MIRZA JAWAD BAIG If, therefore, we sincerely desire to establish our local governments in accordance with the norms of a free democratic society, we shall have to have a united structure and move away from the present dichotomy. Functions such as those relating to the police, revenue and land administration, health, education, agriculture, administration of justice and all other local functions shall have to be handed over to the local governments as is usually practiced in free and democratic countries everywhere. When the district level governments have been organised, the stage would be set for going a step further and strengthening the union councils in the rural areas. Similarly, in large and compact areas and metropolitan centres, zonal municipalities should be organised to ensure maximum participation of the people in the management of their affairs. Apart from the federal government, the other two tiers, namely provincial and local administration, should have the corresponding functional role as under: Level of Government 1.1 Provincial Government 1.1 Regional planning. 1.2 Coordination between local governments. 1.3 Execution and maintenance of region-wide projects mainly through sectoral authorities. Functional Role 2.1 Local Government 2.1 Police 2.2 Revenue and general administration. 2.3 Special services i.e. health, education etc. 2.4 All other functions at present performed by provincial government other than listed at 1.1 to 1.3 above. 2.5 All present local government functions, other than those to be delegated to rural and urban councils. The above distribution of functions is universally adopted by democratic societies all over the world and is based on 'system approach by making an attempt to identify system needs at the two levels and then allocate responsibilities to them. Some people in our country, being conservative in their approach, may be afraid of any change in the present system, others being gradualist may believe that the system should be reformed slowly by an evolutionary process. However, they fail to appreciate that so long as the key functions of the police, revenue and land management remain with the provincial government, gradualism would never work. On the other hand, people now enjoying absolute power and authority at the provincial level, may prefer the colonial state of affairs to continue. So, as long as such views are expressed by bureaucrats, one can understand their desire to retain supremacy albeit a diluted and perhaps an illusory one - but it is surprising to note that most of the present political leaders also oppose any fundamental change in the centralised arrangement, inherited by us from the British colonial power; because in such arrangement they can easily hide their misdeeds, as it is difficult to fix responsibility on any one group - the politicians, bureaucrats and the public - all blaming each other for the visible decline in efficiency, erosion of moral values and enormous increase in corruption and lawlessness. In a small dispensation of local administration on the other hand, the unfit and undesirable ones would eventually be weeded out and electors would learn the art of careful and judicious use of their voting rights. This learning process is irreversible and it is the acquisition of this, more than anything else which differentiate the established democracies of the west from the unstable, nascent, pseudo-democracies of the east, where public opinion is so volatile that it is easily manipulated by charismatic leaders. In a smaller milieu, however, such as that of a district, there is no room for corrupt or dinosaur politicians, side by side, it would also be possible to hold the bureaucrats responsible for efficient implementation of policies. No one group would, therefore, be able to deceive the other for a long time and get away with it. It should clearly be understood that the process of decentralisation should be in the form of 'Devolution. If the local administration is regarded as the delegatee of the provincial government, the system would not work at all, and the forces of centralisation would come into play again, producing a condition worse than we find today. For effective devolution, therefore, it is necessary that except for the upper tier of officers, the entire staff should belong to the local cadre, not transferable from one district to another. They may, however, resign and join the service of another local administration or their services may be loaned to another district for a fixed period of time, through mutual consultation. The top level officers should belong to the federal cadre as at present and should be on secondment. There should be no provincial cadre of generalists, since the function of planning and coordination as well as management of region-wide services through sectoral authorities can easily be undertaken by specialists, who may either be recruited directly or obtained on secondment from the federal or district levels. As for financial arrangements, the local government administration should eventually become a self-reliant unit in the same way as are the well established and deep-rooted democracies in the world today. Out of the federal divisible pool, after providing for such essential and minimum subsidies to the sectoral authorities as are unavoidable and for carrying out the functions of planning and coordination, the balance should be distributed to the local government in accordance with the existing formula for provinces. However, a five percent amount out of the total of each regions share may be set aside for meeting any deficit in the retarded districts of the region, for the first 10 years and the position be reviewed thereafter. The local administration may be