Saturday, July 14, 2018

REFORMS TO CURB POLITICISATION OF BUREAUCRACY - A Few Good Reads

ADMINISTRATIVE REFORMS IN INDIA: NEED FOR
SYSTEMS APPROACH TO PROBLEM-SOLVING
Punit Arora
ABSTRACT
In review of Indian administrative structure in 1950s, Appleby certified Indian Civil Service to be one of the best in the world. While there is still a lot to commend the civil service for, this article will focus exclusively on the deficiencies that have crept in the services over last few years. This should not be taken to mean that all is wrong with it. The article does, however, attempt to present the critique of the service from the perspective of an insider with a view to rid it of its malaise. Despite its notable achievements, over last five decades, disenchantment with public administration in India has dramatically increased. It is criticized for inefficiency, lack of professionalism, irresponsiveness, nepotism and corruption. After the assumption of power by UPA government, civil services have come under a real scanner. The government appointed an expert committee, under the chairmanship of the Hota committee, to review and suggest changes to the administrative structure. The committee submitted its report recently. It suggested changes in recruitment and performance appraisal system, opening of civil service position to outsiders and relaxing norms pertaining to removal from service to shake complacency of the civil servants. This article argues that these proposals are too restrictive in nature and scope. They are limited to changes in the upper echelon of bureaucracy. These don’t just exclude a large part of bureaucracy from the reform efforts, but also fail to address the factors external to the administration that hinge upon its performance. To be specific, the article presents evidence of the linkage between the deficiencies in the political, electoral and judicial system and the decline in performance of civil service. It reasons that it is meaningless to talk of administrative reforms without undertaking simultaneous reforms in political and electoral system. Finally, it suggests a more comprehensive reform agenda to improve the performance of civil service, and above all emphasizes the need for adopting the systems approach to problem-solving.

INTRODUCTION
The performance of public administration in India has come under close scrutiny in the last few years. Rampant corruption, inefficiencies, wastages and irresponsiveness to the needs of citizens are some of the commonly acknowledged problems afflicting the administration. While these problems are common to all the levels in government, the spotlight has firmly been on the uppermost echelon of the bureaucracy- the Indian Civil Service (ICS or service). ICS was constituted as Imperial Civil Service in 1886-87 by British colonial rulers and has continued virtually in the same form ever since (Indian Civil Service, 2006). When the Constituent Assembly gathered to draft the constitution for free India, most of its members were in favor of dissolution of ICS. Given the history of freedom movement and the use of State apparatus to curb it, this was not surprising. Most freedom fighters did not understand that the service at whose hands they suffered was performing its duty to implement the law and the law was not made by the members of the services. It was made by a colonial power. However, Sardar Patel who was first Home Minister of India felt that without an apolitical, efficient civil service it was well nigh impossible to govern and keep India together. In a letter to Prime Minister Nehru, he wrote, “I need hardly emphasize that an efficient, disciplined, and contented service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work is a sine qua non of sound administration under a democratic regime even more than under an authoritarian rule.The service must be above party and we should ensure that political considerations,either in its recruitment or in its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether." (Nehru, 1999) In the end, he prevailed upon the leadership of Indian National Congress and the Constituent Assembly. And ICS was not just retained but was granted wide-ranging civil service protections under Article 311 of Indian Constitution itself. Once Patel succeeded in convincing the Constituent Assembly about
the necessity of retaining ICS, the assembly went with him all the way and accepted the ICS as it then existed. It felt that the change in the men manning the service by itself would make a difference to the way it responded to the Indian public and its representatives, the politicians (Nehru, 1999). While ICS has basically persisted with this structure without much change till date, its performance appears to be on the decline. Admittedly, corruption and inefficiency are serious issues facing public administration in India. India is ranked lowly 88th in Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, despite being a free democratic country with liberal constitutional structure. The Alagh Committee appointed to study performance of civil services made a special mention of the decline in the levels of integrity among civil servants (Kaur, 2001). Guhan and Paul (1997) believe that corruption in India has gone ballistic over the last decade. While there are no statistics specific to corruption in the ICS, it is believed that “...over half of the officers have joined the politicians in corrupt practices.” (Nehru, 1999) In the first 25 years of free India, ICS was believed to be largely free of corruption, though it was even then often accused of being elitist, remote, and inaccessible to common man. Over next quarter century, while it has become more and more accessible, the corruption has been steadily shooting up. Apart from corruption, the Alagh Committee noted, “A negative orientation, declining professionalism, intellectual sluggishness and a lack of ability to acquire new knowledge, un-dynamic outlook and, at times, a complete lack of intellectual honesty as some of the other weaknesses of the ICS." (Kaur, 2001) The decay and decline of “steel frame” has increasingly become a matter of concern. In early 1950s when Paul Appleby visited India to suggest changes to its administrative machinery, he certified Indian Civil Service to be one of the best in the world. ‘This scenario began to change after the death of Nehru and other statesmen in mid-1960s. The period 1977-80 witnessed the accentuation of some of the malpractices and distortions of the political system. Some of these malpractices began to degenerate into criminal practices and led to criminalization of the political system in many areas.” (Gadkari, 1996)

ADDRESSING THE PROBLEM
To address the issue, in the past also, a large number of commissions and expert committees have been set up to review the functioning of ICS and administration. These expert groups have basically limited their recommendations to making minor adjustments to the structure. They have implicitly assumed that the present system to be the best possible system, which with minor corrections and modifications can be rid of all its evils and shortcomings. Hahn Been Lee, who studied reform efforts in developing countries including India believes, “Administrative reforms have mainly been associated with staff services such as personnel, budgeting, and organization method. Administrative techniques and procedures were the main objects. Few reform projects were conceived in terms of substantive programs or institutions.” (Singh, 2005: 24) After the assumption of power by Congress-led United People’s Alliance (UPA) at the center, reform efforts have gained momentum, partly because UPA government contested with an agenda of governance reforms, but mainly because the current prime minister is believed to be an honest reformer. While the efforts to reform governance have increased and become more concerted, it is surprising that the agenda has not altered in its breadth or scope. The reforms that are being suggested include, among others, changes in the recruitment and performance appraisal system, opening up of senior positions to “outsiders”, increase in emoluments, declaration of assets, attachment of ill-gotten property of officials and summary dismissal of corrupt civil servants by amending Article 311 of the Constitution. As is easily discernible, these changes are still very much within the confines of what may be termed as “Hahn Been Lee Limits” -- reform agenda limited to changes in staffing.
These proposals do not address the core issues and challenges facing the administrative services in India. Before going into further details, let us consider what these proposals purport to achieve and how far they are likely to succeed. The changes in recruitment system envisage reduction in age at the time of recruitment. This recommendation has found special favor with training institutions since they feel that increase in average age at recruitment has limited their effectiveness in “shaping the trainees” to their liking. The government initially toyed with a radical idea of recruiting officers at very young age and increasing the length of training to about five years. This position was echoed by Cabinet Secretary Chaturvedi, who is the highest ranking bureaucrat in the country, said: "At the age of 17-18, their value system can be molded. Molding value system when a person is 30 and married with a family is a tall order.” (Chand, 2006) This recommendation was slightly modified by the Hota Committee that was appointed by UPA government to review and suggest changes to the administrative system. It recommended the reduction in the maximum age at recruitment from 30 years to 24 years with no change in the present system of training for two years. The changes in performance appraisal system envisage moving from confidential to open appraisal system, and outlining the career path of an officer at the time of annual appraisal. In the confidential appraisal system, no officer is theoretically expected to be told how his he performed and how he was graded. Therefore, there is no scope for feedback unless you get an adverse remark in your appraisal. However, if an adverse entry is made, the officer concerned has a right to appeal against it. This involves quasijudicial and judicial process, which is entirely too much of an effort in justifying your
evaluation. As a result, in practice, it is very rare that anyone is given an adverse remark. Over a period of time, this appraisal system has virtually become meaningless. It is expected that making performance appraisal system more “private-sector” like would help improve the performance of public servants.
Opening up some civil service positions to non-career civil servants is expected to provide competition to career officers and shake them out of complacency. “The main problem the civil service faces today is that it is no longer getting the right talent either at the junior level or at the top. There are a very few good officers left in the service.

The first solution, therefore, is to create competition by increasing the supply of good officers in the system” (Bhattacharya, 2005) It is suggested that this objective can be achieved by inducting top private sector managers in the civil service positions, if necessary by giving competitive compensation packages. For existing civil servants, the Fifth Pay Commission recommended about 20% increase in the emoluments and benefits, and of course this recommendation was promptly accepted. This increase in emoluments is supposed to provide some sort of parity between private and public sector salaries and lessen the incentives for corruption. Simultaneously, making provisions on declaration of assets and attachment of ill-gotten property more stringent is expected to act as disincentive to corruption.
It is also true that civil service protection and widely prevalent belief in life-long job security encourages non-performance. Therefore, it makes apparent sense to relax rules pertaining to removal from service on grounds of inefficiency, corruption and nonperformance. Therefore, it is suggested that Article 311 of the constitution be amended to provide for summary dismissal of civil servants if they exhibit doubtful integrity or lack of competence.

WILL THE REFORM AGENDA SUCCEED?
How radical is this reform agenda and how likely is it to succeed? Let’s briefly consider different reform proposals severally at first before anticipating their impact in totality. Reduction in age at recruitment essentially is a policy recommendation that advocates reverting back to the age limits prevalent in 1970s. For this recommendation to be meaningful, a number of factors need to be established. First, it has to be shown that the training institutions have higher success rate in molding officers recruited at younger age than their older colleagues. Secondly, it has to be established that the younger officers show better inclination to stay honest. Third, younger officers show better understanding of job requirements and deliver better results. Since there have been no empirical studies to substantiate or contradict the recommendation, we will have to limit our analysis to the organizational folklore and such other evidence as is available. If this recommendation is true, we should expect a difference in the performance of officers recruited together, commonly known as batch of officers, but at significant age difference. One would also expect all batches prior to mid-1970s to perform better than the recent batches. From my knowledge and experience in ICS, unfortunately neither of the facts stands up to the scrutiny of the facts. In fact, the organizational folklore considers the length of service, and not the age, as the determinant of the decline in efficiency and integrity.

It is commonly joked around that every year a civil servant loses one column from his vertebra and therefore by the time he reaches final lap in service, he has no backbone left and bends towards any side the pressure forces him to. “Even comparatively straight and honest officers when reaching the end of their career have been known to have completely lost their spine in the hope of securing sinecure post-retirement jobs." (Mathur, 2004) This view holds that all officers are more or less equally likely to show commitment to values, however over a period of time, officers learn to compromise and adjust. Of course, there are significant differences in the meaning and the extent of what constitutes a compromise to different officers.
Secondly, it is in a sense in contradiction to the recommendation on professionalizing the services. Most recruits entering services at older age are the ones who have graduate degrees with practical experiences in management, engineering, accounting, community services or other professions. These recruits bring their experience in private organizations to the civil service, which has an effect that is similar to opening of the profession to outsiders. Because apart from bringing their knowledge, skill, and professional ethics; they also tend to have peers in private sector to compete with at a
personal level.
Thirdly, wittingly or unwittingly, this recommendation is a negation of gains made by lobby for affirmative action. The age limits have been raised in response to demands of the experts who felt that it helped poorer and weaker sections to gain entry into the system, for unlike students from richer background who could devote their energies exclusively to study and prepare for rigorous competition, these people needed to support themselves and their education. If this is true, rolling back the age limits would help the more affluent or privileged sections within different communities. This recommendation, therefore, has the potential to be construed as an attempt by the elite
to fight back.
There is a mixed reaction to changes in the appraisal system. Some experts are cautiously positive; others believe it to be a minor change. Bhattacharya (2005) states considers “...while a transition from a closed and secret system of evaluation to one where the officers have the right to know how they are being rated is a positive change, it is na├»ve to believe that the IAS system will permit a group of senior officers to make a bold and candid assessment of their colleagues.” (Bhattacharya, 2005) The moot point in this respect, however, is that even when the appraisal was confidential, superior
officers found it extremely difficult to make bold judgments about their junior colleagues. Even where they knew an officer to be corrupt or incompetent, they gave him a good appraisal most likely out of concerns for political viability or organizational culture. If the evaluation is open, in my opinion as an insider, it is extremely likely that superior officers will feel more pressured to give a good appraisal report to avoid political fall-out. The open appraisal is more likely to succeed if the politicization of services is avoided to a substantial degree.

CONDITIONS THAT MUST BE SATISFIED
Throwing open civil service position to outsiders is a good recommendation if three conditions are satisfied. First, there are no officers within the service who can do the job equally good. Second, this option would not be utilized as a mean of patronage and nepotism. Third, the people thus hired will be given the autonomy necessary to deliver goods. As it happens, in most of the cases, none of these conditions are met to any satisfactory result. If competence is the criteria, ICS fortunately is not devoid of talent. In fact, of late, tendency to ignore the competent officers has been on the rise. Second, in a country just emerging from princely rules and that has long history of nepotism, including class and caste considerations, it is not clear that the political class, without considerable changes to their accountability mechanism as shown later in the article, can be trusted to hire people on the basis of their ability to perform the job better. Finally, even when people have been hired directly from outside of civil service, they have not been given adequate power, autonomy and responsibility to make any impact. In fact, there has hardly been any effort to make change the institutional structures. Under the circumstances, merely co-opting private sector managers is not going to be of much help. It is also possible that it might exacerbate the problem since higher competition in the present scenario translates into higher pressure for pliability, which has, of late, been noted as a serious concern with ICS. Chandra (2006: 28), for example, notes that, “...the present-day civil servants have become subservient to politicians…..
They are highly politicized and even divided along party lines and do not seem to mind politicians walking all over them so long as the important postings are secured….. Merit is no longer the criteria for a posting but factors like money, caste, proximity with political bigwigs are.” If it is true, is it advisable to restrict the choice available to politicians to civil servants or expand it?
Provision for disclosure of assets is not a new feature at all. All public servants,including politicians, are expected to file their annual property returns -- a provision that is breached more often than observed, and such flagrant violation is overlooked without any qualms. Finally, let’s discuss the proposal to relax the rules governing disciplinary action and removal from the service. It is true that the present rules and norms place significant restriction against arbitrary dismissal and provide significant protection to civil servants. However, there is no case where the government wanted to remove someone but could not because of such protections. Conversely, a large number of cases
can be cited where officers were found guilty and recommended for removal despite such lengthy, involved and cumbersome procedure, but no action was or has been taken against them. It suggests that need to search for factors other than the rules and procedure that might be the root-cause. In fact, for reasons that are elaborated later in this article, I would argue that relaxing these rules will increase the pressure on civil servants to be even more pliable, which is contrary to the aims that reformers purport to pursue.
Outlining the agenda and need for reforms, Cabinet Secretary Chaturvedi stated that “he wanted non-performers to go out and upright officers to get more protection." (Chand,2006: 29) While I agree with his assertion of the need for weeding out deadwood in officialdom, I don’t see how present agenda can help meet this object. In their present form, these measures constitute no more than half-hearted tinkering at the edges at best, and harmful declension at worst. Even when taken together, they don’t amount to much.
They are nowhere near as radical as they are made out to be. “These are all marginal changes that seek to correct anomalies in the system that could have been eliminated long ago.” (Bhattacharya, 2005; 56) What is even more noteworthy is the fact that the proposals do not cover more than 99% of total public administrative staff, which is much more notorious for corruption, inefficiency, irresponsiveness, and pliability (Debroy, 2004). In fact, as a result of politicization of this lower level functionaries, including state civil services, ICS finds that it doesn’t have adequate control over the organizations anymore. The proposals cover neither how they propose to address the similar problems at a much higher magnitude with non-ICS employees in the public administration, nor how they seek to address this control issue.
Further, much of what is being advocated now is not new either. “All these are changes that have been recommended by some government committee or the other in the last 30 years." (Bhattacharya, 2005: 151) An editorial in The Hindu riled the government after Hota Committee submitted its report. “One wonders what the government does with such reports. There was one some years ago by Surendra Nath committee. No one knows what happened to it, or to other reports submitted by other distinguished bodies such as the 5th Pay Commission." (Ghose, 2006) Most commentators blame the bureaucracy for not preventing these recommendations from getting accepted and implemented. Ghose (2006: 38), for example, states that, “It is as if these reports are simply swallowed up by the bureaucratic machine, and life goes on as usual.”

