India had inherited its economic and administrative structures from the colonial and pre-colonial era but the well defined and comprehensive ideology that inspired it in nation-building came from the national movement. This vision incorporated various political trends both left and right but excluded communalism and ideology of those loyal to colonialism. Indian national movement was the biggest mass movement in World history probably. It succeeded in politicizing and drawing into political action a large mass of people. Gandhiji believed that success or failure of a movement relied on the quality of leadership but mass movements are possible only by peoples action and involvement.
Economic Policy post independence
The national leaders unanimously advocated self reliance to be the focus of economic planning in India. The meaning of self reliance isn’t blocking international trade but supporting India to become an equal partner of trade and not subordinate to anyone. On the question of foreign capital the polity was divided. Some were against foreign capital as it would suppress Indian capital but some advocated for it arguing that an independent India could use foreign capital to supplement Indian resources.
The restructuring of agrarian society also took place and intermediaries like landlords and renters were abolished an “Land to the Tiller” policy was followed. In the sector of Industrialization, the State-owned and operated large industries of strategic sectors that were key for growth and beyond the capacity of private capital. Public sector industries were viewed as Temples of Modern India by Nehru.
Congress had a socialist incline under Nehru and even before his president-ship. The socialists wanted radical ideology that would be pro-poor and leftist in orientation. However, Congress never decided that socialism would be its objective nor did they want a socialist system as that prevalent in USSR. The congress wanted a system where an egalitarian society would exist and equality of opportunity would be provided to all. It agreed that along with political freedoms social and economic rights too were important. It was this philosophy that enabled it to spearhead many social revolution campaigns against untouchability, for free education and women empowerment. When the question of reservation for SC / ST was being discussed Congress leaders didn’t oppose them.
The congress was never able to effectively counter communalism nor could it protest against the British motives to flame communalism but its secular credentials reaped a rich dividend post-independence for India. The Indian sense of secularism is different from the western concept of the term. The western concept is negative i.e. Separation of state and religion but the Indian aspect is positive i.e. State shall treat all religions equally. Indian leaders never appealed to the religious feelings of the people but focused on social and political aspects. They never targeted the Religion of the British rulers too. Gandhiji thought early on believed politics and religion should be hand in hand but only because of his belief that all religions are moral and politics should be based on morality.
However as the communal elements grew and they instigated people to violent acts in name of religion, Gandhiji changed his views and also preached against the involvement of religion in politics. Because of its firm secular credentials, Independent India kept secularism as its pillar to the constitution, State and society
Legacy of National Movement to India
National movement bequeathed to India the politics of accommodation of diverse viewpoints, compromise and reconciliation of interests. Highest norms of politics and political behaviour were set by the movement. The leadership could mobilize millions only because of its moral integrity. The cadres too were highly motivated and had quit life, careers for the movement. The movement was highly innovative and responded to changes in policies of British as well as the growing demands of Indians. Legacy of the movement could be summarized as Commitment to political and economic independence, representative democracy, civil liberties, internationalism, joyous acceptance of diversity, independent foreign policy and achievement of all objectives through accommodation of all people. Independent India too has honoured this legacy and inculcated it in its institutions and society. However, all legacies erode unless reinforced or reinvented to suit modern needs.
Evolution of the Constitution
When India adopted the Prime ministerial form of government it wasn’t emulating the British Parliament but only formalizing an accepted mode of government that already existed in Congress and which the party and people were familiar with. The pillars of the constitution were the objectives that the Congress was striving to achieve since its inception: Social and political democracy, fundamental rights, responsible and representative government etc. Thus the constitution was a culmination of activities that started long ago. The work done by the national movement inculcated a spirit of democracy in the people which also led to the constitutions main focus. Awakening created by the press in spite of colonial repression ensured that freedom of expression would find its place in the constitution. The movement rested on shoulders of dumb millions and believed in the role of women in the freedom struggle and so even the constitution reflected this.. The British believe that the constitution is a result of the reforms they introduced in India but this is a myth. The British reforms always were introduced grudgingly and belated manner. They often fell short of expectations. Indian demands and aspirations were light years ahead of the British reforms. It was this that led the constitution-makers to borrow from the Government of India Act, 1935. They felt that there was no need to establish their independent credentials and also believed in familiarity with existing organizations.
