Monday, December 10, 2012

Inter-Relationship Dynamics - Society, State And Public Administration


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Learned readers of this blog:

The blog now ventures into a more specialised and concentrated mode of higher Public Administration studies' curriculum,which are of the Masters in Public Administration (MPA) and M.Phil in Public Administration degree levels. Thus,furthering and widening the avenues of knowledge in this discipline for all.

The subjects coming under the Undergraduate degree of Public Administration as well as the UPSC Public Administration Mains syllabus topics have already been covered in totality and compiled within respective previous posts uploaded on this blog, that have been, and still are, majorly appreciated by its readers across the globe.

Spread the word about this new post as well,just the way you all have been doing viz. the previous posts on this blog,so that, through your one act of goodwill, knowledge reaches out to the the maximum readers & post graduate students of Public Administration studies, thus, helping them benefit immensely from the same and to make efforts to convert that knowledge into practicality and efficiency by means of the various jobs they are involved in, for the good of society.

Your valuable feedback and suggestions are always welcome,so post them via the comments section so that it can be given due attention.

Let's begin.


Till date there has been no consensus on the definition of the State by its various theorists as it is said to be a complex concept encompassing various parameters, some identified, and others still on the course of identification. The reason for this chaos is the changing nature of the State since its inception, whose trajectory is - Tribal Communities < City Communities < City States of Greece and Rome Feudal Societies < Absolutist Sovereign States <Fascist States < Communist States < and now Welfare States, which are obviously helped by the society (national and international) that it is set in at that point in time and the effects of the abovementioned pour into the functioning of its administration without doubt. So, this is the reason we are discussing the inter - relationships today as they are imperative to understand the abovementioned before moving further.

Some theorists in favour of the State defend it by stating that the State is an altruistic force which uses its monopolistic coercive force at times for the betterment of the country, however cynicists of the State present it as a malevolent body and an instrument of exploitation. However, no clear idea of the State comes across through the above, so let's look at it through the various parameters/features of the State on which even most of the theorists have seemed to have a unequivocal yet subdued agreement for now. These are:

1) Territoriality
2) Population
3) Government
4) Sovereignty

So, the State is as per the abovementioned features, a system of relationship which defines the territory and membership of a community,regulates its internal affairs, conducts relations with other States and provides it with identity on the international stage and keeps it together.

Christopher Morris characterises the State in terms of a number of inter- related features namely:
1) Continuity in Space and Time : The State is a set of political organisations ( i.e. the Legislature) whose institutions ( PMO,CAG,Judiciary,Military,Election Commission,Information Commission,etc) endure over time.
2) Transcendence: The State's institutions do not constitute it;they are its agents.
3) Political Organisation: These are institutions through which the State acts.
4) Authority : The sovereign is the ultimate source of political authority in its territory.
5) Allegiance : Citizens owe allegiance to the State and the State has a strong loyalty towards them.

The State is a man made institution and is not an organic one therefore it is not a necessity if not required by the society. Let us take a look at its changing nature.
1) In mid 17th century in imperialist world, there was the model of the Westphalian State having the Nation State as its kingpin which flourished till the World War II. Under this model, the world consisted of sovereign States recognising no superior power governing themselves apart from them. No international law prevailed on them except the norms of peaceful coexistence among the States. Law making, resorting to force and violence, cross border issues were to be settled between the affected States and no one should intervene unless asked by both the respective States.

2) Post World War II, the emergence of World organisations like the UNO and the demise of the Communist superpower Russia has made the whole world tilt towards one side and that is towards the West. The UNO and its allied bodies are the ones ruling the roost in this globalisation era where the Natin State stands almost non existent since there are no boundaries anymore of States and International law holds more ground than the local ones. Free trade and revolutionary uses of Information and communication technology geared up globalisation on the vehicle of the WTO have hold sway but still nobody is unaware of the looming negative effects of the same like contributing to Internet crime and terrorism as well as loss caused to many MNC's as well as poor people of the world as the capitalists come closing in on humanity for their materialistic gains.

