Strengths and Weaknesses of the Existing Structure

The existing structure of the Government of India has evolved over a long period. It has certain inherent strengths which have helped it stand the test of time. However, there are weaknesses also which render the system slow, cumbersome and unresponsive. In this article, you can read about the strengths and weaknesses of the government structure in India for the UPSC Exam. It is an important topic under polity for the IAS exam.

Strengths

a. Time-Tested System – adherence to rules and established norms: The Government of India has evolved an elaborate structure, rules and procedures for carrying out its functions which have contributed to nation building and the creation of an inclusive state. These have ensured stability both during crises as well as normal times. At the same time, where considered essential, innovative structures have been created in form of empowered commissions, statutory boards, autonomous societies and institutions especially in the fields related to research, science and technology.

b. Stability: The structure of Government staffed by the permanent civil servants has provided continuity and stability during the transfer of power from one elected government to the other. This has contributed to the maturing of our democracy

c. Commitment to the Constitution – political neutrality: The well laid down rules and procedures of government have upheld the neutrality of the civil services and prevented politicisation of government programmes and services. This has helped in the evolution of institutions based on the principles enshrined in the constitution.

d. Link between policy-making and its implementation: The framework of the Government of India has facilitated a staffing pattern which promotes a link between policy-making and implementation. This has also helped the structure of both the Government of India and the states and promoted the concept of cooperative federalism.

e. A national outlook amongst the public functionaries: Public servants working in Government of India as well as its attached and subordinate offices have developed a national outlook transcending parochial boundaries. This has contributed to strengthening national integration.

Weaknesses

a. Undue emphasis on routine functions: The Ministries of Government of India are often unable to focus on their policy analysis and policy-making functions due to the large volume of routine work that they are saddled with. This leads to national priorities not receiving due attention. Often, functions which are best carried out by the state or local Governments or could easily be outsourced continue to be retained with the Union Government.

b. Proliferation of Ministries/Departments – weak integration and coordination: The creation of a large number of Ministries and Departments sometimes due to the compulsion of coalition politics has led to illogical division of work and lack of an integrated approach even on closely related subjects. It has been observed that the Ministries/Departments often carve out exclusive turfs and tend to work in isolated silos. This, at times, detracts from examination of issues from a wide national perspective and in an integrated manner.

c. An extended hierarchy with too many levels: Government of India has an extended vertical structure which leads to examination of issues at many levels frequently causing delays in decision making on the one hand and lack of accountability on the other. Another noteworthy feature of the structure is that several levels are redundant as they do not contribute to the decision making process.

d. Risk avoidance: A fall-out of a multi-layered structure has been the tendency towards reverse delegation and avoidance of risk in decision making. Another aspect of the existing structure is an increasing emphasis on consultations through movement of files as a substitute for taking decisions. This leads to multiplication of work, delays and inefficiency.

e. Absence of team work: The present rigid hierarchal structure effectively rules out team work so necessary in the present context where an inter-disciplinary approach often is the need of the hour to respond effectively to emerging challenges.

f. Fragmentation of functions: At the operational level also, there has been a general trend to divide and subdivide functions making delivery of services inefficient and time-consuming. several decades ago, this was captured in a telling manner in a Shankar cartoon, of an official being appointed as “Deputy Assistant Director General, Envelopes (Glue)”! g. Except in the case of a few committees and boards, there has been considerable weakening of the autonomy conceived at the time of their formation.

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