Development is currently understood as an expansion of access and choice to goods and services. Making a qualitative difference in people's life. DC performs the development administration at the district level.
Before 1847, the developmental role of DC was highly limited. Development efforts were more due to charitable disposition rather than any welfare motive since the colonial state was exploitative in nature. Dc's role was regulatory - Maintain and preserve existing order - status quo (greater L&O orientation)
Post-1947 - Innovation of welfare state, adoption of socialistic philosophy - Objective was to establish just and equitable society avoiding the concentration of wealth and resources in the hand of few.
Centralised planning and modernisation was the chosen path i.e Harrald Dommar Model / Nehru - Mahalanobis Model - Key industries / heavy industries / Basic industries.
Bureaucracy's role in such a paradigm was PF at HQ and PI at the field. The then PM wanted to wind up ICS and create Indian Development Service so that there is role and goal clarity and development would be the prime objective instead of regulation. But leadership like Patel were more pragmatic / impressed by the role that ICS played during the integration of princely states. Favoured continuation of ICS turned IAS putting faith in their capacity to adopt and adapt to the changed philosophy i.e from regulation to welfare. Therefore at the field level, the historic pattern of DC being the overall in charge of DA continued but now with the inclusion of developmental responsibilities. DC's role thus becomes critical at field level.
His duty list included land reforms, L&O, revenue, food and civil supplies, relief and rehabilitation. Thus the state depended on DC as the deliverer of G&S for people. DC or District administration become the state in action
Alternate models i.e community lead and bottom-up model of development visualised by Gandhiji in the form of gram swaraj, power flowing from villages to elsewhere. It was not popular with the political leadership of the day. Which emphasised industrialisation and modernisation. Leaders like Ambedkar too were critical of Gram / Panchayat Centric models considering them as dens of communalism and ignorance. However keeping the Gandhian spirit alive, panchayats were made a part of DPSP (A40) and local admin was made a state subject. All this indirectly re-inforced the inevitability of Bureaucracy / DC in development admin.
Some attempts were made to involve people through community development programmes (NES - National Extension services 1952 - 1954 ) but people's participation was highly limited. Their interaction with the government was infrequent and Bureaucracy was awe-inspiring. Citizen's suffered from dependency syndrome. While Bureaucracy continues to suffer from a colonial hangover.
Later the government realised the need for having an institutional mechanism for people's participation in PES - Political, economic, Social developmental process. Therefore as recommended by Balvantharayan Mehta Committee, the government created a 3 tier Panchayat Raj System. - Gram Panchayat, Taluk Panchayat & Zilla Panchayat.
But this model was limited success and it had no correlation with DC i.e the relationship between DC and PRI's was never clarified after the initial hype. These 1st gen panchayats failed to take off. India eventually got caught in the -China War, monsoons failed, famine situation, food scarcity, attention was diverted towards food production, agriculture and green revolution. Most of the PRI official shifted to the ministry of agriculture. DC's office became more powerful. Since he was now coordinating and monitoring Agri production, relief management, civil supplies distribution....etc
Last 1960's and 1970's
- Focus shifted to minimum needs programme - Poverty elevation, employment generation.
- Large no of CSS
- e.g DPAP - Drought prone area programme
- DVP - Desert Development Programme
- DQCRA - Development of women and children in Rural Areas - Which increased discretionary power of DC / B'y in terms of patronage e.g identification of beneficiaries. B'y was firmly entrenched in development administration
- Later DRDA - District rural development agency. A nodal authority for district development was created with members drawn from different technical directorates, project heads, who met under the chairmanship of DC. Some R&D programmes later combined as IRDA - Integrated Rural Development Programme. This model was state lead and B'y implemented - had its limitations due to structural/conceptual weakness and implementational constraints
Weakness in B'y implemented and centralised model of Development
- No customisation - one size fits all approach
- Arm Chair PF - Remote sensing
- Union ministries interested in mechanically releasing funds rather than monitoring and evaluation
- No independent PE. Therefore incorrectness of developmental data - no comparable reliable verifiable information
- Ministries concern with expenditure - Budget Maximisation, no mission mode approach, no deadlines, no smart targets. Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timebound - sunset legislation
- Too much of centralisation - state government is critical of this approach
- Focus on outlay rather than outcome
- Long channel of distribution - prone to pilferage, transmission and distribution losses
- Former PM Rajeev Gandhi commented out of every Rs spend only 15 paise reaches the beneficiary.