Globalisation is irreversible and one needs to adapt to it but in the garb of globalisation and free trade there are many capitalist vested interests entering the developing countries and making them dance to their tunes and implement policies of theirs which is actually not required by the people of that country. Apart from that one must note that if this is happening then it is the State of that country who needs to take matters in their hands and collaborate with the market and civil society and use the public funds collected from the country towards the betterment of the people through proper and needed local resolutions to the local problems. If Globalisation is choking the growth of the people then it is the State who now assumes and even greater role in this era of globalisation than ever before as a regulator, facilitator and guard of the people and be the one in between the global forces and the people of the country and perform ameliorative functions and thus helping the disadvantaged people which are in the majority of the population to reach the level where even they can eat the fruits of globalisation as equally as the other benefactors of the same.

Now, since we have got a fair idea of the definition of the State,lets move on to the changing nature of the State and understand it through the various perspectives/ideologies of the State. These are:

1) Liberal Perspective Of State: It is a political ideology/philosophy of the State based on the ideas of Liberalism, which broadly represent freedom,modernity and progress. This perspective is extremely imperative to know and understand for the sole reason that it is the only perspective that attempts to give us an answer to a theory of State, its evolution and the incidents leading to its contemporary character and shape in today's world as one sees it.
Having been fed up with patriarchal and absolutist behaviours of the tyrannical trio of the monarchs, the aristocrats and the Roman Church who were helping each other by suffocating the individual to retain power any which way, the people and free thinking intellectuals looked for ways to end the distressing status quo prevailing. That was the birth of this perspective.
They advocated the freedom and equality of individuals born with inherent and nature gifted natural rights,i.e. right to life and liberty,right to property,right to religion,etc. that could not be taken  away by anyone on this earth, and the State was to confine itself to three key areas of activity, viz. Defence of individuals from other individuals,enforcement of contracts and defence of the country from external attack and harm.
The market is to be free and self governing determining the course of the economy and private property rights.
Hobbes gave a picture of the emergence of the Modern State through his Social Contract Theory, which states that human beings gave up some/all of their rights through a mutual agreement with each other in the society to a third entity which was a neutral body that would regulate them and maintain everyone's safety and security. This social contract created the State, which was the third entity. However, Hobbes theory, though very helpful lacked the answer to the question as to who was to regulate this ' Huge ' and ' Overpowering ' State that was created and prevent it from arbitrary and coercive action on the individuals.
John Locke then stepped in and pitched for a constitutional head of state ( most preferably Monarchy according to Locke) who would have a government of people's representatives to make laws and execute them for the benefit of people,but the day the government loses the trust of the people, it would be revoked and a new one formed that finds parlance with the people. However, he did not specify the means of choosing these representatives and on what basis would they be held accountable to the people for not carrying out their will.
Thus, legally sanctioned political power concept was further detailed by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill where they stated that Utilitarianism was the determining factor for holding the State accountable to the people which literally meant " Greatest good for the greatest number". So, he advocated under the Utility concept the State performing works of free education, old age insurance,minimum wages,sickliness benefit,agricultural communes and industrial houses, etc. If these are not carried out by the State then they should move out from power and make place for the more deserving.
Bentham and James Mill were called ' reluctant Democrats' because even though they spoke of reforms like voting and elections,etc. but they did not push for it and gave a very idealist perspective of the State which indirectly referred to the State and its govt. as so moral that if they did not do the above functions of welfare then they would automatically step down without further adieu without any need for asking them. This was not going to happen.
And, so James Mill's son, John Stuart Mill pushed for the above mentioned with all might.
So, along with James Mill and T.H Green and the others mentioned above, there is not an iota of doubt on the immense contribution of their thoughts that helped influence and shape the present day Modern State. The bottom line of the Liberalistic perspective is that the State was to perform the above mentioned three major functions and leave the market to govern itself by creating favourable conditions for each individual to prosper and reach to his/her maximum potential. The State in the meantime can also provide ameliorative services to the needy of the country as on of its duties so that they help even those to reap the benefits of capitalism.

