Yojana March 2014- Summary

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About the magazine:

This month’s magazine focuses on administrative reforms. There’s a special article titled “strengthening rural lending”.

Topic number one: reforming public services: embracing a new management philosophy
Negative points about our current public services

  • non-friendly services
  • inefficient malfunctioning
  • According to second administrative reforms commission, there exist systematic rigidities, needless complexities and overcentralisation in public services which make them inefficient.

Main reason behind our failure in public management systems

  • The main reason lies in the fact that we have accepted Weberian model of bureaucracy for our public services which we have inherited from the British.
  • Characteristics of the Weberian model of bureaucracy: 1) system of promotion based on seniority 2) fixed remuneration for officials with the right of pension 3) organized as hierarchy 4) adhering to rigid rules
  • Points of the Weberian model which are cause of concern: they are embroiled in red tape, formalism, love tradition & stand for conservatism and status quo.

Another model which can help us

  • Many Commonwealth countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada, etc., have discarded the Weberian model of democracy.
  • Instead they have adopted a new model called New Public Management (NPM).
  • Main components of NPM: 1) devolution of authority 2) performance contracting 3) customer focus.

Main reasons for poor functioning of public services

  • absence of accountability
  • outdated laws, rules and procedures
  • high degree of centralization
  • poor work culture
  • lack of professionalism
  • politicization of services

Solution for bringing accountability in public services

  • by linking promotion and career advancement of an officer with actual performance on the job
  • bringing competition in civil services
  • enforcing strict disciplinary regime

Emphasize performance

  • Administrative reforms commission has said that there should be a periodic check and review of a public servant.
  • Servant’s promotion, advancement and continuance should be linked to his actual performance on the job and the non-performing servants should be removed.

Competition and specialist knowledge for senior level appointments

  • It has been seen that the various senior level appointments in the Central Secretariat have been made from Indian administrative service i.e. IAS who are generalists.
  • These people are not having specialized knowledge of the topic.
  • ARC has identified 12 domains in which officers should specialize without which his further promotion should not be made.
  • In short ARC has recommended the need for specialization by civil servants and the prequalification for holding senior level post.

Enforce an effective disciplinary regime

  • Main problem is that once appointed, it is almost impossible to remove or demote an employee.
  • Someone has quoted that “Public employees are like headless nail, you can get them in, but you can’t get them out”.
  • The commission review the working of the Constitution has noted that the constitutional safeguards have in practice acted to shield the guilty against Swift and certain punishment for use of public office for private gain.
  • The commission also suggested revisiting the issue of constitutional safeguards under article 311 to ensure that while the honest and efficient officials are given the requisite protection but the dishonest are not allowed prospering in office.
  • ARC has expressed that illegal protection even has created a climate of excessive security without fear of penalty for incompetence and wrongdoing.

Transforming work culture

  • Most government departments suffer from poor work culture and low productivity.
  • There is urgent need for improvement of work and employment and privatize some of the services.
  • Both the Central and State governments have vast sprawling bureaucracy which needs to be downsized.
  • Some recommendations: 1) the multilevel hierarchical structure should be reduced and an officer oriented system with level jumping should be introduced to speed up decision-making. 2) In ministries which are policy-making bodies, section should be abolished and a desk officer system be introduced from where nothing of the file should begin. 3) The ministerial staff divided in numerous categories be abolished and replaced by multiskilled position: executive assistant who should be computer savy. 4) Government offices should be modernized with provision of computer and other gadgets and can conducive work environment should be created.
  • There is also need for giving lower post with some responsibility and decision-making authority which is for the time is absent and which is decreasing the productivity in government offices.

Streamline rules and procedures

  • A large number of rules and procedures relating to citizens day-to-day interface with government are outdated and dysfunctional and give opportunity to public servants to delay and harass.
  • These rules should be updated, simplified and discretionary powers of public servants be eliminated.
  • A good part of efficiency of a government office depends on personnel, financial and procurement management systems.

