District as a basic unit of field administration has been in existence through the ages. It is surprising to know that it has not changed substantially, since the times of Mauryan Era to Mughals to British era. Historically the district, in some form or the other has been the most important unit of administration in the Indian sub-continent.
The British Parliament was the first legislature with respect of India in modern times, they created enactments and gave substance to the district head of administration, known variously as the Collector (in respect of revenue administration), the District Magistrate (in respect of administration of criminal justice) or the Deputy Commissioner (in respect of General Administration and special functions / powers under local tenancy laws).
Hence this system continued and since independence, the District in India is acting as the cutting edge of administration. The District administration is headed by the District Collector/Deputy Commissioner, drawn from IAS and he is responsible among others for the general control and direction of the police.
Until the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution, the governance structure of India was two-tiered comprising the Union Government and the State Governments. At the district level, apart from discharging the responsibilities cast by specific enactments, the Collectors performed such administrative tasks as were assigned to them by the State governments. After independence, the single greatest accretion to the responsibilities of the district administrator came through expansion of rural development programmes. As the number of activities, institutions and departments involved in rural development increased, the coordinating and synthesizing role of the Collector in the development efforts of the government assumed greater importance.
Prevailing Administrative Structure
The overall administrative structure presently prevailing at the district and sub-district levels in the country consists of the following three components-
a) Administration of regulatory functions under the leadership of the Collector and District Magistrate, such as law and order, land revenue / reforms, excise, registration, treasury, civil supplies and social welfare.
b) District / Sub-district level offices of the line departments of the State Government and their agencies, such as PWD, irrigation, health, industries etc.
c) Local bodies (Panchayati Raj Institutions and Municipal bodies) which, after the 73rd and 74th amendment of the Constitution, have become the third tier of government.
With the constitutionally mandated establishment of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Municipal bodies, it has become necessary to re-examine and re-define the role of the district administration. 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 are properly utilized.
Role of the Collector in District Administration
The post of District Collector has been the most important feature of field administration in India for the last two hundred years. Before Independence, when the economy was primarily agrarian, the Collector as head of the land revenue, administration also enjoying wide powers under criminal laws. He was considered as the ultimate guardian figure - responsible for the well-being of residents in his jurisdiction - the representative of the British Empire, capable of doing anything and everything. In the post-Independence era, when the economy diversified, and the pace of industrialization and growth of tertiary activities picked up, other functionaries too gained in importance. But, even now, in most parts of the country, excepting metropolitan/mega cities, the Collector is the most recognized face of the administration; he is considered to be the principal representative of the government at the district level, who could be approached to solve virtually all problems ranging from land disputes, to scarcity of essential commodities, to inadequacy of relief in times of crisis, to community disputes and even to issues of family discords.
Functions of Collector
Main functions of the Collector include:
The DC has three major functions namely revenue, magisterial and developmental. Apart from these major functions, a large number of miscellaneous functions are also entrusted to him by State and Central governments like conduct of elections, dealing with calamities, supervising local government institutions, etc. Collector was mainly entrusted with revenue administration, however, since Independence with the considerable change in the nature of the state from police rule to development and welfare, his role have shown a shift in the direction of development as he implements all the development programmes. Since he is a Generalist, he coordinates the activities of overall departments under Specialists like Engineers, doctors, etc. by holding meetings among them at periodic intervals. He is also acting as the Friend, Philosopher and Guide of the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Need of Reforms in District Administration
As stated above, the widespread functions of the District Collector without well-defined roles result in lack of clarity and diffusion of the Collector’s responsibilities. Also, after the establishment of PRIs / ULBs as the third tier of government, the Administrative Reform Commission (ARC) is of the view that there is need to redefine the role and responsibilities of the Collector in a clear manner because the office of the collector and its widespread and vaguely defined functions are affecting the followings-
a) Union-State and Local relations: One must take note that the District Collector is a Union/Central officer and it has been systemized in such a manner so that the DC functions in a neutral and unbiased manner, without any fear, regarding his/her duties and responsibilities, and implementation of welfare/development activities of both the Centre and the state in the respective district he/she has been assigned to, but he has to eventually proceed from the states to the Centre in his career graph, he has to first prove his mettle at the state level, and at this level he works under the supervision of the state government and reports to them regarding discharge of his functions. Secondly, coordination between Centre-State is important for proper supervision of implementation of these schemes and programs to achieve the welfare policies. However, there are issues plaguing this system.
