DISTRICT ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE
District is the basic unit of administration in India. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as a 'territory marked off for special administrative purpose'. A district is generally named after the largest town or city of the territorial area of the concerned district Therefore, a district is an administrative unit in the hierarchy of administration which consists of a number of territorial areas, namely, villages, towns and cities. Hence, the word 'District Administration' means the management of the tasks of government as it lies within an area legally recognised as a district. The five types of the district in India are the rural district, urban district, industrial district, backward district and the hill district.
Generally, the district administration has the following features.
1. It is at district level that the state government comes into contact with the people.
2. District administration is a field work as opposed to staff or secretariat functions.
3. The problems at the district level are local relating to the district.
4. At district level, policy formulation ends and the implementation begins.
5. The District Officer is the last agent of the state government and the 'man of the spot' for any activity or incidence in the district; and
6. At the district, there is functional aggregation of units. A large number of departments have their field agencies located in the district.
The District Collector is the head of district administration. The office of the collector at first was created by Warren Hastings in 1772 for the dual purpose of collecting revenue and dispensing justice. Strictly speaking, the collector is for the collection of land revenue in the beginning. But, at present, there are enormous functions to the district collector. The general roles and the functions of the district collector are following.
1. As Collector, he has to collect land revenue.
2. As District Magistrate, he has to maintain law and order in the district.
3. As District Officer, he has to deal with the personnel matters like salary, transfer, etc within the district.
4. As Development Officer, he is responsible for the implementation of rual development programmes.
5. As the Returning Officer, he is the chief for the elections to the Parliament, the State Legislative Assembly, and the local government in the district. Hence, he coordinates the election works at the district level.
6. As the District Census Officer, he conducts the census operations once in ten years.
7. As the Chief Protocol Officer, he has to protect the VIPs in their tour and stay in the district.
8. As the coordinator, he supervises the district level other functionaries and departments.
9. He presides over the District Plan Implementation Committee.
10. He acts as the official representative of the state government during the ceremonial functions in the district.
11. He acts as the Public Relations Officer of the state government.
12. He acts as the Crisis Administrator in chief during the natural calamities and other emergencies.
13. He supervises and controls the local government institutions.
14. He handles the work pertaining to civil defence; and
15. He is responsible for civil supplies, food and other essential commodities.
Hence, the District Collector is the multi-functionary in the district level. In fact, the work-load functions are more to a collector due to the welfare state policy in which the government has to implement a large number of programmes for the people. Actually, the office of the District Collector is very much prestigeous. The District Collector is the hero of the district administration. The other important district level functionaries are following.
1. Superintendent of Police
2. District Medical Officer
3. District Health Officer
4. District Forest Officer
5. Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies
6. District Agricultural Officer.
7. District Industries Officer
8. District Judges
9. Backward Class Welfare Officer
10. Superintendent of Jails
11. District Labour Officer
In Tamil Nadu, Revenue Divisional Officer is the head of divisional administration especially for revenue administration and for the maintenance of law and order. But, the development administration is headed by Assistant Director (Development) (Formerly by the Divisional Development Officer - DDO) in the division level. Under AD (Development), there are functionaries namely, extension officers for agriculture, cooperation, industry, eduction, animal husbandry, etc.
Tahsildar is the head of taluk level administration in Tamil Nadu. For assisting him, the Deputy Tahsildars are there in the Tehsil. This is for the revenue administration. For the development administration, panchayet unions are there in the state. The Panchayet Union Commissioner or Block Development Officer (BDO) is the head and there are extension officers for agriculture, health, cooperation, animal husbandry, education, and industry.
Revenue Inspector is the head of Firka level revenue administration. Every taluk is divided into many firkas in Tamil Nadu. But, the nomenclature of this level differs from state to state.
Village Administrative Officer is the head of village level administration. He is the most important functionary in the field especially in the village. Under him, there are village level workers. He performs revenue, police, and general administrative duties and acts as the representative of the government in the village.