BUREAUCRATIC RELUCTANCE TO CHANGE
These commentators ascribe two reasons for bureaucratic reluctance to change. First is bureaucratic inertia and lethargy. “One can understand the reluctance of the bureaucracy to accept recommendations that would curb its present manner of functioning, and alter the rather comfortable manner in which civil servants go about their day-to-day work." (Ghose, 2006; 38) The second is their resentment at being perceived as dishonest or incompetent. “One can also appreciate that such reports generate a certain amount of indignation because, contrary to the picture that is sometimes painted of the services, all officers are not a set of dishonest, incompetent people; on the other hand, for the most part, they are people who do their work as best they can, are not dishonest, are fairly efficient, with some being a little more so than others." (Ghose, 2006: 28) A survey of literature suggests that there has been very little attempt to search for alternative reasons for non-implementation of these measures and this seems to be the generally-accepted position. This is despite the fact that the politicization of bureaucracy is commonly acknowledged to be the major source for decline in the performance of civil service. While there is some truth in the allegation, it is not the complete truth. It is flattering, indeed, to believe that the services still retain adequate power to stall the changes that have been accepted by the popularly elected leaders against their wishes.

PRINCIPAL-AGENT RELATIONSHIPS
This article takes a contrarian view and suggests that the policy-makers are not really interested in the real reforms. In other words, what is suggested here is that in the Indian context, the problem is not that the agent (bureaucracy) is not responsive to the agenda set by the principal (elected representatives), but that the honest and good performance by the agent is in fact against the interest of the principal. This essentially means that“civil services suffer more from problems external to them, especially those related to the environment in which they function. To put it bluntly, it is the excessive politicization of the civil services that hampers their performance, more than anything else. (Mathur, 2004) In stating this I don’t mean to exonerate the services of their share of culpability. I merely intend to depict a vicious cycle in which public administration in India is caught up for the purpose of advocating a holistic, systemic approach for satisfactory resolution of the problem. The first component of this cycle is the nature of electoral politics in modern democracies. As noted by Harold Lasswell, “The competition for occupying or controlling the power apparatus of society has become quiet intense. It often assumes a form in which no holds are barred." (Bhagat, 1996: 9) This development is accompanied by the rise of career politicians. Politics is no longer the preserve of wealthy statesmen whose only interest in politics is to perform public service. Today, politician is an
individual who makes his living by winning the elections (Tullock, 1999: 18). Now, since politics is viewed as an investment that though promises rich dividends but also carries high risk due to intense competition, candidates are not unexpectedly willing to spend incredible amount of money to win the elections.The expensive electoral process, especially in the developing countries, makes it almost impossible for an honest politician to get elected. In India, election expenses have been spiraling up in recent years. Today, it is very common to spend a million dollars on an election to the Parliament of this poor country. To provide an appropriate context for this number, if elected, a Member of Parliament can officially expect to receive only about 500 dollars a month in salary in return for this investment. Similarly, elections to State Assemblies and local governments are prohibitively expensive. Further, frequent elections and insecurity often necessitates politicians to aim for early recovery of their “investments”.
This problem has been noted by expert committee after expert committee set up to study election process. For example, the Tarakunde committee stated that, “A major malady in the operation of elections in India has been the reckless use of money. We recognize that many of the obligations imposed on candidates in most keenly contested elections cannot be fulfilled successfully without substantial expenditure...The steep rise in election expenses is the result of a deliberate preference in favor of money power as a major instrument of winning election…the unrestricted use of big money inevitably leads to the corruption and distortion of political processes." (Bhagat, 1996: 199) This problem was recognized as early as 1971. The Election Commission in its report to the Government of India mentioned that, “The parties and candidates would do well to remember that apart from all moral considerations, even considerations of pure selfinterest suggest that corrupt practices in the elections should be eliminated. Corrupt practice incites corrupt practices, and starts a vicious competition among political parties.” (Bhagat, 1996: 259) However, over the succeeding decades, role and influence of money in elections has, instead of going down, gone up manifold. Of late, there have been some attempts to impose limits on expenditure without much success. “In reality, average expenditure in most states is several multiples of ceilings determined by law." (Debroy, 2004: 156-157) It is easy to circumvent the ceilings by finding and using the loopholes in laws, for example getting the funds donated to the party and then making the party to spend money on the election of the candidate. This loophole was noticed by the Indian Supreme Court in Kanwar Lal Gupta versus
Amarnath Chawla. The court observed that “If a candidate were to be subject to the limitation of the ceiling, but the political party sponsoring him, or his friends and supporters were to be free to spend as much as they like in connection with his election, the object of imposing the ceiling is completely frustrated and the beneficent provision enacted in the interest of purity and genuineness of the democratic process would be wholly frustrated." (Bhagat, 1996: 201) After the court asked the government and the election commission to plug this loophole, a separate ceiling for party’s contribution towards a candidate’s campaign was imposed. However, there are still several shortcomings and ambiguities in the laws that permit mind boggling expenditure. And it is a continuous tussle between “creative” minds determined to find the loopholes and the enforcement to plug those. What complicates the task of enforcing the ceilings is that a large portion of expenditure is made by using black money for unaccounted and unaccountable purposes like direct distribution of cash to the targeted electorate or small-time political operators.

