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Bureaucracy needs to be reformed: Analysis

Columns 2022-05-09, 12:54pm

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Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed



Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed

Bureaucracy plays dominant role in the development of the society and it is the cornerstone of modern society. Bangladesh has seen bureaucrats a continuous role in policy formulation and policy implementation. The bureaucracy, in present Bangladesh originates from the bureaucracy in British India. The bureaucracy in this portion of the subcontinent has experienced several ups and downs throughout the three distinct periods of British, Pakistan and Bangladesh era. The bureaucracy in Bangladesh is repeatedly apparent with the issues of corruption, nepotism, inefficiency, lack of accountability and transparency, etc. It is sometimes represented bureaucracy as an undesirable rather progressive facilitator to the progress of the country. Still bureaucracy plays traditional role and calls for a better system to meet the changing needs of the society. The service which citizen get and the services of the public servant renders, the people are disappointed with their performance quality. At present people are conscious of their rights. The modern government is handled by different actors: elected politicians and appointed professional bureaucrats, every now and then who work in an antagonistic relationship to manage the country. These unavoidable contradictions and complex relationships between them are the result of this unpleasant collaboration, which is perhaps the most distinguishing conundrum of the contemporary modern state. We, the people of Bangladesh, are eyewitness to intricate relationship among the politicians and bureaucrats.

Some recent incidents apparently depict that the politics-administration interface is convoluted and non-cooperative one way or another. However, the argument of this issue is not new, rather comes from  the British period. Excessive control of bureaucracy and politicization of administration have evidently been seen in our country. On the one hand, politicians hinge on the bureaucrats for making and executing policy. Conversely, bureaucrats also hold a strong loyalty to the politicians for their betterment.  This is an academic discussion obviously, no way to deny it; but also, a crucial issue for the country, because in a state mechanism, they are both united, integrated and stable. Politicians lose their significance when the influence of bureaucracy cultivates in a country. The reasons behind the excessive bureaucratic control in Bangladesh is as clear as crystal. Most of the politicians are amateurish in the field of policy making and ministry's operations. At the upazila level, bureaucrats are supposed to work under the upazila parishad (UZP), however, the leaders of UZP could not make the parishad fully operational due to their incompetence and obstruction of some rules and regulations of the government. The shortcoming of our politicians in making the bureaucracy work is their lack of honesty. They use politics for personal and business interests for that reason they are candidates in the favour of government employees. If the government wants to improve administration, it must recruit talented individuals. Additionally, if the quality of education at the college and university levels is poor, it is unlikely that talented individuals will be discovered.

A minister is the head of a ministry; he should be a proficient in the specific field. Such as, a minister, who will take the sole responsibility of the ministry of health, must have to be taken by a public health expert because the expert will know better than any other politicians, who is expert in education or ICT. If this system could be established, then the extreme dependency on the secretary for policy making would diminish. Political and administrative ethics are vital to ensure a cooperative connection. Politicians and officials will do their work separately as we know the development policy is outlined by the political leadership, whilst it is implemented by the bureaucracy. They must have to work within their boundaries. If accountability of politicians and officials are assured, then everything will be easier.

Creating a balanced and effective connection between political leaders and administrators is essential to the establishment of successful governance in the truest sense. Verily, the interaction between politicians and bureaucrats has always been a fundamental problem. This means that how successful or unsuccessful a government is depending on the relationship that exists between politicians and bureaucrats. So, the intricacy of politics administration relationship could be solved by the aforementioned way. Last but not least, we hope to see a cooperative relationship among them, not an antagonistic relationship.

Public service areas are still subjective by the hereditary organizations and practices. Weakening in the standard of education at large and higher education status, especially in many developing nations has undesirably affected the quality of civil servants existing at all stages. The clear resolution is to create merit-centered proficient services that are capable of accomplishment in a proper way. There is an aggregate mandate for well-timed and excellent service from the public sector. In the prevailing situation some positive steps are essential to be taken to reorganize the public service. • Promoting and maintaining gender equality is at the top of the reform agenda in many countries, Bangladesh is in the line of increasing needs for gender equality. The assurance of political leadership can act as a powerful force after the execution of administrative reform initiatives. But, in the context of Bangladesh, political leadership is responsible for distracting the comprehensive reform agendas.

How does bureaucracy matter for development? Over the last years, an enormous interest in this question has created a large body of research, mostly focused around evidence from field experiments and micro-level administrative data. This column reviews this recent literature and embeds it in the broader discussion on how bureaucracies contribute to economic development. The authors argue that this recent evidence matters, but also encourage future research to study bureaucracies as systems, and to analyse their systemic relations to politics, citizens, firms, and NGOs. Well, we can roughly say that the part of bureaucrats cannot be overlooked in Bangladesh as a developing country. They play a very important role in our society, the administration and efficient modification. Organizational development is not an easy job, predominantly in a state like Bangladesh which is beset with diverse complications.

This does not denote that the regime should be unconcerned toward development. The productivity, efficiency and responsibility of the executive also rose to the range of time. But the situation is not sufficient to attain the objective. The political government must promise itself to reform packages, as per they are assured to yield both high political and economic settlements to the regime itself. The regime must act promptly to reestablish discipline in the governing arrangement through positive tools of direction, defense, delivery and regulation before boarding on micro level changes in the organizational arrangement.

Infine, we can say that to develop the country as well as the nations, the conscious citizen and the Government should come forward concertedly so that we can get a corruption free state. In this regard, dishonest bureaucrats should be punished with an iron rod. It is the duty and responsibility of all sorts of people to tackle the political crisis. Then it would be possible for us to stand upright in the global atlas with due respect and veneration. Finally, we can say that, bureaucratic complex are the barriers of national interest. Moreover, Present bureaucracies do not have much the capabilities to face the  modern challenges of development. Even the present bureaucracy is not able to bridge with people. So bureaucracy needs to be reformed. In this regard, the field administration should have a new set up for short tenure. The post or appointment like DC and TNO should be changed. These names may have substituted as Upazila coordinating officer and District coordinating officer and they should belong to any efficient and effective cadre officials. Besides, the Upazila Parishad should have a setup of representatives coming from different political platforms. If the administration system is properly reformed, the country will achieve the desired goal and development will be ensured. 

(Former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar and VDP, Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed is a writer, columnist and researcher)