Regulatory Administration: An Evolving and Neglected Area of Public Administration in India

Published date01 December 2018
Date01 December 2018
Subject MatterArticles
Indian Journal of Public
64(4) 686–702
© 2018 IIPA
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0019556118783064
An Evolving and
Neglected Area of
Public Administration
in India
Yudhishthira Sapru1
R.K. Sapru2
In the current phase of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, and now
broadly governance, regulatory administration has acquired growing importance
as an instrument of achieving socio-economic objectives. It is through instrumen-
tality of regulatory administration that the government is able to exercise effective
political and economic sovereignty and control over the country’s governance
process and resources. Governments of nearly all developing countries have
initiated policies and procedures to promote and strengthen regulatory bodies
and agencies. However, the results of these promotional and regular activities
have varied considerably, often reflecting large inadequacies in policies, organi-
sational structures and procedures. Increasing emphasis is now being placed
at the national level on a more flexible regulatory administration to enforce
compliance with nationally established policies and requirements in various political,
economic and social spheres. As a watchdog for the public interest, governments
both at central and state levels should engage in activities for the promotion of
social and economic justice, so as to ensure the happiness and prosperity of the
Competitive environment, government intervention, collegial form, quasi-judicial
activity, diffused accountability
1 Doctoral Research Scholar, University Business School, Panjab University and Sr. Consultant, SeMT,
Ministry of Electronics and IT, Government of India, India.
2 Former Professor and Chairman, Department of Public Administration, Panjab University, Chandigarh,
Corresponding author:
R.K. Sapru, Former Professor and Chairman, Department of Public Administration, Panjab University,
Chandigarh, India.
Sapru and Sapru 687
An important and yet the most neglected area of public administration is perceived
to be regulatory administration. On it depends the achievement of socio-economic
goals and development. More and more countries—developed or developing—
are now taking strong and positive steps to strengthen it. In the context of liberali-
sation, privatisation and globalisation, the regulatory administration has assumed
particular importance in developing countries. Governments of these countries
are keen on exercising effective economic sovereignty, and control over their
national resources and environment and on ensuring that their use by the private
sector, especially its foreign components, is in harmony with nationally desirable
goals. An effective regulatory system is essential for furthering socio-economic
development in a developing Indian economy. It is seen as a major instrument avail-
able to the government to enforce adherence to national requirements. Emphasising
the importance of regulation, Sharad S. Marathe wrote that ‘regulation of
economic activity is and will continue to remain an important aspect of govern-
mental activity, particularly at the central level [in India]. Such regulation
does not, and indeed, should not be deemed as synonymous with administrative
regulation’ (Marathe, 1986).
Meaning, Objectives and Reasons for Regulation
The term ‘regulation’ in its traditional meaning refers to the control function of
the government. To regulate means to govern or direct according to law or consti-
tuted authority. Regulatory administration is, therefore, related to the control
function of government. Regulation has been defined as ‘intentional restriction
or choice by party not directly involved in or performing the regulated activity’
(Mitnick, 1980).
More specifically in terms of its objectives and tools, regulation involves
activities which:
1. affect the operating business of the private sector including market entry
and exit, rate, price and profit structure, and competitive environment;
2. control specific goods or services through permit, certification or licensing
requirements and
3. pertain to the development, promotion and enforcement of national
In a broader sense, regulation has a much wider meaning comprising all govern-
ment actions—law and order, market operation, health, education, consumer and
environmental protection, employment, price and profit-structure—designed to
regulate individual and group activities.
Since the private sector has a role of far-reaching importance in the socio-
economic development of the country, it should be regulated and developed along
with the public sector. At the outset, it may be emphasised that regulation under-
scores the existence of a ‘market’ or ‘mixed economy’ in which both public as

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