What's New :
GS Mains Advance 2023, Batch Starts: 14th October.
Ethics Master Class (Mains 2023), Batch Starts: 17-Oct-2022

Civil Services Reforms: Historical Underpinnings

  • Categories
    Governance: Doing the rights things in the right way
  • Published
    29th Jun, 2022

Introduction:

  • Civil service refers to the body of government officials who are employed in civil occupations that are neither political nor judicial. The concept of civil service was prevalent in India from ancient times. The Mauryan administration employed civil servants in the name of ‘adhyakshas’ and ‘rajukas’. The examination for civil servants in those days too was very stringent as quoted by Kautilya’s Arthasastra. The expanse of the territory and the need to hold it intact made it imperative for the Mauryan administration to recruit civil servants based on merit. The concept of civil service again came into prominence when the British in search of creating a framework to hold the territories of India, created the much-coveted ‘Indian Civil Services’ or the ICS.
  • Since Lord Cornwallis introduced civil services in India many changes have taken place in it. The Indian Civil services were created to foster the idea of unity in diversity. The civil service was expected to be unbiased and neutral to the changes in the administration no matter the political scenario and turmoil affecting the country. Indian civil service has also played the part in giving this continuous support to the nation. But what is appalling and needs serious consideration is the element of ‘change’. It can be said that the civil service as a whole has maintained its status quo instead of sweeping changes in the social and economic scenario. To many, it is the resilience of the civil service, but it is an obvious fact out in the street that the Indian civil service was not able to deliver service based upon the expectations of the people or the founding fathers of the Constitution.
  • In this article, we shall be looking into the problems affecting the Indian civil service and the historical reforms that have taken place to make it vibrant and have made service delivery possible according to the expectations.

About Civil Services:

  • Civil Services refer to the career civil servants who are the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India.
  • The modern Indian Administrative Service was created under Article 312(2) in part XIV of the Constitution of India, and the All-India Services Act, 1951.
  • It is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country.
  • As India is a parliamentary democracy, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the people’s elected representatives.
  • The elected executive decides the policy and it is civil servants, who serve at the pleasure of the President of India, implement it.
  • Article 311 of the Constitution protects Civil Servants from politically motivated vindictive action.

Historical Perspective:

  • Civil Servants for the East India Company used to be nominated by the Directors of the Company and thereafter trained at Haileybury College in London and then sent to India.
  • Following Lord Macaulay’s Report of the Select Committee of British Parliament, the concept of a merit-based modern Civil Service in India was introduced in 1854.
  • For this purpose, a Civil Service Commission was set up in 1854 in London and competitive examinations were started in 1855.
  • In 1864, the first Indian, Satyendranath Tagore brother of Shri Rabindranath Tagore succeeded.
  • From 1922 onwards the Indian Civil Service Examination began to be held in India also, first in Allahabad and later in Delhi with the setting up of the Federal Public Service Commission
  • Regarding Central Civil Services, the Civil Services in British India were classified as covenanted and uncovenanted services on the basis of the nature of work, pay scales and appointing authority.
  • The origin of the Public Service Commission in India is found in the First Dispatch of the Government of India on the Indian Constitutional Reforms on the 5th March 1919 which referred to the need for setting up some permanent office charged with the regulation of service matters.
  • The Lee Commission, in their report in the year 1924, recommended that the statutory Public Service Commission contemplated by the Government of India Act, 1919 should be established without delay.
  • The strong recommendations made by the Lee Commission in 1924 for the early establishment of a Public Service Commission, it was on October 1, 1926, that the Public Service Commission was set up in India for the first time. The Public Service Commission became the Federal Public Service Commission.
  • 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.

Evolution of Civil Services in India

  • Ancient time: Kautilya’s Arthasastra stipulates seven basic elements - Swamin (the ruler), Amatya (the bureaucracy), Janapada (territory), Durga (the fortified capital), Kosa (the treasury), Danda (the army), and Mitra (the ally) - of the administrative apparatus.
    • According to Arthasastra, the higher bureaucracy consisted of the mantrins and the amatyas. While the mantrins were the highest advisors to the King, the amatyas were the civil servants.
  • Medieval period: During the Mughal era, the bureaucracy was based on the mansabdari system.
    • The mansabdari system was essentially a pool of civil servants available for civil or military deployment.
  • During British India: The big changes in the civil services in British India came with the implementation of Macaulay’s Report 1835.
    • The Macaulay Report recommended that only the best and brightest would do for the Indian Civil Service, so as to serve the interest of the British empire.
  • Post-Independence: After independence, the Indian civil services system retained the elements of the British structure like a unified administrative system such as an open-entry system based on academic achievements, and permanency of tenure.

The Importance of the Civil Service to Governance stems from the following:

  • Service presence throughout the country and its strong binding character
  • The administrative and managerial capacity of the services
  • Effective policy-making and regulation
  • Effective coordination between institutions of governance
  • Leadership at different levels of administration.
  • Service delivery at the cutting-edge level
  • Provide ‘continuity and change’ to the administration.