Privatization and contracting out

  • There is a need of privatization and outsourcing of large number of services which the government is directly doing in order to improve efficiency and cut cost.
  • There is a great deal of justification in opening at least some certain sectors.
  • It will improve cost-effectiveness and service quality.

Performance-based organization

  • Today the working of the government’s highly centralized with all powers concentrated in ministries and department’s heads.
  • There is a need for a paradigm shift in this approach and operational freedom is given to persons in the field who implement programs and schemes by placing trust and confidence in their ability to deliver results.
  • Many advanced countries like USA, Japan and Australia have revamped their bureaucratic systems and migrated to professional management of the pulse of government activity through creation of agency or performance-based organization.
  • In Britain which took the lead in reforming public services, the chief executives of agency are selected through competition open to public and private sector and a higher on the basis of a contract.
  • Each agency negotiates an animal performance agreement with its parent department which includes targets for financial performance, efficiency and service quality.

The challenge

  • Main challenge in reforming public services is posed by the bureaucracy, who is the creator of the policies in India.
  • There is a need for political will at the highest level to bring meaningful reforms.
  • It is the time that government understands that public service reform is an essential prerequisite to alleviate poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition and deprivation from the country and make India a happy healthy and prosperous place to live.

Topic number two: governance: civil service and politician interface
What Sardar Patel Said?

  • He said that if you want an efficient all India service, then the one that does the service should be allowed to speak freely.
  • Orders of seniors are very important but the most important thing is that frank opinion should be put to by the people in service.

Some norms that should be followed by civil servants

  • maintain high personal integrity
  • Be fair in administrating law, policies and administrative decisions.
  • People respect you or your knowledge and skills. So acquire enough knowledge and develop analytical ability.
  • Field jobs, on which civil service often is to spend time, provide an opportunity for change in the system. Your aim should be to deliver results and work as an effective field officer.
  • Good governance is a fundamental right of the citizen. Identify gaps in public service delivery and implementation of schemes. Identify rules and regulations which are hampering progress and suggest changes to government.
  • The biggest disservice to the governance structure is to hesitate in taking decisions or deliberately avoiding it. So do not hesitate to take decisions.
  • In civil service you may invariably be the leader of the pack. As a full responsibility for achieving the targets and key performance parameters of the organization which you are heading.
  • Be sensitive to the needs of poor especially marginalized groups, women, SC/ST and minorities.
  • While advising ministers and working as senior civil servants, analyze all the reasonable policy options which can be considered on the issue and examination.
  • Do not criticize government policies in public discussions.
  • Develop interpersonal skills.
  • Adapt to IT use, new technologies and their use to ensure good governance.
  • Prepare well in advance to ensure effective articulation of the viewpoint of the Ministry.
  • Develop the ability to listen to visitors and different points of view carefully and patiently.
  • Develop the ability to integrate and form a consensus viewpoint consistent with the policy objective planned.
  • Make a well-informed judgment of ground realities and policies which will work.
  • Active challenging assignments. Do not try to get rid of it.
  • In face of grave provocation stand by your principles and convictions. Do not lose your cool.
  • Civil servants accountable to government. There is however public accountability also. Identify key target areas which you must achieve during your work based on government policy and programs. Identify peoples felt needs and include them in your program too.

Things that the focus

  • First the corruption and governance system and delivery of public services is widespread.
  • It is useful to recall that all India services are creators of the Constitution (article 312). While the services have to follow the policies let down by the government headed by the political executive, they also have legal obligations under certain statutes.
  • It is important that civil servants clearly bring out their views in writing while doing an analysis of the issues concerned when engaged in the task of policy-making.
  • There may be complex situations in which ministers and some civil servants tried to push illegal orders on subordinates. This could be because of ulterior monetary interest or corruption.