2) Marxist Perspective Of State: Also regarded as the class theory of State and talks of economics more than the State. The State as seen by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Gramsci is an expression or condensation of class relations which implies pattern of domination and oppression as elements of the  State as it is viewed as an instrument of the elite,i.e. 'Bourgeoise', to exploit the working class or the ' proletariat'. Marx was more contemporary in his approach to these analysis of State as since the Liberal perspective of State was designed, a lot had changed and due to rise in Capitalism, a lot of new social classes had emerged and society was extremely heterogeneous by that time. Marx stated that in order to change the status quo,the workingclass/middle class should capture the State,destroy the privileges of the old class and prepare the basis for the eventual disappearance of the State where every individual would be so morally and socially capable to self govern him/herself. This end stage was termed as a " Communist State" by Marx which means that the whole society would live together as one class and one community and help each other to attain their best.
The stage in between this transition of State and No State where the workers capture the State and make it democratic instead of simply a handful of minority elite ruling it, is what Marx and Engels term as the " Dictatorship Of The Proletariat" which was necessary for the transition period to Communism which this Dictatorship Of Proletariat would help in achieving and would be the sole purpose of this Dictatorship.
One can see two dominant perspectives of Marxist view of the State, in one he stresses that the State is a selfish and vested interest body having on its mind only to cater to the minority rich/elite and exploit the poor/working class, whereas on the other hand he talks of establishing another kind of State run by the working class to help convert the State into a Communist State which signals that the State need not be influenced by the rich and can also work for the benefit of its people depending on who is ruling it and is autonomous.
Marx also talked about how would the State look after turning in to a Communist State where there would only be administration running the country instead of people ruling. However, Marx and Engels stressed on the imperative need for central planning and direction without force and coercion as a feature of Proletarian State but it fails to resolve the dilemma of a conflict between centralised planning and individual freedom in the Communist society.
Marx considered the Bureaucracy to inherently incapable as hierarchical and functional differentiation leads to a mere combination and mutual reinforcement of incompetence where the superior does not know the specifics of a case and the subordinate does not know the general principles of the organisation and so the situation can never be seen in totality to resolve it. He states that deliberate non transparency and curtailment of information is cited as the norm for keeping corruption a secret and confidential while serving the interest of the rich. He says that the exams also conducted to recruit the bureaucrats are nothing but hogwash and is just a baptism into the world of bureaucracy and does not hold any merit.
Marx and Engels surveyed the Asiatic societies States and found that in these countries, the State controlled all classes and not necessarily the working class only as it was in the European countries that they came from. These Asiatic States performed all activities and thus suffocated the civil society as well as all other actors there whether elite or poor.
The Marxist perspective thus failed to answer the above mentioned questions and also as to what kind of organisations would be there to carry out a Communist society and the blueprint of its working.
We saw the enactment of Marxist theories in Russia and other Marxist ideology following countries in the early 20th century, however, till date none of those countries have shown a withering away of the State/Dictatorship of Proletariat and establishment of a Communist society living totally by the ideals of Socialism. Rather, many countries have abandoned this philosophy or are following it partially and many countries have broken up and divided in to many parts.
Irrespective of the questions posed to the abovementioned Marxist Perspective Of State, one must not forget that Karl Marx is important even today and the reason for that is that he was the first intellectual to provide the world with the discovery of the great law of motion of history, the law according to which all historical struggles,whether they proceed in the political, religious, philosophical or some ideological domain are in fact only more or less clear expression of struggles of social classes and the State mostly every time only represents the interests of the dominant classes in society and he also put forward the modes of intervention in these struggles. Also, he was the torch bearer of the importance of Socialism to all other theorists and States/governments, which taught these rulers that if the large public is ignored for Capitalism then their seat is in danger. So, Marx can be credited with the Socialist states that we see around us today in the contemporary world.
The new generation Marxist theorists have provided a new view on Marxist theories by stating that the State can be seen as an autonomous entity which need not be influenced by  Capitalism but rather works together with the capitalists and harmonises the worker class with their ideologies so that everyone works in tandem and in equality to attain the best of both worlds. Marxism is more alive today than it has ever been.