CONCLUSIONS
If the politicians and political parties willingly spend such huge amounts on elections, it is because they expect to collect exorbitant returns on their investments. This “rent seeking behavior is therefore endemic to the system. Most of this corruption is in the form of control of transfers and postings, which in turn sustains a system of retail corruption for a variety of routine services, regulatory functions and direct transfer of resources through government programs." (Debroy, 2004: 156-157) What this essentially means is that the political ‘entrepreneur’ creates his own supply-chain for managing his business. Under his business model, civil servants become distributors wholesaler or retailer depending on their position, and they distribute patronage and contracts and collect rent by way of bribes, cuts and kickbacks. This worldview is largely favorable to the civil servants. It visualizes civil servants as helpless victims at the hands of their political masters who prevent civil servants from performing their duties effectively. “Others, and an increasingly large number, view politicians and civil servants as the two sides of the same coin, both having joined hands in usurping the system for their personal gain." (Mathur, 2004) Whether a civil servant is viewed as a victim or a willing accomplice in this game of personal aggrandizement at the expense of people, the end result is same. Therefore, we would not be wrong in concluding that administrative reforms are intimately intertwined with political reforms. In the absence of electoral reforms that make it possible for honest and competent politicians to get elected, administrative reforms will not just bear any fruit, but also will make honest civil servants more vulnerable to pressure from politicians to align their interests with the goal of politicians. Therefore, any reforms of administration must be co-terminus with electoral reforms. The last interaction is between the society and the governance system in general with regard to .the learning behavior of people. “As the vicious cycle of money power, polling irregularities and corruption take hold of the system, electoral verdicts cease to make a difference to people." (Debroy, 2004: 156-157) This leads to general disenchantment among people with respect to system of governance. Since irrespective of who is in the power they continue to be victimized, citizens start maximizing their short-term returns by habitually trading votes for money and liquor. Once the voters start trading the votes, political class finds itself confronted with a Frankenstein’s
monster that was largely its own creation.
This completes the vicious cycle afflicting public administration in India. All the factors in the vicious cycle are dynamically linked together, and a change in one factor is likely to impact all other factors. To succeed in pushing through a change in this situation, broadly two kinds of strategies are available. If the intervention has to be only in one sub-system, then it has to be large enough for its impact to be felt in all sub-systems. For example, if the corruption can be made significantly riskier or much less lucrative, it is theoretically possible to make the prospect of governmental power and position less alluring for the dishonest politicians if we assume that we can make the civil service completely free of corruption which means that no civil servant would entertain illicit demands from politicians. Similarly, the converse is also true. Ridding the political class of corruption by itself can rectify the system. In practice, such major changes in one sub-system without corresponding changes in other sub-systems are rare. If it is possible to make changes in several or all sub-systems, even relatively smaller changes can also succeed. There are a number of policy alternatives that satisfy the criteria outlined above. What is important to remember is that the intervention should either be large or broad enough. It is with this possibility in mind that recommendations are made in the succeeding paragraphs.
As far as civil service is considered, we immediately need to constitute a Civil Service Board, fix minimum tenures, introduce result-based management and take the transfers out of the control of political class. “The ability of the political executive to transfer officers arbitrarily has increased the play of politics in the administration. It enables the executive to punish disobedient officials." (Debroy, 2004: 106) The fifth pay commission noted the gravity of this problem and suggested detailed guidelines as a part of comprehensive transfer policy; including the constitution of a civil service board.” (Debroy, 2004: 106) Recently, “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh...exhorted the states not to transfer officers frequently. Such exhortations have been made in the past too and even courts have taken cognizance of this phenomenon, but things have not improved; if anything, the situation has deteriorated over the years." (Mathur, 2004) The government needs to move beyond mere exhortations and evolve a consensus, define the role of the civil services in the scheme of governance, provide reasonable autonomy to the civil service and then hold it accountable for the results.I would not recommend any one-best way of achieving this objective. I would rather recommend deciding the objectives in each case on the basis of the circumstances confronting it. However, I do advocate considering the Agencification model as far as practicable. This would necessitate assigning each agency, well-defined goals and its chief executives, adequate powers and responsibility to make changes, including to the compensation structure, as may be needed to make the agency work. This would also restore the control of chief executive on his agency and limit the political interference to the minimum necessary level.
This would also take care of the problems identified by the Economic Administrative Reform Commission. On review of some agencies engaged in development work, it stated that, “The targets for each organization were not well-defined. Limits to authority were emphasized through audit and other administrative procedures. Accountability was stressed through procedural norms rather than on the basis of task performance." (EARC, 1983: 3-4) This, though, runs the risk of increase in bureaucratic control, irresponsiveness and excesses. To avoid this, the quasi-contracts between the ministers and agency heads would need to be lucidly drawn and enforced rigorously. This change would need to be accompanied with the changes in the judicial and the political structures. Agencification, in particular, requires judiciary to increase its efficiency in disposal of cases brought before it. All the effort at reform would amount to nothing without making changes in the political system for making it possible for honest people to enter the politics and holding them accountable for their actions. This approach again emphasizes systems approach, which alone I believe has chance of succeeding in achieving the desired goals.
When A H Hanson, an expert on planned economy, visited India in 1970s he remarked that, “The men are able, the organization adequate, the procedures intelligently designed. Why have the plans since 1956 so persistently run into crises?" (Debroy,2004: 129) Perhaps, the answer to his riddle lies in the fact that the administration in India has not embraced systems thinking. And not just that it has shied away from the systems thinking, it has also been steadfast in taking the oft-beaten path. If the Indian Civil Service is to claim back its fast losing glory, it needs to avoid the fate that legendary Sisyphus met. Every time it appeared that he had rolled the huge stone to the top of the hill, it rolled back down again. Like Sisyphus, proponents and adversaries of the present civil service alike should not remain locked in a tussle to push the same agenda down each other’s throats. They need to search for creative institutional solutions that best meet the needs of the public service.

Punit Arora, a senior Indian Civil Service Officer, is currently on sabbatical at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. He has worked for private sector, consulting and developmental organizations including United Nations:
punitsarora@gmail.com
Courtesy: journals.sfu.ca/ipmr/index.php/ipmr/article/download/16/16
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Monday, April 30, 2018

DECISION-MAKING AS A FACTOR IN POLITICOADMINISTRATIVE CULTURE - ASHOK RANJAN BASU

Sociologists have long debated whether nature or nurture is
the key to what people are and how they act. Administrative
culture, in its broadest sense is understood as the modal
pattern of values, beliefs, attitudes, and predispositions that
characterise and identify any given administrative system.
The administrative culture of any part of the globe reflects the
distinctiveness and complexity of various regional, national,
and local realities; their unique historical experiences, their
forms of insertion. Such cultures are historical products,
where past experiences, myths, and traditions have shaped
modal psychological orientations.

Any administrative culture is also conditioned by existing structural and conjunctional
circumstances and challenges. Decision making is one of
the most important aspects of administration and is greatly
influenced by the prevailing politico- administrative culture of
the organisation. The interdisciplinary framework of decisionmaking
is one of the important aspects for any administrator
for arriving at a decision. Though efforts are made to nurture
the personnel system to form a homogeneous group, still the
internalised behaviour pattern and the nature do continue.
Besides these, the psychological factors also play a great role
on the individual behaviour which affects the decision making
process. The article examines the decision making process as
a factor of politico-administrative culture.

THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL concept of culture, covers all facets of humans
in society: knowledge, behaviour, beliefs, art, morals, law, customs, etc.
(Singer, 1968). Despite some differences of emphasis, anthropologists
agree that a culture is the way of life of a given society. Sociologists have
long debated whether nature (our biological inheritance) or nurture (our
social inheritance) is the key to what people are and how they act. Most
sociologists hold that both are vital in determining individual personality
and behaviour. Taylor (1913) defined culture as “that complex whole which
includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, customs, and many other
capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”. Thus,
Taylor’s definition contains three critical components: (i) that complex
whole; (ii) acquired by man; and (iii) as a member of society. Thus, the
inter-connectedness of characteristics that, together, form a culture.

Political culture is defined by the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences
as “the set of attitudes, beliefs and sentiments that give order and meaning
to a political process and which provide the underlying assumptions and
rules that govern behaviour in the political system”. It encompasses both
the political ideals and operating norms of a polity. Political culture is thus
the manifestation in aggregate form of the psychological and subjective
dimensions of politics. A political culture is the product of both the collective
history of a political system and the life histories of the members of the
system and thus it is rooted equally in public events and private experience”.
Administrative culture, in its broadest sense is understood as the modal
pattern of values, beliefs, attitudes, and predispositions that characterise and
identify any given administrative system. In this inclusive definition both the
private and public spheres of the managerial ethos are covered, for societies
in general possess certain specific ways of “getting things done”, which
transcend the official sphere. The construction of an administrative mind-set
presents significant difficulties. Yet, it is possible to configure clusters of
cultural matrices that have important heuristic value in understanding the
relationship among contexts, structures, behaviours, and effects (Dwivedi
and Nef, 1998).

