Administrative Reforms and Decentralization: India and Indonesia

Mason C. Hoadley, Neelambar Hatti


The paper compares the broad outlines of decentralization taking place in India, dating
from the last decade of the past century, with that of Indonesia in the first decades of
the present one. It focuses on the generally acknowledged least successful of reforms,
namely that of public administration. Public administration tends to reflect the
respective country’s prevailing norms. The paper opens with the more important
contrasts between India and Indonesia with reference to governmental structure,
respective colonial heritage, and focus of decentralization efforts. The crux of the paper
is whether administrative decentralization furthers, hinders, or is neutral with regard to
bureaucratic reform. Assessment of successes and failures leads to discussion of
continued, if not higher, levels, of corruption/dysfunctional behaviour at all levels in the
civil service. After disposing of misconceptions of the Weberian bureaucratic system
inherited from the colonial past, possible improvements are postulated. Not
surprisingly these originate from application of New Public Management (NPM), with
a couple of new wrinkles. Such reform depends upon general public engagement. In
comparison with India’s spontaneous mass demonstrations, hunger-strikes, and highlevel
public condemnation of mega public corruption, this is conspicuous by its
absence in Indonesia, where concentration has been on an anti-corruption court
supplemented by experiments with a fledging evaluation system to monitor local
progress on decentralization.

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