Governance apparatus and political environment

ByM Ali Siddiqi

writer who contributes to leading periodicals


March 15, 2023

M Ali Siddiqi discusses a
pertinent issue

It is beyond doubt that the administrative machinery of a state is rated to be an important part of a system of government. It is usually considered synonymous with the terms of the ends it is intended to serve, particularly in terms of the results which are to be accomplished by any political dispensation. Moreover, the administrative machinery is expected to perform in tune with the basic philosophy of the state is, and in the long term it is considered discharging its responsibilities towards such ends through the tenets of the substantive law. This implies that the administrative machinery is much more than a tool for the implementation of a political ideology and that it is an integral part of each political ideology and ultimately it becomes part of part of a system of government.

It is now observed that any system of government is composed of the sum total of its political and philosophical principles and the administrative machinery established for their effectuation. The democratic system of government includes not only such principles as that government is based on the consent of the governed, that the individual is the basis of all legitimate governmental authority, and that the dignity of the individual must be preserved but also the fundamental administrative procedural machinery to implement these principles. In this context it follows that a system of government cannot be considered as a democratic system, even though its theoretical foundation be the principles included by political theorists in their statement of the democratic dogma, if it is not accompanied by administrative machinery for the realisation of the principles.

The distinguishing feature between modern democratic government and governments of the past is that the modern dispensations are based on democratic principles and the establishment of procedures for administrative machinery for governing according to the tenets of democracy. It is therefore repeatedly asserted that the real contribution of modern democracy is not in the development of new principles, or even the adherence to substantive law but rather in the development of procedural law pertaining to the implementation of broad philosophical principles with concrete administrative machinery. This aspect defines the prevailing notion of due process of law concept that has become the very foundation of democratic government and all aspects associated with it and are widely recognised as the standard governance process.

This development is the direct offshoot of the prolonged struggle against the arbitrariness of the rulers as the past system of governance entailed and their rule became identified in the popular mind with absolutism. It was in this backdrop that the importance of an alignment of administration with nuances of the procedural aspect was emphasised upon. It was accordingly noted that the statesmen responsible for this conjunction placed the substance of the settlement ahead of the procedure by which it was achieved. It was accordingly brought to fore that constitutional government consists in a determination of the citizens of the state that adherence to the procedures set forth in the constitution are required to be treated as more important than any demand or reform. It was therefore succinctly observed that what matters is the determination to place procedures ahead of substance so that proper governance takes place.

It is therefore imperative to recognise that the basic structure and constitutional framework of the state is equally true with regard to procedures and administrative machinery for effective implementation of routine decisions and appropriate legislation. The details of such administrative procedures pertain to bring about social legislations applicable to general welfare measure legitimising the authority of the administrative machinery of the state. An effective as well as popular government has value only when based on liberal legislation supported by administrative machinery particularly when the administrative set-up acts in unison with the political dispensation.

It must be kept in view that the nature of the administrative machinery is resultantly seen to be as important as, if not more important than, the nature of the underlying principles of government. Democratic government means democracy in administration and prefers open expression of issues they assign the administrative machinery and expect healthy debates. They always look forward to the administration assiduously executing legislation with adequate democratic intentions and once such implementation takes place then it adds to the prestige of the political executive. It is quite obvious that liberty cannot live apart from constitutional principle and no administration, however perfect and liberal its methods be can give the people surest means of liberty and freedom if it rest upon illiberal principles of government. It is precisely clear therefore that no principles of government can fulfill the aspirations of the people that are devoid of democratic administrative machinery.

The past has provided profound experience of the perils of administrative authoritarianism, officiousness, and arbitrariness that have proved to be much more serious threats to the freedom of the people than any legislation based upon arbitrary notions. It is therefore rightly observed that the liberty aspects of the people depend incomparably more upon administration than upon constitutions and require intense adherence to this principle. In this context it was pointed out that unwise legislation may be mitigated somewhat by considerate and humane administration but the common man has no recourse against arbitrary official administrative machinery. It is therefore more than evident that the real protection of the public lies in the development of a high degree of democratic consciousness among the administrative hierarchy and such expectations are not unfounded.

The emphasis upon universal applicability of administrative principles is certainly not devoid of the organic relationship between the political and social theory of the government as a whole and the political and social theory underlying its administration. It must be recognised that administrative procedures cannot be transplanted from one system of government to another but must have their roots in the political and social philosophy underlying their own system of government. This interpretation certainly is not to deny the existence of any general applicable principles of administration but to affirm that such principles must be interpreted and applied in a manner consistent with the basic philosophy of the state and that in this shape and form of interpretation and application they exhibit fundamental differences from the same principles applied elsewhere and may not be objected upon.

In this respect that it imperative to assert that in the administration of any state someone must be empowered to make final decisions after a genuine exchange of ideas up and down the hierarchy. This is the essence of the viability of the principle of administrative acumen that adheres to its fundamental tenets of the political philosophy of the political executive. In an admirable administrative setup it is imperative for it to establish channels for the exchange of ideas up and down the hierarchy. It must always be borne in mind that a public servant is not only an employee but also a citizen and, above all, a human being, who retains his basic rights and is therefore entitled to dignity and respect. It is therefore emphasised that maximum vigilance by the administrative hierarchy, based upon a clear understanding and acceptance of the philosophy of the state will effectively check arbitrary tendencies that could well develop into the governance system. TW


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