Two main perspectives may assist us in understanding the politicoadministrative
culture of an organisation. First, the government
administration in all nations happens to be larger and more complex than
any single organisation, being composed of many departments, agencies,
and corporation and so on. Second, policies and administrative decisions get
implemented through the state apparatus, state financial and other resources
are distributed, and the entire society is affected in many ways by attending
administrative culture. The behaviour of the state apparatus depends on
the kind of political and administrative culture prevailing in a country. No
administrative culture is monolithic; instead it is part of wider culture of a
society including its constituent parts such as political, economic, social,
religious, corporate, and civil society cultures. Nevertheless, it is the political
culture that influences the administrative culture most because it brings its
political values to modulate the behaviour of state employees. A composite
administrative culture reflects the values of all constituent parts.

The administrative culture, like all cultures, is not uniform but does
differ (Dwivedi and Nef, 1998). The administrative culture of any part of
the globe reflects the distinctiveness and complexity of various regional,
national, and local realities; their unique historical experiences, their forms
of insertion. Such cultures are historical products, where past experiences,
myths, and traditions have shaped modal psychological orientations.
Any administrative culture is also conditioned by existing structural and
conjunctional circumstances and challenges. The administrative culture is a
part of a larger attitudinal matrix, containing values, practices, and orientations
toward the physical environment, the economy, the social system, the polity,
and cultures itself. Administrative cultures, like all cultures, are dynamic
and subject to change. Syncretism, continuities, and discontinuities are part
and parcel of their fabric and texture. An administrative culture is the result
of a process of immersion, acculturation and socialisation, whose structural
drivers are implicit as well as induced and explicit. Administrative cultures are
influenced by global and regional trends. In the lesser –developed regions of
the world, they are particularly derivative, reflecting a center-priphery mode
of international political economy.

Riggs (1961) has drawn upon the structural–functional approach
that has gained considerable currency in political science in recent times.
According to this approach all societies perform an array of functions such
as administrative functions, religious functions, and economic functions
and so on. Societies usually have a variety of structures that perform the
different functions. In traditional societies, one encounters a few structures,
as a family or a leader that would be performing a whole host of functions
like rule making, rule adjudication, economic allocation even medical
and health administration. As society grows and develops, more and more
specialised structures appear, each one of which becomes engaged in specific
functions. So, differentiation of structures may be looked at as the essence of
development. Using an analogy, Riggs pictures the process of differentiation
as sunlight passing through a thunderstorm and appearing as a rainbow. Most
traditional societies are like sunlight in its natural condition. The mixed state
of structures is like pure white light-fused, according to the science of optics.
These structures in the traditional societies must be torn apart to make room
for more and more specialised functions in the wake of modernisation. To
extend the original analogy, the thunderstorm acts as a prism to change the
pure white light into a multi-coloured rainbow. As Riggs put it, traditional
agricultural and folk societies, (Agraria), approximate the fused model and
modern industrial societies (Industria) approach the refracted model. The
former is functionally diffused, the latter functionally specific. Intermediate
between these polar extremes is the prismatic model so called because of
the prism through which fused light passes to become refracted.

There are numerous definitions of “culture” taken from different
academic disciplines. These definitions show large similarities between
them. Creating a new public administration system, reforming the remnants
of the colonial civil service, and defining a new public policy agenda can
be an overwhelming task for any independent country. While, in India,
the colonial civil service (ICS) was externally imposed (by the former
colonial power), the newly created national civil service (IAS) has to
be the expression of domestic conditions, societal cultures, and national
expectations. The local milieu, also, is an important factor for public policy
formulation and execution. The relationship between the professional civil
service and elected politicians is crucial for the definition of the political
regime and the efficiency of the civil service. Although there are claims that
some civil service systems are, by definition, apolitical, the politicisation
of the Public Administration is difficult to avoid.

Culture and Politico-Administrative Models
Despite the perception of the civil service as a monolith structure, its
characteristics, texture and operating principles and procedures may vary
significantly from one country to another. The nature of the politician-civil
servant relationship may change due to changes in the dominant political
ideology of the time or major changes in the political leadership.
A brief cross-country comparison shows that two adverse processes
are at work. In some countries, there is increasing political control over
public administration to ensure that the bureaucracy adopts the new political
signals; while in others, there appears to be a relaxation of political control
in order to enable the public administration to adapt to external changes by
virtue of its organisational capacities. There is also a trend of the increasing
influence of civil society on the overall political system in a country.

Models of the Civil Service
Theoretically the civil service systems can be classified into five groups
(Peters, 1984; 1988). In the first model, the clear separation between
politicians and administration exists, in which the civil servants are ready
to unquestioningly follow the orders of the political appointees. The second
model (called “village life”) assumes that civil servants and politicians
are both part of a unified state elite and that they should not be in conflict
over power within the government structure itself. The third model (called
“functional village life”) assumes some degree of integration in civil
service and political careers. The fourth model (named “adverse model”)
assumes a significant separation between the two groups (politicians and
bureaucrats), but also there is no clear resolution in their struggle for power.
The fifth model assumes the clear separation between policy-makers and
administration, where, however, civil servants are the dominant force (see
Wilson, 1975). All these models are rather theoretical, and practice by
itself shows different patterns of interaction between politicians and civil
service. Models, however, represent a stylized illustration of inter-active
behaviour (see Giddens, 1971). Every particular civil service system is
primarily “nationally coloured” (Sevic, 1997), and the “ethos-generated”
characteristics cannot be neglected or avoided.

The relationship between politicians and the civil servants is regulated
by law, although in countries with long traditions of an independent civil
service, informal rules play an important role. In recent years, political
culture and attitudes have been given importance when analysing the
politico-administrative relationship.
Heady (1996) developed a model which in many ways complements
the already mentioned Peters’ model. He studies the relationship of the civil
service with the political regime, finding that the civil service can be ruler
responsive, single party responsive, majority party responsive and military
responsive. The socio-economic context, also, influences the relationship.
The civil service can operate in traditional, pluralist, competitive, mixed,
corporatist and centrally planned socio-economic environments.
Focusing on personnel management, he concluded that different
civil service systems can apply the following models: chief executive,
independent agency, divided and ministry-by-ministry. Determining the
quality of the entrance requirements, the civil service system can promote
any of the following: patrimony, party loyalty, party patronage, professional
performance, and bureaucratic determination. Being a social organisation
the civil service must have a sense of mission which is shared within
the service and can be: compliance, cooperation, policy responsiveness,
constitutional responsiveness and guidance. Using the model and taking
into account all policy variables enable us to determine the nature of the
politico-administrative relationship in different civil service systems.

Morgan developed another model, classifying the states into three
categories: integral, patrimonial, and custodial. In an integral state, the
civil service is supposed to behave as a secular, rational policy instrument
in the delivery of ‘development’ through government agencies or state
owned enterprises (Morgan, 1996: 230). The patrimonial state is, in fact,
a less effective integral state caught in the trap of a ‘clientele effect’ (clan,
ethnic, religious, territorial and other segregation and/or favouritism). In
the custodial state, the civil service has been seen as a protector of the
very idea of state as a social institution and provides eternal stability in
fairly unstable political conditions. Morgan also analysed the level of
institutionalisation of nation-state, assuming that the civil service can be
anti-state, pro-state, institutional- state and inchoate- state. Analysing the
degree of professionalism, he related value of process and value of outcomes
with professionalism and political responsiveness. Combining all these, one
gets four quadrants which should cover all the existing civil service systems.
According to Morgan, the first quadrant is the pragmatic field, the second
is the patrimonial field, while the third is the positivist field and finally, the
fourth is the absolutist field.

With this theoretical input the author examines the impact of decisionmaking
as a factor in the existing politico-administrative culture in India.
The 21st Century has witnessed tremendous changes in India, as in the
world in general. There have been regular attempts at administrative reforms
and innovation, both at the Centre and in the states, including starting of new
institutions and systems in India since 1947. Further, besides persistence of
problems of administration with increasing severity, we have also witnessed
in succeeding decades acceleration in the process of degeneration in our
socio-economic, political and administrative scenario. There are many other
burning issues also, such as lack of propriety in the exercise of administrative
discretion; paralysis of political will and capacity for decision making;
mounting administrative corruption and political venality, leading to erosion
in the credibility and effectiveness of democratic institutions.

Decision making is one of the most important aspects of administration
and is greatly influenced by the prevailing politico- administrative culture
of the organisation. There are various factors which influence the process
of decision making. The interdisciplinary framework of decision making is
one of the important aspects for any administrator for arriving at a decision.
The decisions affect and are affected by political, economic, social and
the cultural factors prevailing in the environment. Therefore, the decision
making must be suited to the environment. A continuing situation of
necessary interaction between an organisation and its environment introduces
an element of environmental control into the organisation. Therefore, it is
useful to consult the people interested in the decisions such as interest groups
and pressure groups. As problems and issues become more complex, tools
for analysis and decision making will have even greater impact. Experience
tells us that higher the state of economic development, the greater is the
need for managers equipped with tools and techniques useful in decision
making. Rising income will permit expanded consumption and this will
lead to higher standard of living. We will become more organised society
and will depend more upon complex organisations to accomplish our goals.
The social idea of democratic participation, the rise of individualism and
individual freedom and increasing self actualisation will become a more
central part of our lives, both as consumers and as an organised society.

Organisations will make increasing use of formal techniques modelling in an
attempt to describe their environments and develop intelligent rules to cope
with environmental problems. There can be three decision environments,
together with a scale of decision difficulty. Certainty is the condition where
the outcome is specified; risk is the condition where the possible outcomes
can be specified by a probability distribution; uncertainty indicates no
knowledge of the likelihood of the various outcomes. Decision makers have
to function in three types of environments. In each of these environments,
knowledge of the state of affairs differs.

Decision making under conditions of certainty: In this environment,
only one state of nature exists, that is, there is complete certainty about the
future. Although this environment sometimes exists, it is usually associated
with very routine decisions involving fairly inconsequential issues; even
here it is impossible to guarantee complete certainty about the future. The
techniques of Cost Benefit Analysis, Marginal Analysis, and Net work
analysis are useful in decision making process.
Decision making under the conditions of uncertainty: Here more than
one state of nature exists, but the decision maker has no knowledge about
the various states, not even sufficient knowledge to permit the assignment
of probabilities to the state of nature. The Utility theory, Preference theory,
Decision trees, etc. are useful in decision making process.
Decision making under the conditions of risk: In this situation, more than
one state of nature exists, but the decision maker has information which will
support the assignment of probability values to each of the possible states.
The techniques of O.R. are useful in decision making process.
Having explained the concept of culture, and the process of decisionmaking,
it is now important to study about the personnel who are involved
in the decision making process.

Personnel System– The Environmental Context
Environment is one of the most important aspects in any study of
social situations. When we consider administration, “environment “is not
this physical environment but it comprises the numerous non-physical
relationships which man has created for himself. Therefore, the term
“environment” has a different connotation and distinctive characteristics.
In nature, environment is an integral part and is unchangeable; in the
context of administration, environment is man’s own creation. Even the
man made environment may be unchangeable for many purposes. In certain
circumstances, it may acquire some of the characteristics of the natural
environment itself.
Personnel System is the instrument of public administration of the State.
This system comes in contact with the individual citizen through individuals
who are members of the system itself. It is here the “environment” and the
“institutionalised form of the State” interacts and influences each other. For
understanding the nature of the interaction, it will be necessary to trace the
succession of linkages from “individual” to “environment“on the one hand
and from the” individual” to the “system” on the other. This is a circular
chain which may be roughly represented as follows:
“Individual” ---- “environmental context”--- “organised state”----
“personnel system”---- “individual”
Any change at any point will influence the entire chain, the intensity at
any point depending on the strength of the change element.
The first concrete manifestation of the environmental context is the
“time spirit” prevailing in the society which represents the sum total of the
social phenomenon or the prevailing ethos in the community assimilating
within itself the social, cultural and religious heritage. “Time spirit” is the
first stage in approaching the personnel system from the environment end.
If we proceed further, we reach the socio-economic situation in the second
stage; thereafter there is the political system and finally, the administrative
system. Thus we have the successive linkages as in the following sequence:
Environment --- time spirit--- socio-economic situation---political
system--- personnel

The scope of socio-economic situation is narrower. The political system
can be said to be part of the socio-economic situation, but the two, in some
respects and to some extent, are independent as well. Political system, to
a large extent, depends on the socio-economic matrix of community but
the political system, in turn, influences the socio-economic situation itself.
Similar mutual relationship can also be seen between the political system
and administrative system. In this chain of elements, when change takes
place at any point, it manifests itself in all other elements depending on the
strength of casual links.

Personnel System
Let us now proceed in other direction to trace the stages from the
“personnel” system end to the “individual” with reference to whom all
processes have to be finally interpreted. We find two elements, viz. (i)
personnel structure and (ii) human element. These two elements are further
connected by another element “personnel technique”. The characteristics
of human element are determined by the group of individuals who man the
personnel system. When we study the personnel system in the context of
environment, we are really studying the interaction of this sub group with
the larger society of which it is a sub group. The above three elements in the
personnel system and individual chain are mutually related and influence
each other. Personnel techniques are devised with reference to the personnel
structure. Similarly, the personnel techniques themselves, in their turn,
influence the personnel structure (Sharma, 1976).

Let us further consider the inter-relationship between the human element
and personnel techniques. The method of recruitment and the qualifications
prescribed are two important factors of personnel techniques. Minimum
qualifications determine the sub group from which the human element can
be drawn. Let us now understand the process of interaction between the
environments and the personnel system. We have noted that the personnel
system itself is determined by the administrative system. In fact, personnel
structure is a function of administrative system. On the other hand, the
administrative system itself will be influenced by the personnel structure.
The administrative system, in a way, is midpoint between the environment
and the human element. Perhaps, the administrative system goes to
determine environmental conditions for the personnel system. Thus, we find
a continuing relationship starting from the environmental context through
the personnel system to the human element. From the environmental context
end, we first come to the time spirit, then we reach socio-economic matrix,
political system, administrative system, personnel structure, personnel
techniques and finally the human element (Fig.1). In the final analysis we
want to study the interaction between this sub group comprising the human
element and the environment or the prevailing ethos in the society. In fact
we arrive at different groups of individuals and our problem is reduced to
the study of relationship between a smaller group as defined by personnel
system and the larger community within which it operates.

Internalised Behaviour Pattern– Its Significance
It is the time spirit that determines the value system of an individual
and, therefore, influences his internalised behaviour pattern without any
reference to the role imposed by the membership of an organisation. Another
important determinant of the quality of interaction between the environment
and the personnel system is the role perspective of the individual himself.
Sometimes, normative behaviour patterns for members of different groups
are also informally defined. However, unlike the internalised value system,
the roles are externally determined and superimposed on the individual.
Sometimes, we may find clash between one’s value system and the
prescribed role. In real world situation, every individual member, subject
to some constrains, become a central figure in the interaction game. Man’s
relationship with man, his value system, role perception of each individual,
prescribed formal roles, etc. are important elements which determine the
quality of interaction.

To understand the character of the composition of personnel system
we will have to consider two aspects, viz. initial recruitment and turnover
which are important in relation to the interaction between the personnel
system and the community. Internalised value system, which determines the
quality of interaction, depends to a large extent on the initial constitution of
the service and its turnover. Initial recruitment defines the cross-section of
the community from which the group is drawn. Extent of uniformity and
continuity in a civil servant's career determines his capacity of objective
perception to different life situations. If the turnover in civil service is
small, the continuing influence on individual members as the part of the
larger social system is minimal. If the turnover is fast, service traditions
will tend to be weak. Individual members of the group and, therefore the
group itself, continue to renew their contact with the larger society. The
internalised value system of each member is continuously affected by what is
happening outside. In India, where there is little turnover, we find the element
of renewing contact with the society, which is an advantage of quicker
turnover, is sought to be built into it brought other devices (Sharma,1976).
Personnel system or bureaucracy is a groups which a collection of persons
perceived to form a coherent unit to some degree. Groups influence their
members in many ways, but such effects are often produced through roles,
status, norms and cohesiveness.

Psychologically, the decision making process depends on the: (i)
personality, (ii) motivation, (iii) attitude and (iv) environment. The decision
making capacity of an individual is greatly influenced by his level of
achievement (achievement oriented), level of affiliation (affiliation oriented),
his need to seek power (power oriented) and his need to stay in group
(gregarious oriented). Those who are high in level of achievement or power
are Type A personality whereas others are Type B personality.
The next important aspect is the level of motivation of an individual. An
individual takes a decision depending on his level of motivation and type of
motivation. Motivation is the process by which activities are started, directed
and sustained so that physical and psychological needs are fulfilled. Extrinsic
type of motivation is in which a person performs an action because it leads
to an outcome that is separate from or external to the person. Motivation
depends on his external motivation (rewards/perks) or internal motivation
(satisfaction).

FACTORS AFFECTING DECISION MAKING
Personality is the unique way by virtue of which individuals think,
feel and act. It is different from character and temperament but includes
those aspects. The four perspectives of personality are the psychoanalytic,
behaviouristic (including social cognitive theory) humanistic and trait
perspectives.
Attitudes are evaluations of any aspect of the social world. The attitude
can be positive, negative or ambivalent. Attitudes are often acquired from
other persons through social learning. Such learning can involve classical
conditioning, instrumental conditioning or observational learning. Attitudes
are also formed on the basis of social comparison– our tendency to compare
ourselves with others to determine whether our view of social reality is or
is not correct. Studies conducted with identical twins suggest that attitudes
may also be influenced by genetic factor, although the magnitude of such
effects varies greatly for different attitudes.

Social influence is the efforts by one or more persons to change the
attitudes or behaviour of one or more other – is also a common part of life.
Most people behave in accordance with social norms most of the time;
in other words they show strong tendencies of conformity. Many factors
determine whether and to what extent, conformity occurs. These include
cohesiveness- the degree of attraction felt by an individual towards some
group–group size and type of social norm operating in that situation–
descriptive or injunctive. We are most likely to behave in ways consistent
with norms when they are relevant to us. Although pressure towards
conformity is strong, many persons resist them, at least part of the time.
This resistance seems to stem from two strong motives; the desire to retain
one’s individuality, and then to desire to exert control over one’s own life.
The last is the environment which can be either harmonious or stressful. All
these, have direct impact in the decision making ability of the individuals
who constitute the personnel system.

Stratification within the Personnel System
The personnel system or the civil service is not a single homogeneous
entity. The system is divided both by vertical as well as horizontal lines and
there are numerous groups within it. The composition of different sub groups
within the same personnel system in terms of their social background may
be entirely different. Each group will have its own value systems, its own
aspirations and, therefore, would have qualitatively an entirely different
response to any situation. Each group would, therefore, require different
consideration. We can identify broadly three types:
Type-A: The entire civil service is drawn from a wide social spectrum.
The area of informal contact is universal and co-extensive with the
system itself. The civil services in the urban, particularly metropolitan
areas approximate to this type.

Type-B: A part of the civil service (or higher sub group) is drawn from
higher strata in the society. It has a limited turnover. Other subgroups
are drawn from a wider cross section and the turnover is large. In this
case the area of informal contact of the civil service system with the
society is larger than A.
Type-C: The whole civil service is drawn from a limited cross section
of society and there is limited turnover after initial recruitment. Or, the
initial recruitment may be from a wider spectrum but afterwards there
is purposive insulation. There is practically no area of informal contact
between the personnel system and the society.
If we move from this highly urbanised environment to the general
environmental context, i.e. to small towns, etc.(Type B) we find the
personnel structure up to particular level may have a representative cross
section of the community except for the lowest sub groups.

In the extreme backward area (Type C) the personnel structure is largely
alien to the local community and in a way may be a replica of the old colonial
and feudal system. Even the lowest member of the personnel system may
consider himself superior to the highest in the local community and take
pride in not belonging to it.
Thus we see that neither the environments nor the personnel system
is homogeneous. The personnel system which is drawn for the country
as a whole comprises of diverse culture, religion, caste, tribes and social
background. Though efforts are made to bring some sort of homogeneity
depending on minimum educational qualifications and training which
Riggs refers to improvement, it seems that the social, regional, religious
background have still a great say in their “nurturing”, attitude and behaviour
which greatly influences the decision making capability in various ethnic
groups. Having explained the interaction/relationship between the personnel
system and the citizen/community and the problems there to, in the decision
making process, it is necessary to consider some other barriers to decision
making process.

Social Stratification and its Implications
In India, as in many other third world countries, the environment is
also not uniform. We have advanced regions, where the prevailing ethos
may be equalitarian and democratic. On the other extreme, there may be
some regions where the old feudalistic or colonial traditions may be holding
ground. This difference may persist notwithstanding the prevalence of a
uniform political and administrative system throughout. We have already
noted that the personnel system itself is heterogeneous in terms of the social
background of its numerous sub groups. Thus the interaction between the
personnel system which has been devised for the country as a whole and the
environment which differs from place to place is not the same (Basu,1985)
In urban metropolitan centres the civil service sub group is not placed at the
top of the socio-economic system and is almost indistinguishable from the
general population. It is the political, industrial or commercial groups which
occupy the top position. If we move from this highly urbanised environment
to the general environmental context, i.e. to small towns, etc. (Type B) we
find the personnel structure up to particular level may have a representative
cross-section of the community except for the lowest sub groups.

Other barriers to decision making process:
(i) Perceptual Blocks: This exists when one is unable to clearly perceive
a problem or the information needed to solve it effectively. They include:
(a) seeing only what one expects to see; (b) Stereotyping; (c) Not recognising
problems; (d) Not seeing the problem in perspective; and (e) Mistaking
cause and effect.
(ii) Emotional Blocks: Emotional blocks exist when one perceive a
threat to one’s emotional needs. These include: (a) Fear of making mistakes;
(b) Impatience; (c) Avoiding anxiety; (d) Fear of taking risks; (e) Need for
order; and (f) lack of challenge.
(iii) Intellectual Blocks: Intellectual blocks exist when one does not
have necessary thinking skills to find successful solutions or is unable to use
them effectively. They include: (a) lack of knowledge or skill in the problem
solving process; (b) lack of creative thinking; (c) inflexible thinking; (d) not
being methodical; (e) lack of knowledge or skill in using the “language” of
the problem; and (f) using inadequate information.
(iv) Expressive Blocks: Expressive blocks arise when one is unable to
communicate in the way required to produce an effective solution. They
include: (a) using the wrong language; (b) unfamiliarity with a particular
application of a language; (c) a passive management style; and (d) a
dominant management style.
(v) Environmental Blocks: Environmental blocks are caused by external
obstacles in the social or psychological environment, which prevents one
from solving a problem effectively. Environmental blocks, which exist when
the social or physical environment hinders our problem solving, include:
(i) management style; (ii) distractions; (iii) physical discomfort; (iv) lack
of support; (v) stress; (vi) lack of communication; (vii) monotonous work;
and (viii) Expectations of others.
(vi) Cultural Blocks: Cultural blocks result from our conditioning to
accept what is expected or normal in a given situation. Cultural blocks
exist when our problem solving is hindered by accepting that some things
are good or right and are done, while others are bad or wrong and are not
done. So that we become bound by custom. They include: (i) unquestioning
acceptance of the status quo; (ii) dislike of change; (iii) Fantasy and humour
are not productive; (iv) Feelings, intuition and subjective judgements are
unreliable; (v) over-emphasis on competition or cooperation; and (vi)
taboos.

