ROLE OF CIVIL SERVICES IN A DEMOCRACY

ROLE OF CIVIL SERVICES IN A DEMOCRACY

 

Evolution of Civil Services in India

  • The Indian civil service system is one of the oldest administrative systems in the world. In India, it had its origin in the Mauryan period.
  • Kautilya’s Arthashastra lays down the following principles:
  • selection and promotion of the civil servants,
  • the conditions of loyalty for appointment to the civil service,
  • the methods of their performance evaluation
  • the code of conduct to be followed by them.
  • During the medieval period (1000-1600 AD), Akbar the Great founded and nurtured the civil service. His civil service had welfare and a regulatory orientation.
  • In medieval India, the Mughals set up their own civil service systems which centred on the management of land revenue, administration of government factories and establishment of the patrimonial state.

 

Civil Services During British Raj (Pre-Independence Era):
  • The British civil service came on the Indian scene after the takeover of the East India Company in the 1860s.
  • Initially the British civil service was a part of a police state, with the major task being that of carrying out law and order functions. It was separated as the different provinces had different civil services.
  • During the period of Warren Hastings, the institution of collector was created in 1772.
  • Lord Cornwallis is known as the father of civil services in India. He reformed and organised civil services. He separated revenue administration from judicial administration. The collector was made head of revenue administration of the district.
  • Charter Act of 1853 provided for open competition to civil services. But the Indian Civil Service was divided into covenant and non-covenant with Indians being restricted to non-covenant posts of lower bureaucracy only.
  • In 1854, on the recommendations Macaulay’s report, Civil Services Commission was set up to recruit civil servants. Initially examination was conducted only in London with minimum and maximum age being 18 and 23 years respectively.
  • Satyendranath Tagore became first Indian to become a civil servant in 1864.
  • Aitchinson Commission (1886) recommended the division of services into three groups – Imperial, Provincial and Subordinate.
  • The recruiting and controlling authority of Imperial services was the ‘Secretary of State’ and for provincial services, it was states.
  • The British government setup Indian Civil Service in 1911, primarily with the objective of strengthening British administration.
  • From 1922 onwards, examination was conducted in India as well. First in Allahabad and then in Delhi with setting up of Federal Public Service Commission.
  • The Government of India Act 1919 divided the Imperial Services into All India Services and Central Services. The central services were concerned with matters under the direct control of the Central Government.
  • This Act also provided for the establishment of Public Services Commission in India. But it was established in 1926 after recommendations of Lee Commission.
  • Further, the Government of India Act, 1935 envisaged a Public Service Commission for the Federation and a Provincial Public Service Commission for each Province or group of Provinces.
  • The Indian civil service was set apart from other imperial services for manning top civil posts under a rigid hierarchy of a bureaucratic system which Lloyd George termed as the “Steel Frame” of the British Raj.

 

Civil Services After Independence:

  • In 1947, free-India inherited the Indian Civil Service (ICS). After prolonged consideration, its Constituent Assembly decided to continue to run the Indian Administration with the help of the Indian Civil Service.
  • After independence the Indian Civil Service was reorganised as a two-tier system. The central government controlled the All-India Services (AIS), namely, the Indian Administrative Service (lAS), the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the central services which were classified as Group A, B, C, and D services. The selections to the All India Services and Group A and B services are conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
  • The AllIndia Services (AIS) are a unique feature of federal polity. It is the view of any constitutional experts that the Constitution though federal form is unitary in substance.
  • The AIS scheme is a part of this general plan of making the Centre strong in the overall constitutional arrangements.

 

 

 

 

Forest Services

 

·        In 1864, Imperial Forest Department was set up. Imperial Forest Service was constituted in 1867. From 1867 to 1885, the officers appointed to Imperial Forest Service were trained in France and Germany.

·        In 1920, it was decided that further recruitment to the Imperial Forest Service would be made by direct recruitment in England and India and by promotion from the provincial service in India.

