The Interface Between the Generalists and Professionals: The Indian Experience

  • Bidyut Chakrabarty


Bureaucracy is one of the major pillars of civil administration regardless of the nature of the political system. Despite being Weberian in character in view of its colonial roots, bureaucracy in South Asia, particularly in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, has undergone significant changes in the wake of economic liberalization and the processes of democratization. Conceptually speaking, bureaucracy is hardly the steel frame of the colonial era given the growing importance of instruments of external accountability; nonetheless, it cannot be said to have ceded its exclusionary nature presumably because of some well-entrenched characteristics which are associated with Weberian bureaucracy. The chapter thus makes two arguments: (1) the generalist characteristics of bureaucracy do not seem to be tenable given the growing complexities of governance in the light of the interplay between state, market and civil society; (2) suggestive of the interplay involving state, market and civil society, the chapter pursues the argument that professionals being suitably trained and engaged in specific activities remain critical to governance. In order to conceptually understand the interface between professionals and line bureaucrats at the higher echelon, the chapter focuses on three specific instruments of authority:
  • National Institution of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.

  • Three major regulatory authorities (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).

  • District Planning Committees, which came into being after the promulgation of the 73rd Amendment Act in 1992.

The basic idea is that the mutual exchange of expertise of professionals and generalists is necessary to develop effective policy alternatives. This is where the modern post-colonial civil service, at national and local levels, is going, and rightly so. Modern governance is neither merely a technical act nor merely a Weberian making of rules. Governance is now a socio-cultural and technical act to realize certain well-defined societal and culture-specific ideological goals.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bidyut Chakrabarty
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DelhiDelhiIndia

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