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Changing Mores of Institutions


T.N. Chaturvedi

PUBLIC SERVICES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Edited by S.C. Dube
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1979, pp. 227, Rs. 95.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 4 January-February 1980

The adequacy of public services in the democratic context and environment of rapid change is a matter of continuing concern. As the residuary of authority there is a continuing love-hate relationship between the public and governmental ser­vices for, the latter is supposed to serve the former. The public services constitute the mechanisms or the tool to achieve the goals and purpose of government, which is itself an operational expression of societal needs. Hence the public services are also a social institution. A society caught in the mainstream of change is bound to raise questions and misgivings about the capability of public services to cope with the change, which is usually many-sided and occasionally qualitative in nature. The character, quality and dimen­sions of the capability of public services cannot easily be determined since they deal with complex human affairs. Quite often this debate takes on the form of the commitment and social responsibility of public services. The two terms are neither necessarily interchangeable, nor have their contents and implications always clearly been spelt out. The book under review seeks to raise and answer some of the ques­tions in the Indian context. The volume brings together some of the papers presented at a seminar held at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Simla, in October, 1973. It consists of ten papers presented by the participants and a brief preface and a succinct summing up by S.C. Dube. Inevitably, in a compilation of this kind the quality and approach of the papers vary according to the experience and perception of each author. Obviously it was left to them to interpret the mean­ing as well as the coverage of the theme, with the resultant disadvantages and a few advantages too. As the seminar papers have come out in book form after almost six years, comments in some of the papers are dated because the motivation and the institutional and intellectual background have seemingly undergone changes in the interval. However, the book makes a sig­nificant contribution as some of the basic questions it raises have not lost their relevance. S.C. Dube in his paper focusses atten­tion on some of the challenges that the new and changing socio-economic environ­ment poses for the public services. He talks of the ritualistic attitude of adminis­tration, the wide credibility gap between the citizen and administration, the need for purposive action to ...


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