Explain the importance of Collector in the District Administration. Trace the evolution of the Institution of Collector.
The Collector is the highest functionary of the District Administration. The Collector looks after both the development and regulatory areas and has three major functions: revenue, magisterial and developmental. Besides Revenue Administration other important functions of the Collector include magisterial duties. Maintenance of public order in the district is his primary responsibility because he is in-charge of law and order administration in the district. His role in development administration has become very significant in recent decades as he is responsible for the implementation of government policies and programs at the district level.
The Collector plays a crucial role of coordination between different departments and agencies. It is the duty of the Collector to ensure the availability of essential commodities in the district and proper functioning of the Public Distribution System. In many other important areas like conduct of elections, census operations and supervision of local government institutions, etc. The Collector plays a central role. In fact, his responsibilities are so wide that there is no area of District Administration where he is not associated.
The district has been a basic unit of administration in India since the ancient times. Over the centuries the change of dynasties and regimes did not affect the elementary importance of a district as an unit of administration. Though the name of this basic unit has been changing from time to time, it was known as ‘Janapada’ during the Mauryan period and became circar ‘ during the Moghul period.
The officer in-charge of the local administration was named as Collector during East India Company’s rule as Collection of the revenue was the most important duty of the Company’s civil servants. Even today the revenue department is headed by the District Collector. The office of the District Collector became very important during British rule as he was the highest functionary of the District Administration. Though after Independence they are no more the ‘rulers’, in the democratic set-up which India adopted they are expected to serve the people, but their importance continues. Rather it has grown with the increase in their responsibilities.