- Huge discretionary power
- No SMART & No E6
- Poor quality of work
- Concentration was on new assets (new schools, new hospitals) rather than maintaining existing assets
- Focus was on foundation stones and not on finishing stones
- Rent seeking-corruption
- Even though there were exclusive offices. e.g Block Development Officer. DC was the overall in-charge. e.g Knapur DC identified 167 schemes to operated at the Block level.
- Lack of technically trained personnel
- Poor skills, motivational level - Rural postings are treated as a punishment posting
- DC suffered from a colonial hangover - the developmental role was overshadowed by his historic regulatory role. Always been a collector and never a giver. (Functional fixedness in psychology)
- Developmental admin requires a different kind of mindset and skill set. The state-led developmental model, simplistically assumed that DC's rich experience in regulatory admin will automatically take care of developmental responsibility also. This was no always not true.
|Required Mindset||Actual Mindset|
|Change Orientation||Status Quo|
|Innovation||Stereotype, Conservative, precedent|
|People centric||Process centric|
|Integrated||Fragmented, Differentiated, Diffused|
|Temporal dimension - time-bound |
mission mode - sense of urgency
|Work expands to the maximum time available|
|Citizen as an active collaborator||Passive recipient|
Late 1980's - Rajivi Gandhi Phase
Ashok Mehta Committee was appointed in post-emergency period by Janata Government recommended two-tier panchayat also termed as 2nd Gen Panchayat.
State-led developmental model questioned by various committees like L.M.Singhavi, Dantevala Committee....etc and there was a renewed emphasis on Panchayat Raj Institution.
Pm's meeting with DCs convinced him the need for LSG as the 3rd tier of government and more importantly as the chief vehicle of development. The success of decentralised planning model in Kerala demonstrated the benefit of Bottom-up approach instead of the traditional top-down approach. However, states were reluctant to yield space for LSG and proposed constitutional amendment on LSG did not materialise.
Lateral entrants entered the developmental domain and lead mission mode projects (telecom, S&T) but it was at a macro level, at district level, D.Cs power continued to increase.
- Change in global philosophy - NPM, Public Choice, Thatcherism, Reaganism, (Role back of State, pro-market). Neo-Taylorism. Search for efficiency. B'y seen as a budget maximiser. Demand for de-bureaucratisation and replacement by market forces - Outsource to the private sector. In India, BOP crisis triggered NEP - New Economic Policy / LPG
- Changes in Indian developmental paradigm due to adoption of LPG
- D4 - Disinvestment, de-licensing, de-regulation, de-reservation
- Movement from imperative planning to indicative planning
- Focus was on GDP growth
- Assumption of trickle-down effect / Down-ward filtration i.e growth will eventually reach grassroots. Dismantling of licence permit Raj
- Reducing Discretionary powers of B'y
- Increased consumer choice
- Negative growth in agriculture - no investment
Read LSG and Relationship between DC and LSG
Should District collector exit from developmental scene ?
- DC does not have the skillset and mindset for development. Therefore separate regulation and development admin
- CEO of Zilla Parishad - Can look after development while DC can be restricted to the regulation of L&O
- Can't artificially segregate regulation and development. Both reinforce each other, share a complementary relationship, not practically possible
- DC as an area officer is strategically placed to coordinated and generate synergy among officers and staff belonging to different director/development. No other official is equipped to create consensus and to generate outcome as much of DC who can use his power (hard and soft) to bring about integrated development (ripple effect)
- DC can interact with both LSG and State - act as an interface and identify real needs rather than stated demands. e.g - LSG at times may be guilty of being too parochial and myopic rather than looking at the macro, big picture / long term due to lack of E3 - Exposure, Experience and Expertise. But DC can unlock, discover real neds during his field tours/inspection one to one interactions with people and LSG but he needs to become more of a friend philosopher and guide helping LSG to take a more holistic decision.