·        With the inauguration of the Constitution of India in January 26, 1950, the Federal Public Service Commission came to be known as the Union Public Service Commission under Article 315.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Civil Services

  • As per Articles 53 and 154, the executive power of the Union and the States vests in the President or Governor directly or through officers’ subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil service and are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution (Services under the Union and States (Article 308- 323)).
  • Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules: The manner in which the officers are required to help the President or Governor to exercise his/her executive functions is governed by these Rules.
  • Article 309: Powers of Parliament and state legislatures – It empowers the Parliament and the State legislature regulate the recruitment, and conditions of service of persons appointed, to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State respectively.
  • Article 310: Doctrine of Pleasure – Every person of Defence service, Civil Service and All India Service holding any post connected with the above services holds office during the pleasure of the President or Governor of the State.
  • Article 311: Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank.
  • Article 311 – Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.
  • Article 312 – All India Services.
  • Article 323A: Administrative Tribunals

 

Civil services perform the Role of Civil Services in Democracy:

 

  • Basis of government: All nations, irrespective of their system of government, require some sort of administrative machinery for implementing policies.
  • An instrument for implementing Laws and Policies: Civil services are responsible for implementing the laws and policies of government.
  • Participation in policy formulation: Civil servants participate in policy making by giving advice to ministers and providing them the necessary information.
  • Provides continuity: Civil services carry on the governance when governments change due to elections or otherwise.
  • Role in socio- economic development: The developing nations are struggling to achieve modernisation of society and economic development and realize welfare goals. These objectives have placed challenging tasks on public administration such as formulation of economic plans and their successful implementation to economic growth and social change.
  • Developing a sense of nationhood: Several divisive forces such as communal and ethnic conflicts, caste feuds and regional rivalries often threaten the national unity. In order to develop a sense of nationhood among the people of these countries, the civil servants have to resolve the sub-national and sub- cultural differences among the people.
  • Facilitating democracy: The civil servants play a vital role in maintaining the democratic ideals by assisting their political heads (Ministers) in policy-making function and in implementing the policies made.
  • Calamities and crisis: Natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones have also enhanced the importance of civil services
  • Administrative adjudication: This is a quasi- judicial function performed by the civil service. The civil servants settle disputes between the citizens and the state.

 

Civil Servant’s Accountability for Good Governance:

  • The civil servants have always played a pivotal role in ensuring continuity and change in administration. However, they are dictated by the rules and procedures which are formulated taking their advice into account.
  • It is the ‘rule of law’ rather than the ‘rule of man’ that is often blamed for widespread abuse of power and corruption among government officials.
  • The explosion of media in the recent past has opened civil servants to external scrutiny and called for transparent accountability mechanisms in terms of outcomes and results not processes.
  • The issues of accountability of civil servants in service delivery have come to the forefront in all dialogues regarding civil service reforms. The credibility of civil service lies in the conspicuous improvement of tangible services to the people, especially at the cutting edge.
  • Conceptually, the civil servants are accountable to the minister in charge of the department, but in practice, the accountability is vague and of a generalised nature.
  • Since there is no system of ex ante specification of accountability the relationship between the minister and the civil servants is only issue-sensitive.
  • The civil servants deal with the minister as the issues present themselves. The accountability relationship can be anything from all-pervasive to minimalistic and it is left to the incumbent minister to interpret it in a manner that is most convenient to him.

 

General Issues and Challenges:

  • Shortfall in personnel: Overall shortage of personnel, especially in mid-level and higher level services as highlighted by the Baswan Committee Report (2016) leads to delay in service, burden on existing staff, etc.
  • Rule-Book Bureaucracy: Due to rule book bureaucracy, some civil servants have developed the attitude ‘bureaucratic behaviour’, which evokes issues like red-tapism, the complication of procedures, and the maladapted responses of ‘bureaucratic’ organisations to the needs of the people.
  • Undue political interference: This interference sometimes leads to issues like corruption, arbitrary transfers of honest civil servants. Also this led to substantial inefficiency where the vital positions are not held by the best officers and ultimately this can lead to institutional decline.
  • Lack of specialized skills among bureaucrats: In decisions regarding promotion and staffing, general competency is valued. However, lack of specialised skills can make them redundant in a fast changing world.
  • Detachment from the public: This leads to a gap in policy formulation and implementation, especially regarding welfare activities, if bureaucrats are unaware of the ground reality.
  • Increased corruption: High level of corruption in bureaucracy is associated with low levels of investment and growth.
  • Lack of transparency and accountability: This can result in discretionary decisions by officers for their personal benefits.
  • Resistance to change: Bureaucracy has often been criticized for its resistance to change towards adopting technology and decentralization of governance.

