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

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

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

Q. 3. What is the controversy between Generalists and specialists? Discuss it.

Ans. For a long time, a controversy has been raging among scholars and administrators alike regarding the position and role of the general administrators and functional specialists in the public service.
As early as 1958, Prof. James Feslar recorded the revival of this controversy. The Fulton Report of 1968 tried to deal with the issues highlighted by this controversy. India which follows the British pattern of administration also has been facing this problem since independence.
It has attracted the attention of our Prime Ministers, study teams, administrative commissions, and Five Years Plans. The dilemma explained in the subsequent paragraphs, which our administration is facing was referred to by our Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi as late as May 1986. While addressing a conference of directions of national, laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research at New Delhi he remarked ” if the best scientists were put in charge of administration, we lose a scientist, and perhaps we don’t even gain in administration.”
A ‘generalist’ means an amateur administrator who had an education in linguistics or classics and is a highly intelligent man with certain personal qualities of character. He possesses no specialist or technical qualifications in the sense of having earlier gone through a specific unidisciplinary, vocational or professional course being essential for his entry into the service. Jitendra Singh elaborates that “Generalist” in its ordinary meaning of the term, stands for the ‘all-round man’ who has no specific specialty but prides in multifunctionality. He is also a versatile man, who is expected to do all jobs with equal felicity-whether it is the task of fathoming the on-coming political storm, or making sophisticated fiscal decisions or managing industrial enterprises (from steel to petro-chemical to aeronautics to shipbuilding) or being the head of professional training or research institute. Technical innocence is considered his strongest point. A member of the I.A.S. in India or administrative Service in Britain is thus a generalist.
Ba Llb 3rd semester notes pdf Political Science III Public Administration Bureaucracy
Ba Llb 3rd semester notes pdf Political Science III Public Administration Bureaucracy
A specialist is an expert who has devoted time and study to a special branch of learning and has acquired specialized expertise in tackling problems of particular subjects or areas. Specialists in government are therefore those who are recruited to posts for which professional, scientific, technical, or other specialist qualifications are essential and would obviously include engineers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, statisticians, economists, etc.
The present system of administration in India, as in Britain, is by and large generalist dominated in which policy-making and top administrative posts are occupied by the generalist administrators
belonging to the I.A.S. (in the States, they belong to the State administrative or civil services). It is they who head the various departments or government enterprises (there are instances in India when they were appointed even vice-chancellors of some universities) and render advice to the political executive. The specialists, on the other hand, work within their specialized area or department and manage the technical posts. They give technical advice to the generalist administrators and thus are on tap, not on the top.
The ancestry of the generalist is always on the top in administration can be traced to the administrative philosophy of 19th century England where generalism was made an absolute principle of administration. The Two authorities that helped in the build-up of the generalist dominated administration in lending their support were: Northcote-Trevelyan Robert on the Organisation of Permanent Civil Service (1854) and the Macaulay Report on the Indian Civil Service (1854).
The same philosophy of administration was extended to India during the early British colonial period. “The characteristics emphasized of the members of India’s administrative class were technical innocence diversified experience, excessive authoritarianism and centralism resulting in an insulated, small exclusive elitist group on whom the colonial power could wholly rely for maintaining law and order and keeping the treasuries replenished. For a ‘no-changer’ administration with minimal developmental work on its agenda and having very little techno-specialist content in its functions, predominant generalist service was deemed adequate.”
The head of the tea department was a general administrator, an I.C.S. officer, whose main job was to carry on the day-to-day administration.
All other personnel such as engineers and scientists whose number at any rate was limited, were subordinate to him. It was he who advised the Minister and took decisions on policy matters.
In Britain itself, the structure of the civil service is strongly based upon this generalist-specialist dichotomy. The essential principle of the system is the distinction between policy and finance as the concern of the generalists and technical and scientific matters as belonging to appropriate specialists. As Peter self observes, “In Britain, the traditional system of the administrative appraisal can be seen as a series of Chinese boxes. In theory, a departmental minister remains omnicompetent in the center of the stage. The minister is advised confidentially on policy issues by administrators, who in turn collect any necessary advice from relevant specialists.”
Reaction and the Case of the Specialists
In the past one hundred years or so, scientific and technological changes, rapid urbanization, and industrialization, the concept of the welfare state, and several other factors have combined to make the modern administration everywhere much more complex, necessitating a substantial increase in the number of technical departments of the government and the number of specialists. These specialists, being fed up with working in an armchair and the despotic system of hierarchy, react by consolidating themselves from within, seeking power from their peer organizations from outside. Not only is the generalist-dominated administration becoming outmoded but also it has created a problem of the relationship between generalists and professionals.
In India, much water has flown down the Ganges since the introduction of the colonial system of administration. The state has become a welfare state and since independence, it has embarked upon
a gigantic task of economic and social development by the application of science and technology. Naturally, the role of the specialists has become much more important and the number of technical departments increased enormously. But the pattern of an administration still continues to be dominated by the generalists.
The Specialists Argue

