31 March 2014

Is bureaucracy dead?

The word "bureaucracy" comes from the French word for ‘desk’, a place where someone would keep important papers and rule proceedings. Today we relate to bureaucracy as an administrative system that is paralyzed by a set of rules and processes, separation of functions and a graded structure in applying controls over an organization. The organization we most relate to when we talk about bureaucracy is the government machinery.

So when asked “Is bureaucracy dead?” My answer in a nutshell is “No.” The study that follows is based on my personal opinions and observations on how tasks are completed both in the corporate world and in dealing with government organizations. Bureaucracy can either lubricate the machinery or throw a spanner in the works. Let’s see how:

Sizable administrative staff is most common in large organizations that require standardized rules, regulations and procedures or uniformity across a wide spectrum of business activities.

Even though some form of bureaucracy is essential for large professionally run organizations, there is much debate over whether the philosophy is ever demonstrated in practice. The term is often used in a judgmental way, since many bureaucracies have become too enormous to be efficient, and thus have become dysfunctional. Firms that are subject to heavy supervisory inspection require bureaucracy, as a loss of policy or oversight control could have calamitous consequences.

It is an extensively held belief that small companies can be more efficient and well-organized because they do not need large bureaucracies and therefore can adapt and innovate very quickly. Large bureaucracies are also associated with more mature companies in mature industries.

A question often raised is, “Is it viable to have both bureaucratic welfare state and a democracy that protects the liberties of individuals?” This is called the ‘bureaucracy-democracy paradox.’

Today our country is administered by a democratic form of government -  by the people, of the people and for the people. But in the common man in India feels like the government is democratic only in theory. And one of the biggest ironies in the country is the relationship between a bureaucracy and a democracy. They are meant to be absolutely independent of each other but still have an uncanny relationship.

It is believed that in a bureaucracy the left hand does not know that the right hand is doing and people are generally puzzled, frustrated and lost so as to what is happening. Isn’t that the exact feeling people currently have in India? Well, this statement justifies that even though on the outset we have a democracy; bureaucracy is what is actually calling the shots.

The Indian administrative department or government is stereotypically thought of as a body not indulging in any kind of governance. It is really seen as, limited to application in the purely instrumental sense. Its effort is viewed as carrying out the laws and policies passed down by elected and chosen officials or delivered by the regime as a whole.

According to imagemanagement.in the following steps should help improve the situation of the Indian bureaucracy in the eyes of the world:

1)      Work hard against thing including delaying approval for a bribe or porn during a parliament session; with more stringent guidelines and public vigilance so as to make sure these rules are being followed and obeyed by the general public, and the fact that a government position should not be treated as an autonomous job that is given to people for a lifetime.

2)      The proper use of social media so as to keep in touch with the public, give instant solutions to public questions instead of using it as medium of complaint and showing disgust. A peek into history tells us that the British were responsible for the birth of bureaucracy in India. It did so with the commencement of three organisations:
1)      The East India Company;
2)      The Crown and;
3)      Indian Republic.

Since those days bureaucracy has been embedded in the roots of India and the only way to get rid of it, is to slow and steadily slim and trim the bureaucracy.

As there are always two sides to a coin bureaucracy can have either a positive or a negative impact.
One positive impact: The positive aspect for example will be, bureaucratic regulations and rules help ensure appropriate precautions are taken to safeguard people. And the red tape documents in which the process is mentioned can be referred to if there are any problems that arise as the data exists for any kind of analysis and correction to be done.

One negative impact: Bureaucracy’s slow-down the process of getting things done on time, and secondly, bureaucracies and bureaucrats usually see themselves as the most important part of the government. Therefore, they tend to grow their own organization faster than any other part of the government or business.
This is typically what is happening in India and the current situation cannot be a better example.

In the current context of our country, India, in my opinion, bureaucracy definitely still exists. The reason is quite simple, India as a country was ruled for over 400 years, first by different provincial rulers and then for close to two centuries by the British. Being under the rule of someone else, Indians were never given the opportunity to take decisions on their own. A decision that is directly or indirectly involving them was taken by someone else. This in turn magnified rage and anger and slowly sowed the seed for revenge.

After becoming a so called ‘independent’ country, people with authority decided to start taking decisions for the common man keeping nothing but their self-interest in mind. This then became a way of life in all institutions whether private, public or governmental. People with power till date take decisions for all the rest, decisions that may or may not be beneficial for the nation or organisation as a whole, this is nothing but a corrupt bureaucracy.

Hence, bureaucracy is definitely alive and is standing in the way of India fulfilling its potential as nation!

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