Cadre Based Civil Service

  • Cadre literally means a small group of trained people who form basic unit of a military, political or business organisation.
  • In All India Services, once selected, candidates are assigned cadres based on their preferences, merit and availability of positions.
  • In India, each state is a cadre with some exceptions like AGMUT and DANICS. These are joint state cadres with multiple states.

 

Need of Cadre system in civil Service

  • Key administrative and police positions in state governments are designated as ‘cadre posts’ signifying that they may only be held by IAS/IPS.
  • This is deliberate features of All India Service to promote quality, impartiality, integrity and All India outlook.

 

Issues with Cadre based Civil Services

Civil Services in India has been constitutionally designed in way that it maintains all India character and ‘outsiders’ are posted in state cadre. ‘Outsiders’ to state cadre would ensure a higher level of objectivity and neutrality in a system which was likely to face enormous regional and local pressure. But in the 1980s and 90s, partisanship, local considerations and nepotism crept into the system.

  • Permanency of cadres: It results in inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the working of civil services. It diminishes the all India character and limits the officers’ concern to local issues.
  • Provincialization: According to ‘Public Institutions in India – Performance and Design by Mehta and Kapoor’ there is a feeling that IAS officers are ‘all India’ in name only. As the proportions of officers who genuinely alternate between state and central government has declined.
  • Adoption of best practices: Provincialization of civil services reduces capacity of the civil services to adopt and disseminate good practices of other cadres.
  • Collusion with local politicians: For the want of preferred and plum postings, the officers collude with local politicians and officers.
  • Specialized Positions: According to 2nd ARC, cadre based civil services has limited the recruitment of persons with specialized knowledge at important positions through lateral entry.
  • Large variation: There are large variations in the size of IAS cadres with respect to total state populations. As a result, the IAS cadre in UP is 40% smaller than it should be while in Sikkim it is 15 % more than it should be, based on population alone.
  • Central Deputation: According to ‘Public Institutions in India – Performance and Design by Mehta and Kapoor’ many small states have much better representation in central ministries and departments than their larger peers.
  • Reluctance to ‘de-cadre’ positions: Due to changing social and economic conditions some posts diminished in importance. But they were rarely ‘de-cadred’. For ex – In many states, the post of Land Settlement Officer is still en-cadred, decades after overwhelming majority of land tenure/land revenue settlement work was completed.

 

New Cadre Policy (2017)

  • In the new policy, aimed at “national integration”, divides the 26 states into 5 zonal cadres.
  • Zone-I – AGMUT, Jammu, and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Haryana
  • Zone-II – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha
  • Zone-III – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
  • Zone-IV – West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam-Meghalaya. Manipur, Tripura
  • Zone-V – Telangana. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala
  • Candidates have to give cadre choices in descending order of preference from among the various zones. Candidates can only select one state/cadre from a zone as their first choice.
  • Their next choice has to be from a different zone. It is only after selecting first choice in all the zones, one can select the second state/cadre from the first zone.
  • Earlier the candidates used to choose their home state as their first choice and neighbouring states as their subsequent preferences.

 

Way Ahead

  • The New Cadre Policy (2017) looks to resolve these issues. The new policy is aimed at ensuring ‘national integration’ in the country’s top bureaucracy.
  • The new policy will seek to ensure that officers from Bihar, for instance, will get to work in southern and north- eastern states, which may not be their preferred cadres.
  • All India Services officers are supposed to have varied experience which can be earned if they work in different states
  • Lateral Entry: Also, the recent move by the government to directly recruit experts for specialised position is a welcome move and in accordance with the recommendation of 2nd
  • Reduction in size of cadres: The proliferation of inconsequential posts is a proximate cause of both demoralisation and the ability to use transfer as a penalty. Therefore, the size of cadres should be reduced after periodic reviews.

