If there is one British institution that has survived the test of time and continue to play a +ve role, it is district administration. It has shown tremendous amount of resilience, strength of character to adapt to changing scenarios. It symbolizes, continuity with change
District Administration in one form or the other has been there since ancient times. The Mauryan Rajuka / Ayukta (Commissioner) / Pradeshika performed duties similar to the modern day DC. During Mughals, he was the district in-charge responsible for revenue, L&O. However it was the British which made DA the fundamental unit of governance.
Post battles of Plassey, Buxar (1764). EIC was vested with Diwan Rights. ( Revenue collection Rights) which necessitated creating an institution for revenue collection and thus emerged one of the long lasting institutions i.e DC subsequently as and when the company expanded (geographical and functional) correspondingly DC's scope, function (quantum & quality) and importance also increased. Governor General like Warren Hastings, Corn Wallis, Bentaik Wellesly, Dalhousie and Curzan shaped the institutional ethos. It ultimately became omni-potent and omniscient state combining revenue, L&O, Judiciary and developmental Roles. DC became the vital cog of steel frame (ICS) and the eyes,ears and hands of the British Empire.
Post 1919 act, dyarchy was introduced which brought some kind of accountability towards elected institutions. But DC continued to be unchallenged in his domain, symbolizing the might of the state.
Even post 1946, the institutional impact has been such that it is still conceived as the primary unit of governance. A tortoise on which, the elephant of Indian admin is mounted, reflecting its resilience, slow,steady and stable character. This colonial legacy has survived not because of the hangover but due to its functional utility and elasticity.
Importance of District Administration
- Certainty, dependability, sustainability, consistency and convenience - 1st ARC considered district as most convenient geographical unity where the entire admin apparatus can be concentrated - neither too big not too small, making it an ideal functional unit.
- Local finality - Local problems gets solved at local level itself. District HQ is mini state in action. Since most of the state department have their presence and district level.
- Cutting edge - Public comes into close and day today contact with governance at district level. It is the interface where citizens satisfy their needs wants, articulate their demand and get their grievance redressed.
- Image maker - Public perception of governance is created or lost during the service encounters, which leads the moment of truth - a litmus test for PI - Even the best policies of HQ requires E6, smart delivery of Goods and service. Therefore DC's efficiency has a spin off effect on the success of policies.
- Leadership - Copy from chief sec - Ripple effect
- Area Officer
- Interacts closely with people - can sense public mood, judge policy reactions
- Gets 1st hand information w.r.t public needs, wants grievances and communicates into the other levels of governance - Plays a dual role government to citizen and citizen to government
- Gives feedback - facilitates policy evaluation
- During public visits, he can do on the spot grievance redressal, address governance deficit. Bring a sense of urgency and outreach. MBWA - Management by walking around. Tent is mightier than the pen. DC is an outdoor field officer.
- Conflict Resolution - Can identify fault lines - flash points, diffuse crisis at the earliest. SIDA - Sense, interpret, Decide, Act
- PR - Public Relation - DC is an area officer and not a glorified clerk
- Crisis Management - Copy from disaster management