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An Independent Administration

Friday January 7 2005 09:57 IST

By Karmayogi

In a democratic country, the legislature is the supreme institution. Still, it is placed under the ever-vigilant scrutiny of the judiciary. The Parliament is the legislature. It can only legislate but it cannot execute. The administration executes.

Hence, it is the Executive. People elect the legislature but in day-to-day work, they come into constant contact with the Executive, not the judiciary or the legislature. An efficient, incorruptible administration enhances the nation's ease of existence and her prestige abroad. Britain calls it Civil Service, India Administrative Service.

Historically, administration was steeped in corruption, but as a nation advances in education, corruption recedes and becomes a matter of shame.

The strength of the administration is its independence, an independence from the officious politician. Frenchmen speak of the fixed axle of administration on which rotates the wheels of political power that is a passing phase.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, it was said the average length of service in the British Cabinet was eleven months, while the Civil Service was there forever. In the forties, fifties and even sixties, the original vigour of administrative independence was kept up in a great measure.

It involves certain manners among the political workers, courtesy on the part of the Cabinet Ministers, and personality on the part of the administrators. They are all unwritten codes to be observed by the sense of honour and dignity of all concerned. Nothing is made to order.

There was a senior ICS officer as Collector who presided over a government function addressed by the then Minister Bakthavathsalam. A Congress worker got on the platform and abused the DMO. The Collector stood up and said, “I cannot allow my officers to be abused in my presence. I dissolve the meeting.” He left the meeting, behind whom the Minister trailed.

A Chief Minister sent someone who had not completed school to the same Collector for a job. The Collector was not in a position to accommodate the request of the CM. In the administrative set-up the candidate could only be appointed as a peon. So the ICS officer told the candidate that he was qualified for any post in politics but not in the administration.

Courage to face the displeasure of a CM is something rare and magnificent. It is said in the Indian set-up Power lies in the hands of three posts: PM, CM and the Collector.

The Collector is a nominee of the Governor. When a Governor visits a district, it was administrative etiquette for the Collector to receive the Governor at the borders of the district, and physically keep company with him as long as he was in the district. It was not so for the CM.
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