Decision making, however, is not a matter of mere formal system. It
is also a matter of attitude of people who work in the system. If they are
motivated by will to achieve, desire to deliver the goods, to show results,
if they have a sense of urgency, a sense of function and commitment, then
they will look at everything positively and try to make decisions rather than
delay them. If on the other hand, they are lazy, sluggish and indolent, if
they only wish to play safe, to shirk responsibility and pass on the buck to
others, then they will make references which are not needed which results
in delay and loss of public interest (Dubhashi- 1976).
In the workforce today, organisations are now structured in a way that
almost everyone has some level of decision making ability. Whether the
decisions are big or small, they have a direct impact on how successful,
efficient and effective individuals are on the job. As a result, it is becoming
more and more important for employees to focus on and improve their
decision making abilities.
Individual Decision Making
Group Decision Making
Buying Decision Process
This may seem as simple as learning from our mistakes, but it
really starts at a much deeper level. Making better decisions starts with
understanding one’s own Emotional Quotient (EQ).While it is often
misunderstood as Intelligence Quotient (IQ), Emotional Quotient is different
because instead of measuring one's general intelligence, it measures one's
emotional intelligence. Emotional Quotient is the ability to sense, understand
and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate high
levels of collaboration and productivity.

Social Intelligence Quotient (SQ)
The social intelligence quotient or SQ is a statistical abstraction similar
to the ‘standard score’ approach used in IQ tests with a mean of 100. Unlike
the standard IQ test, it is not a fixed model. It leans more to Jean Piaget’s
theory that intelligence is not a fixed attribute but a complex hierarchy of
information-processing skills underlying an adaptive equilibrium between
the individual and the environment. Therefore, an individual can change their
SQ by altering their attitudes and behaviour in response to their complex
social environment.

Differences from Intelligence
Professor Nicholas Humphrey points to a difference between intelligence
and social intelligence. Some autistic children are extremely intelligent
because they are very good at observing and memorising information, but
they have low social intelligence. Similarly, chimpanzees are very adept
at observation and memorisation, sometimes better than humans, but are
inept at handling interpersonal relationships. What they lack is a theory
of other people’s minds. Both Nicholas Humphrey and Ross Honeywell
believe that it is social intelligence, or the richness of our qualitative life,
rather than our quantitative intelligence, that makes humans what they are;
for example what it is like to be a human being living at the centre of the
conscious present, surrounded by smells and tastes and feels and the sense
of being an extraordinary metaphysical entity with properties which hardly
seem to belong to the physical world. This is social intelligence.
Let us now examine how the processes of training, human resource
development or capacity building or improvements are made to overcome
these shortcomings discussed above. The main aim of training is to
develop skills, i.e. professional skills, behavioural skills and conceptual
skills. Training helps the entrants by inculcating occupational skill and
knowledge, making him familiar with the objective of the department to
which he belongs. The process of training adjusts the employee to his new
environment. Training makes up for any deficiency of the recruits. It helps
the employees to keep themselves aware of the latest development.
The influence of training in overcoming the impediment caused by
the social, economic and cultural background of the officers is of great
relevance. For this purpose the elite group of officers in Himachal Pradesh
has been taken as a sample, interviewed and efforts have been made to
analyse their behaviour and decision making skills in different administrative
and social environment.

There are a total of 103 officers out of whom 88 (85%) are males
and 15(15%) are females. There are three(2.9%) Muslim (male) officers.
The number of Scheduled Caste Officers is nine and the number of ST
Officers is 11, respectively. Out of the 103 officers there are 12 Ph.Ds, five
M.Tech.s, three L.L.M.s, 11 M.B.A.s, 34 M.A.s, eight M.Sc.s, one M.Com,
one M.B.B.S, 18 B.E.s, 20 L.L.B.s, and rest are graduates. It revealed that
at present the officers of IAS have to undergo five phases of compulsory
training. After undergoing training at the Academy at Mussoorie, they are
sent for District Training at the state of allotment during the 1st phase of
training. Thereafter they go back to the academy for the second phase of
training. After completion of nine years of service they again undergo third
phase of training at the Academy. The fourth phase of training is after the
completion of 15 years of service and the 5th phase is after 25 years of
service. However, besides these, the officers are sent for various trainings
both within and outside the country.

During the study it was revealed that most of the officers (85%) were
of the view that training is necessary and it keeps them aware of the latest
thinking and techniques of administration. They were of the view that
it improves their thinking and professional skills as well. However, the
majority (72%) were of the view that it had not been possible to use the
various techniques in their day-to-day decision making process. The reason
for the same were many and varied as the general set up was not conducive
for application of the managerial decision making process. However, an
interesting view was provided by one very senior officer who expressed
his doubt about the efficacy of training in the decision making process. He
was of the view that though in the Academy and during service career the
officers are exposed to various training courses, the subsequent use of these
techniques are largely individual based depending on their qualifications,
background, attitudes, etc. Another important fact revealed was that the
relatively junior officers were more interested in training compared to their
senior colleagues. However, there was a majority (65%) feeling that the
existing training is more oriented towards professional skill development
and conceptual development as compared to the behavioural development
aspect. There is no conscious effort to make the personnel system more
homogeneous. It was reported that it is automatically developed by
becoming a member of the common service, same cadre, and postings in
different areas and by common training, etc. There are not many exposures
to the cultures, norms, mores values and to the exposures to the background
of other religious/ethnic groups. It is well to bear in mind that the ultimate
success of training rests upon a wise recruitment policy, for training cannot
rectify the original error. Nor can training endow its recipient with the flair
for administration, which is something inborn. This flair may be stipulated,
but it cannot be artificially acquired.

Relationship between Civil Servants and Politicians
The study conducted by Kothari and Roy (1969), though dated, is
relevant even now and furnishes some penetrating insights into the existing
relationships between politicians and the administrators at the district level.
Even though the administrators would like to use their better judgements
to meet the demand of the local situations, they have a propensity to give
precedence to the bureaucratic rules, regulation and procedures. They try
to preserve the bureaucratic autonomy and hierarchy from the pressures of
the political leaders. They do seek support of the political leaders and try to
establish good relations with them but their effort in this direction is much
less than that of political leaders. Administrators do not perceive it as their
role to modify the policy decisions on the advice of the political leaders, nor
do they allow the different socio-economic interests to influence bureaucratic
decisions. The adverse evaluation of each other by the political leaders and
the administrators appears to arise from the insufficient understanding and
appreciation of each other’s role.

We have discussed the various psychological and sociological factors/
barriers that influence the attitudes, behaviour and other aspects of the
personnel system. Similarly, the knowledge, skill, political and socioeconomic
system of the prevailing environment also have a great impact
on the decision making process. The politico-administrative culture has a
great role in influencing the decision making process. The administrative
environment in this country is not uniform. The society is also heterogeneous
consisting of various linguistic, religious and ethnic groups each having
their own ethos, norms, mores and values which influences the public values
in their own way. The diverse political parties have their own agenda and
aspirations and influence the decision-making process to suit their own
goals. The personnel sub groups drawn from the society also bring with
them their traditions, attitudes and aspirations. Though efforts are made to
nurture them to form a homogeneous group, still the internalised behaviour
pattern and the nature do continue. Besides these the psychological factors
also play a great role on the individual behaviour which affects the decision
making process. The public values, citizen administration relationships,
administrator - political relationship influences the decision making
process. Though there are various models for improving the services and
the decision making process, the existing culture, aspirations of the public,
public values, internalised behaviour pattern of the bureaucracy, politicoadministrative
relationship are of prime importance in the decision making
process. The more efficient and effective use of the existing personnel
system, wise recruitment policy, clearing up of relationship between the
political appointees and the professional civil servants and improving their
capacity building is of crucial importance.

Courtesy: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0019556120150110