(Sample Material) Study Kit on Current Affairs for UPSC Mains Exam: Ethics & Integrity: Emerging Paradigms of Administrative Reforms

(Sample Material) Study Kit on Current Affairs for UPSC Mains Examination

Ethics & Integrity: Emerging Paradigms of Administrative Reforms

In the early 1990s, a new managerial approach to public administration, known as the New Public Management (NPM), began to take hold in the United States and other industrialized countries. The globalization of public administration spread the concept of NPM and its attendant reforms in the developing countries as well. The NPM Paradigm, on the whole, provides for a caring government that is transparent, focused on the people and characterized by commitment, accountability, responsiveness and inclusiveness.

NPM Concept in India

During the late 1990s, under the impact of these developments, the Government of India felt the need to restructure and reorient the administrative system and to adopt a normative model of Good Management Approach towards public administration. This was to include: (a) A more strategic result-oriented (efficiency, effectiveness, and service quality) orientation to decision- making (b) Making improvements in the working atmosphere of the government institutions and offices to reflect a new work culture and a incorporating the principles of transparency, responsiveness, accountability, participative, and citizen-friendly management, and (c) the bureaucracy was to be revamped in terms of changed orientation, behaviour and attitude. Instead of being the defender of the status quo, there has to be a realization that with the advent of globalization, liberalization and privatization, it has to play a major role of a catalyst for change. Apart from the changes in the traditional values and norms of work culture, it has to demonstrate its willingness to accept new technical innovations and values of achievement and competition, equity and egalitarianism and concern for broader collective social goals.

Governance and Administrative Development

As was to exphatically suggested by the author elsewhere (Jain, 2001) that it is wrong to always blame the structural aspects of governmental system for its failures. Given the normal wear and tear in the edifice of the governmental and administrative system over a period of oyer sixty five years, India’s system as a whole has not only survived, but also admirably borne the brunt of times, in comparison to the scores of examples of other where such structures have crumbled completely.

However, along with its survival, a number of serious distortions have crept in the system during all these years, giving validity to the dictum of Woodrow Wilson that it is easier ‘to make a constitution than to run it. The foremost and fundamental reason for all these aberrations has firstly, been the existence of a dual system of values on the part of political and administrative elites in India, who have the basic responsibility of implementing the system.

Secondly, there has been a 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 level of tolerance among the people in India, which was the hallmark of their social, cultural and political behaviour in the first two decades of the Republic seems to have been lost somewhere in the ‘labyrinthine struggle for power.

Thirdly, at the same time, the total lack of a notion of accountability and unresponsiveness on the part of both legislators and administrators has eroded the very essence of a responsible government. There are political rhetoric and polemics, but no substantial accomplishment in respect of the citizens’ needs and aspirations; There are innumerable grandiose policies, plans, programmes and projects, which we are very apt to formulate, but have no plans or will to implement these four Ps. The result is either stagnation or a very slow growth in the realm of progress and development. On top of it, the bureaucracy in India is cold, slow and somewhat inhuman in dealing with the complaints of the citizens. Worst, it carries an image of being the most corrupt amongst the world’s bureaucracies.

Fourthly, in India, poor are still poor and have even increased in absolute numbers. Economic gains have been wiped out by population growth. Though, India has an economically powerful middle class, a vibrant software industry, and nuclear capability, but a huge number of India’s citizens continue to eke out- a living under conditions of extreme poverty and deprivation. The government’s capacity to perform is still weak, resources available for public investment and development are still scarce, local jurisdictions are particularly starved. The critical basic needs in education, health, welfare, infrastructure and the very essential need of clean drinking water for the masses still go unmet. Many of the poor are in fact, worse-off now than they were a decade or so ago. No wonder that India ranks very low in the Human Development Report prepared each year by the UNDP.

