Public Service Reforms in India – History

1. The Collector, District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner has been heading the District Administration(DA) and revenue collection for two centuries.

2. The movement of Public Management in Anglo-Saxon World in 1980s lead to reforms in the public sector adding ‘citizen customer’ dimension till the recent e-governance

3. The new trends impacting administration are 73rd and 74th Constitutional (amendment) Acts, Privatization of public/supporting services, down-sizing or right-sizing of govt staff, Public Interest Litigation (PIL), Expansion of media, RTI, and rapid changes in field operations

a. Many new districts have been created based on research and mostly on political reasons
b. The relationship of the DO with Local Government Bodies (LGBs) is another crucial change in terms of increase of public participation through indirect representation of local body/government leaders
c. The scope of market forces to serve basic needs to the Rural/Urban weaker sections
d. Role of non-state actors to provide services
e. Redesigning administration machinery at the district level and down below
f. Re-engineering existing
g. Capacity Building

4. The four major process impacted the DA are Decentralization, Market Forces, Administrative Reforms, and new forces of accountability

5. The Social sector regulation and development, the System maintenance through regulation and the Development Promotion are newly added responsibilities.

6. The new role demanding knowledge Management, vision, strategic planning, design, team building, monitoring, coordination and facilitation


7. The machinery is elaborate and complex. The extent and architecture must be understood by the DA. For Federal Govt the district is the cutting-edge. It is a practical, sound and viable unit of administration that it has stood the test of the time.
8. The district is the unit of planning, implementation and evaluation for regulatory and development administration.
9. District Administration existed from Mauryan times through Mughals, East India to British government.
10. The size of district in India ranges from few Kms to 40 sq.mts with a population of 1,50,000 to 8 million and 10 dialects are spoken with half-a-dozen languages
11. As per 1971 Census there are 360 districts and by 2007 there exists 604 districts.
12. The State/Central governments vary between 25-35 and 5-10


13. The DCs are drawn from IAS as DM/DC were cadre posts
14. From the mid-1990s officers belonging to the SCS have also been posted as Dos in several States, starting from Orissa as the number of states increased from 13 to 30 at one go, due to the reduction in recruitment of IAS, poor cadre management and late promotions of SCS officers, due to growing strength of SCS associations and even parochialism combined with politicization.
15. Promotion to IAS is late in UP, Bihar, WB and both IAS and SCS officers posted as Dos are in middle or late 50s.
16. In Kerala, TN, AP, they are promoted after 8-12 years of service
17. The transformation of line departments into almost independent entities – ranging from the State HQ to the district and sub-district levels, the DA and administration in the district are no longer co-terminus, which destroyed the ‘Unity of Command’, working in isolation at cross purpose with each other.
18. Due to coalition partner or faction ridden parties are often more interested in carving out their separate empires rather than principles of administration or the implications of violating them.
19. Establishment of PRIs in 1960s and their constitutionalization by 73rd and 74th amendents in 1993-94, effectively lead to the restricting of the State.
20. Central, State, Local governments, IPOs like WHO, UNDP, UNICEF, and FGOs like DFID, GTZ and SIDA redefined the role


21. In terms of reach Revenue, Police, RD, Health departments grown vertically during post independence with direct public interface.
22. The PWD, Irrigation and Waterways emerged for infrastructure and irrigation
23. For most of the government programs the district is no longer the cutting-edge, but the block and village are.
24. The district grew for planning, supervision of implementation, conflict resolution, reporting and evaluation.
25. The Community Development Block (1952-53) with which the Panchayat Samithy is coterminous with thanas and GPs were later set up
26. The PS and the GP came into existence by introduction of PR in 1960s and mandatory establishment after 73rd Constitutional (amendment) Act in 1993.
27. Regulated Market Committees located in areas with surplus agriculture product are a case in point
28. Cooch Bihar has 12 blocks but 5 divisions because of historical reasons leading to the merger of princely state of Cooch Bihar.
29. From 1990s, new districts were created in states like Orissa, UP, Haryana, Bhiar and MP.
30. Administrative structure has been reshaped over the last 150 years, based on the nature of the state and its re-orientation towards its people. The State evolved from predatory rule to mercantile, imperial rent-seeking to aspiring welfare state to participatory self governance.
31. Like in Newzealand, UK, US and India major reforms not effected due to move to a marked based system
32. The trend of withdrawal of the State from certain services and encouragement to non-state actors to take over their delivery.
33. The population of village is 50 in North East with clusters of hamlets/tolas and 15,000-25,000 in Kerala
34. Until 1950s the administration has revenue collection, maintenance of law and order and Patwaris and Lekhapal in UP, Karanam in TN, Talati in Maharastra, Chowkidar in MP, Pune, Bihar, WB and Orissa, Goan burras in Arunchal Pradesh and Narkun in Meghalaya
35. A group of village are pargana/ fikra/ circle in UP, TN, Maharatra in revenue administration, headed by Kanuga in UP, RI in TN, AP and WB. A group of circles forms Tehsil (5-8 parganas / fikras) and Taluka or Mahal (TN).
36. Taluka is missing in WB, Orissa, Jharkhand and other North East States for land revenue and magisterial powers
37. In TN, AP, Karnataka, and Kerala the district is divided into Revenue Division, like sub-division of northern states, headed by IAS or SCS officers
38. The SDM heads in UP, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and SDOs in Bihar, Jharkhand and WB to implement revenue laws and Criminal Procedure Code.
39. The SDOs and ARTO are ‘mini collectors’ in Bihar, WB, and Orissa..
40. The CDP, NES started in 1952-53 are extended to the whole country within a decade for agriculture development
41. The CDP is a block with 15,000 to 20,000 population which is co-terminus with tehsils, taluks, and officials of line department work under BDO
42. The block is the unit of planning and rural development
43. The population of the block ranges from 15,000 in North East to 1,50,000 in UP, TN, Bihar and WB. The administrative machinery strengthened in most of the states
44. The BDO is also an Executive Magistrate and play the role of SDO.
45. During 1960s the block or intermediate Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat, Panchayat Samithi and Kshetra Panchayats are co-terminus.
46. After 73rd amendment the block infrastructure consolidated at the BDO who is the CEO of Block Panchayat

47. In 1952, the VLW or Village Level Worker or a multi-purpose worker was introduced, at the village level as lower most functioning of CDP in 1952, to advise on aspects of agriculture

48. The growth of PRIs and extension of police machinery led to the phasing our of village chowkidar in Bihar and WB.

49. The LGBs are 3rd level of governance having DP, BP and GP and are limited to rural areas.

50. The PRIs are the units of local self governance
a. Each village is a Panchayat in Bihar, UP, Haryana and Kerala
b. Group of villages are Panchayats in Orissa and WB which the sarpanch heads
c. UP has one permanent executive at Panchayat
d. In Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and WB, 5-8 personnel assist Pradhan
e. In WB, a junior engineer exists per each Panchayat

51. The Block has directly or indirectly elected President with professional / technical staff

52. The President of the DP is equal to the Minister of the State. In Maharastra, Karnataka and WB the DPs functions through standing committees on public works, land and forestry, BC welfare, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Women & Child Welfare, Education, Health and Finance. The DP heads by the executive secretary and deputy secretary.

53. The DPs are given through SFC an annual budget exceeding 1 billion larger than the budgets of many state deparments.

54. The DOs have supervisory and coordinating role in Maharastra and Karnataka. E.Os execute in WB, in other states the functions are conduct of elections and training to PRIs, Inspection of the Block / VPs, the audit of expenditures, recruitment of officials to different Panchayat offices and conduct of municipal elections / body formation and supervision.


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