(Last Updated on : 01/01/2011)
District Administration is the management of affairs within a district, which is the basic territorial unit of administration in India. It is at this level that the common man comes into direct contact with the administration. The district falls under the charge of a district officer, called either Deputy Commissioner or District Collector. This officer acts as the representative of the state government at this level. The district has also been the unit of administration for various other departments of the State Government. Thus, many State functionaries like the Superintendent of Police, Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies, District Agricultural Officer, District Medical Officer, etc., are located at the district headquarters and their jurisdiction extends to the district. Thus at the district level there are multiple officers for administering the affairs of the Government.
The district is geographically divided into a number of units known as sub-divisions in Uttar Pradesh
and Madhya Pradesh
, revenue divisions in Tamil Nadu
, and Prants in Maharashtra. The official-in-charge of this unit bears a variety of names; he is called Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) or Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) in Uttar Pradesh, Revenue Divisional Officer or Sub-Collector in Tamil Nadu, Prant Officer (Deputy Collector or Assistant Collector) in Maharashtra. This unit helps to further decentralize authority as well as to provide field training to recruits to the Indian Administrative Service
. The SDO is either a newly recruited member of the IAS (and therefore quite young in age) or a member of the State Civil Service. Like the District Collector, the SDO is a generalist area administrator. He speaks with the voice of the Government in his own sub-division. He is a link between the District Collector and the Tahsildar in revenue matters and the District Magistrate and the Station Officer (police) in matters relating to law and order.
The sub-divisions may be classified into two broad types- an `office` type sub-division, and a `touring` type sub-division. In the former, the SDO maintains the office just as a Collector or a Tahsildar does. Here, the headquarters of the sub-division is usually located within the sub-division itself. Bengal, Bihar
, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat
, Andhra Pradesh
represent this type. There is `also a touring type sub-division in which the SDO does not maintain an office. He is a touring officer gathering information, transmitting it to his district chief, contacting people, supervising subordinate officials, and finally, looking after the execution of governmental activities in his sub-division.
The SDO is thus a valuable field aide to the District Collector and is an integral part of the district administration. The SDOs in many States do not live within their sub-divisions. They reside at the district headquarters. As a matter of policy, the SDO and other sub-divisional level officers must reside at the sub-divisional headquarters.
The sub-division comprises one or two Tahsils. A Tahsil called Taluk in Tamil Nadu and Taluka in Maharashtra is the basic unit for purposes of general administration, treasury, land revenue, land records and other items of work. It has the closest and widest contact with the rural population. The officer in charge of the Tahsil is the Tahsildar, who belongs to the State Civil Service. He is the principal official in district administration responsible for actual revenue collection. His performance, also, is judged by his efficiency as a collector of revenues. He is the sub-treasury officer, thus accepting the payment of the revenue. He recommends remissions or other concessions to the District Collector in times of distress. He is assisted by a Naib or Deputy Tahsildar, Quanungos and Patwaris. The administration at the Tahsil level is the farthest unit of administration for revenue and land questions. It is not necessary that all departments are represented at this level, for the distribution of the staff below district level follows departmental needs.
The next lower unit in revenue administration is known as Pargana in Uttar Pradesh, circle in Maharashtra and Firka in Tamil Nadu. The head of this unit is called Supervisor Quanungo in Uttar Pradesh, Circle Inspector in Maharashtra and the Revenue Inspector in Tamil Nadu. He is in charge of revenue administration and land records of every village within his area. He is the first line supervisor in the chain of revenue administration in the States.
The lowest unit for all administrative and fiscal purposes in all the States of India is the village, which is administered by a village establishment. The Village Headman is the most powerful governmental functionary at the village level, combining as he does both police and revenue functions: he is the head of the village police, and he also collects revenue and deposits it in the treasury. He is the custodian of all Government property in the village.