- DC in some cases has to play the role of staff officer instead of playing the traditional line role. But different districts in different states are at various stages of development or lack of development. Therefore there can't be a standardised model of development. It has to dynamically evolve, to suit the specific local needs taking into consideration, local conditions, resources and constraints. DC should align himself as per district needs. This requires attitudinal transformation
As observed by former PM - DC's role has not diminished, it has transformed into a more powerful role of coordinator, which he is well suited to play because of E3.
Even 2nd ARC while speaking of a district government has recommended that DCs role should not be diluted but re-aligned to include
Roles of DC
- Land revenue
- L&O exercise
- elections (chief returning officers) - (Receive nomination, result announcement)
- Facilitating PPP & PPPP(Punchayat Public pvt Partnership)
- disaster management
- General Administration GAD
- public service delivery
- PURA - Provision of urban amenities in rural areas
- RTS - Right to Service
- E6 - Efficiency, Effectiveness, Economy, Experience, Expertise, Exposure
- VFM - Value for Money
- C3 - Choice, Convenience, Customisation
- Civil Supplies
Civil society Interface - NGO, Voluntary Organisation - need to engage with civil society - Practice Outreach - tap social capital. Use community strengths and voluntarism.
Facilitate entrepreneurs. Get feedback on policies schemes projects programmes, cultivate goodwill (esp in LMN areas). All these initiatives winning hearts and minds. - (admin help during crisis times will generate or create a +ve image of the state in the eyes of citizens).
National Civil Service Day Awards are given
- Gulshan Bambra - Balaghat District - LMN affected area. Imaginative use of MGNAREGA. Outreach to rural haats. Assembled a team of officials at one place. Provide Goods & Service in one place. On the spot grievance redressal.
- Krishan Kumar - Kanjam District Odisha - Disaster Management during Falin
- Vineel Krishna - Malkangiri Odisha - LMN pocket outreach. The goodwill ultimately released him from abduction by LMN.
Contemporary issues of DC
- Politicisation - Loss of neutrality, objectivity, fairness
- Misplaced priorities - danger of becoming a glorified clerk - If there is no culture of delegation, MBE - Management by Exception, principle of subsidiarity. DC is a field officer and it should continue to be one
- Problems with PRI is a reflection of the embedded problem between B'y and D'y esp at grass root level - needs role and goal clarity
- DC's role is development needs to be redefined with proper KRA, KPI clear cut deliverables in priority sectors and with proper technical support
- ARC has recommended a 3-year tenure for DC and that the civil servant should be posted as DM early in his career and his 1st decade he should handle only field responsibilities(non-secretariat). Even SC recently called for the constitution of civil services board to handle transfers and postings in a transparent manner. Currently, in politically volatile states, there is high dissatisfaction among civil servants w.r.t length of posting. Frequent transfers in the name of admin convenience create problem of discontinuity and lack of consistency as per 2010 civil services survey, lack of stability contributed to loss of morale and motivation.
- External pressures - e.g of victimisation and harassment of honest bureaucrats whistleblowers, sending wrong signals down to the line. Converting DC's post into a spoiled post is a huge disservice to admin and country
ARC concept of District Government
As per this model, district is to be governed rather than administered there will be true LSG in the sense that an elected government would direct the POSDCoRB activities in the district with A3 by CEO / DC. It would have a representation of both rural and urban bodies and ARC calls it as a district council.
While theoretically, the arrangement may be ideal, practically and politically, it might encounter, certain challenges and constraints
- District in-charge ministers will lose their informal control
- Fundamentally redraw political equations among MP's, MLA's and LSG members
- It would become more of a political body, rather than a chief vehicle of development.
- It will require a constitutional amendment if this has to be standard practice across states
- B'y role and responsibility is such a setup have to be properly placed and positioned
- The idea looks more feasible in Urban areas (mayor in council) rather than in rural areas - where the mayor works with corporation commissioner providing A3 than in a regular district with DC having diverse roles to play. DC with diverse roles reporting to a district council is not practical.