 

Broader Issues with Civil Services in India

Weberian Model of Bureaucracy and Related Issues:

India inherited Weberian model of bureaucracy from the British. The Indian civil service system is rank-based and does not follow the tenets of the position based civil services. This has led to the absence of a specialised civil service system in India. Thus, main issues associated with civil services in India can be summarized as:

  • Problems of All India Services
  • Absence of accountability
  • Out-dated laws, rules and procedures
  • High degree of centralization
  • Poor work culture and Lack of professionalism
  • Politicization of services and political Interference
  • Negative power of abuse of authority and Corruption
  • Generalist civil servants in globalized world

 

All these issues create a conflict between civil services and democracy in following ways:

  • Rigid organization structures and cumbersome procedures.
  • Elitist, authoritarian, conservative outlook.
  • Men in bureaucracy fulfil segmental roles over which they have no control. Consequently, they have little or no opportunity to exercise individual judgment.
  • The requirement that a bureaucrat should follow the principles of consistency and regularity automatically limits his capacity to adapt to changing circumstances.
  • The general rules which may take for overall efficiency produce inefficiency and injustice in individual cases.
  • Civil services’ difficulty to cope with uncertainty and change is a key limit on its efficiency.

 

Issues with All India Services:

  • Relevance of AIS years after independence: The framers of the Constitution provided for the AIS because of the serious problems of politico-administrative management and instability then faced by the country. However, the Union and the State Governments have since acquired adequate political, administrative and managerial experience.
  • Indian Police Service (IPS): As all key positions in the State police are held by members of IPS, the State Government’s responsibility in regard to public order has got whittled down.
  • Against Federalism: It is argued that winding up AIS and separate civil services of state and centre would bring the working of these Governments closer to a federal system.
  • The unity and integrity of the country and national integration should rest on more durable factors, like economic prosperity, strong elective institutions, etc., and not on an administrative apparatus, like the AIS.
  • Authority –Responsibility Gap: AIS officers tend to think that they are under the disciplinary control of the Union Government and not the State Government. A few State Governments have emphasised that an AIS officer should be under the full disciplinary control of ‘the State Government under which he is serving.
  • Cadre allocation Policy: The policy of the Union to induct at least 50% outsiders in each State cadre of an AIS implies that these outsiders are more amenable to the control of the Union Government than the insiders. This approach accentuates hostility between the AIS and the State Services as well as between the former and the political leadership in a State. States perceive this to be a clever ploy of the union government to gain control over state government.
  • Son of soil theory: Outsiders are vaguely aware about language, ethos, profile of the state which they are posted.
  • AIS under Union List: AIS are joint responsibility of centre and state, yet it is under Union list (Entry 70).

 

Sarkaria Commission recommendations

  • The AIS are as much necessary today as they were when the Constitution was framed.
  • The AIS should be further strengthened and greater emphasis laid on the role expected to be played by them. This can be achieved through well-planned improvements in selection, training, deployment, development and promotion policies and methods.
  • Greater specialisation in one or more areas of public administration.
  • Every AIS officer, whether be is a direct recruit or a promoted officer, should be required to put in a minimum period under the Union Government and, for this purpose, the minimum number of spells of Union deputation should be laid down for direct recruits and promoted officers, separately.
  • The Union Government may persuade the State Governments to agree to the constitution of the Indian Service of Engineers, the Indian Medical and Health Service and an AIS for Education.

 

Reforms Required in Civil Services

The important areas of civil services reforms and the recommendations of 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission (2nd ARC) and some other committees in these areas are as follows:

 

Bringing Accountability in Public Services

The traditional measures of accountability that rely upon line or top-down measures do not necessarily provide a good guide to the accountability culture as a whole. Thus, multi-dimensionality of accountability means both multiple measure and new mandates is the need of the hour.

 

The 2nd ARC recommended the following in this regard:

  • A system of two intensive reviews – one on completion of 14 years of service, and another on completion of 20 years of service – should be established for all government servants.
  • The first review at 14 years would primarily serve the purpose of intimating to the public servant about his/her strengths and shortcomings for his/ her future advancement.
  • The second review at 20 years would mainly serve to assess the fitness of the officer for his/her further continuation in government service.
  • The services of public servants, who are found to be unfit after the second review at 20 years, should be discontinued.
  • A provision regarding this should be made in the proposed Civil Services Law.
  • For new appointments it should be expressly provided that the period of employment shall be for 20 years.

 

Emphasize Performance
  • The present promotion system in civil service is based on time-scale and is coupled by its security of tenure.
  • These elements in our civil service are making the dynamic civil servants complacent and many of the promotions are based upon the patronage system.
  • A government servant’s promotion, career advancement and continuance in service should be linked to his actual performance on the job and the dead wood should be weeded out.
  • The promotions should be merit based and the respective authorities have to benchmark the best practices and evaluate the performance of the civil servants both qualitatively and quantitatively with a variety of parameters.
  • Performance Related Incentive Scheme: The Sixth Pay Commission recommended introduction of a new performance based pecuniary benefit, over and above regular salary, for the government employees. It is based on the principle of differential reward for differential performance.

