6. Bureaucracy in India

This is a discussion on the nature and functioning of the Civil service inIndia. We leave out the origin and growth of he Civil service inIndiafrom the present discussion. We shall confine ourselves to examining how it works and its drawbacks and merits.

Note: only a summary discussion takes place in this blog. Real discussion will be in the seminars in the classroom. The entire group should draft the answer and blog it to me. No individual member of the blog can do it separately. However all the members of the group need not agree. A consolidated report  not exceeding ten lines must be posted in the blog. PLEASE DO NOT TAKE MORE THAN 15 MINUTES TO ANSWER


Bureaucracy is an essential institution of the modern state, and it has existed since its emergence.  Describe the Origins and growth of Bureaucacy nIndia. All must write a two hundred word note answer at home and bring it to the class.

30 thoughts on “6. Bureaucracy in India

    1. Weberian Principles includes,
      1. Every official has to work according to rule book and concentrate only that task.
      2. The performance of work is subject to a strict and systematic discipline.
      3. There are abstract rules concerning the way official work. These rules must be followed when the circumstances are the same. Official has no discretion.
      4. Official has to obey his superior. Official has to supervise the work of his subordinates.
      5. The official has been selected on the basis of technical qualifications.
      6. Official gets promoted based on seniority or merit or both.

      Strictly following rule book in all situations is not ethical based on humanitarian grounds.

      The way official asked to follow rules make him efficient but it leads to inefficiency and injustice in individual cases.

      Well educated officials want freedom of work and more scientific and innovative working.

      1. The official has no discretion in interpreting rules. The official has no
        freedom to decide whether an issue is ethical or not or decide an issue on humanitarian grounds.

  1. According to Weber, Bureaucracy is a social mechanism that has defined strategies to carry out the administrative procedures. Weber’s theory has the following characteristics:
    • It is a rule driven mechanism.
    • Every individual has a well defined work to do and he or she is confined to that work alone. One cannot go out of the described job.
    • Division of labour exists. A particular hierarchy is followed for administration.
    • The subordinate has to work according to the order of the superior.

    The short comings of the Weberian theory are as follows:
    • A totally rule driven mechanism, can be inefficient at times. As in some cases there is some amount of emotion involved.
    • There is no freedom to the official. It makes the official’s work mechanical, rather than making it scientific.
    • There is no democracy in the Weberian theory. The higher authority gives the order and it has to be followed by the subordinates accordingly.

    India’s bureaucracy is based on the Weberian principles. The drawbacks of the Weberian theory have to be looked into and handled in our system. This would help our bureaucrats to work efficiently and have a scientific approach too. Therefore, Bureaucracy in India needs to have a balanced approach.

    1. Right to information act is the way to instil responsibility on the part of the bureaucrat. A citizen can seek the basis/grounds for a decision taken

    1. We can’t carry on without bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is part of implementing government orders.

      Sardar Patel was also instrumental in continuing post-independence ICS by founding Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, and for his defence of Indian civil servants from political attack, he is known as the “patron saint” of India’s services.

      Sardar Patel assured civil servant with two articles that protected(assured) civil servants from political involvement and guaranteed their terms and privileges.

      1. The civil servant cannot be insulated from political interference. The
        inevitability of the democratic process is the taking of directions from the political element and seeing that they are implemented.

  2. 3. Bureaucracy has to adjust itself to radically to Development Administration and has to be more people oriented than rules oriented; more transparent than secretive and more accountable to the people. We can no longer have the colonial bada sahibs. Do you agree?

    1. I strongly agree. Bureaucracy has to adapt to the change and uncertainties.

      There is growth of science, research, technology and change in environment. Because of these changes the attitude, thinking and expectations of people keep on improving, for this bureaucracy must adapt to changing society.

  3. Prof.Rao: 4. Should we recruit Civil Servants always through competitive exams? Can we not have few picked up from Industry, Universities, Journalists etc.,? Why restrict the officials only to competitive exams. There are many experts outside the IAS who are capable.

    1. We don’t have to always go behind competitive exams for Civil Servants. We can have handpicked individuals with proven capability and expertise. One recent example is UIDAI/Aadhar chief Nandan Nilekani.

      1. The present trend in the civil service is the entry of persons with degree/specialisation in medicine/engineering and other related areas
        who bring with them expertise to administration. The civil servant during his tenure of twenty-five to thirty years gets a opportunity to specialise in his fields of work besides acquiring special qualifictions which help him to function better.