As said above, there is growing dissatisfaction among them at what they feel are outmoded administrative practice, creation of ponderous hierarchies, and distortion of priorities-which effect not only their personal interest but also hinder national development. The specialists ask why and an I.A.S. officer with little technical experience should be appointed to head a highly technical undertaking, superseding those who might have spent a lifetime in gaining competence in their particular fields. The bureaucrat’s liberal education, background, and training in general administration hold, do not necessarily qualify him to direct the functioning of a technical unit. That new technique or equipment which in the course of normal engineering development have proved their utility are not cleared by the bureaucrat administrators except after time-consuming discussion, laborious paperwork, and unnecessary red-tape: The technocrats attribute this to the fact that I.A.S. by the nature of their training is oriented to a “law and order” approach. They are unable to plan ahead and innovate, allowing things to reach crisis proportions before acting. Irritative delays occur in explaining technical matters to non-technical Secretaries who in turn have to explain them to a lay Minister. The process involves oral and written briefs, lengthy explanations, and elucidations. Often, the specialists who are involved in actual decision-making are not allowed direct access to the Ministers. The technocrats see unnecessary duplication of functions in having a Secretariat department sitting over them, often involving nothings by the office assistant upward. The specialists quote in their favor cabinet resolutions, committee recommendations, and even two Prime Ministers who have come out openly in support of them. They are bitter that all these had remained pious resolutions on paper. They argue that administration-primarily a management function was very much a part of the engineering profession. How anyone can administrator efficiently without knowing well what he had to administer? they ask, Merely qualifying in the I.A.S. examination makes no one uniquely suited to administrative functions. While more than 80 percent of the candidates joining engineering services were first divisions, their number in the I.A.S. did not exceed 33 percent. The percentage of the first divisions appearing in the I.A.S. examination is declining over the years. Disputing the claim of the I.A.S. officers to be better administrators, the specialists refer to the deteriorating law and order situation in the country for which the “so-called efficient administrators of the I.A.S.” were responsible. Although these arguments are in the context of the Indian Administration, nevertheless most of these are valid for the generalist dominated administration in general.

Thus the need for specialisation or professionalism in public
services in India. Britain and other countries having this model of
administration cannot be over-emphasised. In 1968, the Fulton Report in U.K. recommended a greater role for the specialists. It noted that in the British civil service, specialists, scientists, engineers, etc. were given neither the full responsibility and corresponding authority nor
proper opportunities. It recommended a new Civil Service Department,
under the control of the Prime Minister in which Pay and Management group of the Treasury and Civil Service Commission would be merged. The Service must develop greater professionalism among the specialists through more training in management and wider career opportunities and among the administrators (i.e. groups of “social” and “economic and financial” administrators) through subject matter specialisation in specific  areas of government. A civil service college was to be set up
to provide major training courses in administration and management.
In India the Administrative Reforms Commission, 1969, recommended a scheme of functional cadres having equal status. The 8 cadres in non-functional areas are : (1) Economic, (2) Industrial, (3)
Agricultural and Rural Development, (4) Social and Educational, (5)
Personnel, (6) Financial, (7) Defence and Internal Security, and (8)
Planning. In the functional area, unifunctional services like Postal,
Income tax, Audit, Railway Accounts etc. have been assumed to be,
and treated, ab initio professionalised. The commission advised that
the I.A.S. should no more be a generalist service but should have a
purely functional role, restricted to revenue administration and exercise
of magisterial functions. It further recommended that senior management
posts in which the knowledge of the subject matter was important should
be filled up by men from relevant functional cadres. In the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, the professionals
can occupy top posts and may even be found occupying ministerial
 In the Soviet Union the scientists and experts have a position
superior to that of the generalists. In Australia, experts are dominant.
More than half of professional or technical departments have
professional permanent heads. There, only a doctor can be head of the
department of health. In Sweden, where jurists occupy many of the
policy posts, professionals fill many posts in the top management of
the public services.
In the United States more emphasis is placed on pre-entry training
and specialised knowledge in the particular area. In the U.S. public
service, the generalist administrators have poorer career prospects than
those of the scientific experts. There the public service encourages a
high degree of occupational specialisation and does not produce any
broad categories of either generalists or specialists. A study of 63
bureauchiefs in America showed that 26 had been trained as engineers
scientists or technicians, 9 as economists, 8 as lawyers, while 20 had
business or administrative careers. In most cases, the chief’s education
and experience seemed highly relevant to the work of the bureau. Not
only the top scientists and doctors are exempted from staff ceilings
imposed by the Congress to the top grades, but also they are paid at
special rates. Peter Self observes, “This is in sharp contrast to the British
situation, the explanation being, of course, the central role of career
generalists in Britain as opposed to their auxiliary role to political
executives in the U.S.A. together with higher cultural prestige of scientific
experts in that country.”
In France, the public service has administrative and technical
corps. The general administrators do not form a single group but are
divided into separate corps of varying prestige. Some of the technical
corps are educated to play a much broader role than do any specialist
groups in Britain. “While the highest administrative corps specialise in
tasks of financial control, administrative justice, and field coordination,
many of the top executive positions in French ministries are held by
technicians. Between one third and one half of the 120 directorships of divisions, which constitute the key posts in French ministries, are
held by members of technical corps among whom engineers
In France, the British type polarisation between coordinators and advisors does not occur because members of both leading types of corps receive broad training in general management, as well as in particularised skills. For the higher levels, the learning of special skills is related to their use within the government. “Thus the various corps of engineers
receive both a general scientific training and also training in relevant aspects of administration The effect of this system is to stress the integration and interpretation of expert knowledge in the service of
public purposes rather than the British approach of accepting independent contributions from separate specialists which must ultimately be subordinated, to some extent, to administrative consideration.”
The Case of the Generalists
The generalists pleaded that : If the demand of the technocrats
was conceded and they were made responsible for administrative
functions, they would turn out to be neither good administrators nor
good technocrats. The very idea of functionalism meant that specialists
should bring to bear their specialised knowledge and skills on the areas
pertaining to their work. If they were turned into administrators, they
would not only be blunting and dissipating their own talents, but also
would be doing away with the valuable field experience (see the
comments of Shri Rajiv Gandhi quoted above) of I.A.S. officers which
helped temper policy-making with a touch of realism. I.A.S. officers
strongly affirm that there is a compelling need for a cadre of generalists.
Some I.A.S. officers do admit that their training might be inadequate
to enable them to play an effective role in the context of national
development. They feel there should be shịft of emphasis from law and
order to developmental administration including modern management
techniques. They advocate specialisation in particular spheres for I.A.S.
officers after their stint in the field instead of their being continually
transferred from one department to another. Nevertheless, the majority
of I.A.S. officers claim they are playing “a useful role as efficiently as
possible, and which cannot be easily replaced.” Matters have to be
considered, they add, not only from the purely technical point of view,
but also from the personnel, financial and legal view-points and that
could best be performed by a general administrator who had experience
in different fields. A senior I.A.S. officer said that induction of generalists
for food procurement indicated their usefulness, and asked, “What
would have happened if agronomists and nutrition experts had been
drafted for the purpose.” Among the technocrats themselves there was
a lot of rivalry and competition between those belonging to different
disciplines. This vitiated the atmosphere. As for the claim by technocrats
that they could make better administrators, the I:A.S. officers point out
to the “mess” in the Railways and the Telephone departments which
