Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ethical Concerns In Public Administration

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ETHICS - MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE:
Ethics is a system of accepted beliefs,morals and values that influence human behaviour. It has been stressed upon in individual life as well as public life through time immemorial through sacred texts and theorists like the manusmriti, ramayana, mahabharata, etc. and Bentham and Rawls as well as Arostotle,etc. respectively.

The Behaviouralist school brought a dichotomy between facts and values in decision making and made it strictly rational like a machine model which was not successful and was questioned all the time. That led to the New Public Administration school of thought that brought back values at the centre stage along with facts and rationality in decision making.

The society,educational institutions,laws and their implementation and family play a large part in inculcating good values and morals in people. The political environment is also of significance as well as the behaviour of politicians directly and majorly affects the behaviour of his/her subordinates and his/her ethics.


MAXIMS OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION ETHICS:
 Maxim of Legality and Rationality: An administrator will follow the law and rules that are framed to govern and guide various categories of policies and decisions.

Maxim of Responsibility and Accountability: An administrator would not hesitate to accept responsibility for his decision and actions. He would hold himself morally responsible for his actions and for the use of his discretion while making decisions. Moreover, he would be willing to be held accountable to higher authorities of governance and even to the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of his decisions and actions.

Maxim of Work Commitment: An administrator would be committed to his duties and perform his work with involvement, intelligence and dexterity. As Swami Vivekananda observed: “Every duty is holy and devotion to duty is the highest form of worship.” This would also entail a respect for time, punctuality and fulfillment of promises made. Work is considered not as a burden but as an opportunity to serve and constructively contribute to society.

Maxim of Excellence: An administrator would ensure the highest standards of quality in administrative decisions and action and would not compromise with standards because of convenience or complacency. In a competitive international environment, an administrative system should faithfully adhere to the requisites of Total Quality Management.

Maxim of Fusion: An administrator would rationally bring about a fusion of individual, organisational and social goals to help evolve unison of ideals and imbibe in his behaviour a commitment to such a fusion. In situation of conflicting goals, a concern for ethics should govern the choices made.

Maxim of Responsiveness and Resilience: An administrator would respond effectively to the demands and challenges from the external as well as internal environment. He would adapt to environmental transformation and yet sustain the ethical norms of conduct. In situations of deviation from the prescribed ethical norms, the administrative system would show resilience and bounce back into the accepted ethical mould at the earliest opportunity.

Maxim of Utilitarianism: While making and implementing policies and decisions, an administrator will ensure that these lead to the greatest good (happiness, benefits) of the greatest number.

Maxim of Compassion: An administrator, without violating the prescribed laws and rules, would demonstrate compassion for the poor, the disabled and the weak while using his discretion in making decisions. At least, he would not grant any benefits to the stronger section of society only because they are strong and would not deny the due consideration to the weak, despite their weakness.

Maxim of National Interest: Though universalistic in orientation and liberal in outlook, a civil servant, while performing his duties, would keep in view the impact of his action on his nation’s strength and prestige. The Japanese, the Koreans, the Germans and the Chinese citizens (including civil servants), while performing their official roles, have at the back of their mind a concern and respect for their nation. This automatically raises the level of service rendered and the products delivered.

Maxim of Justice: Those responsible for formulation and execution of policies and decisions of governance would ensure that respect is shown to the principles of equality, equity, fairness, impartiality and objectivity and no special favours are doled out on the criteria of status, position, power, gender, class, caste or wealth.

Maxim of Transparency: An administrator will make decisions and implement them in a transparent manner so that those affected by the decisions and those who wish to evaluate their rationale, will be able to understand the reasons behind such decisions and the sources of information on which these decisions were made.

Maxim of Integrity: An administrator would undertake an administrative action on the basis of honesty and not use his power, position and discretion to serve his personal interest and the illegitimate interests of other individuals or groups.


There can be many more, however, the main motive is good governance and ethical practices backed by proper values and principles of public administration.


MEASURES SUCCESSFULLY TAKEN TOWARDS REINFORCEMENT OF ETHICS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION:
1) Establishment of Lok Ayuktas
2) Establishment of RTI Act
3) Citizen's Charters.
4) Ethics and code of conduct for public employees
5) Establishment of Vigilance Commissions
6) Establishment of Panchayati Raj Institutions
7) Partnership of Govt. - Civil Society Initiatives and its growing strength
8) Proposed Whistle blower Protection Act and Judicial Accountability And Standards Bill


OBSTACLES TO ETHICAL ACCOUNTABILITY:
1) Special expertise and Information held by the bureaucrats by virtue of their position is sometimes misused by them to fool the stakeholders as no one can surpass them in this knowledge area. RTI is in place but the poor and needy cannot afford it due to the cost involved as well as the information is sometimes never parted with leading the aggrieved to a harrowing experience leading to  the court rooms.

