. In a later study by Pai Panandikar, Bishnoi and Sharine of 36 villages of one district each in the states of Haryana and U.P., it was revealed that the factors for non-adoption of new agricultural programmes were that “nobody advised the cultivators to adopt these programmes.” The researchers, therefore, concluded that there was not only a massive failure of professed extension programmes but also deliberate neglect of the lower strata of cultivating community. The neediest persons were precisely those who were the most neglected ones. Small cultivators under their large number and often inadequate resources were those who needed maximum possible attention and help from the government but officials did not visit villages as stipulated and when they did visit, they visited generally medium cultivators and neglected small ones. In the course of field investigations of small cultivators, there was a complaint of stepmotherly treatment given to them by government officials in attending to their problems and rendering them necessary assistance. The cultivators found the attitude of the officials casual and routine i.e, of the usual bureaucratic and formal character in which people were asked to put in their applications and officials would see what could be done in the matter. The researchers found that in an agriculturally more advanced area like Karnal in Haryana, the bureaucracy had a systematic strategy of reaching agricultural development programmes to the cultivators, delivering the services and maintenance of more effective coordination between different programmes. On the other hand, in Gorakhpur, U.P., such a conscious development and administrative strategy and planning were markedly absent.

In another study conducted by R.B. Jain and P.N. Chowdhry, on “Bureaucracy and Development – a comparative study in orientation and behaviour of bureaucracy engaged in developmental and non-developmental tasks”, it was found that status consciousness, impersonality and system were as much a guiding value to the development bureaucracy as to non-development bureaucracy. The authors, therefore, concluded that a large portion of the officials engaged in development had a bureaucratic attitude which hindered processes of change and development. y-oriented outlook of the officials did come into conflict with the achievement of the development goals.

R.B. Jain and Chowdhry

R B Jain and Chowdhry have quoted some of the earlier studies also to bring out the same point. They have quoted H.R. Chaturvedi who in his study “Bureaucracy and Local Community; Dynamics of Rural Development” has come to the conclusion that the existing bureaucratic organisation developed for the maintenance of law and order and collection of revenue was inadequate for carrying out the task of developmental change. Kuldeep Mathur in his study “Bureaucratic Response to Development-A study of block development officers in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh” concluded that even though the need to fulfil development programmes was most urgent, much of the bureaucratic pursuit was directed towards activities other than the achievement of development goals. c o m

N.K. Singhi in his study “Bureaucracy: Positions and Persons (Role structures, inter-actions and value orientations of bureaucracy in Rajasthan)” found that the present bureaucratic system weighed heavily in favour of routine administrative tasks and concentrated authority and decision making in the hands of elite classes which tended to be power-oriented. It was therefore unsuitable for the achievement of the goals of national development.

Prem Lata Bansal

Prem Lata Bansal in her study on the “Administrative Development in India” found that majority of administrators are developmentalism but the level of their commitment to modernising values is low.

While these empirical studies point out the lack of effectiveness of the bureaucracy as an agent of development, yet it cannot be concluded that the bureaucracy has not played its role adequately in the process of development. The performance of bureaucracy has to be seen in the context of macro indicators like the developments in the level of foodgrains, delivery systems, developing cooperatives reaching out to the cultivators throughout the length and breadth of the country, etc. There are major achievements of the bureaucracy that cannot be overlooked.

The role of the bureaucracy in bringing about economic, social, and political development is expanding. The bureaucracy participates in policy formulation by functioning as a channel of communication, a repository of information, as a group of ‘specialists’ and as an impartial adviser’. It implements a policy by breaking it up into projects and programmes, by planning each programme, by preparing the five-year plans and the budgets, and by executing the programmes. 

Check out public administration notes in detail.

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