Importance and Challenges in a Developing Society

The developing countries of the world are concentrated in the regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The developing nations are characterized by an economy which is transitioning from agrarian to industrial. You may recall Fred Riggs and his famous Prismatic Model from the earlier article, according to Riggs, the developing nations are the prismatic societies. There are a few characteristic features of these developing economies:

  • They have all been an Imperial nation’s colony at some point in their history

  • The subsequent exploitation by these colonial masters has driven their economies into a state of deep national debts

  • The national income as well as the per capita income is very low

  • The social development in these countries are in early stages

  • The main problems are poverty, population explosion, illiteracy, poor sanitation, insufficient infrastructure and in a rapidly developing economy like India, the problem of inequitable distribution of this economic prosperity between rural Bharat and urban India

  • The conflicting interests and diversities based on caste, creed, language, regions etc

  • There are constant conflicts between the traditional and the modern

  • The public administration plays a crucial role in achieving inclusive developmental goals

Now, having understood the general scenario prevalent in these developing countries, we can take a step forward and try to understand the nature of public administration in these economies.

  • The public administration system of these nations are often than not an imitation of that of their colonial masters

  • The imitative system seems divorced and distant from the people and their problems

  • There is an acute shortage of skilled manpower with technical and managerial competencies

  • Also, there is a kind of monopoly of bureaucracies in these nations because of which they enjoy vast amount of autonomy however the goals intended to achieve by them often gets lost amidst all this

  • An interesting phenomenon coined by Riggs called Formalism is common place in these economies. According to it, the bureaucratic officers and public servants insist on following law, rules etc and tenaciously hold on to them while providing services to the people however their own professional behavior is far removed from the laid down laws, rules and regulations

The problems plaguing the bureaucracies of these countries are that they are ill equipped to carry out developmental goals. Since, they came into existence to serve the goals and objectives of their colonial masters; they seem to be in disharmony with the changing needs and aspirations of the natives. For e.g. the Indian Police still follows the 1865 Police Commission guidelines which was laid out to address the law and order situation in the era of British Raj.

In developing countries the major challenge is development and modernization. The public institutions have the enormous developmental tasks in their hands; combined with rapid economic development due to the growth in the private sector and the economically wealthy young population, the demand for delivery of services is increasing. Finally, the rural areas have not kept up with the rapidly growing urban areas, whether in Brazil or in India, they look upon Government, public administration and public servants as their only hope.


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