 

2nd ARC recommendations on Performance Management system:
  • Making appraisal more consultative and transparent – performance appraisal systems for all Services should be modified on the lines of the recently introduced PAR for the All India Services.
  • Performance appraisal should be year round: provisions for detailed work-plan and a mid-year review should be introduced for all Services
  • Guidelines need to be formulated for assigning numerical rating
  • Government should expand the scope of the present performance appraisal system of its employees to a comprehensive performance management system (PMS).
  • The PMS should be designed within the overall strategic framework appropriate to the particular ministry/department/organisation.

 

Competition and Specialist Knowledge for Senior Level Appointments

  • The task of policy making in government is complex and needs specialist knowledge of the subject.
  • Under the existing system, the most senior level appointments in the Central secretariat as well as top field level posts are made from amongst the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers who are generalists.
  • The First Administrative Reforms Commission, far back in 1969, had emphasized the need for specialization by civil servants as a pre-qualification for holding senior level posts. It suggested that all the Services should have an opportunity to enter middle and senior level management levels in Central Secretariat and selection should be made by holding mid-career competitive examination, which should include interview, to be conducted by UPSC.
  • The Surendra Nath Committee (2003) and Hota Committee (2004) had also emphasized domain knowledge and merit as the basis for appointment to the posts of Joint Secretary and above.

 

2nd ARC recommendations in this regard:

  • The 2nd ARC identified 12 domains in which officers should specialize such as general administration, urban development, security, rural Development etc. It has recommended that domain should be assigned to all the officers of the All India Services and Central Civil Services on completion of 13 years of service and vacancies at the level of Deputy Secretary/ Director should be filled only after matching the domain competence of the officer for the job.
  • The Commission has suggested introduction of competition for senior positions in the Senior Administrative Grade and above (Joint Secretary level) by opening these positions to all the Services.
  • For Higher Administrative Grade posts (Additional Secretary and above) recruitment for some of the posts could be done from open market.
  • It has further suggested constitution of a statutory Central Civil Services Authority which should deal with matters of assignment of domain, preparing panel for posting of officers at different levels, fixing tenures and determining which posts should be advertised for lateral entry.

 

Effective Disciplinary Regime
  • Presently, the provisions of discipline rules are so cumbersome that it becomes very difficult to take action against a delinquent employee for insubordination and misbehaviour.
  • Thus, once appointed, it is almost impossible to remove or demote an employee. This results in poor work culture and all-round inefficiency.

 

2nd ARC recommendations in this regard:

  • The 2nd ARC has observed that legal protection given has created a climate of excessive security without fear of penalty for incompetence and wrong doing.
  • In the proposed Civil Services law, the minimum statutory disciplinary and dismissal procedures required to satisfy the criteria of natural justice should be spelt out leaving the details of the procedure to be followed to the respective government departments.
  • The present oral inquiry process should be converted into a disciplinary meeting or interview to be conducted by a superior officer in a summary manner without the trappings and procedures borrowed from court trials.
  • No penalty of removal and dismissal should be imposed, except by an Authority, which is at least three levels above the post which the government servant is holding.
  • No penalty may be imposed, unless an inquiry is conducted and the accused government servant has been given an opportunity of being heard.
  • The two-stage consultation with the CVC in cases involving a vigilance angle should be done away with and only the second stage advice after completion of the disciplinary process should be obtained.
  • Consultation with the UPSC should be mandatory only in cases leading to the proposed dismissal of government servants and all other types of disciplinary cases should be exempted from the UPSC’s purview.

 

Transforming Work Culture

Most government departments suffer from poor work culture and low productivity. In order to provide cost-effective efficient services, following measures can be taken:

  • The multi-level hierarchical structure should be reduced and an officer oriented system with level jumping be introduced to speed up decision making.
  • Government offices should be modernized with provision of computer and other gadgets and a conducive work environment should be created.
  • Officers need to be motivated and empowered by giving them more responsibility and decision-making authority.
  • There is a need to create a lean, thin and efficient government machinery by modernising procedures and work methodology and abolishing the ‘babu’ culture in the government offices.

