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Aspects of Administration


Sanjoy Bagchi

REINVENTING PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: THE INDIAN EXPERIENCE
By Bidyut Chakrabarty
Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 2007, pp. 368, Rs. 325.00

E-GOVERNANCE: CASE STUDIES
Edited by Ashok Agarwal
University Press, Hyderabad, 2008, pp. 437, Rs. 495.00

VOLUME XXXIII NUMBER 5 May 2009

Bidyut Chakrabarty is a well-known teacher of political science in Delhi University with several publications to his credit. He has now produced what his publisher calls as ‘an accessible and up-to-date textbook’ on public administration theory. The author believes that public administration is changing radically. He views the last century as the age of organization where bureaucracy controlled the ‘core values’ of public administration while the present one seems to be an ‘era of network based organisation’ drawn on neo-liberal values. He fears that ‘public in public administration seems to have lost its significance and the market has acquired salience in governance’.   The professor has identified ‘four interconnected themes’ that have given new directions in public administration recently: ‘globalisation’ that compels nations to reorient their public administration to ‘strike a balance between domestic needs and international linkages’; transformation of public administration from its traditional insular and hierarchical structure to a ‘network profile’ with lateral linkages; ‘governance’ which has been defined as extending ‘the ambit of domestic public administration’ and the last one is about democratic participation ‘to assert real popular control over governments through decentralization, openness, transparency and accountability’. The professor’s aim is ‘to provide a synoptic view of the developments in the discipline’ relating to these themes, ‘both at home and elsewhere’.   The first chapter outlines the evolution of theories of public administration beginning with the classical roots. Then it delves into the theory of Max Weber who occupies a position in public administration similar to that of Karl Marx in communist dogma. Then it examines the principles of development administration as well as the Marxist orientations. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the impact of globalization on public administration.   The author describes the theory and practice of governance, as ‘a conceptual riddle’. He finds ‘a special meaning in the context of globalisation’ and that should mean ‘the manner in which power is exercised’. The World Bank has underlined good governance to consist of predictable and open policy making, a bureaucracy imbued with a professional ethos slanted in favour of public good, the rule of law, transparent processes and a strong civil society. The World Bank has appropriately stressed these elements in the context of sub-Saharan Africa where over vast tracts there is neither administration nor governance. The chapter briefly examines each of these components, which are incapable of articulation in absolute terms. Its conclusion is that ‘...


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