Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Trends in Citizen - Administration Interaction

As has already been mentioned, the traditional approached to citizen-administration interface are not sufficient to solve the present day problems and manage the administrative responsibilities. Some of the trends visible in this type of interaction are following:

  • The bureaucratic structure visible in administration is now considered to be quite rigid especially in the developing societies. Citizens seem to be out of consideration of administration.

  • Emphasis is there on debureaucratisation of societies where the functions traditionally performed by administration are being increasingly entrusted to the private sector, voluntary organizations and the civil society groups. This is because when public bureaucracy has monopoly over the goods and services then a citizen has little chance to protect effectively.

  • Many a times bureaucracy fails to operate on the basis of democratic consent. This results in "imbalance" in public administration. Bureaucracy may be either despotic or subservient as a result. The former means that bureaucracy is too much the master while the latter means that it is too much the servant. The former does not respond to the public demands while the latter finds itself engrossed in abiding by the demands of the special interest groups. This situation becomes grave in the developing societies.

  • In case of countries such as India which were ruled by colonial power though the philosophy of governance has changed after independence but the attitude of civil servants still remains the same i.e. they wish to "rule" rather than be "supportive" to the citizens.

  • In the developing countries citizens are ignorant about the procedures in getting things done, the government functionaries at the lowest level are unhelpful, favoritism prevails in administration, works get delayed inordinately, citizens have to depend on middle men to get most of the things done and urban population is more critical about administration in comparison to the rural population.

  • It has been realized the world over that people have to develop them, administration cannot develop them. Administration has to build the necessary infrastructure and create a climate for the development of human potential. This approach reduces the dependence of citizens on administration for development and makes them capable to control their own lives.


Trends in Citizen - Administration Interaction

Having state the broad trends in citizen administration interface we now turn our attention to the various measures that have been taken to bring administration close to people. Some these are:

  • Agencies to check corruption have been established in many countries e.g. in India after Santhanam Committee recommendation the Central Vigilance Commission was established in 1964.

  • The institution of Ombudsman has been created by many countries such as Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand etc. In India the Bill regarding the creation of institution of Lok Pal and Lok Ayuktas is pending in Parliament.

  • The administrative processes have been made simpler in many cases e.g. in India Commission of the Review of Administrative Laws was set up in 1998. Based on its recommendation hundreds of laws have been deleted from the statutes books.

  • The Citizens' Charters based on the premise that the citizen is "King" have been framed in many countries such as UK, India and South Africa etc. In India the Scheme of Citizens' Charters has been reviewed several times and these have lead to the finalization of Quality Management System Standard - IS 15700:2005 and also the new assessment-improvement model 'Sevottam'.

  • E-Governance has been initiated in many countries like USA, UK and India. Even in developing countries like India this mode of governance has been very successful in a wide range of areas.

  • Effective Grievance Redressal Systems have been devised by many countries. In India Computerized Public Grievances Redressal and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) has been started since 2001.

  • Many countries has passed legislations on Right to Information. India passed such as legislation in 2005.

  • Innovative concepts such as "social audit" have been devised to make citizens true participation in governance.


Administrative norms should be clear both to the citizens and the administration. The performance of the government officials should be judged on the basis of their relationships with citizens. In the present era when society, culture and economy are in transforming the relationship between the administration and the citizens will be quite complex and demanding. The functions of administration are increasing several times with the socio-economic development of the society.

It has to make citizens its partners in discharging these functions. The relationship between citizens and administration should be based on participation, information, openness, transparency, belief, action orientedness and proactiveness to redress citizens' grievances for the administration to meet the expectation of citizens. Also the attitudes of citizens and their organizations should be supportive of the administrative when the questions of genuine public interest are involved. Several mechanisms to bring administration closer to the people described in this article need to be made more effective to bring about a supportive relationship between the citizens and administration.


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