b) Imperatives of development management:The term development management is used in the sense of achievement and objectives with optimum use of limited resources in manpower, finance, material, time and also active contribution to the clarification and reformation of policies and objectives. India specifically needs to shift its focus from development administration to a more efficient development management perspective and practice in order to remain in the League of Nations competing for implementation of International development programs. For this many courses as well as programmes are being rolled out by the country's education system as well as sponsored by the international organizations. Also, there should be a lot more emphasis on re-training of administrators in service to develop these management skills and become more efficient to achieve these goals and objectives.
c) Law and order administration: Law and order (Judiciary, Police, etc.) administration is one of the most important function performed by the Government. In fact, the survival of administration depends upon maintenance of law and order in a country. Unfortunately, in view of the prevailing atmosphere of violence in the country, attention to law and order is called for, but the sad part is that this is being neglected in favour of development administration.
Therefore, it is imperative that law and order is given adequate attention and it is built up both on the infrastructural as well as intelligence and implementation level and its grievances and issues sorted out if we want a sound welfare state where development and law and order go hand in hand otherwise development will be stalled.
d) District administration and democratic decentralisation: Democratic decentralization here is used in reference to the 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts of 1992 that set up rural and urban local government bodies, viz. Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and Municipalities, respectively. The PRIs were set up to move decision making centers closer to the people by transferring the powers of decision making from higher authorities to them, all development schemes and its funds to be channelized through them, inculcating leadership qualities among the rural masses, encouraging people's participation in planning and policy making, etc. However the ground realities are:
i) Bureaucratic resistance to delegation of power to PRIs.
ii) Vested interests of higher officials and middlemen take over in between.
iii) Elitist behaviour and biasness among the bureaucrats and government officials.
iv) No incentive to the DC in development activities.
However, there has been constant debate as to whether the District Collector who represents the Centre and states be a part of this or he should simply supervise as the minds of the rural people are constantly suspicious towards them. This causes a lot of problems in effective administration and implementation of programmes. Another aspect to this debate is that with so much of responsibility, the DC will be distracted from his other major functions like law and order, etc.
i) Role of District Collector:
a) There is need to realign the functions of the Deputy Commissioners/ District Collector so that he concentrates on the core functions such as land and revenue Administration, maintenance of law and order, disaster management, public distribution and civil supplies, excise, elections, transport, census, protocol, general administration, treasury management and Coordination with various agencies/ departments.
b) A well-defined set of exclusive activities both statutory as well as non-statutory as a functionary of the State Government should be added in his job profile.
c) His job profile should also include the general work of coordination with various departments / agencies of the State and the Union Governments at the district level and
ii) Modernizing the Office of the District Collector:
a) Grievance & Public Feedback Cell-Grievance redressal of citizens and implementation of citizen charters should be an integral part of the Collector’s office.
b) Management Information Systems / IT tools /E-Governance for effective monitoring and evaluation of programme/projects which are directly under the charge of the Collector, there needs to be computerized/MIS attached to his office.
c) A Vigilance Cell should be there.
d) Tours Inspection Notes and Institutional Memory.
e) Civil Society & Media Cell should be there.
iii) Functional and Structural Reform:
a) Formation of Institutions of Local Governance at the District Level.
b) Each district should have a District Council comprising of representatives of both rural and urban bodies.
c) The District Collector should have a dual role in this government structure. He should work as the Chief Officer of the District Council and should be fully accountable to the District Council on all local matters.
d) The District Officer would also be fully accountable to the State Government on all regulatory/other matters not delegated to the District Government.
iv) Other Reforms:
a) There is need to strengthen the compliance machinery at the district level to enforce provisions of the RTI Act and to reduce the element of delay and subjectivity in the functioning of the lower level formations of the government. This should be done by creating a special RTI Cell in the office of the Collector.
b) Officers may be posted as District Magistrates early in their career, but in complex and problem-prone districts an IAS officer should be posted as DM only on completion of 10-12 years of service.
c) Steps should be taken to ensure that the Collector plays an effective coordination role in activities and programmes of other departments at the district level.