    1. Article 311 in The Constitution Of India 1949
      311. Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State
      (1) No person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all India service or a civil service of a State or holds a civil post under the Union or a State shall be dismissed or removed by a authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed
      (2) No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges Provided that where it is proposed after such inquiry, to impose upon him any such penalty, such penalty may be imposed on the basis of the evidence adduced during such inquiry and it shall not be necessary to give such person any opportunity of making representation on the penalty proposed: Provided further that this clause shall not apply

    2. Article 311 talks about Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.

      1> No person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all India service or a civil service of a State be dismissed or removed by a authority subordinate to that by which he was appointed.

      2> No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity to defend. Penalty may be imposed on the basis of the evidence adduced during such inquiry.
      Provided further that this clause shall not apply
      (a) where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on the ground of conduct which has led to his conviction on a criminal charge; or
      (b) where the authority empowered to dismiss or remove a person or to reduce him in rank ins satisfied that for some reason, to be recorded by that authority in writing, it is not reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry; or
      (c) where the President or the Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State, it is not expedient to hold such inquiry

      (3) If, in respect of any such person as aforesaid, a question arises whether it is reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry as is referred to in clause ( 2 ), the decision thereon of the authority empowered to dismiss or remove such person or to reduce him in rank shall be final.

  4. Prof.Rao: 6. The next general election of 1966-67 the first after Jawaharlal Nehru’s death in 1964 constitutes a watershed in the evolution of new patters of relationship between the political and bureaucratic wings of the government. The minister civil servant interface in India changed. Comment

    1. Political scene in India has radically transformed as a result of fourth general election in 1967. The congress monolith has badly cracked with Congress Party won less than 73 per cent of the seats in Parliament and less than 60 per cent of all seats in Assembly elections leads to coalition governments in many states.

      This election result helped a good relation between ministers and civil servants.

  5. Prof.Rao: 7. Who are Generalists and specialists? What is the relationship between the two. Will a softeare professional selected to the IAS be a generalist or a Specialist? Why do technically qualified people give up their professional career and flock to the IAS? Why does Government welcome this move?

    1. Generalists are one with the leadership role at all levels. Specialists are with expert knowledge in particular field like engineers, doctors and PhD holder.
      Generalists and Specialists related with common ability to manage and supervise.
      Software professional selected to the IAS will be a Specialist in computer software operations.
      With ambitions of respectable career in government technically qualified people give up their professional career and flock to the IAS.
      Civil service provided in almost all fields and departments. In some fields the expertise knowledge will enhance decision making, so government welcome the specialists to civil service.

  6. Prof.Rao: 8. The Raj gave to independent India a clean public administration an asset of enormous importance. But India could not for long preserve traditions of bureaucratic integrity. Corruption as a problem of national concern first emerged in a serious form during the second Five Year Plan characterized as it was by much enlarged public outlay and industry orientation, leading to the spawning up of permit license raj under the mixed economy. AS a result, now relationships inevitably emerged and corruption was the linking device. Corruption has reached monstrous proportions. Comment on the consequences and public reaction to the same

    1. Now a days corruption is much organized, politico administrative, in large scale, not excluding the highest echelons in both politics and bureaucracy. Over the years, corruption has penetrative in all span of life. Examples includes, giving nearly 6-10% of PF amount as commission to PF office clerk, in getting driving licence, in getting govt. office work done quickly, etc.

      Public reaction to corruption includes, a movement for jan lokpal bill, people beating corrupt official, STING-OPERATION with hidden camera from TV channels, journalist and individuals to showcase corrupt officials.

    1. According to me mindset of a person by default depends on his environment where person has grown up and living most of the time. Mindset also referred to as ability to view or analyse differently.

      It is a human tendency that we don’t tolerate someone with strong ability and capability tries to come to our place of work, because of the fear that we may lose our job. If person is more capable and confident, then he doesn’t have to depend on single source for job.

      Indians seeking government job is mainly due to the security and freedom in the job.

  7. Greatest weakness of the Civil servants is that they are frequentky asking for favours or lobbying the legislators and very naturally, In return, The politicians expect them to repay this with their influence and to close their eyes to infractions of the law.

    Civil servants who were asked to bend but choose to crawl were not petty officials but men in high places such as Chief Secretary and District Magistrates.

    So we(Government) should Actually have frequent Personality Training and remind our own public servants about their Code of conduct.

    As they are the Considered The Pillars of Good governance not the Politicians.

    “Politicians love visible beneficiaries and invisible victims.” — Dr. Walter Williams on WABC-AM 10-31-03

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