Topic: GS2 – Indian polity.
Challenges of Indian State Size:
- Paradox of Size: India’s bureaucratic processes are cumbersome, making it difficult to set up businesses or build houses due to a thicket of licenses, permits, and clearances.
- Weberian State Size: India’s state is paradoxically too small on global metrics, with the lowest number of civil servants per capita in the G-20. Public sector employment and the number of professionals in various critical areas are significantly lower than in other countries.
State Capability and Policy Implementation:
- Concentration of Powers: There’s an extreme concentration of policymaking and implementation powers within departments, hindering execution and innovation. Separation of these responsibilities, as seen in countries like Australia and the UK, can expedite execution and improve program adaptation to local contexts.
- Delegation and Accountability: Restrictions on frontline personnel’s decision-making foster mistrust and accountability issues. Breaking this cycle requires delegating financial and administrative powers to frontline functionaries with clear processes.
Technocratic Gap and Lateral Entry:
- Top Policymakers’ Lack of Skills: The top policymakers lack technocratic skills to deal with economic and technical matters, leading to heavy reliance on consultancy firms.
- Lateral Entry Solutions: Regular lateral entry at mid and senior levels, subject-specific training under Mission Karmayogi, and leveraging non-IAS services for high-level positions can address the technocratic gap.
Oversight and Audits:
- Audit Limitations: The Comptroller and Auditor General’s narrowly scoped audits focus on compliance with rules rather than policy objectives, causing delayed procurement and contractual disputes.
- Sensitizing Oversight Agencies: Oversight agencies need to appreciate the context of policy decisions, considering costs associated with decisions and alternatives to avoid unnecessary disputes.
Political Will and Regulatory Appointments:
- Retired Officers in Regulatory Bodies: Appointing retired officers to regulatory bodies and tribunals creates susceptibility to political manipulation. Increasing the retirement age and setting an absolute upper limit for all appointments can mitigate this.
- Incentivizing Public Sector Work: Intrinsic motivation, rather than performance-linked pay, is crucial in the public sector. Moderating pay raises by future Pay Commissions and reducing the upper age limit for government jobs can address corruption and attract socially-driven individuals.
Public versus Private Sector Dynamics:
- Salary Disparities: Relatively high salaries in the public sector, especially due to substantial hikes by Pay Commissions, lead to corruption in appointments.
- Solution: Moderate pay raises, reduction in the upper age limit for government jobs, and a thriving private sector can make government jobs less financially appealing, reducing corruption and attracting socially-driven individuals.