3) Neo - Liberal Perspective Of State : The Neo Liberal or the New/Recent/Modern Liberal perspective of State must not be confused with completely following the old Liberal Perspective of State in totality in the modern world. One needs to understand that the old Liberal Perspective of State originated from a political ideology of freedom and equality for all, whereas the Neo- Liberal perspective that has emerged in the era of Globalisation is born out of new economic needs/ideology which is a free economy and trade environment having more to do with economy and least with political ideologies.
Having said that, let us move on to analyse the origins of this perspective. The Neo - Liberal perspective was brought about by the inadequacy of the State under Keynesian Economics ( practiced in America where State was to regulate teh Market and perform Welfare functions beginning 1930 to 1970) towards its roles as there was rising debts, crime graphs, socio - economic inequities and inequalities and corruption,etc. Thus, the economy was badly ruptured by the State's over arching and inefficient work, so the Neo - Liberalists advocated the revival of economy for further survival through opening up barriers on trade and market across the globe and making the market self governing once again.
There were three very vociferous advocates of the above mentioned perspective of  State,namely:
1) Friedrich Von Hayek - He severely critiqued planning and collectivism in his works in the early 1940's as he believed that it led to homogenising the society and not allowing the individual to become competent and stand out in the crowd.
2) Robert Nozick - He was a late 20th century thinker and very influential in his writings. He was inspired by John Lcoke and advocated a minimal State and a low tax threshold. He believed that it was wrong for the State o view people as means to ends. A person is a means unto himself and should not be used as a means to fulfill others needs. He actually meant that it is wrong to take away the earnings of a rich man and give it to the poor who has not earned it and take the credit for it in the name of Welfarism. He also advocated the right to property.
3) Milton Firedman - A 1976 Nobel Prize Winner for excellence in economics, Friedman was one of the foremost advocates of the Neo Liberal perspective viz. economic freedom and free enterprise. He stated that the government which governs the least,governs best. For him, the State should be limited to military defence activities, enforcing contracts between individuals,protection of life of its citizens against crimes towards them or their property. The rest should be governed by the market regarding supply and demand. Ronald Reagan was much impressed by Friedman and hired him as the head of his Economic Policy Coordinating Committee together with George Schultz. Thus, Friedman's concepts were also trermed as ' Reaganomics'.

4) Thatcherism - Margaret Thatcher in the UK also was much impressed by the above concept as the people of the country were aslo disenchanted with the burgeoning effect of the State. Thatcher's Citizen's Charter initiattive and bringing in of management principles in to bureaucracy as well as downsizing of the bureaucracy is a known model and example followed all over the world till date.

Social change and society is of extreme importance and relevance to Public Administration. As it has been noted, the celebrated social contract theory put forward by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau stems from society itself, where society formed the State and the government and regulates it through its mandates in every election. Public Administration is the executive arm of the State/govt. whose job is to follow the orders of the people's will through the elected representatives, thus, Public Administration was built for the sole purpose of serving the society and this concept has gained all the more significance in the era of Welfare Statism.
Another important curve in the society affecting Public Administration has been the environment/ecological aspect as well as 'gender' issue impact where there have been new laws like anti pollution,conservation of forests,river,water bodies,biodiversity & introduction of ant - sexual harassment laws at workplaces for women have been brought in respectively.

