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English fortnightly, devoted to life, literature and culture.

Vol: 09  No: 01


05 August 1962

The Future Administrator

Dr. Zakir Husain

We are face to face with a new life with new problems. The attitude of the people and that of the administrator have to undergo a radical mutual change.
We have still a rather confused attitude towards our administrative machinery, perhaps understandably so. Before independence, this administrative machinery was the operative agency of foreign rule. For long years it was thus in a static mass of apathetic, hopeless, visionless, inarticulate humanity, unmindful, by and large, of its obligations, ignorant of its rights and forgetful of its destiny.
In its early days, this administrative machinery, in spite of its being the tool of a foreign domination, was even liked and respected for its efficiency, its impartiality and its incorruptibility. But operating in a population uneducated and illiterate, ridden with poverty and disease, politically dead and socially stagnant, without a word of valid criticism or a stirring of legitimate protest, would corrode and demoralize even the best administrative apparatus.
The apparatus of British administration in this country was no exception and, in spite of the limited scope of its operation, mainly for the maintenance of law and order in a police state, it deteriorated as it grew. It alienated their sympathies. It came to be regarded not only with suspicion but with hostility as an engine of exploitation and oppression, geared to a system of government which Gandhiji brandmarked indelibly as ‘Satanic’.
This has caused considerable damage to our present administration when circumstances have so radically changed.
The present administration has inherited some of that exclusive forbidding touch-me-not-ness, some of that standoffish sense of superiority, some of that lack of sympathetic understanding which was associated with the administrator of the past.
It also inherited, perhaps, some of that lack of initiative only natural in a circumstance where points of initiative were mostly occupied by the foreigner. It also inherited some of those narrower loyalties of community and caste and language and region which could flourish and grow under foreign rule, for allegiance to those narrower loyalties did not place any higher and larger loyalty in jeopardy.
These and similar habits and attitudes cling to the administrators as remnants of a past they can never do too much to shake off.
The people still seem, at times, to look upon the administration as if it were not their own, seem to enjoy finding fault with it, seem to take delight in the use of their ingenuity to evade what the administrator is commissioned to enforce.

This is thoroughly bad—the one side as bad as the other—for things have so fundamentally changed. We are face to face with a new life with new problems. The attitude of the people and that of the administrator have to undergo a radical mutual change. The people have to realise that the administration is their own, their instrument for the execution of their will.
The administration has to realise unmistakably that it is such an instrument and to take pride in the privilege of being able to serve and through service to educate its masters, the people.
In order to enable you to do this, you will have to develop attitudes which are essentially a product of the process of self-education.
The first is the attitude of consciously and consistently preferring service to rule.
In the expanding democratic life of this country, there is not much room for people who find their greatest satisfaction in imposing their will on others and in demanding and receiving unquestioning compliance.
The administrator today has to work among people who after long years of sullen unquestioning compliance have at last come into their own.
This should affect their whole attitude to human relations with the people in general and with the teams in which they work, their attitude to superiors and inferiors. It will perhaps lead you to evolve a technique of open and frank communication in good faith allowing no tales to be secretively carried to you or by you. It will perhaps help you in not being in a hurry to judge or to let down a subordinate and in not making special pets or favourites. It will perhaps give you an inner resistance against sycophants. It will, perhaps, give you a quality of self-criticism and inner vigilance which may enable you to resist what pleases you to hear. A person who has developed this pattern of attitudes can fruitfully cooperate with others and get the hearty cooperation of others. And this is to be one of the outstanding qualities of future administrators in our country.
There is the attitude of absolute impartiality towards and equal commitment to work for the welfare of all you serve.
You should learn to set your face resolutely against any narrow sectional loyalties. Your loyalty is to the people of India without any distinction, to their politically organised society, the Indian Union.
If you succeed in developing these attitudes, you will be anxious, wherever you may be placed, to do whatever lies in your power to enlist the active and effective cooperation of every Indian villager in the great enterprise of building up a life free from hunger, want, ignorance and disease, a pattern of non-exploitative and graceful living together.

Bhavan's Journal

05 August 1962


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Language: English
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