2) Full time status of bureaucrats make them corrupt, laid back and less accountable.

3) Massive expansion of bureaucracy has made the span of control of its heads/ ministers really cumbersome leading to arbitrary actions on the behalf of the former.

4) Lack of Coordination between established government anti corrupt agencies and institutions as well as their lack of teeth has lead to an even more chaotic situation on checking corruption.

5) Misinterpretation of role and obligation amongst the bureaucrats.Their role and obligation is to carry out policies for the upliftment of society and not towards the politicians for their vested interest or unimpactful policy decisions.

6) Subversion where certain government servants pass on critical secrets to enemies in exchange for pecuniary benefits or for sale of extra territorial loyalty.


ADMINISTRATIVE ETHICS ISSUE - THE WAY OUT:
Manipulation and lack of ethics lead to humongous negative effects and reduce efficiency in an organisation. Therefore the enforcement and development of administrative ethics in public servants in today's welfare state times as well as the sensitive position they occupy is of utmost priority and urgency.
The essentials to ensure the practice of ethics in administration are:
a) Faith,determination towards pursuit of excellence of service in their professional activities via methods of training and sensitisation.
b) Infusion of ethics into politics through trainings,etc so that it is passed on to their sub ordinates that are the civil servants.
c) Relations between citizens and personnel to create favourable opinion of society and people towards public services and servants.
d) Need for character building in public servants through education,adult education and functional or job responsibility literacy.
e) Impartiality should be practiced and encouraged.
f) Political neutrality in civil servants.
g) Education of people and society regarding their rights the work of public servants and redressal mechanisms available to the people against them and the government.

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Conflict Resolution - A Redefinition

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Loomis and Loomis state that Conflict is an ever present process in human relations. Conflict may define, maintain and strengthen group boundaries,contributing to the group's distinctiveness and increasing group solidarity and cohesion.


CHANGING NATURE OF CONFLICT:
Earlier theories and discussions regarding conflicts were only done with regards to organisations and to a limited extent to the environment of organisations and even these were confined to efficiency and productivity of enterprises. But now, policies are not made in isolation, as globalisation has made it a universal and worldwide process involving all types of stakeholders which are not limited to groups or nations but triggered by ethnic,religious,racial and economic differences as well, therefore conflict resolution has now been redefined or updated to help resolve these issues of international conflicts/disagreements between stakeholders.



PHASES OF CONFLICTS:
1) Potential Conflict Phase : At this stage conflict is present at very low level of intensity. Structural factors and underlying causes create division among groups along socio economic, cultural and political lines. Mobilisation of collective discontentment begins but not organised, thus, preventive action at this point is not risky and has high potential payoff.

2) Gestation Phase: Consolidation of mobilisation is the characteristic of this phase as inter-group relations are politicised and popular mobilisation puts pressure on decision makers to address the issues. Polarisation between groups increase but one must take note that issues are still negotiable though preventive actions may cost initially but the potential payoffs are still much positive.

3) Triggering and Escalation Phase : There is a real and visible change in the group's economic,social or political conditions can trigger the escalation of conflict. Inter elite ties break down and social interactions focus on organised reaction as political exchanges fade and conflicting parties lose confidence in each other and feel they cannot compromise. Intervention at this phase becomes risky as well as costly.

4) Post - Conflict Phase : In this phase preventive interventions aim at reestablishing communication channels between the conflicting groups,in order to avoid a new round of conflict.

These need not occur in the manner laid out and often the lack of information or incentives to act fast are barriers to resolving conflicts.


CONFLICT RESOLUTION AT THE MICRO LEVEL:
1) Intra Organisational Level - These are conflicts occurring within organisations.

