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Public Administration Theories

Public administration in India isn’t just about forms and files, it’s a dynamic dance between inherited structures, global trends, and the unique rhythm of our diverse society. Public administration theories are frameworks and concepts that guide the practices and principles of government organisations.

These theories provide insights and understanding into the complexities and challenges of public administration.

Public administration theories of India are the ideas and concepts that explain and guide the practice and study of public administration in India. Public administration is the management of public affairs and services by the government and other organisations. We will discuss some of the key theories and approaches to public administration in India.


The Weberian approach to public administration is based on the principles of rationality, efficiency, and formalism. It emphasises the importance of a hierarchical and bureaucratic organisation, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. In India, this approach has been used to create a centralised and efficient administrative system.

Comparative theories:

These are the theories that compare and contrast public administration in India with other countries and regions, such as the West, East Asia, Africa, and Latin America. They analyse the similarities and differences in the administrative systems, cultures, and practices of various countries and regions. They also identify the challenges and opportunities for learning and cooperation among different countries and regions. Some of the prominent scholars of comparative theories are S.R. Maheshwari, Prabhat Patnaik, B. Guy Peters, and Bidyut Chakrabarty.


Gandhianism is an approach to public administration that emphasises decentralisation, participatory decision-making, and community development. This theory is based on the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, who believed that power should be decentralised and that communities should have more control over their development. In India, this approach has been used to promote rural development and community-based initiatives.

New Public Management (NPM):

In the 1990s, India witnessed the influence of New Public Management, emphasising efficiency, accountability, and customer-centric service delivery. NPM aimed to transform public administration by incorporating private-sector management practices into the public sector.

Development Takes Center Stage:

Post-independence, India’s focus shifted towards development, and so did its administrative theories. Thinkers like Paul Appleby and Dwight Waldo championed “development administration,” highlighting the need for a flexible and responsive bureaucracy that could adapt to the challenges of poverty and inequality. This led to initiatives like Panchayati Raj, aiming to empower local communities in decision-making.


Ambedkarism is an approach to public administration that emphasises social justice and equality. It is based on the teachings of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who believed that the government should work to eliminate discrimination and promote equal opportunities for all citizens. In India, this approach has been used to address issues of caste discrimination, promote affirmative action, and ensure that marginalised communities have a voice in the decision-making process.

Social Equity and Inclusion:

In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on social equity and inclusion in public administration. Policies and initiatives aim to address the concerns of marginalised communities, promoting affirmative action and ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens.

Conclusion – As we all know, public Administration Theories find renewed relevance in the era of digital governance, epitomised by Digital India initiatives like Digital India Portal and Digital Seva Portal.

These platforms exemplify the integration of technology into public administration, enhancing service delivery and citizen engagement. Embracing digital advancements aligns with evolving theories, propelling administrative practices towards efficiency, transparency, and inclusivity in the contemporary landscape of public governance.

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