 

Streamline Rules and Procedures
  • A large number of rules and procedures relating to citizen’s day to day interface with government in matters such as issue of passport, registration of property, sanction for construction of dwelling unit, licence for starting a business, inspection of factories, are outdated and dysfunctional and give opportunity to public servants to delay and harass.
  • These rules should be updated, simplified and discretionary power of public servants be eliminated.
  • A good part of efficiency of a government office depends on personnel, financial and procurement management systems. The rules relating to personnel management are outdated and rigid and give no flexibility to departments to adapt to local conditions resulting in inefficiency.
  • The budgetary and procurement rules should be changed, giving sufficient flexibility to departments to be able to use their judgement to secure the best value for money.

 

Privatization and Contracting Out
  • In an era of liberalization, there is economic logic to privatize those state owned enterprises which are either running in loss or in the tertiary sector of the economy such as hotel, tourism, engineering and textile sector, where they cannot compete with private sector and are a big drain on national resources.
  • There is a strong case for privatization of services like municipal street cleaning, garbage collection, power distribution, city transport etc.
  • Experience has shown that increasing use of competition in the delivery of public services, including competition between public and private sector providers has improved cost effectiveness and service quality.

 

Adoption of IT and E-Governance
  • The revolution in information technology has brought into focus its adoption for good governance.
  • E-governance can reduce distances to nothing, linking remote villages to government offices in the cities, can reduce staff, cut costs, check leaks in the governing system, and can make the citizen-government interaction smooth, without queues and the tyranny of clerks.
  • But it must be remembered that e-governance is only a tool for good governance. It cannot succeed independent or responsive officers and it has to be owned by the political leadership.

 

Stability of Tenure
  • There is a genuine problem being faced by officers, especially in the case of All India Services serving in the state governments, relating to their tenures.
  • There is usually a reshuffling of officers with change in government and in certain states the average tenure of DM and SP has now come to less than a year only. Such a rapid turnover of officers adversely affects delivery and quality of services provided to the common man.
  • The ever present threat of transfer also affects the morale of the officers and their capacity to stand up to undesirable local pressures

 

In this context Hota committee on civil services reform suggested the following:

  • A fixed tenure of at least three years for an officer of the higher civil service along with annual performance targets.
  • A Civil Services Act has to be enacted to make the Civil Services Board / Establishment Board both in the states and in the Government of India statutory in character.
  • If a Chief Minister does not agree with the recommendations of the Civil Services Board/Establishment Board, he will have to record his reasons in writing.
  • An officer transferred before his normal tenure even under orders of the Chief Minister can present the matter before a three-member Ombudsman.
  • In all such premature transfers the Ombudsman shall send a report to the Governor of the state, who shall cause it to be laid in an Annual Report before the State Legislature.

 

Depoliticization of Civil Services

Following are the recommendations of 2nd ARC on relations between political executive and civil servants:

  • There is a need to safeguard the political neutrality and impartiality of the civil services.
  • The onus for this lies equally on the political executive and the civil services.
  • This aspect should be included in the Code of Ethics for Ministers as well as the Code of Conduct for Public Servants.
  • While examining the definition of corruption under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, the “abuse of authority unduly favouring or harming someone” and “obstruction of justice” should be classified as an offence under the Act.

 

It is essential to lay down certain norms for recruitment in government to avoid complaints of favouritism, nepotism, corruption and abuse of power. These norms are:

  • Well-defined procedure for recruitment to all government jobs.
  • Wide publicity and open competition for recruitment to all posts.
  • Minimisation, if not elimination, of discretion in the recruitment process.
  • Selection primarily on the basis of written examination or on the basis of performance in existing public/board/university examination with minimum weight to interview.

 

To insulate the bureaucracy from political interference and to put an end to frequent transfers of civil servants by political bosses, the Supreme Court in 2013 issued a series of directions to insulate civil servants from political influence. Following are the directions issued by the Supreme Court in T.S.R. Subramanian and others vs. Union of India:

  • Officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), other All India Services and other civil servants were not bound to follow oral directives, since they “undermine credibility”. All actions must be taken by them on the basis of written communication.
  • Establishment of a Civil Services Board (CSB), headed by the Cabinet Secretary at the national level and chief secretaries at the state level, to recommend transfers and postings of All India Services (IAS, IFS and IPS) officers. Their views could be overruled by the political executive, but by recording reasons only.
  • Parliament to enact a Civil Services Act under Article 309 of the Constitution setting up a CSB
  • There should be fixed minimum tenure.
  • Group ‘B’ officers would be transferred by heads of departments (HoDs).
  • No interference of ministers, other than the chief minister, in transfers or postings of civil servants.

