SHRIRAM MAHESHWARI, INDIAN ADMINISTRATION, Orient Longman Ltd., Bombay, pp 448, Hardbound Rs 40. Paperback Rs 16.
A DOCUMENT under the title, "Basic Economic Issues", submitted to the All-India Congress Committee in 1973 pointed out that "the present bureaucracy under the orthodox and conservative leadership of the Indian Civil Service with its upper-class prejudices can hardly be expected to meet the requirments of social and economic change along socialist lines." That was a reflection of the true character of the Indian administration. Since independence, the Congress has been continuously in power at the centre for nearly twenty-eight years. To show its earnestness for administrative reforms, it has been frequently seeking the advice of veteran bureaucrats like Gorwala and Bajpai. In between, a globe-trotting American expert was also available. Finally in 1966 an Administrative Reforms Commission was appointed under the chairmanship ofShri Morarji Desai, whose conservative outlook was well known. And the personnel of the Commission revealed the traditional bureaucratic bias. Later change in the chairmanship did not make any difference in the class character of the Commission: It laboured for four years and produced twenty reports, besides those of the study teams and working groups appointed by it. Now, there is a permanent department of administrative reforms functioning in the Cabinet Secretariat. The net result even today, to those who have no access to the corridors of power^ is that the government continues to remain "a vast circumlocution office, full of trite barnacle practising the dedicated art of seeing that nothing ever got done3', to quote the immortal Pickwick of Charles Dickens. Maheshwari, a prolific writer on the subject, has produced a useful survey of public administration in India since independence. It discusses administrative procedures and working of government at the central, state and local levels. It also covers the Planning Commission, advisory committees, zonal councils, public sector undertakings and centre-state relations.