Although there is a debate going on that whether we need office of district collector or not, it plays a vital role in the district administration as the bridge between union-state and local government. Therefore there is no question of removing the post of district collector. There are some flaws in the district administration system but reiterating the recommendations on the issues of personnel management, performance and outcome evaluation, effective citizen centric administration, use of information technology, process re-engineering etc. made above, it is believed that if these recommendations are expeditiously implemented where applicable to the district administration would make India developed with bottom up approach and better outcome.
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.
The structure of administration developed during the past century was based upon the district as the principal unit with the district officer (or the DM) as the government's principal representative in touch with the people. Besides being in control of the administration of law and order and revenue in the district, the district officer held a coordinating responsibility for the activities of all departmental agencies within the district. In the hierarchy of administration, he enjoyed status and powers which gave him considerable influence over the local population.
The democratic decentralization through 73rd and 74th CAA, has entrusted the Local self government with the main task of local governance, while the district administration playing an enabling and coordinating role. However, in several cases bureaucratic inertia and lack of empowerment of LSG (local self government) has hindered the objective of decentralized local governance (enshrined in Art 40 of the DPSP), needing immediate reform in this regard.
a) Friction between DM and Zilla parishad:
While Zilla parishad, being the elected representative is entrusted with the responsibility of district governance, the presence of DM and ZP CEO (both from elite IAS), creates an alternative power centre causing friction, ultimately halting developmental programmes.
Solution: Apart from inclusion of this issue in the training modules of these administrative services, clarification of role and greater citizen participation in local governance can lead to empowerment of LSG and better coordination between district administration and LSG. For instance under new land acquisition act, the DM can take active help of LSG to spread awareness and garner consensus.
b) Lack of financial autonomy of municipalities:
Municipality and other LSG, are still cripplingly dependent on fund transfer from state, which not only is inadequate (ARC 2 report) but also is routed through different developmental schemes (the authority of which lies with District administration), making the LSG perpetually dependent on District administration.
This is against the principle of “Subsidiarity”.
Solution: The Economic survey 2016 emphasizes on making property tax buoyant and making use of immovable property under municipality to mobilize resources. Apart from devolving finances regularly by the state, the state can encourage and support in prudent fiscal administration at local level (e.g helping in disbursing municipal bond.)
c) Political rivalry with state Government:
Many a times where the LSG leadership is from opposition party (as in state ruling party), the district administration (under the administrative control of state) is used against the LSG to gain political mileage, which is against constitutional ethos.
Solution: MLAs and MPs must directly take part in local governance in garnering consensus and mobilizing people’s support. The involvement of national level and state level leaders will not only bring broader perspective but also will make District administration more responsive towards demands of LSG.
d) Public service delivery & Lack of capacity:
Rapid urbanization, growing aspiration of people had put immense pressure on LSG (municipality in particular) to deliver services efficiently, effectively in timely manner. However lack of infrastructure and trained staff has led to poor service delivery.
Solution: In this context the ARC 2 recommends greater use of ICT for faster delivery of services in a transparent manner. (example: disbursement of birth and death certificate)
e) Position of Parastatals:
Parastatals are institutions/organizations which are wholly or partially owned and managed by government (e.g. DRDA) have come directly in conflict with district panchayats as an alternative centre of decision making.
• Some States like Kerala, Karnataka and West Bengal, the DRDAs have already been merged with the District Panchayats.
• Parastatals should not be allowed to undermine the authority of the PRIs
• The Union and State Governments should normally not setup special committees outside the PRIs. If set up, they should work under the overall guidance of PRI.
The democratic polity of India mandates the relationship between the District administration and popularly elected local government to be that of political executive and it is implementing arm. The district administration must cooperate and coordinate with the LSG in ensuring Good Governance and efficient public service delivery. While the government at state and Centre must devise ways to empower and build capacity (skills, infrastructure and financial autonomy) to enable these institutions to act as units of self government as envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi.
The District is the Principal Administrative unit below the state level responsible for implementation of almost all the centre and state level schemes. It is a unit of administration covering most of the departments of Government.
In the words of the study team on district administration constituted by the Administrative
“The district is the most convenient geographical unit where the total apparatus of public administration can be concentrated, and where it comes into direct contact with the people. Most departments of the state Government out-side the secretariat, have external services which are located in the district. The sum totals of the activities of these departments and some others, which may also be connected with the affairs of the Central Government, together constitute the administrative machinery in the district.”
The Municipalities, Nagar Nigam, block and village level bodies are generally executive in nature, while the district level body mostly has a co-ordinating and supervisory role.
