A Huge Gap in India's 3 Power Centers PM, CM, & DM
| Manohar Manoj- Editor of ‘Economy India’ & Author, Delhi - 16 Aug 2019

What About All Elected Representatives of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha?

A huge gap is existing between the country's State Secretariats and Gram Panchayats

Under this democratic setup, the executive power is controlled by the minister whether it is at the center level or state level. After this, we have a huge democratic gap from gram pradhan onwards.

There is no democratic executive and this area is completely dominated by the bureaucratic pyramid. So what about all those democratic representatives who represent their Lok sabha and Vidhan Sabha respectively?

The thing is that in this democracy prime minister and ministers exercise their executive power, which is being followed by a long pyramid of bureaucratic setup. The Union cabinet controls all 97 subjects allotted to the center.

By Manohar Manoj

New Delhi, Aug 16, 2019: There are almost 800 elected or nominated representatives in our national parliament, who are being elected in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as per the election held on every 5 years and 2 years respectively?  We have around 4000 members for the legislative assemblies and councils of 32 states and UT of the country.

We have around 2 lakhs representative for local three-layered rural democratic bodies like gram panchayat, block panchayat and district panchayat and also three-layered urban local bodies like nagar panchayat, municipality, and City Corporation, etc. These all reflect a picture and structure of democratically ruled republic of India and Indian union too. Now it is also pertinent to know, how these democratic bodies work for the welfare of the public.

At the top-level prime minister is the nucleus of power who heads the council of ministers and in a way, he is the leader of around 800 elected representative of our national parliament. Down the order, state Govts. follows the same suit, means the chief minister is the head of the state council of ministers and all the MLAs elected in the assembly.

In the Indian democratic setup, the third most significant power center is district collectorate headed by the district magistrate, who is not a democratic representative, rather a bureaucrat who hails from ‘Indian administrative service’.

When we talk about public welfare, we must not forget that out of all these 3 power centers, local administration is the key, where the public is being directly attached to govt. in its day to day affairs.

It is the block office which renders all kind of development work at the villages level. Circle office which manages all matters related to the land records and revenues;  local hospitals, the local school comprised of primary, middle and secondary, local police station etc.

These institutions’ work is not rendered by the public representatives. The whole set up of the welfare providing structures actually work under the district collector and superintendent of police. Of course, we have the third tier of democracy, gram panchayat, where its elected head called gram pradhan is seen in proactive governing mode.

The thing is that in this democracy prime minister and ministers exercise their executive power, which is being followed by a long pyramid of bureaucratic setup. The Union cabinet controls all 97 subjects allotted to the center.

The same thing is visible at the state level also. The state cabinet headed by chief minister controls the legislative and executive power on all those 56 subjects allotted to the states. At the lower level district magistrate control all the subjects whether it is development or social welfare programs or it is supervising the whole administrative activities.

The whole thing lies in the fact that under this democratic setup, the executive power is controlled by the minister whether it is at the center level or state level. After this, we have a huge democratic gap from gram pradhan onwards.

There is no democratic executive and this area is completely dominated by the bureaucratic pyramid. So what about all those democratic representatives who represent their Lok sabha and Vidhan Sabha respectively?

What they do to fulfill the different aspirations of their constituency people in day to day governance. These public representatives have to either attend assemblies during the session or to travel their constituency in the rest period. Apart from making recommendations, they don't have any direct role in the administration and executive work in their respective constituencies. There is one provision that is called the MPLAD scheme, where they are being given 5 crore rupee every year to spend over different development activities, which they aspire.

Now the question is if MP and MLA are the democratic representatives then why are they not able to render any kind of day to day administration and governance activities whereas, out of their flock, one who becomes a minister he enjoys executive power, unlike the same democratic representative. Any minister cannot control the whole layer of administration single-handedly; it has to be followed by bureaucracy, not by democracy.

The whole the conclusion is that what is the role of MPs and MLA as a democratic administrator whether at the upper level of administration or at the local level administration, they are simply a symbol of democracy who do not have the executive power to render any kind of welfare work.

Though some person may not agree with this point of view because we are habituated of this system but the question is who will be responsible and accountable for the well being of people living at local level, because in a way we all are local people.

In all practical purposes local officials are responsible for rendering all kind of public work and these officials have not been made accountable to the public rather they are accountable to the officers sitting above and at last they are accountable to the ministers sitting above.

So, who will take care of local people? Under the technicality of electoral democracy, it is MP and MLA who are accountable to the public, because they have to face election every 5 years. But the irony is that they don't have a role in administering the public in their own constituency.

 Some people can say, the role of the public representative is to render legislative work only and thereafter observe the work activities of the bureaucratic officials. During this, If they find anything wrong with them, they can report it to the upper level. To my mind, it does not reflect the character of democracy.

This is the system, which creates nexus between politicians and bureaucracy. Under these circumstances how can we talk about applying right to recall on our democratic representatives, who do not have executive power? In actual sense, under this present set-up right to recall should be applied to the local bureaucracy who is directly and vehemently involved with day-to-day public affairs.

If the public representative is a minister and if he does some unpopular kind of work, he must be brought under the purview of right to recall. So it is very difficult to introduce the right to recall until and unless MPs and MLAs have ample executive power their accountability to the public can not be tested properly.

This is need of the hour to make proper coordination between democracy and bureaucracy. In principle, it is said that civil servants work under a democratic boss, but it is true at the highest level only. This is not true at the local level.

So what kind of interaction must be made between democracy and bureaucracy, this is a big question. In real terms, bureaucracy is a parallel power system which is very much uprooted in our whole administrative system. 

What we see in a district there is at least one Lok Sabha constituency. In some cases, one Lok Sabha constituencies have spread over the nearby district also. Will it be not better that the formation of a district is done on Lok sabha constituency-wise and vice versa.

It means the Lok sabha constituency and district should be the same. It means if we have 542 Lok sabha constituencies, then we should have 542 districts. In other words, we have at present 630 districts in the country, and then we should have 630 Lok Sabha constituencies.

In the same way, the Vidhan Sabha seat should be formed on development block-wise. If these steps are taken it would have more beneficial effects over our local administration, which result in better coordination between democracy and bureaucracy.

It will make democracy more realistic and effective and on the other side, it will make bureaucracy more accountable to the public also.

Then there will be no arising of a question, that of political interference in administration. At present, usually, all the political interferences are being done for bad purposes, but when things are getting defined, these matters will not arise.

Under the new set up democrats will not interfere rather they will involve in a more meaningful way. It will keep bureaucrat right under the democrat in a more meaningful way and in that case, this politician-bureaucratic combo system will be more accountable to the local public. 

(Writer is the editor of ‘Economy India’ Magazine and author of the book 'A CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION ON THE NEUTRAL PATH.')

Image Courtesy - Representational Images from Google

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