allowed to raise their own taxes locally in such a way that the burden is not transferred to persons residing outside their own territorial jurisdiction. In order to further help rapid development of retarded districts, adequate grant-in-aid from the federal government for specific projects be provided to them in such a way so as to remove the inadequacies of basic infrastructure. However, under no circumstances any grant be allowed on a perpetual basis to inflate the size of bureaucracy or create a condition of permanent dependency. Our people have, unfortunately been led astray by chauvinistic leaders and have started depending on other peoples resources, which they try to appropriate on various pretexts. There is no doubt that happiness is best enjoyed when shared by all, but in the process of redistribution of resources one has to draw a line where redistribution should not be allowed to degenerate into outright extortion, which is one of the torments of the colonial system of concentration of powers at provincial levels, that we have today. Regarding the administrative organisation of the local government, one may say at a casual look that it would result in massive expansion of bureaucracy. This is, however, not true because presently a full complement of staff of different departments already exists in our districts and secondly, the volume of work in each district would be much less than it is in the existing provincial secretariat. In a local government one secretary would easily look after a number of departments, while the staff would consist of the existing district employees. It may be remembered that at the time of partition the entire Balochistan secretariat had only one secretary and two under-secretaries till 1954. On the other hand, the present strength of the provincial secretariats is so large that even after dispersing the officers and staff to various local governments, there would still be a residue left for the provincial set up at a much reduced scale. It would, thus be possible to man the secretariats, both at the local and provincial levels from existing strength of provincial governments. Even if there is a marginal increase in expenditure, it would be worth having, as against the immense advantages occurring therefrom. Some of them are: ? Manifold increase in the peoples participation in the affairs of their government. ? Removal of fear of domination and insecurity among all the people. ? Reduction of area of conflict by limiting the tensions and conflicts to the confine of small units. ? Easy and effective maintenance of law and order. ? Removal of ethnic, sectarian and cultural prejudices. ? Removal of physical and psychological barriers of distance, with substantial savings in terms of time, energy and money. ? Acceleration of economic development in all directions, thereby promoting demand for goods and services and creating job opportunities throughout the country. ? Rapid development of retarded areas of the country, thereby eliminating regional economical disparities and checking influx of people from the under-developed interior. ? Development of a healthy spirit of competition, resulting in better quality of goods and higher production. ? Interdependence and fruitful co-existence among local governments, finally loading to national integration. ? Greater self-reliance, financial prosperity and discipline among political leaders. ? Plentiful opportunities for political training and for development of national leadership. ? Greater accountability of the elected representatives. ? Close and effective checking of bureaucracy. ? And above all, immense benefit in terms of efficiency and satisfaction of the common man. If we look around, it would be noticed that all things in nature have a 'particulate configuration. The small elements of a system not only make it more stable internally but they also enable it to withstand much higher pressures externally. For example, the sand in a bag is able to absorb shocks much better than a big rock, how hard it may be. Similarly, the stem of a palm tree, made up of thin and tiny fibres in millions, withstands the hardest lashes of storm which even the toughest of trunks of other trees would not bear. Hence, by creating a situation of interdependence and public satisfaction, the 'particulate structure of the local government would give tremendous strength and stability to our national system as a whole, while contributing immensely towards the goal of national integration. Indeed, therefore, the real and genuine cause of our failure, as a free democratic nation, hitherto hidden and unnoticed, lies in the inherent evil of our present colonial system of government, having highly concentrated provincial super-structures, inherited from the British masters, which is causing instability in the overall framework of our federation, thereby obstructing our progress towards democracy and retarding the process of national integration. In a society such as we have, people associate the government with its coercive powers and its ability to enforce its will. Moreover, land is the most important source of wealth and status, and people have great regard and respect for an authority which enjoys control over it. As these attributes are still found almost exclusively in our provincial governments, it is not surprising that whenever people talk of their rights, they invariably look towards the province as their goal; notwithstanding the fact that in free and democratic societies everywhere in the world, a province or state does not enjoy any powers concerning the daily lives of common man and his day to day affairs, which are left exclusively in the hands of autonomous local governments. The writer is a freelance columnist.