As both centre and state governments are running various welfare schemes, these schemes are facing various challenges in implementation at district level. Some are discussed as follows:
• Financial Resources:
In most of the central schemes funds are devolve to district through corresponding states, Many a time funds stuck at state level due to various political and administrative reasons and district administration feel crunch of funds. Even in schemes in which funds are directly transferred to district administration from centre gets delayed and scheme lost its significance and developmental work get halted or delayed. Example in MNREGA delay of payment has reduced the demand for work significantly and no. Of man days are reducing. More than 10,000 crore payments are pending. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have highlighted the lack of administrative capacity of the village panchayat members to run MNREGA scheme in a designed and decentralised manner.
• Planning and Coordination:
Though schemes provides broader guidelines, yet at district level planning is required for implementing of scheme taking various parameters of development into account. Many a time backward areas including certain blocks and villages of district get ignored during the process. Thus planning is not inclusive and benefits of the scheme do not reach in the required area. After planning coordination within the district in various departments pose a challenge. Unclear and overlapping role create confusion and accountability cannot be fixed. Overlapping objectives of many schemes especially in health services, lead to poor implementation of one or the other scheme.
Non availability of adequate infrastructure is also a big challenge in implementation. This includes infrastructure ranging from roads, electricity, drinking water supply, IT infrastructure, primary health care infrastructure. Non connectivity of distant village from district excludes them from getting benefited from many schemes. Health sector schemes like National Rural Health Mission are not able to improve health parameters because primary health care and community health centers are in dilapidated condition.
Mid day meal case study: The biggest problem of Mid Day Meal that facilities for cooking food, storage of food items and their serving have not been put into place. Ideal is the situation that the meals should be prepared in the schools itself so that the children eat hot, healthy and fresh food. For this, kitchens in schools itself is essential. Unfortunately, in the country of 6,00,000 villages, where children are still compelled to study below trees, in majority of schools, there are arrangements not made for toilet and drinking water for children attending classes. Under such a scenario, kitchen and stores seems luxuriant.
Food grains rot not merely in the warehouses of Food Corporation of India. It transpires from the audit report of 2008 that in schools of Bihar nearly more than 547 tonnages of food grains became during the period of 3 years. According to one report of Human Resource Development Ministry, the food items, instead of being stored in school kitchen stores are kept in the houses of head masters of schools, which is against rules. In the absence of adequate structural facilities, this is not surprising that the standard of foodstuffs is extremely appalling. We have not yet learnt lessons from so many incidents of meals of death Oftentimes, reports pour in of being found lizards, frogs, bugs and insects of various species. Cooks do not maintain cleanliness in preparing meals for children. Worse, the persons keeping watch on them are also not trained.
• Human Resource and Skills:
Though most of the government run scheme faces the challenge of both number and quality man power while implementing, this is most visible in Sarv Shikhya Abhiyan which was started to ensure Right to Education Policy for children however reports shows the poor pupil to teacher ratio and quality of education is such that student of class VII are not able to read the textbook of class III and do basic arithmetic.
In implementation of MNREGA, there is the deficiency of adequate administrative and technical manpower at the Block and Grama Panchayat (GP) Levels, especially at the level of programme officer, technical assistants, and Employment Guarantee Assistant Level etc. The lack of manpower has adversely affected the preparation of plans, scrutiny, approval, monitoring and measurement of works, and maintenance of the stipulated records at the block and GP level. The CAG report points out that besides affecting the implementation of the scheme and the provision of employment, this also impacted adversely on transparency.
Though Government is trying to convert India into a knowledge and digital society.
unavailability of trained manpower and lack of required skills pose a challenge to achieve this objective specially in small districts.
• Political Intervention and Corruption:
Statistics clearly indicate that the poverty alleviation programmes have had a minimal effect on poverty levels in India due to corruption. The actual funds that reach the beneficiaries are very little compared to the funds allocated for welfare schemes. Corruption of the local governments leads to the exclusion of specific sections of the society.
Mid Day meal and PDS distribution system are bright example of corrupted supply and manipulation of the sanctioned food grains and cereals. Private companies and Contractors collude with local administration and politicians to get mid day meal contract because large money is involved in scheme. Genuine NGOs, SHGs and women help groups are excluded.
Same is the case in getting license of PDS distribution.
