Analyze the changing of relationship between bureaucracy and political executive.
Political executive and bureaucracy are the two pillars of the government. Whereas political executive is temporary and usually represent the party in power, bureaucracy is a permanent fixture. Theoretically they play different roles, for instance, politicians make policies and administrators implement them. But, in practice their roles often conflict and overlap because the line separating development of policy and its implementation is quite blurred and hazy.
Bureaucracy is a body of permanent, paid and skilled officials. It aids and advises the government to make plans and carry them out. The role of bureaucracy has changed. It no longer performs only the regulatory functions but actively engages in development and welfare activities.
Conventional image of civil servant has been that of an anonymous servant of the minister who is committed to efficient discharge of his duties and who offers his sincere advice to his master, irrespective of his political ideology. This advice may or may not be accepted by the minister, but once the decision is mace, he is duty-bound to implement it effectively.
This concept of anonymous and neutral bureaucracy was considered impractical and unsuited to meet the goals of social justice. Therefore, Mrs. Gandhi sought a ‘Committed Bureaucracy’. But commitment has degenerated into politicization of bureaucracy and the relationship between political executive and bureaucracy has deteriorated.
The administrators blame the politicians for their irrational, partisan and idealistic approach and for disturbing their service conditions through transfers and promotions. The politicians blame the administrators for their prejudice and flair for creating procedural difficulties. Such irritants have led to deterioration of administrative efficiency.
The Administrative Reforms Commission was set up in 1966 to suggest measures to streamline their relationship. The relationship between the two elites is crucial to the smooth functioning of the government.
Changing complexion of relationship between bureaucracy and political executive Bureaucracy has become a universal phenomenon. It is a pre requisite of modernization of every society. Most developing Countries are engaged in the process of nation building and bringing about rapid socio-economic development, i.e. providing social services such as health, education, infrastructure like roads, electricity, productive activities in agriculture, industry etc.
The complex of such formidable activities connected with the development enterprise is essentially government’s responsibility. Here, public administration becomes the key agency of development. Bureaucracy can immensely contribute to development by serving as an adviser, as an inventor, and a decision-maker.
It can vitalize administration by building up a social environment emphasizing responsibility by creating incentives, by encouraging healthy competition and self-development, by organizing institutional management under competent and progressive leadership and by delegating authority to lower levels for maximizing development.
Bureaucracy constitutes the apparatus and mechanism through which the state realizes its purposes. It has been rightly said that a country’s life is largely shaped by the quality of its administration. A plan can Succeed only if its administrative implications have been worked out in detail. Hence, a high degree of bureaucratic competence is essential to push through speedy development measures. In most developing countries, the problem is not the inability of the governments to devise rational programs for development, but their incapacity to carry them out.
The traditional concept of neutrality, however, has been challenged on many grounds. The earlier concept of separation of politics and administration in watertight compartments is considered no more valid. The role of the civil service has been changing from being a mere agent of the political executive to that of collaboration with it. The involvement of bureaucracy in political arena is now widely prevalent.
The breakdown of the theory of neutrality has come about because of a number of reasons. Firstly, the processes of policy making are no longer confined to the political executive. The truth is that the bureaucrats play an important role in policy formulation, perceived to be the exclusive preserve of elected politicians. This has happened because the statutes passed by the Parliament are not clear enough. The legislative behaviour follows no consistent pattern.
Whereas, some measures are too detailed, some only identify the problem. The minister is rarely an expert in the work of his department or the techniques of public administration. He merely has general ideas in line with the political ideology of his party, but he is often not sure what is the best solution to a particular problem. He is therefore, forced to rely on his permanent staff for facts and advice. In effect then, it is the administrator who has a major role in framing the policy.
Secondly, the decline of neutrality can be attributed to the demands and pressures of coalition politics. In coalition governments, ministers are busy in the power game and maneuvering for their survival, and have neither time nor inclination to guide, direct and control their department or bureaucracy.
Also at times, the legislative process is so stormy and full of diverse views that a statute passed incorporates a number of a contradictory policy guidelines. The necessity of reaching at a compromise solution to hold the coalition together leads the legislators to use vague language and the administrator has to use his own judgement to interpret the policy.
Therefore, bureaucracy has clearly made inroads in policy-making and despite the regulations governing the civil servants they have been politicized considerably.
Finally, according to some political commentators, the classical theory of civil service neutrality presupposes agreement on principles fundamental to democracy. In other words, neutral, value free bureaucracy is possible only in a society where consensus exists on values but in transitional societies like India, where dissent and conflict exist, it is too much to expect anyone to be neutral.