Selected aspects of the Constitution
The Constitution makers envisaged a strong centre due to the effects of Partition, communal riots, the necessity of maintaining national unity, food crisis and settling of refugees. However, this wasn’t always the case prior to partition becoming a certain fact the Constituent Assembly didn’t envisage a strong centre. The judicial innovation of Basic Structure also imposed limits on the amending power of the Parliament. This was done to check executive excesses.
British power in India was based on the steel-framed bureaucracy which was used to stifle the national movement. It was the break in the unrelenting support of the Indian administration and the Indian army to the British that hastened the end of the Colonial era. After Independence, the structure of the Indian Civil Service – A cadre of officers who were overpaid, insensitive and British loyalists, remained the same. This was due to partition, political turmoil, refugee crisis, riots and in this situation, ICS remained an island of stability.
The knowledge and expertise relevant in the various specializations are as follows:
(1) Economic Administration: Currency, banking and financial institutions, international trade, foreign aid and foreign exchange for company affairs, problem relating to incomes, wages and prices.
(2) Industrial Administration: Economic growth, industrial licensing, import of technical know- how and also problems relating to incomes, wages and prices in common with specialism
(3) Agricultural and Rural Development: Rural cooperatives, community development, irrigation, rural electrification, agricultural science; agricultural economics, rural sociology.
(4) Social and Educational Administration: Education, social welfare and family planning, urban development. Labour welfare and industrial relations, factory and labour inspection, information and public relations.
(5) Personnel Administration: Management analysis involving work-study, grading and evaluation posts, organization and methods, selection techniques, training and career management, staff supervision and control, motivation, morale and staff welfare.
(6) Financial Administration: Cost-benefit analysis, budgeting and expenditure control, performance budgeting, programme evaluation review technique (PERT), etc.
(7) Defence Administration and Internal Security: Intelligence, concepts of strategy and tactics, logistics, weapons systems, systems analysis, defence industry, defence research and development etc.
(8) Planning: Assessment/projection of demand and resources, models of economic growth, input output ratios, inter-sectoral balances, cost-benefit analysis of projects and schemes, programming methods, techniques of progress reporting and feedback, and of evaluation of results, operations research, system management.
The Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations
In 1983, the Government of India appointed the Justice R.S. Sarkaria Commission on Centre- State elations, which was yet another institutionalised attempt at administrative reform in India. The Sarkaria Commission was a response to a long-standing demand for more stable federalstate relations India. The Commission was a staunch supporter of the all-India services and recommended the establishment of new ones. All-India services in fields such as agriculture, engineering, medicine, and education were to be created. In the Commission’s language, ‘any move to disband the all-India services or to permit a state government to opt out of the scheme must be regarded as retrograde and harmful to the larger interest of the country.’
The Economic Administration Reforms Commission
The Economic Administration Reforms Commission (EARC) was set up in the early eighties to suggest changes in the economic administration of the country. Its chairman was L.K. Jha, a member of the Indian Civil Service who had specialised in the economic affairs of the country. The Economic Administration Reforms Commission submitted, in all, thirty-seven reports covering a very wide range of subjects such as tax administration, industrial approval, rent control, economy in public expenditure, relationship between Government and public enterprises etc. Though these reports covered a wide variety of topics they were all concerned with what is broadly known as economic administration and were characterised by some common concerns. Most significantly, the license-permit-control regime had been losing its credibility even in the dawn of the eighties and the seeds of liberalisation were sown around this time. Perhaps the most notable contribution of the Economic Administration Reforms Commission, reporting in 1983, lay in its visionary recommendation to shift the governmental emphasis from regulation to development, thus consciously moving from direct physical controls to direct mechanisms. It articulated its concern for ‘some structural reforms in the machinery of government with a view to streamlining the process of decision-making in economic administration’. Two reports of the EARC covering accountability and economy in public expenditure are particularly notable, these being missing concerns of earlier administrative reform in India.
The Chief Ministers’ Conference, 1997
In 1997, the chief ministers met in Delhi and emphasized the need for enforcing accountability in the country’s administration and to this end favoured the proclamation of a citizens’ charter. They supported transparency in administration and wanted the citizens to enjoy the right to information. They condemned administrative corruption and supported ethics in the public services.