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Ba Llb 3rd semester notes pdf Political Science III Public Administration

Ba Llb 3rd semester notes pdf Political Science III Public Administration

Ba Llb 3rd semester notes pdf Political Science III Public Administration



BUREAUCRACY AND DEMOCRACY

Q. 1. What is the relation between Bureaucracy and democracy? Write it.


Ans. It has already been stated that in most Western countries bureaucracy and democracy developed almost simultaneously. It will also be shown in the subsequent paragraphs that the role of the two vis-a-vis each other has been supportive as well as antagonistic. Thus the role of bureaucracy in a democracy is “problematic because this is precisely  one of the areas in which the democratic rules of the game are ill-defined, ambiguous, self-contradictory and controversial.” Reinhard Bendix, a sociologist put the same problem with regard to liberty (the essence of democracy) this way: “the popular identification of bureaucracy with oppression cannot be taken lightly, since the extension of governmental functions has frequently curbed and sometimes obliterated freedom of the individual. Yet, there is also much evidence to show that it has furthered the cause of freedom.”



Weber on Bureaucracy vis-a-vis Democracy
Weber had clearly recognized this dilemma. He noted that democratic movements demanding equality before law and protection against arbitrary excess of legal and administrative authority helped the
development of bureaucracy. These movements demanded recruitment to public services based on merit, rather than personal or political considerations. These demands on bureaucracy had a leveling effect.
Another stimulus for leveling of status differences was the insistence on technical qualifications rather than inherited status in recruitment and advancement in bureaucracy. However, the measure designed to protect a bureaucracy against the abuse of authority and encroachment of its privileges may also promote bureaucratic power. Thus democracy may unintentionally promote bureaucratization which he regarded as an unavoidable consequence of democratic growth.


But, according to Weber, democracy is basically opposed to the rule of bureaucracy because the latter concentrates power in the hands of those who are in charge of bureaucratic machinery and that such a concentration of power is against the basic premises of the former. It is particularly so when experts or technocrats are removed from the influence of popular public sentiments. However, he also recognized

that without a civil service class, democracy could be plagued by spoils system, public waste, irregularities, and lack of technical efficiency. He summed up the dilemma ” … democracy has to, promote what reason demands and democratic sentiments hate.”
Like Weber, the Marxists hold that the bureaucratic tendencies i.e. the transfer of administrative power to a special stratum of experts are a definite challenge to democratic principles. The Marxists further hold that economic relationships which retard the development toward greater equality and heightened quality of life, constitute the material bases of bureaucracy. Hence their final goal is the elimination of bureaucracy.
The Question Mark in Developing Societies
The dilemma, as stated above, was still more acute in the developing countries which after liberation from colonial rule, were to take up the task of rapid economic development. There appeared to
be some income partibility between rapid economic development, on the one hand, and democratic political development on the other. Riggs flatly stated that the price of democratic development might have to be slower development in the economic sphere. For several reasons, bureaucracies had to be strengthened. They had to choose between centralized, efficient, and strong bureaucracies and slow economic development. The second choice was not in their national interest but the first choice could pose a threat to democratic development. The problem was highlighted by Joseph La Palombara thus: “In places such as these, a powerful bureaucracy is said to be essential if one is to override the
disintegrating influences of artificial political boundaries, the competitive forces of familial and tribal structures, the difficulty for organizing and financing political parties, the low energy output of the population, and the tendency of the population to want to expend funds on the consumer gadgets rather than on capital formation. In the developing states, powerful bureaucracies are simply necessary evils that one must learn to tolerate, hoping for best from a democratic standpoint.” He further opines that goal of economic development in these countries will involve public sector participation, and therefore increasing bureaucratic power which may clearly inhibit the development of a democratic polity. Riggs also noted that the presence of a strong bureaucracy in many of the new states tends to inhibit the growth of strong executives, political parties, legislatures, voluntary associations, and other political institutions essential to viable democratic government.