 

Lateral Entry Into Civil Services

  • Lateral entry into civil services refers to induction of eligible candidates into bureaucracy by bypassing the regular mode at a higher level of its hierarchical structure.
  • In June 2018, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) issued notification inviting applications for 10 senior level positions at the joint secretary level in the Departments of Economic Affairs, Revenue, Commerce and Highways among others.
  • The eligibility criteria include:
  • “Individuals working at comparable levels in Private Sector Companies, Consultancy Organisations, International/Multinational Organisations with a minimum of 15 years’ experience”
  • besides those working in central public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies, statutory organisations, research bodies and universities

 

Need for lateral entry

  • Shortage of Officers
  • Specialists and domain experts
  • Burden to Exchequer
  • Incentives to innovations and out of the box thinking
  • To induce Competition

 

Issues With Lateral Entry

  • Bypassing UPSC: UPSC is a constitutional body and has retained legitimacy and credibility of selection process over the years. Some experts opine that lateral entry is unconstitutional in nature.
  • Not a Panacea: It is also argued that it is a piecemeal effort to deal with a systemic problem. Bureaucracy needs major overhauling.
  • Offers not lucrative enough: Most of the times, the terms of recruitments are not rewarding enough to attract best of talents. Even the recent lateral entry initiative would recruit professionals for only 3 years with remuneration not competitive with private sector.
  • Open door to privatization: Some civil servants believe that it would open the floodgates to privatisation. And eventually government would lose its socialist and welfare characteristics.
  • Transparency is recruitment: Government should ensure that the recruits remain independent of “fissiparous tendencies”. The sanctity of the selection procedure should remain for the services to stay insulated from the government of the day.

 

Way Ahead

  • 2nd ARC recommended an institutionalized, transparent process for lateral entry at both the Central and state levels. But pushback from bureaucrats, serving and retired, and the sheer institutional inertia of civil services that have existed largely unchanged for decades have prevented progress.
  • Also the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs headed by Shashi Tharoor has urged the government to facilitate the entry of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) into foreign service in order to expand the country’s diplomatic corps.
  • In addition to lateral entry, the method of civil service training also needs to be revamped.

 

Mid-Career Performance Appraisal
  • Mid-career Performance appraisal is meant to be a joint exercise between the Government servant reported upon and the Reporting Officer particularly after every fixed period for taking note on performance.
  • While fixing the targets, priority should be assigned item-wise, taking into consideration the nature and the area of work.

 

Importance of Mid-Career Performance appraisal

  • It’ll update the knowledge and efficiency in work base of the participant in the rapidly changing environment.
  • Will help to develop competencies for changes in the job profile, as would happen when a promotion takes place.
  • Can also serve as a medium for enhancing formal qualifications, thereby creating greater confidence in an officer.
  • Good hardworking civil servants will get rewarded
  • Clear performance standard shall be fixed.
  • Reduction in political interference due to fixed targets and continuous reports of performance of civil servants.
  • It would compel bureaucrats to put more diligence to score a better review.
  • Induce professionalism in the departments.
  • Weeding out of the inefficient lot would make place for better candidates.

 

Compulsory Retirements

Positives of Compulsory retirements:

  • Deterrence for non-performing officials.
  • It may induce culture among officials of hard work and efficiency.
  • Inertia among bureaucrats to start new work or take risk will be reduced
  • Provide motivation to bureaucrats

 

Negative effects of Compulsory retirements:

  • May be misused as a political tool against honest officers.
  • Although ministers and bureaucrats work hand in hand but this may give former greater control on latter sometimes detrimental to officers efficiency.

 

Conclusion:

Compulsory retirement is a desirable approach as the efficacy of a system is determined by the set of incentives facing people who exercise power. As bureaucrats continue to wield enormous power, a guaranteed job provides the wrong incentives. Hence the mid-term appraisal and compulsory retirement might be the much needed bureaucratic reforms in India.

