Bureaucracy and the Environmental Crisis: A Comparative Perspective
Environmental degradation has reached a point of global and universal crisis. Since the formal recognition of the problem in the early 1970s, most nations have tried to respond to its urgency by adopting new laws and establishing independent bureaucracies. This chapter aims to put environmental bureaucracy in a global context, an approach being demanded by several scholars in the environmental policy field. The idea is to use environmental bureaucracy as a dependent variable, as an entity that does not exist in a vacuum and cannot be deemed effective or ineffective on its own. The Indian bureaucracy has historical roots. It bears the marks of its precolonial heritage and the signs of the British colonialism of over 200 years. The environmental bureaucracy in India performs regulatory and nonregulatory functions. Its regulatory functions follow the same procedure as in the United States: the source of the problem is identified; standards are set; compliance is monitored; and noncompliance is punished.