In many developing countries, therefore, the emergence of over-powering bureaucracies is a fact of life. Hence, Riggs suggested the development of a middle class as a vital means of limiting bureaucratic power in favor of democratic development. In Meiji Japan, the dominant social class served as a check on bureaucratic excesses. In India, the Congress Party, the traditions of the Indian civil service, and the growth of strong and articulate local centers of political power appear to be working as partial checks on bureaucracy. Palombara is of the view that in the developing countries the extent of bureaucracy’s power may be checked by such factors as increased literacy, strong traditional institutions, and strong social elites of which the bureaucracy is not a part or into which it has not yet been absorbed.
Eva Etzioni – Halevy’s Thesis
Writing on the proposition bureaucracy vis-a-vis democracy Eva Etzioni – Halevy puts forth three dimensions of the problem. His first thesis is that there is an intrinsic connection between bureaucracy and democracy, although it is of paradoxical or self-contradictory nature. On the one hand, the growing power of bureaucracy does indeed pose a threat to democracy. On the other hand, modern democracy cannot exist without a relatively powerful and independent bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy poses a threat to democracy because :
(i) It may serve as a tool for enhancing state domination (or state repression) which is made possible by the growing pervasiveness of all bureaucracies, and the evolving technology of ever more sophisticated devices of collecting, storing, and retrieving ever-larger amounts of information.
(ii) Because of the above, bureaucracy has increasingly gained the potential of encroaching on the autonomy, liberty, and privacy of the individual.
(iii) Bureaucracy is intent upon guarding information and preserving the utmost secrecy in its own domain.
(iv) Bureaucracy has increasingly gained the potential to exempt itself from the control of elected politicians and to infringe on their domain, due to monopolization of expertise and information and due to the decline in the power of parliament. Among other things, it is also due to the ambiguity of rules which demarcate bureaucracy’s sphere of competence.

In view of the above, it seems clear that an overpowering bureaucracy poses a threat to democracy. But what makes an independent and powerful bureaucracy necessary for democracy? Eva Etzioni – Halevy argues, “For democratic procedures to work properly, the modern state must have at its disposal an organization that will not only allocate the resources but will do so by non-partisan criteria. Failing this, the political democratic process would necessarily be based on an exchange of material benefit … for political support.” If this happens, it will lead to all sorts of political corruption which in turn, would make the electoral process a mere farce. Thus it is not the politicians (who are obliged to seek political support for re-election and therefore remain under constant political pressure) but a body of independent and permanently appointed neutral persons i.e. bureaucrats (not bothered about their election prospects) that is more suitable for allocating the state resources. Thus only a full-fledged politically independent bureaucracy can safeguard full-fledged democratic procedures.



The second thesis of Eva Etzioni Halevy is that democracy poses a dilemma for bureaucracy. “By democratic rules, bureaucracy is in a double bind: it is expected to be under the control of elected politicians and yet exempt from such control; it is expected to be subject to ministerial responsibility and yet accept responsibility for its own action; it is expected to implement the policy devised by its elected political head and yet participate in the formulation of policy in its own right; it is expected to participate in the formulation of policy and yet the politically neutral, which is another way of saying that bureaucracy is expected to be politicized and non-politicized at one and the same time.”
To the extent that bureaucracy takes part in the formulation of policy, at the higher level, it takes part in the allocation of resources. Therefore it takes part in the exercise of power and as such is engaged in politics. Hence also it is subject to the pressure of interest groups and must respond to or maneuver between such pressures. So it is a participant in the struggle for control over resources or in other words engaged in the struggle for power that is politics. In this sense, bureaucracy is clearly politicized. This type of politicization is considered legitimate and even beneficial to democratic processes.



But if a bureaucracy favors one political party over another in matters of policy, appointments, and promotion of personnel, it gives that party enormous advantage in the electoral process. This type
politicization or partisan functioning is considered illegitimate and therefore harmful to democratic functioning.

This then is the dilemma of bureaucracy in democracy created by the ambiguity of the role definition of the former. The attempts made in several countries (Hoover Commission recommendations in 1955 in the U.S.A., ministerial cabinets in France, etc.) to give clarification of the role definition of bureaucracy have not succeeded as yet.