In MNREGA, Local governments have also been found to claim that more people have received job cards than people who actually work in order to generate more fund than needed, to be then embezzled by local officials. Bribes as high Rs. 50 are paid in order to receive the job card.
A multi-crore fraud has also been suspected where people have been issued under the MGNREGS card who is either employed with another Government job and who are not even aware that they have a job card. There are several cases of fake muster roll entries, over writing, false names and irregularities in job cards. Even the names of dead people who have not registered often feature in the muster rolls.
• Field Level Monitoring and Beneficiary verification:
Insufficient monitoring by the central government, misalignment of incentives which encourage rent seeking activities and finally, a lack of accountability which distorts the management of funds. These are some of the common trends witnessed in the poor implementation of many schemes such as ICDS in Bihar, NREGA in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, Mid day Meal in Madhya Pradesh, Health Insurance Scheme in Maharashtra, Old Age Pension scheme in Chhattisgarh and Bihar and the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Program in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh among others.
In 2013, in the Mid-day Meal tragedy in Bihar, 23 children were killed after eating contaminated cooked food, the flagship government scheme which provides lunch to nearly 120 million children in India every day facing lack of monitoring and hygiene, and also huge
The public distribution system has suffered because of lack of identification and verification of the specified people. Today, if we analyze we will find the entire nation has only 35% of cards distributed among the BPL families under BPL card scheme. But the quota is coming in full to all the covered states. Where the rest 65% of supply does go? Is the district
administration not responsible for it?
• Caste and gender discrimination and Power Structure:
In India social structure of caste and patriarchy many a time hamper the implantation of schemes and desired results from them. Dominating caste group along with collusion in district administration and political system usurp the benefits of welfare schemes and vulnerable group are excluded.
Women are sometimes told that manual labour under the MGNREGS is not meant for women and they could not participate in ongoing works as it entailed digging and removing soil. In some states, the powerful groups among the work force get large number of job cards.
• Effectiveness Evaluation and feedback Mechanism:
District administration most of the time is process oriented rather than focusing on effectiveness of the scheme. These make the whole process complex and cumbersome while implementing. Even Most of the schemes don’t have any effective evaluation mechanism or feedback mechanism from the target group so scope of improvements gets closed. Schemes become supply rather than demand driven thus do not satisfy aspirations of target group.
• Grievance redressal mechanism:
No administration can claim to be accountable, responsive and user-friendly unless it has established an efficient and effective grievance redress mechanism. In fact, the grievance redress mechanism of an organization is the gauge to measure its efficiency and effectiveness as it provides important feedback on the working of the administration.
There are rules, regulations, instructions which are archaic and aimed at shifting the work towards citizens. Slackness in administration, low morale of the services, inherent inertia, absence of incentives, lack of proper authority and accountability are the delay-breeders and the delay is the major factor that generates the grievances. In many cases Departments/Organisations justify the delay and continue with their inability to take decisions by putting the onus on another agency or on the petitioner. Many a times, the actual cause of grievance lay in internal inefficiency of the system and failure to identify simple systemic solutions. It is also observed that the time norms set by Departments for providing services were not being adhered to in many cases. These factors need to be tackled properly through systematic changes.
Models Proposed for Reforming Governance
• Reinventing Government Model
Reinventing Government concept was introduced by Osborne and Gaebler. It applies the business customer service model to government. Citizens are seen as customers and the administrative role is streamlined by converting policy alternatives into market choices. Most entrepreneurial governments promote competition between service providers. They empower citizens by pushing control out of the bureaucracy, into the community.They measure the performance of their agencies, focusing not on inputs but on outcomes. They are driven by their goals-their missions-not by their rules and regulations. They put their energies into earning money, not simply spending it. They decentralize authority, embracing participatory management. They prefer market mechanisms to bureaucratic mechanisms. And they focus not simply on providing public services, but on catalyzing all sectors-public, private, and voluntary-into action to solve their community problems.
• Re-engineering government Model
Re-engineering or Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) is the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service, and speed. It represents an effort to turn back the Industrial Revolution and reassemble the tasks and functions taken apart by the 19th century principles of the division of labor.
According to Fowler, its many features include the following results of the desired changes:
a) Separate, simple tasks are combined into skilled, multi-functional jobs.
b) The stages in a process are performed in their natural order.
c) Work is performed where it is best done-some parts of the process may thus be outsourced.
d) The volume of checking and control of separate tasks is reduced.
e) There is total compatibility between processes, the nature of jobs and structure, management methods, and the organization’s values and beliefs.
f) IT is recognized and exploited as offering many opportunities for the redesign of the work systems and the provision of information to enhance devolved decision-making.
g) Processes may have multiple versions to cope with varying circumstances.