Strategies for Good Governance

In the context of these developments in India, the fundamental question that arises is how to devise strategies that would be conducive for India, to strive towards sustainable development. Besides the institutional and structural innovations that make for a system of good governance, a corruption free sustainable development requires a “moral determination” (Dwivedi, 1987, 607-9 and 2001). Recognition of that moral determination in governance marks the direction in which those who govern, must channel their efforts towards the common good if they are to justly serve the society. That direction calls for individual “moral responsibility and accountability, sacrifice, compassion, justice and an honest effort to achieve the common good.” Ultimately, it is the moral determination which provides the foundation for governance towards a corruption-free .sustainable development.

Normative Model of Good Governance

Thus, the need of the hour at present seems to be to adapt a normative model of good management approach incorporating both the politico-administrative as well as the moral dimensions of good governance. This should include: (a) A more strategic or result-oriented (efficiency, effectiveness and service quality) orientation to decision-making; (b) 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; (c) Flexibility to explore alternatives to direct public provision which might provide more cost effective policy outcomes; (d) Focusing attention on the matching of authority and responsibility as a key to improving performance, including mechanism of explicit performance contracting; (e) Creating competitive environments within and between public service organizations; (f), Strengthening of strategic capacities at the Centre to steer the government to respond to external changes and diverse interests quickly, flexibly and at least costs; (g) Greater accountability and transparency through requirements to report on results and their full costs; (h) Service-wise budgeting and management systems to support and encourage these changes; (i) Adapting of innovations and evolving suitable mechanism to eliminate corruption at both political and administrative levels and strengthening citizens’ grievance redressal system; (j) Improving the system of delivery at the cutting edge of administration by replacing the existing archaic bureaucratic procedures by absorbing some appropriate precepts inherent in the philosophy of New Public Management; and (k)Making improvements in the working atmosphere of the government institutions and offices to reflect a new work culture and a changed administrative behaviour incorporating the principles of transparency, responsiveness, accountability, participative and citizen- friendly management.

Public-Private Sector Synergy

There is no doubt that the process of globalization and the simultaneous rapid economic and technological changes have greatly affected the pattern of governance in modern times, Scholars have argued that the actual pattern of governance in internationalized environments can be related to the respective governance capacity of public and private actors, which hinges, in turn on the strategic constellation underlying the provision of public good, Thus, a crucial question becomes important: how is it possible to ensure that private governance activities are kept responsive to wider societal interests? (Knill and Lehmkuhl, 2002, 57-58), The question of accountability, therefore, becomes a key factor and an issue of good government. Nowadays, a new model is also being discussed, called the Public-Private Community Partnership, (PPCP) model, wherein, both the government and private players work together for social welfare, eliminating the prime focus of private players on profit. This model is being applied more in developing nations as in India, Success is being achieved through this model too, It mainly helps to ramp up the development process as the focus is shifted towards target achievement rather than profit achievement.


If the concept of accountability refers to the degree to which public servants and others in non-governmental sectors providing public programmes are responsive to those they serve, then there is a need for multi-dimensional methods to measure how different institutional arrangements advantage different forms of responsiveness, The traditional measures of accountability that rely upon line or top-down measures do not necessarily provide a good guide to the accountability culture as a whole, As service delivery systems move to more complex forms of agency, accountability at other levels must be expected to undergo a dynamic process of evolution, adaptation, and in some cases, crisis, Institutional development must fit each case, Vertical strength can be improved with stronger roles for parliamentary committees, ombudsmen, and so on.

Adoption of IT and E-Governance

The revolution in information technology has brought into focus its adoption for good governance. There is a talk of e-governance all over the world. E-governance implies a smoother interface between government and citizen. While, it cannot entirely replace manual governance, even its limited applications are good enough to affect day-to-day living. It can fulfil, roughly speaking, the four purposes for which citizens generally interact with the government: (i) paying bills, taxes, user fees and so on, (ii) registration formalities, whether of a child’s birth or a house purchase or a driving license. (In the Sate of Tamil Nadu, for instance, one can download 72 application forms), (iii) seeking information, and (iv) lodging complaints. E-governance can reduce distances to nothing, linking remote villages to government offices in the cities, can reduce staff, cut costs, check leaks in the governing system, and can make the citizen-government interaction smooth, without queues and the tyranny of clerks. But it must be remembered that e-governance is only a tool for good governance. It cannot succeed independent or responsive officers and it has to be owned by the political leadership. Otherwise, it will only be a bureaucrat’s game. How to rebuild the system of governance on these new premises without the majority of population even being literate is a real challenge for all concerned with new innovations in the performance of the government in India.

