Rule of Bureaucracy in the Indian Structure of Democracy ( Essay )

In a federal structure like India bureaucracy refers to the system that is run by an indirectly elected body of officials. It covers all the 2000 federal government agencies, divisions, departments & commissions. The three most tangible forms of bureaucracy include the social security administration, the internal revenue service & the veteran benefits organisation. It’s been a while, since the British have introduced the system of bureaucracy in India in 1919 & many features of the service have changed since that. But here is what stayed which I think stands as the backbone of Indian Governance & Administration: to serve the people of the nation by implementing the policies of the Legislature in the most unfiltered manner. Like every family Big or Small has its fair share of dysfunctionalism, so does bureaucracy in its own distinct way.

Role of Bureaucracy

But what is that that keeps the system together? It’s hard to answer. We are not the same yet we are eternally tied by that invisible string of coexistence, we love that and it continues unless we choose to break away, does not sever on its own even when we are a part of it. For most of us this is what being in a system means, constructively criticising one another yet accepting each other and this is what keeps us going.

Change of bureaucracy in the present context

Before independence, the Indian Civil Service consisted of a small Administrative aristocracy, generalists, nontechnical in character, highly educated individuals who were selected by a difficult competitive examination exceptionally devoted to duty as per the terms of the British Government than regional or provisional loyalties. Primarily devised for the maintenance of law & order, collection of revenues, the British Government was essentially a Government of Civil servants who were responsible to the people over whom they ruled. With little or no involvement in the development process, it was fundamentally non-action-oriented which means it was not accountable to the people at large. After independence the bureaucracy now functions under democratic political leadership and operates within the framework of responsible cabinets, questioning legislatures, ever-critical political parties, and highly demanding pressure groups. The present system of service allocation in India is divided into three categories: State services, Central services & All India services. There is a vertical & horizontal classification of administrative categories. The vertical classification includes –

  • The general administrative services namely the IAS and the state Civil services.
  • The functional services namely the Income Tax services, The Indian Audit & Account services.
  • The Specialised services namely the Central Health Cadre, Central Legal Cadre, The State Health Services, and The Engineering Services etc.

The Horizontal Classification of service is based on the degree of importance of work, nature & scale of responsibilities involves –

  • Class One includes Indian Revenue Service, Indian Postal service, Indian Audit & Account Service, Section Officers etc.
  • Class Two includes Assistant Superintendence (Gazetted & Non- Gazatted)
  • Class Three includes Upper Division Clerks, Lower Division Clerks etc.
  • Class Four includes Messenger or Peons, Sweeper, Watchman, Staff Car Drivers etc.

The constitution however specifies only two all India services – The IAS & the IPS.

Are Bureaucrats really Demi Gods?

When I first heard the word bureaucracy I was so impressed, in a way like Miller Tackled a Greek classic llied (in the book song of Achiles) and it made me think of bureaucracy as a beautiful retelling of India’s Administrative structure ever since the British rule. Bureaucracy is one such profession where the individual can possess no rest; it is a job of volcanic grief & rage bounded with affection and dedication towards the people of the land. Its intensity is shocking and also mysterious because we see so little of their methods of functioning. As I retrospect, there is something epic about bureaucrats who are considered to be the demi-gods and the greatest warriors of the systems.The functions of bureaucracy in India which works under a democratic parliamentary system are: It helps in the formulation of executive policies; it plays an important role in implementing the decisions of the Legislative & Executive authorities. Lastly what is a unique affair of the Indian Administration is that the bureaucracy helps in the formulation of Departmental Legislation. The bureaucratic fraternity ensures the continuity of Administration in India.

Aloofness from the people-

However, aloofness from ordinary people and indifference to their day-to-day problems characterize not only by the IAS officers but administrators generally. The bureaucrats have acquired the habit of treating elected politicians with outward respect. The politicians seem to have undivided interference in the work of the civil servants. The Bureaucrats mainly came from the upper of Upper-middle-class families. They are influenced by western education, experience, and the concept of development. This encourages their administrative visibility, and so our administrators have interpreted development and economic growth without caring for distributed justice. There are several reasons for the change of styles of Bureaucracy in the present context – The top administrators generally come from urban families who enjoy a western standard of living and have some elements of a western outlook. The need for proficiency in English makes the service underrepresented as it was in the British days. The separate services in different departments with their wide disparity n pay scales have become rigid and self-conscious. This has been stimulated by jealousy and resentment. The prevalence of formalism has served to stifle Bureaucratic initiative and imagination. Procedures involve the hierarchical movement of paper. Unwillingness to accept responsibility even for minor decisions.  Red tapism has become a way of self reservation and respect for traditional form is matched only by attachment to a strict routine and pre-occupation with questions of accountability.

Role of gender and caste in bureaucracy: the strategic difference

There is a continuous conflict between scientific thinking and worldview blurred by political correctness. There is the tendency of domination by the majority strata of the population in bureaucratic administration. There is a one-sided, oversimplified, and mainly dismissive account of the dynamics of religion, caste, and gender in the Bureaucratic scenario. Only 19.14%percentage of women are employed as the IAS, IPS, IRS, IFS of the country. The Indian society and the Bureaucratic structure has dealt with much systemic discrimination and cruelty which leaves the less privileged, Dalits, women, etc narrowed for life and throws open a number of questions that demand our governments and societies’ responses to the evils that persist within the service. As a writer, I understand that this is a form of human injustice that needs to be narrated. The discrimination catered against this subject is one of the most brutal modes of Hierarchical social organization that human society has ever known.

A more impoverished version of bureaucracy 

To compound the problem Bureaucracy should not be colour coated. The Civil service of today has to cultivate wider social awareness and responsiveness, apart from the traditional virtues of integrity functional efficiency, and zeal of Fairplay with impartiality. Its emphasis should be thoroughly shifted from maintenance of law & order to social welfare. The allotment process should be transparent in nature that inhabits the service with people from all sections of the society. The day Bureaucracy in India can adapt to these changes, I am pretty certain that the people of the country will be ready to co-exist. It is not a fairytale but it sure is a democracy where there is no difference between “U” & “I”.

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I am a student of Jadavpur University pursuing Bachelors in Political Science from the Department of International Relations. I am extremely passionate about women issues and rights , global health crisis, socio- political concerns and mental health issues. I try advocate them in every possible way, be it through speaking or writing.