A) Task conflict - Disagreement about the Communication or directions from superiors among subordinates as some of the orders may lie outside their " Zone of Acceptance". The leadership should make sure that they substantiate their communications among the subordinates to resolve this and the ways to do this are suggested by Mary Parker Follett:
i) Domination to resolve a conflict- Here only one party wins which is the stronger one. The weaker party remains disgruntled and this will lead to very ugly consequences later. therefore this should be avoided.
ii) Compromise - Where no party benefits but settle mutually for the time being. But this sort of resolution is only a short term one and the conflicts keep building up internally and become more dangerous when it shows its face again and then it might become out of hand to even try to settle it. This method also she did not suggest much.
iii) Integration to resolve a conflict - Follett considers this technique to be the best. As under this method there is a feeling of win-win equation & both conflicting groups see their issues addressed. And this is long term solution.

THE PROCESS OF INTEGRATION(in detail):
This process unfolds in three steps:
a) Surfacing of conflict or identification of existing issue.
b) Analysis of the conflict and development of a solution - A solution should be such that it no way leaves any room for the conflict resurfacing or a new conflict arising and it should benefit all and a circular response should be evoked where every member gets to vent out his feelings so that he feels heard.
c) Anticipation of results.

HINDRANCES TO THE SMOOTH IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROCESS OF INTEGRATION:
a) It requires high degree of knowledge and analysis.
b) It requires high order of creativity and innovation
c) It may require more resources.
d) Superiors may have the tendency to continue domination.
e) True integration may not be achieved as groups may not agree to substitution.
f) Rushing to the application of scheme may create problems as its proper comprehension may require time.
g) Groups may feel inadequately represented but may not show at that particular time when integration is seemed to be achieved.


B) Inter Group Conflict: It deals with relationships among people/teams in an organisation more than a task and it is inevitable, so to manage it for optimal group maintenance, a six step process has been described:
a) Recognition and acknowledgement that conflict exists
b) Analysis of the existing situation
c) Facilitation of communication
d) Negotiation
e) Provision for necessary adjustments,reinforcements,confirmations
f) Realisation of living with conflicts as all conflicts cannot be resolved


C) Procedural Conflict : It occurs when group members disagree about the procedure to be followed in accomplishing the group goal. Solutions are-
a) New procedures may be formulated and a new agenda suggested.
b) Group goal may be modified
 This along with Task Conflict is of productive nature and brings in many reforms in the way of doing things more efficiently in the eyes of the higher management/decision makers.


That was about Intra - Organisational conflicts or within an organisation conflicts. Now we move on to discussing Intra Organisation Conflicts or conflicts occurring amongst two or more organisations.

INTRA ORGANISATIONAL CONFLICTS:
It has two aspects.
A) Environment of the particular organisation-: Two organisations may be in the same environment but clashing goals. For example - Scheduled Tribes ( Recognition of forest rights) Act 2005, while Ministry of Environment and forests may be concerned about the depleting forest cover by allowing more and more rural people into them for livelihood, on the other hand the Ministry of Tribal Affairs may be tackling the livelihood issues of the tribals. Thus such incompatible goals create conflicts that may lead to jurisdictional conflicts as well as the issue would be the control over areas given to tribals.

B) Institutional Pluralism -: In an effort for efficient governance and government services sometimes many service delivery agencies operate in the same domain, both in the private and public sphere and compete with each other. Conflict and competition may not be confused here as though they both have a common root cause of individuals striving towards incompatible goals, yet the major difference is that interference that hinders attainment of the goal, if done by established rules and regulations is termed as competition but when no rules are followed then it turns into a conflict.



CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AT THE MACRO LEVEL:
i) Policy making as Conflict Resolution,here all interest groups, protest groups and civil society as well as all stakeholders of a policy initiative should democratically contemplate and arrive at policies suitable to all so that conflicts do not arise as far as possible.
ii) Proactive Conflict Resolution. Catch the conflict when it is young instead of letting it escalate.
iii) Integrated Conflict management systems.
iv) Strengthening all government and non government institutions to tackle conflicts.
v) A central coordinating point for all conflict resolution efforts. A very good example of which is the prime minister's office in India where it intervenes between conflicts of ministries.
vi) Strong system evaluation and monitoring mechanisms.
vii) Capacity Building of individuals and institutions.
viii) People's participation as much as possible
ix) Civil society organisations
x) International Organisations of Conflict Resolution ( UNO,ICJ,etc) who work by international treaties and  charters,mandates while negotiating and arbitrating international disputes brought before them

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Growing Role Of Civil Society Organisations

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CIVIL SOCIETY:
Civil society is the arena outside of the family, the state, and the market where people associate to advance common interests. It is sometimes considered to include the family and the private sphere and then referred to as the "third sector" of society, distinct from government and business.Dictionary.com's 21st Century Lexicon defines civil society as 1) the aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens or 2) individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government. Sometimes the term is used in the more general sense of "the elements such as freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, etc, that make up a democratic society".
NGO's and NPO's are part of civil society. However there is no unanimous view to define civil society and it keeps changing.
The civil society also does include political parties and professional organisations. They help encourage public interest and participation and helps in formulation and implementation of policies of govt. as well as bring core issues of concern in the eyes of the govt to take care of.

