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II S. H. A
HELPS NATIONAL PROGRESS
STATUE OF LIBERTY,
Usha is playing a vital role in actively
have taken a major step forward in EIFFEL ToweR,
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machine assembly plants in Saigon
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---- and in a spirit of dedication to serve BANGKok,THAILAND; f
the country well.
For better management of cities it is necessary to understand the problems of cities. This needs research and trained men.
To run cities better, trained men are needed. To teach such men, research and training facilities are needed.
The existing facilities for such training and research in this country are almost non-existent. Manning and managing of city governments occupy a very secondary place in the scheme of the country's administration.
The existing pattern is based on lip service to the principle of people's right to participate in the local government, and on no consideration whatsoever of the necessity to improve the lot of the city people, and making cities better places to live and work in, and the local governments better run.
Month after month, and year after year, the “Civic Affairs” has carried stories of mismanagement, and facts and figures about the paucity of civic amenities.
It is true, finances stand in the way. But this alone is not the lone obstacle. Whatever money the civic bodies have, quite a good bit of it is often ill-spent. Because the city governments in India have less to spend, there is all the greater need of spending it wisely.
This can be only achieved by wise investing in research and training, and in suitably manning the civic bodies. A dozen universities in United States offer City Managers courses and many other universities and colleges in that country offer graduate training in public administration as part of the political science curriculum. This includes the working of local governments.
Such facilities are not available in India so far. It is proposed to make Community Development as a course of studies in our universities. There is equal need for making City Management a course of studies. The problems of cities have to be studied by careful research and fact-finding before proper solutions can be found and applied.
Indian Universities which are invariably situated in metropolitan areas owe a debt to these cities and which they have not yet thought of repaying. There is unlimited unexplored scope for fruitful co-operation between universities and the city' governments.
The Month Reviewed
Out-of-Date Civic Set-up—Council Manager System—Mayor in Council Set-up
Out Of Date Civic Set Up
In Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal the State Governments have come to the conclusion that the laws governing the civic bodies in metropolitan areas need a change. The West Bengal Government have brought forward an Amendment Bill which seeks to make numerous changes in the 1951 Act governing the Calcutta Municipal Corpora: tion. The U.P. Government have informed the five Corporations in that State of the amendments being planned by them in the 1958 Act.
The principal feature of the amendments :
proposed in West Bengal is the further separation of the Corporation's policy-making and administrative functions. The elected Councillors, after the amending Bill is passed, will comprise a policy-making and delibera: tive body, and the Government-appointed Commissioner of the Corporation will be made the head of the administration. As a matter of fact all the Corporation Acts in the country are based on the principle of the separation of policy-making and deliberative functions from the administrative ones, and while the former are the privilege of the elected councillors the latter is sought to be made the prerogative of the chief executive officer of the Corporation, usually called the Commissioner.
This arrangement, whatever its merits, in the nineteenth century and even upto 1947, that is, before Independence, does not seem to be working satisfactorily now. There are various causes of this.
The civic bodies do not have so much deliberate as to execute. People, who elect to the councillors, expect them to influence the executive functioning of the Corporation. The ward-wise election of the councillors underlines the close councillor-ward relationship, and the councillor’s interest in individual citizen's problems, as against city’s, vis-a-vis the civic body.
There has been a general decline in the calibre of the elected councillors, and, there fore, in their capacity, to influence the administration through policy decisions alone, and they seek to make up this deficiency by attempts to directly interfere in the administrative acts of the staff concerned. The decline in talent was inevitable as voting rights are now vested in all the adult citizens, and the latter, generally with a very low literacy rate, are required to elect a vast array of parliamentarians, legislators and councillors, whereas before 1947 the number to be elected was very small.
The quality of the services too has suffered, and the Government-appointed commissioners, from among civil servants, fail to come up to the standards set by some of their predecessors. The Commissioners seek to encroach on the political field and the elected councillors on the administrative field, and the working of the Corporations is no longer smooth or satisfactory.
Tussles and conflicts between the elected councillors and the government-appointed commissioners seem to have become the order of the day. Since early this year the councillors of Calcutta Corporation and the Commissioner seem to be engaged in a cold war, and the latter, on July 24, confessed that the Corporation's administration was faced with a crisis as since April very little business on the agenda, having a bearing on the administration, had been transacted. The councillors, among other things, have been more concerned with the Government's plans to clip their authority further, than with the anxiety that the civic administration should continue functioning satisfactorily.
The recent quick ehanges in the Commissioner's post in Bombay Corporation, which has long been regarded as a model for the similar metropolitan bodies all over the country, would show that even there things have not been moving as smoothly as they used to in the past.