Administrative Reforms Commission
A well organised and efficient administrative system is essential for the proper working of Government in any modern state. Any system however satisfactory cannot hold good for all time. It has to be reviewed periodically and remodelled to suit the changing conditions. The Administrative Reforms Commission is constituted to make recommendations to improve the efficiency of the State Administrative System. The Commission will review the structure and functioning of the administrative machinery of Kerala and suggest measures for improving its responsiveness, efficiency, and effectiveness as required for a welfare state. The Commission is entrusted to make suggestions in 13 core areas of Public administration. This ARC is the fourth one since Kerala state formation and is constituted with the Former Chief Minister Sri. V S Achuthanandan as Chairman and former chief secretaries Sri. C P Nair and Neela Gangadharan as members. Sheela Thomas IAS , Adl. Chief Secretary serves as Member Secretary of the Commission.
History of Administrative Reforms
Kerala government had constituted three Administrative Reforms Committees (ARCs) since its formation in 1956. The first Committee, under the chairmanship of first Chief Minister of Kerala Shri E M S Namboodiripad, was constituted in 1957, and the second Committee was set up under Shri M K Vellodi, ICS and former Chief Minister of Hyderabad, in 1965. The third committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Shri E K Nayanar, in May 1997. The present Commission is the fourth timely attempt to reorganize administration, which came into being on September 2016, with another former Chief Minister Shri V S Achuthanandan as its Chairman.
The first ARC was constituted immediately after the formation of Kerala. As different regions of Kerala were being integrated, there were practical problems in administration which needed to be tackled immediately, as the regions of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar had different institutional set ups, laws, rules and procedures. Even the levels of development were significantly different, with Malabar being quite backward in terms of attainment in the health and educational sectors and in infrastructural development. At the political level there was a strong desire to make the administration people-oriented and to restructure it to implement progressive measures like decentralization, land reforms etc. At the national level itself, the first Five-Year Plan was drawing to a close and it was a period of reflection about increasing the effectiveness of the strategy of planned development. By the time the first ARC was constituted, several corrective measures were being discussed and the need to fine-tune the administrative setup was being loudly contemplated.
At the time of the formation of the second Committee, the challenges of a growing welfare State were being felt. The development agenda of the State was more or less set at this point of time with focus on human development, particularly health, education, social security and food security. In the aftermath of severe food crisis the euphoria of the first generation Plans began to wane. Panchayat Raj, which was ushered in with much fanfare, could not get going. The State was going through a period of political instability, which caused a lot of burden on the administrative set up. The reports of these Committees reflected the need of those times.
The first Administrative Reforms Committee concentrated on greater delegation of authority to lower units of administration and unequivocally called for a democratic decentralization process, so that officials and elected representatives could work in harmony for the greater good of the ordinary man. The Committee wanted to give a development focus to administration and induce in it greater commitment and motivation for selfless work. Thus decentralization was to be accompanied by a change of attitude. The Committee outlined the process of planning from below and wanted a stage by stage entrustment of powers to the elected bodies.
The second Administrative Reforms Committee openly expressed its anguish at the slow pace of reform in the State, particularly with the Panchayat Raj not striking root and with the bureaucracy remaining inaccessible to the people. The Committee lamented the growing indiscipline among the government servants. The Committee was concerned with the increasing expenditure of government and suggested concrete measures to make government clean and efficient.
The third administrative reforms committee had submitted four reports. The first one is on citizen charter, grievance redressal, transparency and right to information. The second report is on monitoring the movement of files and attendance. Third report is on financial reforms and the fourth on personnel reforms.