Criticism of Civil Services:

  • The present system was created by the British to serve imperial interests. It was called the Imperial Civil Service. They were expected to perform regulatory functions like maintaining law and order and generating revenue.
  • After Independence, there were heated debates in the Constituent Assembly regarding its continuation. Most of the members strongly opposed it. It was Sardar Valla Bhai Patel, the then Home Minister, who was very impressed by the work of ICS officers and insisted on the continuation of the Civil Services. It was then renamed Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
  • Unfortunately, they have failed to live up to the expectations of people in general and the political executive in particular. Right from Jawahar Lal Nehru to Narendra Modi, all the Prime Ministers have expressed their disappointment with the bureaucracy’s performance.
  • It is high time that the country implements Civil Services reforms rather than blaming bureaucracy for all the ills facing the nation. It should start with recruitment. Civil Servants (IAS) do not possess the necessary knowledge or skills to perform specific functions. We must also encourage lateral entry into the Services.

The Ailments Afflicting Indian Civil Services:

  • Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building
  • Inefficient incentive systems that do not appreciate upright and outstanding civil servants but reward the corrupt and the incompetent
  • Outmoded rules and procedures that restrict the civil servant from performing effectively
  • Systemic inconsistencies in promotion and empanelment
  • Lack of adequate transparency and accountability procedures - there is also no safety for whistleblowers
  • Arbitrary and whimsical transfers – insecurity in tenures impedes institutionalization
  • Political interference and administrative acquiescence
  • A gradual erosion in values and ethics
  • Patrimonialism

Patrimonialism is a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the ruler. There is no distinction between the public and private domains. These regimes are autocratic or oligarchic and exclude the lower, middle and upper classes from power.

Need for Reforms:

  • We are globally witnessing the changes brought about by technological advances, greater decentralization and social activism. The ramifications of these changes are being felt by the government in the form of increasing expectations for better governance through effective service delivery, transparency, accountability and rule of law.
  • The civil service, as the primary arm of government, must keep pace with the changing times in order to meet the aspirations of the people. The purpose of ‘reform’ is to reorient the Civil Services into a dynamic, efficient and accountable apparatus for public service delivery built on the ethos and values of integrity, impartiality and neutrality.
  • The reform is to raise the quality of public services delivered to the citizens and enhance the capacity to carry out core government functions, thereby, leading to sustainable development.

 

Reforms Before Independence:  There have been several studies in the past on civil service reforms. Before Independence, there was the Royal Commission on Public Service in India, popularly known as the Islington Commission (1912-15) and the Royal Commission on superior civil service in India, popularly known as the Lee Commission (1923-24).

Reforms After Independence:  Since Independence, some of the committees that have made notable suggestions towards reforms are:

  1. The Secretariat Re-organization Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Girijashankar Vajpayee (1947)
  2. Central Pay Commission (1947)
  3. The Committee on Reorganization of Government of India headed by Gopalaswami Aiyangar
  4. Report on Public Administration (1951)
  5. Public Administration in India – Report of a Survey (1953)
  6. Re-examination of India’s Administrative System with special reference to Administration of Governments’ Industrial and Commercial Enterprises (1956)
  7. Commission of Enquiry on Emoluments and Conditions of Service of Central Government Employees (1957-59)
  8. Interim Report of the Administrative Reforms Committee on Problems of Redress of Citizens’ Grievances (1966)
  9. First Administrative Reforms Commission Reports (1967-70)
  10. Economic Administrative Reforms Commission (1983)
  11. Alagh Committee on Recruitment and Selection Procedures (2001)
  12. Yugandhar Committee on In-Service Training (2003)
  13. Surendra Nath Committee (2003)
  14. PC Hota Committee on Civil Service Reforms (2004)
  15. Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2005 onwards)
  16. Baswan Committee on Civil Service Reforms (2016)

CHALLENGES FACED BY INDIAN CIVIL SERVICES

Rule-Book Bureaucracy:

  • By the rule book bureaucracy, it meant mainly following the rules and laws of the book without taking care of the actual needs of the people.
  • Due to rule book bureaucracy, some civil servants have developed the attitude of ‘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.

Political Interference:

  • Civil servants work in coordination with the political representatives to serve the common people. The political representative for the sake of fulfilling the populist demand influences the functioning of administrative officials. Hence, an administrative official has to adhere to the will of the political master.
  • This interference sometimes leads to issues like corruption, and 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.

Status Quoism:

  • As instruments of public service, civil servants have to be ready for change. The common experience, however, is that they resist changes as they are wedded to their privileges and prospects and thereby, have become ends in themselves.
  • However, the intended vision has not been achieved, due to the reluctance on the part of the civil servants to accept the changes in control and accountability as well as the altered roles and responsibilities.