The third thesis of Eva Etzioni-Halevy is that the ambiguity of the role definition of bureaucracy is the source of considerable strain, friction, and even conflict in the political system of modern democracies. It is especially  so between senior bureaucrats and senior politicians (ministers and M.P.s.) In the absence of clear role definition, often senior bureaucrats have been able to “branch out into the bureaucratic political to man’s land which does not fall clearly within the domain of bureaucracy nor clearly outside it. This, however, is disputed territory. Its penetration by bureaucracy has therefore led at times, to an adverse reaction by politicians who lay claim to this territory as well.” He, therefore, opines that the problem bureaucracy causes for democracy lies not only in the power it has amassed but also in the power struggles it has generated.
This is particularly so for bureaucracy’s participation in politics. Whenever the bureaucracy has approached or crossed the boundary, which is always hazy, between policy and party politics, it has led to “especially severe tensions and power struggles, which sometimes contribute to the downfall of senior politicians or even entire governments, to the dismissal of senior bureaucrats or even to the abolition of entire bureaucratic agencies.”
The power struggles generated by bureaucracy may be more ruthless and disruptive than those of politicians or political elites because the latter adhere to rules regulating political processes, but power struggles generated by the former may occur at a point where rules are inadequate or at which they break down. The power struggles of bureaucracy, unlike those of politicians or political elites, are not decided by the electoral process. “For this reason too, such struggles are especially problematic for the already fragile arrangements that constitute democracy.”
Safeguards Against Bureaucratic Threat to Democracy
Different scholars have approached the problem of overpowering bureaucracy’s threat to democracy in different ways. Some safeguards have already been referred to while discussing bureaucracy vis-a-vis
democracy in developing societies. Some other scholars suggest representative bureaucracy’ or ‘balanced bureaucracy’ or participatory bureaucracy’ as desirable structures to safeguard democracy.
Representative Bureaucracy
Paul P. Van Riper attributed the success of American democracy in part at least to the representative character of the federal civil service. He considers representative bureaucracy to be more responsive to public needs, although several scholars consider additional factors also helping like American bureaucracy cherishing common values which are part of the nation’s socio-political consensus, egalitarian ethos of American society, etc.
According to Paul P.V. Riper, a representative bureaucracy must”
(a) consist of a reasonable cross-section of the body politic in terms of occupations, class, geography and the like, and



(b) must be in general tune with the ethos and attitudes of the society of which it is a part.” In social and economic class characteristics, in geographic, educational, ethnic, religious, and racial characteristics American bureaucracy is essentially a mirror of the nation. To a large extent, the American system does succeed in building a bureaucracy that is representative. Some students of the system declare that the American bureaucracy is more representative of American society than is the elected congress.
Balanced Bureaucracy
David Nachmias and David H. Rosenbloom think that in order for a public democracy to be integrated fully and effectively into the democratic regime, it must be in a state of balance. “A bureaucracy is
in imbalance when it fails to operate on the basis of democratic consent …. Bureaucratic imbalance may be either despotic subservient. Despotic implies that the bureaucracy is too much the master while subservient implies that it is too much the servant.” Such a balance consists of the following elements:
(i) Widespread knowledge about the bureaucracy;
(ii) a feeling that the public’s self-interest is being served by the bureaucracy; and
(iii) a feeling that the bureaucracy provides equal treatment and,
(iv) the bureaucracy must have an adequate prestige value.
Riggs, however, uses the terms “balanced Polity” and “imbalanced Polity” instead. For him “when a reasonably stable balance of power exists between a bureaucracy and constitutive (meaning political) system, we may refer to the resultant form of government as a ‘balanced polity’.” Conversely, an unbalanced polity may be a “party-run-polity” dominated by its constitutive (political) system with the power position of the bureaucracy reduced substantially, or it may be a “bureaucratic polity” dominated by its bureaucracy.
Participatory Bureaucracy
The U.S. and several West European political systems are to an extent attempting reforms called ‘participatory bureaucracy’ to achieve political responsiveness and efficiency in public bureaucracies. The participatory bureaucracy consists of four major elements.
(i) Representation i.e. a high level of social representativeness in a national bureaucracy (being attempted in India, U.S., Israel, etc.)
(ii) Organisational democracy i.e. participation by bureaucratic employees in decisions concerning the structuring of work, personnel matters, and the nature of the public policy.
(iii) Bureaucrats may be allowed, even encouraged to contribute freely to the public debate on matters of public policy. It would provide citizens with better knowledge about the operation, character, and perspectives of national bureaucracy.
(iv) It requires citizen participation in bureaucratic policymaking. In principle, it applies in all cases but it is especially in the case of those citizens who are affected most by bureaucratic decisions in any given policy area. These elements can be integrated into a coherent approach for contributing to the resolution of tensions between democracy and bureaucracy. That will help make bureaucracy more politically responsive to the citizens and more efficient in its operations. There is a strong internal logic to ‘participatory bureaucracy’. The inability to render national bureaucracies completely apolitical strongly suggests that if democracy is to be safeguarded bureaucracies must be socially representative.

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