CONTEMPORARY CIVIL SOCIETY & THE IMPACT OF GLOBALISATION:
Since the 1980s, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have emerged as an important force on the world stage working to democratize decision-making processes, protect human rights and provide essential services to the most needy. Underpinning this expanded role in global governance has been a certain disillusionment with the role of the state in facilitating sustainable human development and the belief that more flexible, motivated and decentralized structures have the required skills and responsibility to undertake this role.
In recent years, the arena of NGO action has expanded rapidly from local and national settings to the international level. The institutional transformations that are occurring in the context of globalization have seen international actors — such as United Nations agencies, regional organizations, finance and trade institutions and transnational corporations — as well as inter-governmental "summits" assume an increasingly prominent role in global governance. NGOs have been late-comers to this evolving system of global governance but are now finding ways to influence the international decision-making process associated with development issues.
 
In this globalised world there is a worry of the accountability of the Global civil society considering there are no longer any barriers between nation states. Refer - http://www.globalautonomy.ca/global1/glossary_pop.jsp?id=CO.0028
 
Also refer to another interesting read on the challenges to Civil Society in the Indian context - http://openspace.org.in/civilsocietyindia

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Indian Governmental Institutions Reforms

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We have already discussed Government as well as Governance in India in our previous posts, today we talk about the roads to reform them that have been provided in various forms of committee recommendations, public opinion, parliamentary protests,etc.

LEGISLATIVE REFORMS:

1) State funding of Political parties -

To stop criminalisation of politics,state funding to political parties has been recommended by Khandwalla ( 1999 ) can be in the form of maintenance subsidy and electioneering expenditure to cover costs of grass root works,training of cadre,media costs,costs of organising meetings and rallies. These funds can be routed through the Election Commission who can keep a close check on them by virtue of its job. These political parties should maintain accounts,get them audited, and file the audited accounts with the Election Commissions so that they are open to public scrutiny.

2) Representative legislature
- Khandwalla recommends for Representative legislature instead of the normal territorial legislature prevalent as it does not represent all the sections of society. If a candidate secures 50.5 % votes and he has the majority to first past the post but then what about the rest 49.5 %,what about their interests and needs? What is the guarantee that they would be represented by the leader and not spite them instead and the same applies at the centre for the ruling government where the same first past the post system prevails.

Khandwalla recommends that in coalition governments there should be a system of rotation of Prime Minister among candidates of all the allied parties so that interests of all sections and areas are well represented and taken care of.

Khandwalla representation is also a good step in today's era of coalition governments where each constituency will elect not one but more than one legislator depending on the size of the constituency So each party can field more than one contestant from their party for that constituency and the winning candidates will reflect the preference of the voters as the top three vote scorers in a constituency will go to the legislature instead one which will be a more fairer representation of the people.

3) Stable Coalitions:
Remove grey areas of the anti defection act with stronger legal actions and the coalition should work on the basis of consensus and mutual consultation. There should be incentives for well performance of politicians and disincentives for those not performing their duties to the required level.

4) Responsive Parliamentary Procedures -
The National Commission headed by former Chief Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah in 2000 for the review of the working of the Constitution stated that there is a need for a better conduct by the politicians and for their better standards of debate and discussion in the parliament and for this there needs to be an aware opposition to thwart the ill will of government and make it more responsive.

5) Strong Committee System -
The National Commission also stated the need to strengthen the Committee of Parliament given their instrumental and enormous importance of these committees towards budget bills and other matters passing. Recommendations of the Commission can be viewed in totality here : http://lawmin.nic.in/ncrwc/finalreport.htm

POLITICAL EXECUTIVE REFORMS:

1) Educational qualifications to be set for legislators -

After election they are to be trained regarding their duties and responsibilities, entitlements and rights,constitutional provisions,working of the government and legislative processes,legal procedures,important political,social and economic institutions and agencies and ICT competence. A National Training Academy can be set up for this purpose to help inculcate professionalism in them before assuming their duties totally.