Re-engineering is thus more inward-looking and gives greater attention to the role of information technology (IT). BPR has been extensively applied in private business, but only to a limited extent in the public sector.
• Good Governance Model
Good governance helps create an environment in which sustained economic growth becomes achievable. Conditions of good governance allow citizens to maximize their returns on
Good governance does not occur by chance. It must be demanded by citizens and nourished explicitly and consciously by the nation state. It is, therefore, necessary that the citizens are allowed to participate freely, openly and fully in the political process. The citizens must have the right to compete for office, form political party and enjoy fundamental rights and civil liberty. Good governance is accordingly associated with accountable political leadership, enlightened policy-making and a civil service imbued with a professional ethos. The presence of a strong civil society including a free press and independent judiciary are pre-conditions for good governance.
E-Governance is in essence, the application of Information and Communications Technology to government functioning in order to create ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent’ (SMART) governance.
E-Governance refers to the use by government agencies of Information Technologies (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and various arms of government resulting in better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management.
E-Governance comprises decisional processes and the use of ICT for wider participation of citizens in public affairs. Citizens are participants in e-Governance. The purpose of implementing e-Governance is to improve governance processes and outcomes with a view to improving the delivery of public services to citizens.
The resultant benefits are less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and cost reductions.
Analogous to e-commerce, which allows business to transact with each other more efficiently (B2B) and brings customers closer to businesses (B2C), e-government aims to make the interaction between government and citizens (G2C), government and business enterprises (G2B), and inter-agency relationships (G2G) more friendly, convenient, transparent, and inexpensive.
The revolution in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has brought a whole new agenda for governance into the realm of possibility.
The resulting impacts are reduced costs, lesser corruption, increased transparency, revenue growth and convenience for the citizenry.
Process Re-Engineering and Use of Information Technology
The provision of service delivery at the district and sub-district level provides a fertile ground for innovative use of information technology. There have been a number of experiments in different sectoral areas in this regard such as Jan Seva Kedras in Ahmedabad, e-district model of Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu, Mahiti Shakti Kendras in Panchmahal, Gujarat, Saukaryam in Vishakapatnam, Lok Mitra in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh etc.
By and large, e-Governance initiatives at the district and sub-district levels have been individual driven, particularly by the concerned Collector. The scale and quality of replication of successful initiatives has been weak. To create the necessary impetus and enable uniformity/standardization, the role of the STATE assumes critical importance.
The state must provide a holistic approach and broad framework for enabling e-governance at the district level. The recent effort of the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances to evolve an e-District framework is a step in the right direction. States must use this forum to prepare an e-District Plan for their State. At the same time, a thorough review of current processes involved in different services delivered must be undertaken to streamline the delivery system and reduce the human interface.
The following steps are important in this context:
a) Development of an e-District framework applicable to all districts based on which ICT initiatives may be undertaken by respective districts.
b) Comprehensive classification of rules, guidelines and procedures is necessary for efficient service delivery and better understanding among both the officers and the general public.
c) Delegation of adequate powers and responsibilities needs to be done so that unnecessary file movements and resultant delays may be avoided.
d) Standardization of application forms and categorization of nature of applications and petitions based on priority and frequency.
e) Codification and classification of common grievances with processing time mentioned and separate records may be maintained department-wise for tracking them.
f) Introducing a IT based mechanism for feedback and grievance redressal wherein public grievances are attended to within specified timelines in a transparent manner.
Every functionary must be made accountable for the effective and timely redressal of public grievances through a systematic monitoring process.
g) Developing a reliable central district database through which data collection from the grassroot level with the help of local revenue administration machinery can be done. The database must contain block and circle-wise information on population, PHCs, PDS outlets, Police stations, schemes implemented, fund sanctioned, beneficiaries under the scheme etc.
h) Undertaking computerisation of land records for provision of information and services pertaining to land related matters such as computerized copy of mutations, ROR etc.
i) Providing e-governance services through the front-end service delivery nodes for rendering important services such as:
• Payments of user charges (telephone, electricity, water supply and other bills), fees, taxes etc.
• Online submission and tracking of applications (alongwith the name of officer with whom pending).
