Current-Public-Administration-Magazine-(Septembert-2017)- Administrative Restructuring

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

Administrative Reforms


When India achieved independence, it inherited a colonial legacy in administration, which was suited to the needs of revenue collection and maintenance of law and order. During the. years following independence, the Indian government was mostly pre-occupied with the problems of administrative integration of the princely states and the rehabilitation of the refugees and the displaced.

With India becoming republic the objectives for the development of the country was spelt out. The focus shifted to the social and economic development of the country. Attention was directed to people-oriented administration. Administration had to be responsive to the development needs of the people. Thus, there was a need to reform the administration to suit the needs of independent India.

The Government of India undertook various measures for bringing in reforms in administration. It constituted various committees and commissions and organised conferences to suggest reforms in administration. We will be discussing them in the ensuing sections.

We will first discuss the meaning, needs, and types of administrative reforms, which will be followed by the reform steps and measures undertaken in the country since independence.


'Administrative reforms can, in short, be defined as artificial inducement of administrative transformation against resistance. This definition highlights three distinct elements, namely:

  • Administrative reform is artificially stimulated;
  • It is a transformatory process; and
  • There is existence of resistance to change process.

Obviously, reforms do not take place by themselves. They are pre-meditated, well studied and planned programmes with definite objectives in view. Reform is an induced and manipulated change, for it involves persuasion, collaboration and generation of conviction for betterment.

Reform is more than a series of incremental changes or marginal adjustments, though it may result from the cumulation of small changes, which periodically creates requirement for comprehensive and systematic efforts.

Administrative reform paves the way for new order. It refers to the formal, mechanistic and meditated process of structured change.


The distinguishing characteristic of modernised social system is its ability to deal with continuous systematic transformation. Society has to change in order to free itself from the shackles of traditionalism, cope with the changes in environment, adopt fresh innovative culture, adopt new knowledge and technology and crave for a new order through elimination of the old structures and system.

Administrative reform is but a part of the universality of this change, for administration is nothing but a sub-culture, a social sub-system reflecting the values of the wider society. Administration must also correspondingly change to be in step with the outer modernisation process. Or else, disequilibrium would set in, resulting. in imbalances, dysfunctionalities, maladjustments and goal displacement.

According to Fred W. Riggs administrative reform is a "problem of dynamic balancing ". Since public administration functions within a political context, its basic character, content and style of functioning is greatly influenced by the political environment, its institutional dynamics and process, in not merely setting national goals, priorities, or deciding between competing values, and allocating resources but also in devising the most effective instrument for translating these policies into successful programme realities. Added to this, the advances in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and the state's pervasive role in managing national assets and resources, controlling the entire economy through regulation and development, ensuring a just and equitable economic order, correcting age old social imbalances through newer forms of institution-making, and ushering in an egalitarian social system, has thrown up new tasks for administration. This requires fundamental and foundational improvement in the administrative capabilities. The latter, in turn, requires proper planning, educational re-arrangement, skill-generation, attitude-formation and a host of other structural-functional reorganisation.

With the nineties came the market reforms, and there was an emphasis on structural adjustment. Good governance is the stress of the governments of the day, with focus on accountability, efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and decentralisation. With focus on good governance today, there has been a greater change in the conventional role of the State, the government and the bureaucracy. Today, there is shift from responsiveness to partnership and collaboration. The importance is given to people's participation in governance and the involvement of the multiple actors. With citizen's participation and collaboration taking centre stage, the government have to act as partners with the citizens. Administration cannot fulfil the newer roles with the traditional organisation and methods. - It has to be people friendly and work on public trust. Hence, the bureaucracy has to change to adapt to the new role. This need for change in turn necessitate reforms.


Administrative reforms, according to Gerald E. Caiden, can be of four types.

  • Reforms imposed through politica changes.
  • Reforms introduced to remedy organisational rigidity.
  • Reforms through the legal system, and
  • Reforms through changes in attitude.

Reforms imposed through political changes

Administration is shaped and influenced by political forces. The change in political scene also affects administration. Structure and working of administration is affected by political changes.

Reforms introduced to remedy organisational rigidity

Bureaucratic structures have to change to be flexible. The rigidity in the structure of administration has to be removed. The changes can take place in the form of restructuring, reinvention, realignment, rethinking and reengineering.

Reforms through the legal system

Laws pertaining to administrative reform can lead to significant changes in administration. Legislation is normally preceded by consultations and deliberations in several forums such as committees, commissions, press etc.

