(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA
Topic: Action Plan for an Effective and Responsive Government
The Government, both at the Centre and the State, share the
concern for ensuring responsive, accountable, transparent, decentralised and
people-friendly administration at all levels. There is, however, considerable
frustration and dissatisfaction amongst the people, especially the weaker
sections of society, about the apart irresponsiveness and lack of accountability
of public servants, even as expenditure, on staff continues to increase. There
is increasing anxiety about growing instances of corruption and criminalisation
in public life and administration. The people particularly the vulnerable,
groups, are also greatly concerned about the investigation of offences. Their
faith in the registration of offences, their timely investigation and the
delivery of prompt justice has been corded.
Time has come for a strong message to be conveyed that
administration is for the people and not for the public servants themselves.
There has to be a change of attitudes, and public servants should realise that
efficiency will be measures not in terms of what the services purport to offer,
but in terms of public satisfaction. Simultaneously, there has also to be a
cleansing of the services and codification of the ethics, value systems and the
interface with the politicians.
Necessary corrective steps must be taken to arrest the present drift in
Government and public services, and take urgent measures to restore the faith of
the people in the fairness an capacity of administration.
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With this objective, the Prime Minister had inaugurated a
Conference of Chief Secretaries in November, 1996 on ‘An Agenda for an Effective
and Responsive Administration’. In the Conference, a number of issues were
raised which emphasised the need for bringing about a transformation in the
public services to make them more efficient, clean, accountable and
Following the Conference, a national debate has been
generated throughout the country to elicit views from a side cross-section of
people. Responses have been received from retreats organised in Missouri and
Hyderabad, and a number of leading academic institutions in Delhi and other
Written communications have been received from officials,
experts, voluntary agencies, citizens groups, media etc. Follow up action has
been initiated on same of the priority areas to demonstrate the determination of
the Government of India for implementing these reforms and to provide models of
adoption by the state Governments.
The focus of these discussions has been to evolve a concrete
Action Plan, for gearing up the Government machinery to provide a responsive,
transparent and clean administration to the people and to address issues of
reform and morale in the civil services. The Action Plan proposed to be
discussed in the Conference includes initiatives the following areas:
1. Making administration accountable and citizen-friendly,
2. Ensuring transparency and the right to information, and
3. Taking measures to cleanse and motivate Civil Services.
The adoption and implementation of the proposed Action Plan
for an effective and responsive administration would require a strong political
will, and reiteration from both the Central and the State Governments of their
commitment to provide an accountable and responsive administration.
ACCOUNTABLE AND CITIZEN-FRIENDLY GOVERNMENT
The citizen’s perception of the State and its functionaries
is primarily based on its role as service provider, law enforcer and regulartor.
Improving the quality of administration and providing a responsive interface
between the citizen and the public services require initiatives in following
1. Citizen’s Charter
The State Governments and the Ministries/Departments at the
Centre are all involved in some manner or the other in providing public
services. Apart from an overall lack of transparency and accountability in the
System, most delivery systems suffer from ad hocism and delaly. It is therefore
important to identify and publicize the standards of services and time-limits
that the public can reasonably expect particularly in critical activities with a
public interface Government of India has directed Ministries/Department’s and
other agencies with public interface to formulate a Citizens’ Charter law down
time-limits and standards for services avenues of grievance redressed, and put
In place monitoring systems and independent scrutiny to ensure implementation of
the Charter. A number of Departments have already formulated such Charters.
Though the Charter is not proposed to be made justifiable, if would carry a
moral commitment of the Government and would provide a framework, under which
public services can be evaluated.
2. Redressal of Public Grievances
The poor record of most public agencies in the area of prompt
and effective Redressal of public grievances is a major cause of public
dissatisfaction and a subject of criticism by the representatives. Public
grievances primarily arise out of the inaccessibility of official’s failure to
even acknowledge applications non-enforcement of any kind of time-limits, and
unsympathetic attitude of officials of various levels.
3. Decentralisation and Devolution of Powers
Responsive Government would also require complete
decentralization of delivery of services trough fully empowered elected local
Government bodies, both in rural and urban areas, consistent with the spirit of
the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, The Central/State Government need
to take steps to strengthen the financial and administrative capacity of the
local bodies and vest them with adequate resource and powers.
