District is the Principal Administrative unit below the state level. It is a unit of
administration covering most of the departments of Government. In the words of the study team on district administration
constituted by the Administrative Reforms commission :
The district is the most convenient
geographical unit where the total apparatus of public administration can be concentrated,
and where it comes into direct contact with the people. Most departments of the state
Government out-side the secretariat, have external services which are located in the
district. The sum total of the activities of these departments and some others, which may
also be connected with the affairs of the Central Government, together constitute the
administrative machinery in the district.
The block and village level
bodies are generally executive in nature, while the district level body mostly has a
co-ordinating and supervisory role.
Present Day District
Administration can perhaps be traced to the Mauryan Era. In those days of slow and
difficult communications, an unwieldy empire had to be split up into smaller and more
manageable administrative units and placed in charge of imperial agents. The agent, who
roughly corresponds to the present day collector(D.C.), was called the Rajjukkara. Though
essentially a Revenue officer, the Rajjukkara also exercised judicial powers and was
charged with the responsibility of maintaining roads in the proper state of repairs,
promotion of trade, Commerce and industry, to carry out public works like construction of
new roads, Irrigation schemes etc.