District has been the important unit of administration in India since historical times as it ensures decentralized, efficient and effective governance. Though the role of district administration has been evolving since its beginning, but three distinct changes resulting in recent times can be identified clearly. Independence of India brought development administration in focus, the establishment of Panchayti Raj institutions brought in the principle of subsidiarity, participation and accountability in focus and the third one the initiation of Liberlization, Privatization and Globalization (LPG) which demands citizen centric, transparent, accountable, equity oriented, efficient government focusing on faster, inclusive and sustainable growth.
The role of district administration in LPG era must be analyzed by keeping in mind what are the forces which derive LPG, what are their expectations, what impact they have on society, economy, environment etc.
LPG era is driven by market forces which work on the principle of competition and profits. For them ease of doing business, stable law and order situation, availability of labour force and markets are the main requirements. The process of globalization has turned world into a global villages, which is seen in distributed value chains spread across nations. The multinational companies compare the countries based on certain criteria while deciding on their investment decisions. Some of these criteria are like:
• Minimal role of government in delivery of goods and services;
• Stable, efficient, transparent and accountable regulatory functions from government.
• Quick decision making, availability of basic infrastructure.
Though laying out the policy guidelines, finalizing taxation, etc is the role union and state governments, but the implementation of these lies in the hands of district administration. The maintenance of law and order, revenue administration, land records maintenance, land acquisition process, conduction permits, electricity connection, implementing labour regulations, functioning of district courts are some of the regulatory functions which determine Ease of Doing Business and are in the hands of district administration.
The Digital India Mission, Smart Cities, Amrut Mission, etc which focus on all these aspects has to be implemented by district administration.
The law and order; judicial system is coming under severe stress because of LPG. The urban areas are becoming mini-country or mini world. People with different value sets come and live together. Social systems of problem solving are giving way to too much dependence on state. Latest use of technologies in crimes, extremely complicated legal tussles require specialized skills on the part of police system.
Along with the above mentioned regulatory functions the attractiveness of a location for investment depends upon many development aspects like:
• Availability of civic infrastructure like educational institutions, health facilities, sanitation system etc.
• Availability of skilled, semi skilled labour force which demands educational facilities.
• Market for the finished products of the industries which depends upon the economic development of the region.
All these facilities like health, education, sanitation falls within the domain of district administration. Along with this the economic development of a district depends upon the innovative and effective implementation of schemes like Skill India Mission, Ru-urban mission, National Health Mission, agriculture related schemes. All of which help in these are finally in the domain of district administration.
Effects of LPG
LPG have odds highly in favour of rich corporate, business houses, those who are skilled, have access to modern means of communication. An event like Gurugram rain can trend for 12 hours on Twitter, can become a national news, but no one knew about the electricity outage in nearby areas for 2 days.
• The poor and unskilled are left out of the development process.
• The MSMEs, cottage industries face the risk of drowning.
• The marginalized sections like SCs, STs does not have schemes of social justice in LPG sphere.
• The land acquisition creates livelihood problem for many, diverts agriculture land, forest
areas for industrial purpose, urbanization.
• The real estate sector, industrialists have least concerns for environment. The air pollution, pollution of rivers, occupation of wetlands etc all are examples of this.
It is the responsibility of district administration that the LPG does increase the chasm between the haves and have nots. It must ensure that the growth emanating from LPG is faster, inclusive and sustainable.
• Proper land use planning according to the potential of the land.
• Protection of ecological spaces, control of the polluters.
• Ensuring equity in economic development through support to MSMEs, SC, STs by access to financial services, technological services etc.
• Focusing on the rural-urban linkages.
All these are resulting into emergence of new challenge areas for district administration.
• All these functions have to be performed while keeping in mind the national policy and national development requirements, along with the obligations imposed by 73rd and 74th Amendment.
• The balancing task has become challenging. The Smart cities mission is a classic case of it. The SPV mandated to implement the SPV constitutes all stakeholders union, state, ULBs representative and a CEO. CEO and DM generally have executive powers. This creates a very complex set of decision making system.
• Along with this the presence of multitude of bodies creates regulatory jungle at the district level. This creates co-ordination problem.
Under the impact of liberalization, privatization and globalization, the hold of the governments on economies is slackening. The influence of international bodies, multinational corporations and external agencies is on the ascendance.
The developing countries invite and accept foreign funds to develop their infrastructure and thereby the control of local resources is taken over by multinational corporate houses that acquire uncontrolled access to local economic resources.
The ill-effects of globalization on economic systems and on domestic policies are evident. The policies of LPG curtail the state's welfare activities by reducing expenditure in populist spheres. This leads to inequality and. the poor and needy become more destitute. Existing life styles, values and systems of local people are transformed.
Hence the administration is required to be more cautious and vigilant.
The civil services guide the political executive, helping them in policy making by keeping in view the national interest and the welfare of the people. Such policies are framed which may lead to self-sufficiency, efficiency, and equitable use of natural resources.
The civil servants are expected to lead and have the responsibility to hold the scales even and do what is good for the common man. The civil servants are required to gear up the administration and create stability by keeping themselves politically neutral and dedicated to the cause of the people. They can display greater skill to serve the society and make the people more conscious of their rights. Therefore, to be successful in a globalised system of economics, civil servants have to strike a fine balance between participation and accountability; competition and conflict; user and citizens; public interests and market interests and old and new. Laws have to be enforced impartially and the weaker sections are to be protected by them as the operations of the Corporates may not take care of them.
The civil servants must promote efficiency not only in public services but also within government. In developing countries, governments are the main promoters of public welfare, and civil servants should work hard to achieve their stipulated targets. In a globalised economy, local entrepreneurs can ill afford to compete with giant foreign corporations, and this conduces to monopolistic exploitation of the locals. The profits are drained out and domestic industry and national interests suffer. Here the civil services can enforce the rules strictly and disallow the multinationals to take over domestic enterprises.
The civil services should work hard to create an environment in which rights of the citizens are protected, law and order is maintained, stability is provided and efficient financial and administrative infrastructures are put in place to tone up welfare services to the people.
The civil services should protect the people against the market forces and onslaught of multinationals. The people should be encouraged to manage their affairs through various forms of organizations like N.G.O.s, cooperatives, self-help groups and institutions working for the welfare of people. Participatory measures should be taken as an end as they help the people to enjoy their freedom. The civil services should assist the people to withstand the onslaughts of globalization.
All these require district administration to be innovative, citizen centric, growth centric and environment centric. It cannot confine itself to static rules and regulations and must evolve itself to suit the situation and at the same time remain credible.
The new regime of public service management calls for an advanced set of knowledge, skills and attitudes from civil servants. Holistic changes in the method of recruitment, training etc are needed.
Greater decentralization to make the governance at grassroot level more efficient and effective is also needed.
A balance between the administrative requirements and devolution to local self governments must be ensured. It is imperative that the devolution of decision making to local levels should face no impediments. It is equally imperative that the unique administrative experience, expertise and credibility of the office of the District Collector built up over a period of two hundred years is properly utilized.
There is a need to ensure greater synergy between all the three levels of governments and their linking pin – district administration. A new paradigm of governance with upward devolution of policy functions and downward devolution of implementation is needed to ensure maximum benefits of LPG.