• Online invitation of tenders and transparency in the process of selection of suppliers and contractors.
• Complaints and grievances sent online to concerned departments, which after a fixed date gets automatically reported to the next higher authority
• Scheme related information like list of beneficiaries, criteria of selection, entitlements under schemes etc.
j) Making the National Identity Cards a tool for service delivery and issue of certificates.
k) Networking all branches in the District Collector’s office with district and sub-district offices would help ensure information sharing and facilitate convergence of services and delivery mechanism.
Challenges in Implementation
As government organizations function at varying degrees of IT-preparedness, there is first of all a need for building an environment within government organizations at various levels which is conducive to e-Governance. This would require computerization of the lowest possible unit, as well as building capacity at the individual level which recognizes the need for reforms in processes using modern technology.
The basic challenges in implementation are:
i) The will to change: Decades of following a particular mode of governance procedure tends to develop inertia and resistance to change. Further, old skills and habits will require to be replaced with new skills and new processes if e-Governance is to sustain. There has to be a strong will from within the government itself to crossover from the present system to e-Governance.
ii) Political support at the highest level: The vast scope of e-Governance combined with the enormous task of process re-engineering which will be necessary at various levels and the infrastructural and financial requirement necessarily call for commitment to the vision of e-Governance at the highest political level. A bottom-up approach will not suffice.
iii) Incentives: Weaning government entities from the mechanical application of technology to adoption of e-Governance tools will require incentivising e-Governance among different entities and individuals. These incentives need to be reflected in the budgetary allocations.
iv) Awareness: Apart from building capabilities within the government, there is need for generating widespread awareness among the public at large. The success of e-Governance lies in increasing the number of electronic interactions between citizens and the government and not merely in building the infrastructure of e-Governance. In addition to governmental measures, a proactive approach from civil society groups would also generate greater demand and acceptance for e-Governance initiatives. Further, this would also require the adoption of ‘quality’ as a mission of governance, as was done in Japan.
v) Overcoming resistance to change: e-Governance has to be a collective effort. However, in every organization, there are people who would not be convinced about its benefits or who would perceive it as a challenge to certain entrenched interests. Such resistance would need to be overcome by demonstrating the potential benefits of e-Governance; how it strengthens the organization internally, creates goodwill externally and above all, enhances citizens’ satisfaction.
vi) Training and capacity building: Training would have to be imparted to government officials starting right from the cutting edge level so that any apprehensions of intrusive technology is removed and e-Governance is accepted as an achievable and desirable target.
Second ARC Recommendations for Successful Implementation of Projects"
A) Building a Congenial Environment
Building a congenial environment is a sine qua non for successful implementation of e-Governance initiatives.
This should be achieved by:
• Creating and displaying a will to change within the government
• Providing political support at the highest level
• Incentivizing e-Governance and overcoming the resistance to change within government
• Creating awareness in the public with a view to generating a demand for change.
B) Identification of e-Governance Projects and Prioritisation
Within the overall framework of governance reform, e-Governance initiatives are undertaken to serve some basic needs:
• To provide information and services to the citizen which are qualitatively superior to those currently available and are provided in a less cumbersome manner.
• To re-engineer governmental processes to achieve the above and also to make the system more efficient, transparent, accountable and cost-effective.
• To strengthen the decision-making process through connectivity and transmission and analysis of large amounts of data.
Measures to be taken:
• Government organizations/departments at Union and State Government levels need to identify e-Governance initiatives which could be undertaken within their functional domain, keeping the needs of the citizens in mind. Such initiatives may be categorized as follows:
i) Initiatives which would provide timely and useful information to the citizens.
ii) Initiatives which would not require the creation of a database for providing useful services to the citizens. This may include initiatives where database may be created prospectively without waiting for the updation of historical data.
iii) Initiatives which allow for making elementary online transactions including payment for services.
iv) Initiatives which require verification of information/data submitted online.
v) Initiatives which require creation and integration of complex databases.
• Instead of implementing all such initiatives at one go, these should be implemented after prioritizing them on the basis of ease of implementation, which would generally follow the categories mentioned above in that order. However, suitable modifications in their prioritization may be made by organizations/departments on the basis of the needs of and likely impact on citizens.
• Respective Departments of Information Technology at the Union and State Government levels should coordinate between organizations and provide technical support if needed, in the task of identification and prioritisation.
