Though women constitute half the total population of India, their representation in the policy-making process is strikingly low. The book under review makes an attempt to study the nature of problems female executives face, the kind of discrimination they encounter and their status and position in relation to their counterparts elsewhere in the Indian society.
As we know, the public administration system plays a major role in implementing the policies and programmes formulated by the government for socio-economic and politico-cultural growth of the country. An effective administrative machinery under a parliamentary system of government is in operation in India where the ministers decide the policies while the civil servants carry out the decisions.
Today the challenges before administrators are many with increase in tasks and changes in the nature of roles performed by them. Administrators have to canvass support for the government'spolicy to seek people'sparticipation, execution and acceptance. As administration initially involved not only one set of administrators but officers at different levels, the system of bureaucracy came into existence where policies were discussed at various levels before being promulgated for implementation. Further, administration did not mean administration by the male members only because with women being equally educated if not more than men, it was discovered that women did not lag behind their male counterparts in running the country., be it at the village, taluka, state, or nation level.
The author points out a lesser-known fact that the origins of civil service went back far into the ages as it originated in the ?water-works civilisations? in the valleys of rivers like the Nile, the Ganges, the Euphrates and the Yangtse. Among these valleys as to where the ancient-most civilisation grew up first is difficult to tell because ?when our historical vision opened in the middle of the third millennium, organised states were seen existing in all those areas,? says Sardar Panicker. He adds, ?As far back as 2000 BC (2200-1905 BC), the Chinese had organised a civil service, recruitment to which was based on the principles of merit.?
Tracing the history of the civil service, the author Dr Rekha says that the competitive examination was introduced in 1853 but ?no Indian could enter the Indian Civil Service (ICS) till the services were transferred to the control of the Crown. The monopoly of the members of the ICS for the all-important civil appointments was maintained by the Indian Civil Service Act 1861.? The ICS was the elite of services of the Crown in India. When the British left India there were ten All India Services and 22 Central Services. The structure of services underwent a change after Independence. The All India Services were reduced to two?Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) where IAS replaced the former ICS. At present there are three All India Services along with 15 Central Services. It was after Independence that the Central Government removed the restrictions towards women taking the Higher Civil Service examination, though restrictions like participation of only unmarried women or widows without encumbrances continued.
An interesting information revealed by the author is that the first woman administrator, Anna Malhotra, a Christian from Kerala, joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1951 though the selection committee tried to persuade her to join the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) instead as ?it was doubted whether women could be able to shoulder responsibilities of law and order in the districts.? The restriction on participation of women in any service was however removed in 1972 ?after women Members of Parliament demanded it in the Parliament?.
Women Indian Administrative officers start their careers as Assistant Collectors or sub-divisional magistrates in the districts where they work under more experienced administrators in law and order and revenue operations. After several years in the districts, women are usually posted to government secretariats in the state or national capital and many travel up the ladder in the ministry or else work in several of them.
The author winds up the book by listing some pragmatic measures for implementation and these include education of the girl child, special coaching for rural women candidates, encouragement to women from backward classes, education of women on their rights, representation of women in administration and most importantly increase in their representation in the civil services.
Here is a book which will have limited readership.