An oft-heard comment is that India is the world’s best administered country, although with the rider that it is so only on paper. On the home front, voices have been aired in the circles of State Legislature that the present administration in Karnataka is the worst in its six-plus decades of history. While the incumbent National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre is heading to complete and celebrate its three years at the helm at the end of a few weeks from now, remarks in public domain reflect that the 33-party alliance led by Bharatiya Janata Party, the virtually only national political party, has not exactly lived up to its pre-poll (2014) promise of good governance to the land’s citizens. Also, the style of administration in the Union Government has drawn flak at the hands of the opposition in the nation’s Parliament. Two more years are in its disposal to neutralise the uncomplimentary remarks whoever has aired them.
Pages of history, realistically or otherwise, have portrayed many dynasties that have ruled in the various regions of the now-divided Indian sub-continent at different periods over the past few centuries. However, one doesn’t get an objectively perceived picture about the quality of governance or administration during those rules. The first-half of the last century, unarguably, witnessed the reign of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar acclaimed by all as a model of both governance and administration.
Barring exceptions, the current scene in a typical Indian family prompts one to fall back on the perceived structure of society in general and families in particular, the former blessed with mentors of their times and the latter blessed by the presence of grandpas and grandmas. Administration in the family, being in the safe hands of its grandpa as well its governance by the grandma have been both the sheet anchor and hallmark of the land’s past culture. The parents of our times yield easily to stereotyping them for their abysmally poor standards of administration, not to talk of their acumen for governance. Promulgating ordinances, launching Acts, framing strangulating rules and talking of sanctioned staff strength in the government to fill vacancies (marked by favouritism and nepotism, not to forget greasing the palm of you-know-who) mirror the face of administration, as familiar to all.
Leveraging power and authority by functionaries in government being the name of the game of administration in our times it is naive on the part of citizens to reminisce the bygone era of governance that the erstwhile Princely State of Mysore was blessed with. Responding to the needs of citizens and reacting on the strength of authority are different kettles of fish.