Topic Number 3: LIBOR
LIBOR – London Interbank Offered Rate – is an interest rate at which banks can borrow funds from other banks in the London interbank market. One of the worlds’s most widely used benchmarks for short-term interest rates, LIBOR rates were first used in financial markets in 1986.
LIBOR is fixed on a daily basis by the British Bankers Associations & is derived from a filtered average of the world’s most creditworthy bans interbank deposit rates.
In 2012, regulators from around the world were probing alleged manipulation of LIBOR by US and European banks. In 2013, a worldwide investigation discovered widespread manipulation of this benchmark interbank lending rated by traders and brokers.

Topic Number 4: Geographical Indication

  • A Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign used on certain goods that have a specific geographical origin and which possesses certain qualities, merits and features that are essentially attributed to their place of origin.
  • Most commonly a geographical indication includes the name of the place of origin of the goods.
  • GI is an aspect of industrial property which refer to the country or place of origin of a product indicating an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country.
  • GI are covered as an element of intellectual property rights (IPR’s).
  • GI is also covered under articles 22 to 24 of the TRADE RELATED BITS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS (TRIPS).
  • As a member of the World Trade Organization, India enacted geographical indications of goods act 1999 and it has come into force with effect from 15 September 2003.
  • The GI tract ensures that no other than the registered users (or at least those residing inside the geographical territory) are allowed to use the popular product name.
  • Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged product in India in 2004-2005. Since then 194 items have been added to the list.

Topic number 5: emerging paradigms of administrative reforms
Reasons for the presence of aberrations in the system

  • Existence of audio system of values on the part of political and administrative elites in India, who have the basic responsibility of implementing the system.
  • There has been growing sense of zealousness amongst the people from all walks of life in India about the constitutional rights and administrative privileges without paying due attention to the corresponding duties that go with them.
  • The total lack of an ocean of accountability and responsiveness on a part of both legislators and administrators has eroded the very essence of a responsible government.
  • In India poor are still poor and have increased in absolute numbers.

Strategies for good governance

  • Moral responsibility and accountability, sacrifice, compassion, justice and an honest effort to achieve the common good is the need of the hour.
  • Ultimately it is the moral determination which provides the foundation for governance towards a corruption free sustainable development.

Normative model of good governance

  • The need of the hour and Pres seems to be the adapter normative model of good management approach incorporating both the politico-administrative as well as the moral dimensions of good governance.
  • This should include:
  • a more strategic result oriented orientation to decision-making
  • Replacement of highly centralized organizational structures with decentralized management environment integrating with the new rural urban and municipal institutions, where decisions on resource allocation and service delivery are taken close to the point of delivery.
  • Flexibility to explore alternatives to direct public provision which might provide more cost-effective policy outcomes.
  • Focusing attention on the matching of authority and responsibility has a key tool improving performance, including mechanism of explicit performance contracting.
  • Creating competitive environments within and between public service organizations.
  • Strengthening of strategic capacities at the Centre to steer the government to respond to external changes and diverse interest quickly, flexibility and at least costs.
  • Greater accountability and transparency through requirements to report on the results and their full costs.
  • Service wise budgeting and management systems to support and encourage these changes.
  • Adapting of innovations and evolving suitable mechanism to eliminate corruption at both political and administrative levels and strengthening citizen’s grievance redress system.
  • Improving the system of delivery at the cutting edge of Administration by replacing the existing bureaucratic procedures by absorbing some appropriate percepts inherent in the philosophy of new public management.
  • Making improvements in the working atmosphere of the government institutions and offices to reflect a new work culture and changed administrative behavior incorporating the principles of transparency, responsiveness, accountability, participative and citizen friendly management.

Other reforms that is necessary:

  • Increased public-private partnership.
  • Increase accountability of the civil servants.
  • Adoption of information technology and e-governance.
  • Citizen oriented paradigm for management.
  • Corruption should be combated.
  • Taxation reforms to award corruption.
  • Curbing inflation and high prices.
Practice Questions