(Online Course) Pub Ad for IAS Mains: Rural Development: Politic & Administration With Special Reference to City Management (Paper -2)

(Online Course) Public Administration for IAS Mains Exams

Topic: Rural Development: Politic & Administration With Special Reference to City Management

The question of how to position administration in relation to politics bears and important implication for city management. The answer to this question is that there should be a division of a labour and authority between elected representatives and administrators with Neutral competence and Political guidance as fundamental principles is expected to increase democratic accountability and planning ability of administrators.

Neutral Competence

Neutral competence is a type of skill for government. It is a skilled bureaucracy that does not get involved in politics. Partisan policies and its negative consequences in local governance provided thrust to isolate administration from political influences. It consists of these elements:

(a) Administrators are experts who posses special knowledge and skill. Elected representative must not take decisions to satisfy particular interest but rather to maximize public interest with assistance from expert administrators.

(i) Council should respect the opinions and recommendations of administrators when it comes to technical matters of policy.
(ii) When the administrator know that a policy is beyond the capacity of council, he should bring it to the notice of council.
(iii) Council should provide administrators with plenty of opportunity to say what administrator think about a policy.

(b) It tries to draw attention to the possibility that political activities of administrative officials might pose a threat to elected officials guiding function. The element of neutrality can be achieved by conflict avoidance and policy advocacy.

(i) To keep the rough and tumble of politics away from administration to ensure rational administrative decisions (fact based) rather than bargaining based decision (based on values).
(ii) To avoid undermining political power of elected representatives and by creating competition between elected representatives and administrators regarding policy.
(iii) To minimize the identification of administrators with political position.

(c) The hierarchical nature of the administrative organization helps to minimize undue political influences over administrators by giving them more control over their staff. The element of hierarchy is operationalised by functional aspect and structural aspect. If a staff member needs to communicate with council members then he has to take prior permission of CEO. Every city should operate under the hierarchical structure of a Government.

Political Guidance and Legislative Insight

Elected representatives provide political guidance i.e. they set the task for administration through policy leadership and legislative insight. Policy leadership operationalized through council plays role in community leadership, conflict resolution, policy initiation and directives from council regarding policy come-in the form of official policy. Legislative insight manifested in the form of guidance to administrators, resource allocation, monitoring policy implementation and administrative reporting.


The powers of the municipality are constrained by higher level government agencies as well as by the dearth of financial resources. For example, the municipal corporation of Mumbai, the BMC, is headed by the commissioner who is directly appointed by the Maharashtra state government. This allows the state government to control the municipality and the city. Thus, the actions of the BMC and the decisions it makes are directly influenced by the state government.

Internal Competition

Another dynamic in municipalities concerns the relationship between the senior bureaucrats and the municipal councilors and between the senior bureaucrats and the executive staff of the municipality. In all the municipalities across India, senior bureaucrats are drawn from the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) cadre. They determine the annual budgetary allocations to all the departments within the municipality and also frame policies for the city. A great deal of power is therefore vested in the senior bureaucrats. At the same time, there is a high degree of animosity and tension in the relationship between the elected municipal councilors and the senior bureaucrats. The bureaucrats are also safeguarded by the perception of their status i.e., the IAS officers are often seen as non-corrupt and are known to have a high level of integrity. The councilor therefore becomes the natural target.

By referring to transparency, senior bureaucrats, policy makers and aid agencies seek to control the multiple rationalities and everyday discretionary practices that are rife in administration and streamline the decision-making process. This has implications for different socio-economic groups who also come under the radar of visibility when administrative staff are sought to be disciplined. Accordingly, the relationship between the different state agencies and citizen groups gets shaped.

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