C) Business Process Re-engineering (BPR)
Measures to be taken
• For every function a government organisation performs and every service or information it is required to provide, there should be a step-by-step analysis of each process to ensure its rationality and simplicity.
• Such analysis should incorporate the viewpoints of all stakeholders, while maintaining the citizen-centricity of the exercise.
• After identifying steps which are redundant or which require simplification, and which are adaptable to e-Governance, the provisions of the law, rules, regulations, instructions, codes, manuals, etc. which form their basis should also be identified.
• Following this exercise, governmental forms, processes and structures should be re-designed to make them adaptable to e-Governance, backed by procedural, institutional and legal changes.
D) Capacity Building and Creating Awareness
• Capacity building efforts must attend to both the organizational capacity building as also the professional and skills upgradation of individuals associated with the implementation of e-Governance projects.
• Each government organization must conduct a capacity assessment which should form the basis for training their personnel. Such capacity assessment may be carried out by the State Department of Information Technology in case of State Governments, and the Union Department of Information Technology in the Centre. Organisations should prepare a roadmap for enhancing the capabilities of both their employees and the organization.
• A network of training institutions needs to be created in the States with the Administrative Training Institutes at the apex. The Administrative Training Institutes in various States should take up capacity building programmes in e-Governance, by establishing strong e-Governance wings. ATIs need to be strengthened under the NeGP.
• State Governments should operationalise the Capacity Building Roadmap (CBRMs), under the overall guidance and support of the DIT, Government of India.
• Lessons learnt from previous successful e-Governance initiatives should be incorporated in training programmes.
Recent Award Winning Initiatives in e-governance at District Level
1. E-DISTRICT SERVICES THROUGH E-SEVAI CENTRES, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT, GOVT OF TAMIL NADU.
E-Sevai Center acts as a front-end delivery point for Government, Private and Social sector services to rural citizens.
• Provision of Citizen Centric Services
• NeGP Mission mode projects and other services
• Access to Internet- Commom access e-Learning
• e-Sevai Center acts as a front-end delivery point for Government, Private and Social sector services to rural citizens. The objective of the e-Sevai centres are:
• To develop a platform that can enable various organizations to integrate their social and commercial goals for the benefit of rural population.
• To deliver services in 'Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and transparent'(SMART) and most cost effective manner.
2. E-DISTRICT SERVICES IN KERALA BY STATE GOVERNMENT
Kerala E-District project intend to provide Government services to citizens through Common Service Centers(CSC) which are easily accessible. Services from different departments are brought under one umbrella at any CSC.
Some of the services are also made available through online portal. It utilizes backend computerization to e-enable the delivery of services and ensures transparency and uniform application of rules. The project involves integrated and seamless delivery of services to public by automation, integration and incorporating Business Process Re-Engineering (BPR) where ever required.
In a nutshell E-district is a tailor made program for minimizing effort and time to provide prompt and effective services to the public. A total of 47 services pertaining to various departments are covered under e-District project.
3. LOKMITRA KENDRA - (CSC) SCHEME IN HIMACHAL PRADESH
The Common Service Centre (CSC) scheme popularly known as Lokmitra Kendra project in Himachal Pradesh aims to establish 3366 e-Governance centres at Panchayat level in the state. The scheme, as approved by the Government of India, envisions CSCs as the front-end delivery points for Government, private and social sector services to rural citizens of India, in an integrated manner.
The centres are being established under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode thus leveraging the support of various stakeholders such as State Governments, local bodies, opinion makers and agencies/ institutions involved or having interest, commercial or otherwise, in rural areas/ markets.
National E-Governance Award winners (2016-17)
• Excellence in Government Process Re-engineering Category: Loan Charge Creation Module of Andhra Pradesh
• Outstanding performance in citizen centric service delivery category: Aadhaar enabled Public Distribution System of Andhra Pradesh
• Innovative use of technology in e-Governance category: State Pension Portal Online Social Security Schemes Management system of Madhya Pradesh
• Incremental Innovations in existing projects category: NREGASoft of GOI
• Best District level initiative in citizen-centric service delivery through ICT category: SUGAM COLLECTORAT E of Gujarat
• Innovative use of GIS Technology in e-Governance category: G Triangulation of Haryana
• Innovative use of Mobile Technology in e-Governance category: Hawk Eye Mobile App Hyderabad City Police of Telangana
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