2) Norms of Elected Candidates -
They must have a standard code of conduct and open themselves to public scrutiny through parliamentary Ombudsman and apart from this, there should be a provision to totally bar candidates having ongoing cases going on them whether acquitted or at trial stage to contest elections.

3) Training and performance review of legislators

JUDICIAL REFORMS:

1) Speedy and time bound disposal of cases -

Appoint enough judges for doing so. Proper software should be devised and implemented for segregating waste cases and a proper grievance redressal mechanism in private and public institutions so that employer - employee disputes should be settled effectively at that level only and only major cases come to the court.

The National Commission in 2000 recommended that each High Court should lay down time limits for time bound clearance of arrears in the courts under its jurisdiction and lay down annual targets and district wise performance targets which should be monitored and evaluated regularly. The Commission also advocated for the Supreme Court and high courts to not delay judgements more than 90 days after conclusion of cases.

The 7th Law Commission under Justice Rao suggested that the Gram Nyayalays could process 60-70 % of rural litigation leaving the regular courts and sub divisions time to devote to complex criminal and civil matters. Apart from this the rural people's interaction will increase more and they would be happy with a fast,fair and flexible machinery of justice that is also inexpensive.

Another option is the Conciliation Courts method where along with a participatory model where a professional judge interacts with two lay judges and evolves a reasonable resolution and in such cases once a matter is decided there would not be any appeal against it and only a revision petition will be permissible on questions of law to the District Courts.

2) User - Friendly Courts -
Contempt of Court should be codified and not used arbitrarily by the Judges so that people find courts more approachable.

3) Judicial Reforms And Accountability -
The Judiciary still is relatively out of the reach of the public and that leads to non accountability and the scare of Contempt of court halts any process to question them. Therefore, there is a need to set up a body like a Judicial Council to look into cases and deviant behaviours of judges. It will comprise judges and will take actions against a defiant judge. It can reprimand a judge and recommend voluntary retirement,or resignation and withdraw cases dealt by such judges. Removal of judge is done through impeachment in Parliament, so this body can send the records of the judge to the parliament and recommend an impeachment.

In this context read the proposed Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill in the parliament - http://www.indiapolicywiki.org/index.php?title=The_Judicial_Standards_and_Accountability_Bill,_2010_Summary


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Participation, Social Equity - The Changing Patterns

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CHANGING NORM OF EQUITY:
Upon hearing the word " Equity ", one is always propelled towards the picture of equality. And these two have no doubt existed as synonyms of each other till date erroneously.

Today's concept of equity, in this diverse classification of our society and glaring disparities between people, gender and status assumes the definition of not considering A equal to B ( that's what Equality is) but rather focuses on adjusting the shares in society in such a way so that Citizen A is made equal to citizen B in the coming time. To make sure that there is no concentration of wealth or resources at one place where it is not required and giving a part of it to the needy who are in dire need of the same for their survival. This social equity is now an important strand in Public Administration practice and studies as one of its foundation ethics so that every decision of the administrators and the politicians are routed through a thought of equity first as they are the guardian of the people and it is their first responsibility to carry out the same.

INDIAN CONTEXT:
In the Indian context one can see this manifest itself in the form of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Act of Parliament where the rural development was started, as well as reservation for women and backward classes have been provided for to bring them into the mainstream for advancement. Right to education Act,abolition of untouchability, creation of local self help groups,save the girl child and maternal health programmes are other landmarks in this regard in India.




CHANGING NORM OF PARTICIPATION:
The new norms of participation by the people and the State is not restricted to the old fashioned thought of simply voting once in a while and keeping mum after that.  Rather, now there are various other issues that have to be dealt with by the State and so citizen participation is all the more active and needed in this information and awareness driven environment of Globalisation for effective,long-lasting & good governance to take effect.
The new norms of Participation have to ensure the involvement of the people from all the classes,especially the weaker sections and minorities, women and children.

INDIAN CONTEXT:
The right to information act,reservations in jobs and educational institutes for sc/st and obc,state-civil society partnerships for social development,citizen's charters,vigilance commissions,etc are all reforms in this direction in India.


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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Citizen Administration Interaction - Importance, Norms, Modes, Responses, Research and Institutional Strategies and Devices.


In keeping with the direction of the previous post on this blog,the new post is hereby presented.

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CITIZEN - ADMINISTRATION INTERACTION : IMPORTANCE,NORMS,MODES AND RESPONSES -
As discussed in the previous posts on this blog, it is of utmost importance of any country's government through its administration to maintain good relations with their people in order to gain longevity of their rule and the required cooperation and support need from the citizens for the same.

