Democracy is the rule of people and in most of the democratic countries , the government is headed by the representatives elected by the people. These representatives act in the best interests of the people they are representing. In order to achieve that they keep the bureaucracy and the executive branches of the government in check, in balance and directed towards the stated objectives and ideals of democracy. Anything that goes against the interests of the people is not allowed to be implemented and whatever is implemented has to pass the test of the peoples’ interest”
Where people and peoples’ representatives are unable to play a part in the administration, or where it is not possible to elect the peoples’ representatives, this form of government is unable to fulfill the criteria of a democratic government. And, if such a situation arises in a democracy, by whatever reasons, immediate measures are initiated to install a democratically elected government. Anyway, there arise extraordinary, and unforeseen, circumstances in a democracy when running the government by the representatives of the people is not possible. Under such circumstances , the priority of the administrative and constitutional authorities is to reinstall the democratic government as early as possible.
Hence, President’s rule or Governor’s – where the president or the governor is not democratically elected – rule is not liked in a democracy; these rules are only compulsions and not a choices or preferences. Utmost attempts are made to avoid these rules in a democratically run state. These rules are avoided for the simple reason that the peoples’ interests are thrown to the back seat, these interests do not get the first preference as in case of the representative democracy.
The bureaucracy, which gains and attains all the authority, to run the state and the affairs of the state, usually become callous and procrastinate much in absence of any pressure and pressing of the peoples’ representatives. There is limited degree of accountability and transparency. The administration and administrative machinery remains content by the mere running of the government. Often, efficiency is not sought for and peoples’ grievances fail to get redressed because the people have no available channels to bring their grievances to the notice of the concerned administrative authorities or otherwise.
In sum, president’s rule or governor’s rule is not a substitute to a duly elected government in a democratic set up. The performance of the administration under such conditions remains below the government run by the representatives of the people. But, there are exceptions to this rule. The performance of many democratically governments has degraded to such an extent that in many cases the president’s rule or the governor’s rule turns out to be better than the government by the elected representatives of the people.
The Jammu and Kashmir state has come under governor’s rule once again. It is for the fourth time that the incumbent Governor will be holding the reins of the government and administration. It can be safely stated that the performance of the administration under his able leadership has been satisfactory. Though Governor’s rule under him cannot be as substitute for a democratically elected government but the performance of the administration under him has been rated by many people as efficient. Indeed in many areas of administration his performance has not fallen below a democratically elected government, it surely has surpassed in few areas.
Now, Governor’s rule is fully installed in the state and in all probability the rule is there for a long haul. There are many disappointments, disappointed people about the installation of this rule in the state and some enthusiasts about this rule who have high expectations. The expectations are that the rule will run the administration of the state smoothly and efficiently as has been the case under the Governor in his previous stints as the sole head of the state. Towards this end many preparations are already under way. It is expected that many ills, chronic and acute, can get corrected during this rule and if the government succeeds achieving that it could surely raise the standards of the administration and governance in the state for all times to come.
The first thing that can be improved is decision making. In the current scheme of things, even a lower rung employees can hold a file back for days, weeks and even months to prevent a decision from materializing. There is no urgency if the official shows no urgency. This practice has given rise to many corrupt practices. It would be better if the chain of people involved in decision making is shortened. There are many decisions that the administrative heads can make at the very first instance when an issue is brought to their notice. Instead of making the decision to wait the laborious and long route of reaching to the decision, the administrative heads and other authorities could make the decision without wasting any time so that administration serves the people in a better way.
In the area of policy making, it is observed that most of the policy decisions are made at the highest level without taking the people at the lower level of administration into consideration. The people at the lower levels are aware about the situation at the ground and it is these people who can suggest appropriate policy decisions and remedial measures and interventions. These people, at the lower level, should be involved in all the policy decisions and at all the stages of decision making. Once the decisions are made and implemented, the same people could provide the much needed feedback. The decisions made at the highest level without considering the ground situation prove ineffective and futile in many cases.
Efficient administration comes with a satisfied work force. If the people involved in the administration are not satisfied with the way they are treated, the objectives of administration are hard to be realized. There are many loopholes in this regard. As an example, an employee who is appointed in the line departments hardly gets the adequate opportunities of growth while as those appointed in the Administrative Departments and the General Administration Department can reach to the level of administrative secretary. No matter if the employees of the line departments are more qualified and more capable than those in the General Administration Department and the administrative departments. The prospects of growth for the employees of the line departments are by no way comparable to their counterparts at the secretarial level.
This state of affairs creates inferiority complexes in many employees and make others haughty; both are injurious for the smooth conduct of government business. The need of the hour is to remove this limitation from the administration of the state and make the grown prospects equal as per the highest ideals of the democracy. This could go a long way in improving the condition of the administration of the state.
Modern administration is about adoption of the practices which are more efficient and less susceptible to the fallibility of humans. All the modern means of effective administration should have been employed in the state by now but surprisingly this is not the case. The methods have either not adopted or have been employed partially. Mostly the practices are adopted at the administrative level and secretarial level but the same practices do not move down to the lower levels. There is no movement of expertise from the higher to the lower levels.
To overcome this drawback there should be the movement of men in both the directions. The trained men, at the highest levels, should be made to serve for a period of their service in the lower departments and the people from the lower departments should in the same way be made to work in the higher departments. This would move the expertise in both the directions and all the modern methods could be adopted with ease to make the administration people friendly. In the current set up , the people in the administrative departments consider it as a right to hold only the higher positions and the lower people feel damned to work only at the lowest level howsoever, efficient or capable they may be.
These few simple readjustments and realignments, along with many others, in the administrative machinery of the state could go a long way in improving the standards of administration and governance. The need for these readjustments is the sincere will and dedication on part of people holding the reins of the power in the state.
The critical areas need to be identified and then adequate and proper work done to get the desired results. In Governor’s rule, all this is possible because the people involved in the decision making chain are less and the head of the administrative machinery is a dedicated person. The suggestions given above are practicable and could be given a practical shape with the single stroke of a pen if sincerely considered.
—The author can be reached at: fayaz.greatstep@gmail