are predominantly run by specialists.
Scholars’ views on the Controversy
The views described above so far are either of those who are
involved in the controversy or are engaged in administration or based
on actual practices. But it will be useful and relevant to state here the
views of some eminent scholars who are experts in their academic fields
but look on the administration from a vantage point. The general opinion
seems to be against giving predominant position to the specialists in
the administration.
Braibanti opines, that in the new states where the need for national
integration is paramount ,the proliferationof functional specialists in administration will add to the many centrifugal forces that already exist “When a society is rent by all sorts of social and political forces pulling
in conflicting, disintegrative directions, the administrative generalist may
be a vital cement holding the system together.” He admits the need for
functional expertise in administration for economic development but
doubts if economic modernization could evolve without administrative
generalists. He cautions that “there must be accorded equal attention
to the critical political role that the administrative generalist can
as well as to the need for preventing these generalists from impeding
the development of countervailing centres of political power.”
Joseph La Palombara fears that enhanced importance and power
of the specialists might create the problem of control over bureaucracy
and ultimately endanger democratic development. He argues that
proliferațing these specialist bureaucrats early in the histories of the
developing states may serve to tip the political balance permanently in
favour of a bureaucratic elite. If the specialists in destruction, the
military, often enjoy a position of superior power that is precisely
because they are technologically the most ‘modern’element in the
developing states. He cautions that if the new states are going to
emphasise functional expertise in public administration, they should be
clear regarding the possible political price that such a programme may
imply.” Palombara argues that the pressure to proliferate the functional
specialists in administration will bear a direct relationship to the degree
in which government becomes involved in technical activities. He refers
to the dilemma faced by the developing countries wherein the national
goal of industrialization may require a very high degree of differentiation
of administrative roles. “Great differentiation does not seem to be a
requisite of political democracy.” One of the great dilemmas of many
of the developing countries is that they seem to want economic
development more than freedom.”
Fritz Morstein Marx thinks that the growth of functional expertise
in the bureaucracy seriously weakens the integrative function of the
generalist administrators. “Functional expertise, rushing into the public
embodiment of an integrated administrative branch. The specialist was
insular in his outlook. He mastered the techniques of his own methodology. goverment dissolved into a maze or tunnels
each inhabited by a separate class of technicians.” He argues that this
insularity and concern with limited interests blurs the bureaucrat’s vision
of the broader national problems and reduces his capacity to fulfill his
vital role as a policy advisor. The knowledge of the whole organisation
becomes a casualty. The political mind and the administrative mind
frequently lose sight of each other.
Finally, he says that functional expertise is a destroyer of exprit
de corps. According to him, specialist groups are not “the bureaucracy”
though nominally part of it.
The Possible Alternative
As described above, the British and the American models are
two ends of the pole. Each of these requires more re-organisation and
modifications. In the U.S. system there is emphasis on over specialisation.
The problem there is how to bridge the wide gap between the strong
specialisation of the career civil service and the broad requirements of
executive management. Realising this the second Hoover Commission
suggested the creation of a Senior Civil Service which took shape in
1978 in the form of Senior Executive Service. The idea behind its
creation was the desire for managerial flexibility and executive
leadership. The service facilitates the transfer of senior executive service
from position to position and from agency to agency. “The S.E.S. is
the blending of both the technocrats and the general administrators.”
This indicates new trends in American civil service.
In Britain, the system has responded to modern pressures, (a)
through increasing the discretionary authority of administrators ; (b)
through increasing the dependence of administrators upon various forms
of expert advice ; (c) top specialist advisers have gained easier access
to ministers; and (d) a number of policy posts have become filled by
specialists. Moreover as a result of the Fulton recommendations various
classes of civil servants have been aggregated into still larger blocks.
Also “integrated hierarchies” of generalists and specialists have been
established in some departments like the Ministry of Transport and the
Department of Trade and Industry. But despite these developments in
the departments, and the Fulton integration of senior management posts,
“the basic division between generalists and specialists remain firmly
rooted in (British) civil service methods of recruitment, training and function.
We conclude the discussion by supporting the observations of
Peter Self on the subject. He is of the opinion that the distinction
between ‘generalists’ and ‘specialists’ is plainly outmoded at higher
organisational levels. “In all systems, the problem is to secure official
who can perform creditably either as a specialised generalists or
educational background to detailed knowledge of some
generalised specialist. The former individual must move from broad
intellectual knowledge to proficiency in the skills of organisation and
policy making.” In France, a broad differentiation of specialised
generalists and generalised specialists is set right from the beginning.
It is supplemented by appropriate training, and carries through in
separate but interweaving streams to the higher positions of the service.
In India’also it has been decided to introduce some specialisation
for the I.A.S. and allied services. A freshly appointed I.A.S. officer will
have not more than three postings in the first 11 years of his service
(including two years of probation period. The postings would be in
field, regulatory departments (like home, law, enforcement organisations
and general administration) and welfare departments (education and
health, and family welfare). They are also expected to acquire a
reasonable experience in departments dealing with finance and
commercial matters and in public sector undertakings. Most of the
officers are supposed to work for about a decade in the state where
only they could get this experience. The officers in this top echelon of
administration will be given a chance to specialise in a branch of their
preference between the 11th and 16th years of their service.


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