a big storm is brewing in the state about the role of collectors
in the district administration with many MLAs and ministers
from the ruling party themselves protesting against their
exaggerated role. It is surprising that the chief minister
chose to invite all the district collectors for a meeting
to discuss his agenda/plans, without involving any of the
elected local government leaders! In fact there wasn't even
a pretense of trying to involve local governments in the
decision making/planning/implementation process. So much
for the much hyped devolution of powers!
In fact the chief minister has explicitly instructed all
the collectors that they will be held responsible for implementation
of all the welfare schemes that were launched recently and
that they should report to him directly. In addition, the
chief minister has also created a separate district fund
to the tune of Rs 2 crores, which is kept at the disposal
of the District Development Review Committee (DDRC), headed
by a Minister. All these measures raise some serious concerns
on the nature of governance in this state: What is the role
of a " district collector" in a democratic society?
What ought to be the relationship between the chief minister
and the collectors? Why is a State Minister getting involved
in matters which ought to be handled by local governments?
What is the role of the elected local governments in administering
their own districts?
modern India, the district collector continues to function
as in colonial times - i.e. as an agent of the chief minister.
S/he is the uncrowned king of the district much in the same
fashion as the colonial times and is answerable to no one
except the CM. In fact some of the elected Zilla Parishad
chairpersons complain that even in their own council meetings,
the collector holds the centre-stage and they are relegated
to the sidelines. In this day and age of specialization,
it is absurd to have a collector in charge of every facet
of administration ranging from health care to law and order.
This ubiquitous role also violates the very basic foundations
of a democratic society.
in a highly centralized setup does the state feel the need
to exercise direct control over each and every district.
Germany's population is comparable to that of AP. And yet,
in Germany there are 16 provinces with elected governments
(called Landers), and over 4000 municipal governments at
local level - all with clear and exclusive authority and
resources! This whole notion of the chief minister directly
controlling all functions and functionaries in the state
is a throw back to the days of monarchy.
same principle applies for a Minister also. S/he has absolutely
no role to play in the management of issues which are the
natural responsibilities of local governments. The current
practice of having ministers as heads of the DDRCs is blatantly
unconstitutional. The constitution calls for a District
Planning Committee constituted with elected members of the
local governments. The role of a minister is in administering
his/her own department and articulating his/her constituents'
demands in a legislative capacity.
have ended colonial rule long ago, and it is high time we
buried the last vestiges of the anachronistic Raj's practices
that have stayed on.