Context: The governance of India is highly dependent on the role and political and policy paths taken by its states.
Indian states and their civil governance systems:
- Given the vastness of India, comprising 28 states and eight union territories, a multitude of 22 official languages, and a staggering 54 recognized state-based political parties, it becomes imperative to enhance and augment the capabilities of the Indian states.
- India has the lowest number of civil servants per person among all the countries in the G-20 group.
- The public sector accounts for only 5.77% of total employment in India, which is only half of what it is in Indonesia and China, and about a third of what it is in the United Kingdom.
- In terms of central government personnel, India has approximately 1,600 per million people, while the United States has a much higher number of 7,500.
- Additionally, when it comes to professions such as doctors, teachers, town planners, police officers, judges, firefighters, food and drug inspectors, and regulators, India has the lowest per capita numbers compared to countries at a similar stage of development.
- Furthermore, in terms of other metrics like the tax-GDP ratio and public expenditure-GDP ratio, the Indian state is relatively small.
Scarcity exists in all aspects:
- The provision of public goods, welfare payments, and the justice system are all constrained by scarcity rather than abundance.
- Governments lack the capability to adequately provide these services, leading them to outsource certain services, like primary health, that would be better handled by the public sector.
Lacks sufficient performance:
- The state’s performance is unsatisfactory in various areas such as student achievement, maternal and child mortality, productivity in agriculture and businesses, traffic conditions, and crime rates.
Civil and political servants have limitations:
- A major issue is the negative incentives caused by public institutions and the lack of expertise among officials.
- This has weakened the ability of the government and civil services to create and enforce effective policies.
Issues of Policymakers:
- Policymakers at the highest level require additional technical skills to effectively govern a complex economy.
- When they lack the necessary expertise in areas such as economics, finance, and contracts, governments often resort to employing consultancy firms.
Recommendations for Improving the Capability of the Indian State:
- Countries like Australia, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom have found that separating policymaking and implementation leads to faster and more innovative execution of programs that are better suited to local needs.
- The National Highways Authority of India is an example of this, as it is responsible for implementing national highway projects while policy decisions are made at the ministry level.
- This arrangement has significantly decreased delays and cost overruns.
- Allowing frontline personnel to make decisions about implementation-related issues is important in order to build trust and ensure accountability for any problems that arise.
- By giving these individuals financial and administrative authority, and providing clear guidelines for how to use it, we can break the cycle of ineffective delegation and weak state capability.
- Introducing a regular lateral entry at mid and senior levels in the civil services can address the lack of technological expertise.
- Non-IAS officers with the necessary talent and expertise should also be considered for high-level positions.
- SEBI and RBI need to increase their professional staff in order to effectively regulate the market.
- SEBI currently has only 800 professionals, while its American counterpart has over 4,500.
- Oversight agencies need to understand the context of policy decisions and consider the costs and alternatives.
- Motivated individuals are necessary in the public sector for the betterment of society.
- Higher public sector salaries compared to the private sector can lead to corruption in appointments.
- To address this, future pay raises should be moderate and the upper age limit for government jobs should be reduced.
The Indian state is both too large and too small, and there is a demand for a greater involvement of the government. This includes more investment in areas like healthcare, education, and social security, as well as an expansion of the bureaucracy.
Q. Why does India called as soft state?