 

Specialist Approach vs Generalists Approach:

Adopting Specialist Approach:

  • In a developing economy specialists should be right at the top in the line authority rather than in a staff-cell attached to the generalist line authority. The advantage is the government would become less bureaucratic, more programme-oriented and committed.
  • The generalist administrator usually does not develop a sustained interest in any particular field of activity. Even in exceptional cases when he does develop such an interest, this becomes infructuous because by the time he has learnt the job he is transferred to some other job.
  • The management and the administration (such as that of PSUs) should be well- trained in the know-how of the enterprises that they manage. The emphasis should shift from mere theoretical, bureaucratic control to a self-contained knowledgeable set-up.
  • It is said that generalists are prisoners of rules, regulations and precedents and there is too much stress on continuity, caution, and red tape.
  • Understanding amongst experts (i.e. people with similar domain expertise) is better and it may result in conducive work environment and better policy.

 

Adopting Generalists Approach:

  • Generalists Administration is politics in action. As one rises up the hierarchy, there is less hands-on job and more management of resources. It vests in a bureaucrat a successively larger responsibility for enforcing the general point of view of the government.
  • Top management job requires a general understanding. It requires a view of the whole.
  • Most specialists usually employ an esoteric language to convey their ideas. In administration it leads to difficulty in communication between the non-expert minister and the highly specialized expert secretaries.

 

Civil services thus require a mix of both generalists and specialists. However, the current stranglehold of career bureaucracy has prevented willing and able experts from outside the system to join the government. Even in ministries as complex as finance, academic economists have been confined to that of advisory roles rather than executive roles in most cases. Creating a specialist system of bureaucracy would mean ending of monopoly at the top with the introduction of lateral entries, ending of ageism as younger people will get to hold higher positions. These changes will improve performance management and bring rationalist bureaucracy, as demanded by the 21st century.

 

Civil Service Neutrality
  • Unfortunately, the concept of civil service neutrality no longer holds good. Changes in governments particularly at the state level often lead to wholesale transfer of civil servants.
  • Political neutrality is no longer the accepted norm with many civil servants getting identified, rightly or wrongly, with a particular political dispensation.
  • There is a perception that officers have to cultivate and seek patronage from politicians for obtaining suitable positions even in the Union Government. As a result, the civil services in public perception are often seen as increasingly politicized.
  • The political neutrality and impartiality of the civil services needs to be preserved. The onus for this lies equally on the political executive and civil servants.
  • Ministers must uphold the political impartiality of the civil service and not ask the civil servants to act in any way which would conflict with the duties and responsibilities of the civil servant.
  • In a nutshell arbitrary and illegal interference by ministers or MPs or MLAs in the work delegated to the bureaucracy is neither desirable nor beneficial for an efficient government.

 

Criticality of relationship between Civil Servant and Political Executive
  • In a democracy, power vests with the people. This power is exercised through its elected representatives who have the mandate to govern them for a specific period.
  • The civil services by virtue of its knowledge, experience and understanding of public affairs assist the elected representatives in formulating policy and are responsible for implementing these policies.
  • Therefore, a healthy working relationship between Ministers and civil servants is critical for good governance.
  • Once a law is framed or rules and regulations are approved, they apply to everyone, whether a member of the political executive or of the permanent civil service.
  • A civil servant is required to implement the orders of government without bias, with honesty and without fear or favour.

 

Recent Initiatives by Government:

360 Degree Appraisal:

  • A 360 degree system of appraisal has been passed by the government for empanelment of senior level officers in the Government of India. This system involves a multi-source feedback from various stakeholders in the government such as seniors, peers and juniors.
  • The empanelment process also takes into account the overall service record of the individual, the vigilance status and the suitability of the officers concerned.
  • The government first introduced this system in April 2015 as a supplement to the existing Annual Confidential Report (ACR) system.

 

Karmayogi Yojana:

  • Karmayogi Yojana’ or the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB), in a bid to transform status-quoist and rule-obsessed civil servants working in silos into “experts”.

 

iGOT:

  • The iGOT (Integrated Government Online Training Programme) developed by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, was launched.
  • To provide a broad training eco-system creating synergies across various premier training institutes of the country and to cater the training needs which can encompass all the officials in the entire hierarchy of Central and State Governments.