4. Review of Laws, Regulations and Procedures
In the changing administrative scenario, particularly in the
context of economic liberalisation a number of existing laws and regulations
have lost their relevance. The laws and regulations militating against the
interest of the weaker section of the society and the poor are required to be
urgently amended. Similarly, existing procedures also need to be changed to make
the whole process of approvals, sanctions, are simpler and transparent.
Government of India has initiated a comprehensive exercise fur amending the
Civil procedure Code, Company law and a number of other laws, as well as to
reduce the time taken in disposal of cases in civil and criminal courts. It is
necessary the State Governments undertake similar exercises in this regard and
effect necessary changes in the laws and regulations.
It has been noticed that secrecy and lack of openness in
transaction in responsible for corruption in official dealings, apart from being
contrary to the spirit, of an accountable and democratic Government.
Consequently there is a demand for introducing greater transparency in the
functioning of Government, departments and public bodies.
There is, also a need to ensure to the peoples a easy access
to all intonation relating to Government operations and Government decisions as
well as that on the performance of the Government except to the extent
specifically excluded by law. It is increasingly realised that, more the effort
at secrecy, the greater the chances of abuse of authority by the public
functionaries. Therefore, the following two areas/issues need to be addressed in
1. Transparency in Government and Right to Information
There is a widespread consensus on the need to assure freedom
of information to the public and to amend such laws that stipulate unnecessary
restrictions on free access of the public to information. Government decision
need not be clouded in be secrecy, except in the interest of national security.
Based on the discussion of an Inter-Ministerial Working Group, a sistutory
scheme to ensure freedom of information subjects to certain safeguards, and to
amend a number of central legislations, has been undertake a similar legal
exercise, while endorsing the Central initiative, and ensure greater openness in
the working of the Government departments, public agencies and elected local
bodies, and provide information on procedures for various statutory approvals.
2. Access to Information
It is also important to improve the access of the public to, information from
public offices through streaming of internal procedure, computerization, and by
setting up public facilitation counters of offices.
It is proposed that all the offices under the Government of
India and the Public Sector undertakings will have computerized
facilitation/information counter so that information and assistance is available
to the public on various essential services and approvals. The State Governments
may consider setting up of similar facilitation countries.
The State Governments may consider setting up of similar facilitation
counters not only at the municipal and district levels, but also in the various
IMPROVING THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE
The civil services in India have played a significant, indeed
a critical role in maintaining the integrity of the country and in bringing
about major developments in post-independent India. However in recent times the
services have been facing a grave crisis of identity and role definition. People
now believe that public services are meant to benefit government servants and
politicians and net the public. The emphasis here is on all public’s services
which, subsume all technical, professional law enforcement and administrative
personnel. Though issues relating to efficiency and effectiveness of the
administrative machinery have been discussed from time to time the reforms
initialed have only dealt with mind procedural changes, without really
addressing the issue of improvement in the quality of services. The Government
had initiated an exercise to discuss the specific reforms that could be
undertaken improve the image of the services and enhance their effectiveness.
The following proposals had emerged in this regard:
1. Code of Ethics
Adoption of the Code of Ethics of public services based on
Constitutional principles and values, with appropriate amendments in the
existing codes of conduct. Such a code, not only seeks to regulate the role of
the civil servants, but also specifies the relationship between employees in
public services and politicians, so that the basic commitment of the civil
servants towards the welfare of the public and the principles enshrined in the
Constitution is reiterated.
2. Cleansing the Administration
Though the rationale for the civil service in promoting the
progress and integrity of the countr is as valid today as before, there is an
urgent need to tackle corruption and the increasing erosion of moral values in
These measures, once adopted, would need to be widely publicized to instill
public confidence, both in the probity of all political and administrative
functionaries, and in prosecution of the corrupt without exception.
3. Stability of Tenures and Constitution of Civil Services Board
Frequent and arbitrary transfers of public servants affect
the ability of the system to deliver services effectively to the people. It has
been seen that implementation of area development programmes and poverty
alleviation schemes suffer where the officials are shifted frequently. Since the
success of such schemes depends on having officials with sufficient local
knowledge and understanding to execute the schemes. Hence, it is felt that
arbitrary transfers really operate against the interest of the people. In this
context, the scheme for State Governments to constitute high-powered Civil
Services Boards to decide on transfer and positings of senior officials, on the
same lines as the one already followed by Civil Services Board at the Centre.