Citizen-oriented Paradigm

The corporate millennium has brought into focus, a new concept of governance based on the interests of the shareholders, i.e. the citizens, which has signaled the role of transparency, accountability and merit- based management and a sense of morality and ethics that rests on the principle of “concern for others.” An ethical organization, more so, a government, not only stands for people with a set of values, but a positive attitude which generates a culture within the organization in which every member feels a sense of loyalty and belonging and the leaders are responsible for initiating dialogues across a wide range of levels and functions so as to operationalize values in practical policies. Modernization of government and public administration involves a redefinition of government responsibilities. The state system of the 2151 century, will have to see a redistribution of duties and responsibilities between government, business and society. This would require introduction of modern management techniques with quality control, budgeting and cost-benefit analysis. In future, public authorities are meant to be result-oriented in providing public services. Modern management and e-government are two central means of achieving fundamental changes in public administration. The goal is an administration’ that does more and costs less. E-government projects are not only modernizing public agencies and authorities; but also making administrative procedures more transparent for ordinary citizens, which in turn, also makes new demands on personnel to be more accountable.

Combating Corruption

From the foregoing discussion, it is more than evident that the concept of quality governance is premised on a corruption-free administrative system. Combating corruption for sustainable development calls for: (a) reducing opportunities and incentives for corrupt behaviour and increasing the sense of accountability on the part of public officials, and (b) effective implementation of anti-corruption measures, which would imply that measures should be logically consistent with regard to the phasing of a time table for speedy investigation and conviction; a strong political commitment to implement the strategies and enforcing anti- corruption measures; and people’s active participation from below in the enforcement of administrative, legal and judicial measures,’ thus mobilizing the public against corruption in public life.

Apart from the above fundamental conditions, it must be emphasized that fighting corruption requires: (a) formation of a national coordinating body that should .be responsible for devising and following up on a strategy against corruption, along with a citizen’s oversight board; (b) the existence of a high powered independent prosecuting body to investigate and prosecute all such known cases of corruption; (c) and the setting up of special courts for trying such cases at a stretch so that the cases come to their legitimate conclusion without any delay; (d) thoroughly overhauling and reforming the system of electoral Jaws and economic regulations, minimizing the temptation to indulge in corruption practice; (e) enactment of an appropriate legislation to limit the number· of Ministries and Departments both at the Centre and the states so that the temptation of expanding ministries only for political gains could be minimized; and (f) by providing specialized technical assistance to anti-corruption agencies, by organizing high-level anti-corruption workshops or strategic consulting or hiring international investigations to track down ill-gotten deposits overseas.

Taxation Reforms

India has embarked on a new mission against unearthing black money, i.e. money evading taxes. It has recently produced a White Paper on Black Money, which has been introduced in the Parliament on 21 May 2012. The White Paper, along with an independent study to estimate the size of India’s black economy, makes a modest beginning. India’s policy makers are finally publicly introspecting on the shortages that create black markets in the first place, the regulatory mechanism that pushes resources underground and the lack of policing that allows the parallel economy’s unfettered growth. The White Paper has talked of enhancing accountability of auditors, protection to whistleblowers, strengthening social values, among other measures to deal with black money.

Curbing Inflation and High Prices

Perhaps, the greatest need of the hour is to curb the growing inflation’ resulting in a tremendous rise in the prices of all commodities and putting the people under financial pressure. A concerted policy rather than’ ad hoc measures are needed in this respect.

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