The Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, organized a special lecture on “Public Administration in South Asia” on Thursday, October 03, 2013 by Dr. Meghna Sabharwal, School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, USA. [Audio Link]
Dr. Sabharwal spoke on a wide range of issues confronting public administration in the South Asian region, which has been dealt with in detail in a recently published book titled “Public Administration in South Asia”, edited by Evan M. Berman and Meghna Sabharwal. The book includes chapters on Indian public administration by Prof. Rumki Basu and Prof. Badrul Alam, both professors in the Department of Political Science, JMI.
Focusing on South Asia and more specifically India, Dr. Sabharwal pointed out the areas where not much progress has been made, like per capita GDP.
“How long do we ride high on the service industry alone? The GDP is growing 8% but those numbers aren’t enough. GDP per capita is 1500 US dollars, China’s is 5,400. We are five times behind China, whereas population-wise we are second to it,” Dr. Sabharwal said.
She went on to talk of how the ‘age factor’ was one good thing in India’s favour.
“India is a very young country. That potential needs to be tapped into. And public administration has a key role to play in that,” she said.
Throwing light on the challenges of Indian bureaucracy, Dr. Meghna Sabharwal said that bureaucracy preceded democracy in India and that’s where the problem lies because they have come to have a strong hold over our political institutions. She spoke of the leadership crisis, poor bureaucratic performance as well as the lack of accountability and efficiency.
“We are very good on paper …excellent policies; but the problem often lies in implementation. The inertia that sets in is the problem. We are happy with mediocrity,” she said.
The other issues she talked about included corruption having become a way of life, need for administrative reforms, innovation and a collective effort to bring about change.
“We have wonderful examples from the IT industry, the Right to Information Act … We have the ingredients; we just need to put them together to make a good dish.”
She wrapped up her lecture on an optimistic note by beautifully remarking that “the seeds have been sown, but we have to nurture them.”
Listen to Dr. Meghna Sabharwal’s hour-long lecture at the Department of Political Science, JMI here: