National development is the major task with emphasis on nation-building and socioeconomic progress in the Third world. Chi Yuen Wu very aptly remarks: “No item now on the agenda of the world should be assigned a higher priority than development.
Permanent peace would be impossible until the problem of underdevelopment and mal-development is solved. Human happiness, hunger and starvation, population explosion, energy crisis, deterioration of the human environment, extension of our frontier space and deep sea exploration, etc. are all parts of the problem of development or modernization in a broad sense”.
Once development is recognized as the centre of politics, the functions of government grow not only in size, magnitude and importance but also in complexity because many undertakings and issues relating to development can only be handled by the government or with its support. Public administration has an important asset in achieving the task of national development.
By identifying the role of public administration and improving administrative capabilities, the task becomes easy. As concluded by a United Nations publication: “it would be disastrous if the importance of public administration were not recognized by those responsible for national development or if public administration were not fully developed and made to contribute its utmost to the development of the developing countries”.
The study of development administration has been recognized to focus its attention to the continuing problems of developing countries relating to development. Yet the study does not appear to be sufficiently developed to meet this challenge.
Caiden aptly remarks in an article: “It seems that, after killing many myths in the field and experimenting with a variety of models, development administration has in recent years lost its impetus without making any significant intellectual breakthrough or coming to proper grips with the complexities of the subjects”.
Similarly Springer also notes that “development administration is starved for theories which will guide the pooling of empirical knowledge, orient new research, and recommend administrative policy.
Need and opportunity beckon, performance falls short”. Apparently, the study of development administration oriented to development goals of nation building and socio-economic progress does fail to fulfill its promises.
It is observed that American scholars gave too much attention to the administrative reform and less to political reform. Political reform must precede the administrative reform and the two cannot be separated if goals of development are to be achieved.
It is true that nations cannot develop without bureaucratic organizations, but at the same time bureaucracy is dammed. How to make the administrative state accountable and responsible is the crux of the problem at hand in developing countries.
The field of development administration now has lost its horizon in the hands of American scholars. Meanwhile it is observed that they are becoming parochial in the study of public administration as they pay little attention to what is happening in their counterparts. American scholars are not presently interested to expound the best theory of development administration.
They are now much more concerned with the study of Public Administration, and of its subfield, the study of American public Administration. Scholars are now lost in national introspection and are engaged in their own task of national reconstruction. The field of development administration has now become the concern of the United Nations and its related agencies.
As already maintained in the beginning development is the centre of politics of really every developing country of the world but the problems that confront the developing countries as they strive to accelerate economic and social progress are tremendous and without parallel in the recent social and economic history.
Whereas for the developed countries these problems represent a temporary phenomenon, for the developing countries the present crises of population explosion, poverty, energy, unemployment, hunger and starvation could well mean the abortion of germinating hopes. However many of the problems can be solved if proper economic and administrative planning is done.
The developing countries need not be deterred by a prophesy of doom or that they must remain poor. On the contrary the developing countries should continue to struggle for significant economic and social improvement.
These countries must strive to accelerate national development, make use of relevant technological innovations adapt necessary institutional changes make better use of human and natural resource and raise living standards. In short development should be the main task of the developing countries.
To meet these challenges national government must take a concerted action to improve their administrative capabilities for socio-economic progress. The United Nations and its allied agencies and developed countries of the word can help a lot in this sphere but the momentum must come from within the countries rather than from outside.