Reforms through changes in attitude

Human beings are an important part of any organisation. Change in their attitude will help in bringing reforms. No legal, structural and political change can lead to desired reform unless and until these are appreciated and accepted by the people working in the organisation.


At the Central level, various ministries and departments have been slow in implementing the reforms. The citizen's charters lack quality, as many of the ministries and departments have renamed their information brochures as charters. The citizens as well as the employees also seem to be unaware of the charters. The computerization and networking is yet to be fully implemented by the Centre and the States;

The review of laws has not been taken up at the required pace. The Lokpal Bill is lingering in the Parliament. The Department of AR&PG found that many of the Information and Facilitation Counters set up by the ministries and departments are non-functional. The code of ethics is yet to come up. The voluntary retirement scheme has also not been properly taken up. At the State level, much is left to be achieved. The Right to Information Act has been place in several States, but it has not been properly implemented.

Nothing has been going beyond the 73rd and 74•h constitutional amendments. The States have not implemented the constitutional amendments in letter and spirit. As a result, decentralisation has suffered a setback. The States have not adequately streamlined the function of the panchayats. In some States more powers has bee.n vested with the district and intermediate levels whereas in some States more powers have been given to the gram panchayats and the intermediate levels and not to the district level. The States have not provided these bodies with adequate staffand finances in relation to the subjects allocated to them. Again, the district planning committees have not been set up by a number of states. The gra~ sabha are not fully empowered as their powers and procedures have not been properly laid down. The urban local bodies have lost their importance due to the multiplicity of corresponding institutions that have come up to carry out varied functions pertaining to housing, urban regulation, water and sewerage, and power distribution. Also, there is dearth of resources, which creates problems for rendering better services.


A Department of Administrative Reforms was set up within the Ministry of Home Affairs in March 1964 to suggest reforms and conduct studies on all aspects of administration relating to the organisation, methods and personnel.

The 0 & M Division, which was earlier functioning under the cabinet secretariat, was transferred to it.

Based on the recommendations of the ARC, a Department of Personnel was set up in the cabinet secretariat on l st August 1970. All matters pertaining to the civil services were transferred to this Department from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Further, on 7th February I 973, the work relating to the Department of Administrative Reforms was also transferred to it and the Department was redesignated as Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms. Jn Anril 1977, the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms was shifted from the cabinet secretariat to the Ministry of Home Affairs and this arrangement continued till the end of 1984. Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms. was also set up at the State level.

The Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms was elevated to a full fledged Ministry• of Personnel and Training, Administrative Reforms, Public Grievances and Pensions in March 1985. On December 10, 1985 this Ministry underwent further change in its nomenclature and was re-designated as the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions with three departments namely, Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT), Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and Department of Pension and Pensioners' Welfare.. A major highlight of this arrangement was that, firstly the Ministry was placed under the overall charge of the Prime Minister assisted by a Minister of State. Secondly, the subject of public grievances was added to Department of Administrative Reforms. This allocation was effected under the rationale that it would provide a closer and integrated view of the inadequacies of the administrative system that gives rise to grievances, on the one hand, and how the administrative machinery could be made adaptive to the changing requirements, on the other. Thirdly, a separate Department was created to handle the subject of Pension and Pensioner's Welfare.

We will be basically concentrating on the functions of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.

Functions of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances

With the creation -of the Department under the Ministry in 1985, the following tasks were assigned to it:

  • Matters pertaining to the conduct, coordination and evaluation of administrative reforms.
  • Matters pertaining to organisation an methods.
  • All policy matters and issues relating to the redressal of public grievances in general and grievances pertaining to the Central government agencies in particular.

Administrative reforms are vital for the sustenance of the government machinery. The focus on good governance today has necessitated reforms in government as well as in administration. The Government of India undertook reform measures since independence. Various commissions and committees were set up to suggest reforms in the administrative system, organisation, methods and procedures. One of the important commissions to suggest reform was the ARC, which made recommendations covering the entire gamut of administration at the Centre and States.

Major reforms in the recent years pertain to the implementation of the Action Plan on Effective and Responsive Government. There are three vital components of the Plan that aims at making administration responsive and citizen friendly, transparent with the right to information, and improvement of the performance and integrity of the civil services. The Centre and States have implemented the Plan to a certain extent. More steps in this regard are on the anvil.

The Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances is the nodal agency of the GO! for administrative reforms as well as for redressal of public grievances.


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