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Incrementalim vs Ideology: The Dilemma of Developing Nations

Ram K. Vepa

By Krishna Kumar Tummala
Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1979, pp. 367, Rs. 50.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 4 January-February 1980

It will remain for a long time one of the much debated issues in Indian Ad­ministration: whether Jawaharlal Nehru did the right thing in 1947 in opting (deli­berately or otherwise) for a policy of 'gradualism' rather than making a clean break with the past. Even as he spoke movingly of the 'Tryst with Destiny' on the midnight of August 15th, his instru­ments of power and influence remained the same—the Civil Services and the Army—as the legacies from a previous adminis­tration. Even the Constitution of India, while drawing inspiration from the British and American models, relied for its opera­tive clauses largely on the much-maligned Government of India Act, 1935, which the Congress Party had so contemptuously spurned during the Freedom Struggle. This is the problem that is studied and analysed by Tummala in this well­-written and interesting book. In the words of the author himself: ‘The central ques­tion... is whether social and adminis­trative reform has an essentially different character in developing as compared to developed nations.’ For the purpose of the study, he takes two models: one, what he calls 'incrementalism' (the same as 'gradualism', said earlier) which is suitable for a developed nation, by which reforms come as a logical extension of the past; the other based on 'ideology' where dis­continuity is sharp as in revolutionary societies; and a possible third which is a 'mix' of the two. The question is where does India fit in and how well has it fared in the last 25 years? The study was conducted through selective interviews with 40 carefully chosen persons in 1973 on the basis of a questionnaire sent to them earlier; as one interviewed at that time, I can say that the author did his home work well in drafting the questionnaire, in recording the interview and having it corrected by the person interviewed. In the select list were ten politicians including Morarji Desai, H.M. Patel, 16 civil servants including the then Cabinet Secretary (B.D. Pande), the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh (M.T. Raju), Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (P. Fernan­des), ten managing directors of public enterprises and four drawn from a sample interviewed by another researcher which included Mohan Dharia, then Minister of State for Planning. It was indeed a representative sample for the purpose of the study which focus­sed on four concepts: political responsi­veness, administrative capability, ...

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