Representative Bureaucracy in Action
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Representative Bureaucracy in Action

Country Profiles from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia

Edited by B. Guy Peters, Patrick von Maravić and Eckhard Schröter

Taking a comparative and analytical perspective, the authoritatively, yet accessibly written, country chapters show how salient the politics of representativeness have become in increasingly diverse societies. At the same time, they illustrate the wide variety of practice based on different political systems, administrative structures, and cultural settings.
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Chapter 13: Politics of representative bureaucracy in India

Bas van Gool and Frank de Zwart


The issue of group representation in public institutions has been at the heart of Indian politics since long before its independence in 1947. Given caste divisions and the ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity of Indian society, this is hardly surprising. Politics of representation in India, however, do not primarily concern the question whether or not the state should build a representative bureaucracy. The need to do so is widely acknowledged and the Constitution of India supports staunch measures – such as reservations in the form of job quotas – to help realize it. Governments in the center and the states use that opportunity – on an unrivalled scale – to promote employment of lower castes or classes in the public sector. The Indian state is committed to enlarge representation in the bureaucracy of so-called “socially and educationally backward” groups. The latter is a constitutional category comprising an array of communities that make up about three-quarters of the population. From a comparative perspective, India’s commitment to representative bureaucracy is remarkable.

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