The different modes of interaction between the two are of the following forms:
a) Clients - Government provides services to the citizen like education,health care,etc.
b) Regulatees - Citizens are regulated by the administration through the police,income tax authorities,etc.
c) Litigants - When an aggrieved person goes to court,tribunal and Lok Adalats for justice.
d) Participants - At all levels like elections,policy formulation,policy implementation and monitoring,etc.
e) Protesters/People's struggles which has mostly been caused because of socio-economic deprivation  of the people especially the marginalised sections by the vested and corrupt interests of politicians and corporates/industrialists.

The State on its part has many ways to respond to the above interactions:
a) Anti Participatory - Mostly visible in capitalist systems where there is accumulation of assets and downtrodden are not cared for. People's participation is thus not politically acceptable.
b) Manipulative mode - The State looks to weaken the opposition by co-opting autonomous movements with ulterior motives in order to ultimately gain total control over them while camouflaging as a very accomodative government so that the opposition's immediate protests do not get substantiated.
c) Incremental mode - It is an ambivalent approach of the State towards interactions where compromises are made to just muddle through and there is no long term solutions.
d) Participatory mode - The State takes the initiative to create institutions of community participation and ensure involvement of even the grass root level people for real development and so is the goal of the bureaucracy in such a State.
e) Repressive mode - The State in this mode reacts negatively and ruthlessly to people's struggles through force at times.



RESEARCH IN INDIA:
i) Citizen's ignorance about procedures involved in getting things done.
ii) Unhelpful attitude of government officials,especially the lower level functionaries.
iii) Inordinate delay and waiting period.
iv) Prevalence of favouritism in administration.
v) Rampant corruption among officials.
vi) Dependence on middlemen to get things done.
vii) Urban dwellers being more critical about public administration than rural counterparts.
viii) The rich having easy access to administration and the officials generally avoiding the poor and underplaying their needs and interests for favouring the rich.


INSTITUTIONAL DEVICES AND STRATEGIES TO STRENGTHEN THE MODEL:
Across the world:
i) Ombudsman- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman

ii) Parliamentary Commissioner - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_Commissioner_for_Standards

iii) The Administrative Courts





The Indian Scenario:
i) In accordance with the Santhanam committee report the Vigilance Commissions were set up at the Centre and various states later.
ii) Lokayukta has been created in many states.
iii) Citizens Charter initiatives in almost all government offices.



CITIZEN - ADMINISTRATION INTERACTION THROUGH DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S STRUGGLES CASE STUDIES:

i) The Right To  Information ( RTI ) Case Study- In order to exercise ones legal and constitutional rights and duties, information is necessary and that information is to be provided by the government dutifully. But, sadly this wasn't being done in India even in the late 20th century and that is when the watershed movement of RTI stormed the corrupt corridors of the powerful and elite and brought equality and justice to the people in the form of the Right To Information Act, which took roots in Rajasthan.
To read the complete case study in detail, click on - http://www.sasanet.org/documents/Case%20Studies/MKSS%20Case%20Study.pdf

ii) The Chilka Movement - When State arbitrariness and indifference hands in glove with the vested interests of corporate looked upon the only means of livelihood of a small village of fisherman in rural Orissa, the Chilka Movement is a landmark example of what strength, unity and informed citizenry can do to nip the above mentioned corruption in the bud and make the legislators create laws to punish them in the future.
To read the complete Chilka Lake Case study in detail, click on - http://thelivelihoodschool.in/publication/case-studies/Chilka-Bachao-Andolan-Mihir-Sahana.pdf



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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.

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STATE - AN ATTEMPT AT DEFINING THIS CONTENTIOUS CONCEPT :
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.

CHANGING NATURE OF THE STATE:
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.


PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND SOCIETY:
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 ON SOCIETY ADMINISTRATION RELATIONSHIP:
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 - http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/07/scientific-management-and-scientific.html

RIGGSIAN CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY - ADMINISTRATION RELATIONSHIP:
Already discussed in the previous blog, refer here - http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/08/comparative-public-administration.html

CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS IN SOCIETY - ADMINISTRATION RELATIONSHIPS:
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 - http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/08/development-dynamics-concept-of.html ). 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.

THE GANDHIAN PERSPECTIVE OF STATE:
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'S CONCEPT OF TRUSTEESHIP:
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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