Max Weber was not against Capitalism and rather credited its emergence to the Protestant ethics of hard work and radicalism that had made people contribute all their energy to work in order to avoid sinning and stop worrying about afterlife punishments. This also contributed to the effect of these practices rubbing off on public agencies and a sort of democratic govt. and bureaucratic capitalism working in tandem.
He exemplified these administrative apparatuses and their administrative staff having the legitimate power given to them by the people themselves to help them with their needs through his ideal bureaucracy type model which we have discussed in an earlier post on the same topic. Please refer -

Already discussed in the previous blog, refer here -

Nowadays, a new wave of civil society organisations are playing an important part in the above mentioned state-society- administration relationship. They work hand in hand with the government and market for bringing about resolutions and watershed developments for the benefit of the people. Also, neo-liberalism has brought about a resurgence of individual freedom with the State vs. Market debate ( refer - ). Apart from that the concept of "Good Governance" has taken over in the era of Globalisation today where the governance of a country is judged by parameters specified by the UN viz. Accountability,openness,transparency,participation and ethics in public administration.

Gandhi's model of Polity is called by the Mahatma himself as "Swaraj" which means 'self rule'.
Gandhi was not in favour of the Modern State and its policies which he witnessed first hand during his stint at South Africa via the treatment meted out to him and other coloured individuals even though they were the majority there.\
This approach/model of polity is a combination of theoretical framework of 'Swaraj' and the practical tenets of a non-violent,self contained,grass roots level society.
He believed that the Indian Civilisation is in contrast to the Modern State functioning and he substantiates it by the following facts:
1) Indian civilisation was spiritual in essence whereas the Modern State was uniquely a product of a materialistic civilisation.
2) Non violence was deeply ingrained in Indian culture and cherished by its people whereas the Modern State was of a violent character and every one in the world was aware of the same considering the violence of wars and imperialism everywhere.
3) Indian civilisation was plural and tolerant in character towards its rich diversity of customs,etc. whereas the Modern State promoted homogeneity and was impersonal in nature.
4) Indians are basically rural whereas the Modern State was an urban civilisation based structure.
5) Decentralisation was the ethos of Indian Civilisation and system of governance whereas the Modern State follows the ethos of centralisation of power and evading autonomy requests of the people.

Gandhi's model of polity had the following guidelines:
a) Polity was to be rooted in non violence
b) Autonomy of the individual was of utmost importance.
c) The new polity was to build up courage,and a sense of power among the people.
d) The new polity was to honour diversity of Indian society by fostering strong and vibrant local communities.
e) Regeneration of Indian culture
f) New polity was urgently required to end ethnic and religious strife and establish national unity and peace as was before.
g) The new polity would be constituted by self governing local communities organised in the form of central government but not creating a centralised structure of authority.

He advocated a Police force that would be composed for believers of non violence and who would be reformers, not punishers. They would be servants of the people and will render them help instinctively and work with mutual cooperation with the people to deal with crimes and help decrease it. This police force would possess some sort of arms but will be rarely used.
The village communities formed will over the time build up strong sense of humanity and morals as well as socialist ideals in the sub conscious of the people that would ultimately get so ingrained in them that there would come a time when there would be no more a need for a ruling  authority or govt. and every individual will self govern himself and live in peace and harmony as aware and enlightened individuals driven by morals and virtues of goodwill.

One must not connect Liberalism with Gandhi's thoughts of a model polity just because he talks of the rolling back of State and individuals governing themselves because Gandhi though advocated the complete freedom of the individual from State clutches once he is on the path of socialist and moral life, Gandhi rejected the idea of Utilitarianism of Bentham and James Mill by stating that it is a crime to only think of doing good to the greatest number or as many as one possibly can,rather, Gandhi believed in Absolutism and said that I would rather dying helping every one instead of just helping the greatest number according to me and being satisfied.

Gandhi believed that property was a social trust and people/owner of it as a trustee of it. The owner was not to take from it more than he required for a moderately comfortable life, the rest he must give away to charity or use it for the welfare of the society/needy. This will help people to outgrow their greed and sense of possession and respect even the poor and the labourer who earns his food.
He advocated laws to be passed to this effect to make it legal so that the capitalist society is changed into an egalitarian one. He also stated that a fixed maximum income should also be placed on each one just as they is a fixed minimum income law in place, which should be regulated and reasonable as and when needed.

The next post would be up shortly.


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