Structural Issues:

  • Generalist officers: Civil Service is conceived primarily to deliver the core functions of the state such as maintenance of law and order and implementation of government orders. However, with changing needs with the advent of globalisation, and economic reforms, the role of the state has changed.
  • Therefore, there are new challenges due to technological evolution (for example cyber security). Thus, there is a higher demand (of specialist officers) for domain knowledge at the policy level.
  • Ensuring Accountability: Ensuring transparency and accountability along with participatory and representative decision-making are some issues that need to be addressed. There are instances of lack of employment opportunities in some public services, while there are many vacancies in others.

 

REFORMS REQUIRED IN THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICES:

Some of the issues concerning civil services include the generalist nature of Indian Administrative Services; frequent postings resulting in an average of less than 16 months spent on a particular job, dearth of merit-based postings, political patronization, issues with recruitment, autonomy and accountability etc. Consequently, there is a need to reform the Civil Services as they exist in their present form. Some of these reforms broadly include:

  • Flexibility to ensure development work needs some flexibility from a strict observance of rigid rules and regulations.
  • Reforms in the field of recruitment of civil servants to find people who can ensure the smooth functioning of democracy.
  • The training of civil servants should be able to bring about behavioural and attitudinal changes.
  • Minimization of red-tapism through simplification of administrative procedures, rules and regulations; decentralization of authority and collegiate decision-making; de-emphasis of hierarchy in the administrative structure
  • Adoption of modern management techniques; elimination of corruption, impartial and efficient administration; creation of new work culture and encouraging creativity.

The groundwork for reforming Civil Services in India has been laid by several notable panels and committees starting with the 1947 Secretariat Reorganization Committee. Below is a brief account of recommendations made by these eminent panels and committees.

Recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission

Stage of Entry:

  • A National Institute of Public Administration to run Bachelor’s Degree courses in public administration/governance/management. Selected Central and other Universities should also be assisted to offer graduate-level programmes in these courses.
  • Graduates in other disciplines would also be eligible to appear in the Civil Services Examination provided they complete a ‘Bridge Course’ in the core subjects mentioned above.

Other Modes of Induction:

  • The induction of officers of the State Civil Services into the IAS should be done by the UPSC based on a common examination.

Disciplinary Proceedings:

  • In the case of disciplinary proceedings, consultation with the UPSC should be mandatory only in cases involving the likely dismissal or removal of a government servant.

Training and Capacity Building:

  • Every government servant should undergo mandatory training at the induction stage and also periodically during his/her career. Successful completion of this training should be a minimum necessary condition for confirmation in service and subsequent promotions.
  • The objective of mid-career training should be to develop the domain knowledge and competence required.
  • Public servants should be encouraged to obtain higher academic qualifications and to write papers for reputed and authoritative journals.

Placement at Middle & Senior Management:

  • At the middle level, domains should be assigned by a Central Civil Services Authority.
  • A Central Civil Services Authority should deal with matters of assignment of domains to officers, fixing tenures for senior posts, deciding posts to be advertised for lateral entry etc.
  • There is a need to introduce competition for senior positions in government by opening these positions in Government to all Services.
  • At higher levels in government, it is necessary to ensure that the tasks assigned to a public servant match his/her domain competence as well as aptitude and potential.

Performance Management System (PMS): Making appraisal more consultative and transparent, Performance appraisal formats to be made job-specific and the scope of the present performance appraisal system of its employees be expanded to a comprehensive performance management system (PMS).

Motivating Civil Servants: There is a need to recognise the outstanding work of serving civil servants including through National awards. Awards for recognizing good performance should also be instituted at the State and district levels.

Recommendations of Other Committees:

A number of Committees and Commissions were set up to make recommendations on various aspects of civil services. A few of the relevant recommendations of these committees are given below:

Recruitment:

  • Rationalization and Harmonization of Services: The existing 60 plus separate civil services at the central and state level need to be reduced through rationalization and harmonization of services. Recruits should be placed in a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post.
  • Encourage Lateral Entry: Inducting specialists at higher levels of government will provide much-needed expertise.
  • Outsource Service Delivery: Efforts need to be made to outsource service delivery to reduce dependence on the administrative machinery. Research is needed to identify possible services to be outsourced; various PPP models should be explored to determine the best possible mode of outsourcing.
  • The Civil Services Examination Review Committee, 2001 (chaired by Professor Yoginder K. Alagh) favoured testing the candidates in a common subject rather than on optional subjects.
  • The Committee on Civil Service Reforms (Hota Committee Report, 2004) recommended that aptitude and leadership tests may be introduced for selection and that probationers may be allowed one month’s time after commencement of training to exercise their option for Services.
  • The Basawan Committee (2016) recommended a meaningful assessment to be done about the requirement of IAS officers every year to send a realistic requirement of Direct Recruits to Government each year and to monitor the vacancies under the promotion ceiling.

Training:

  • Yugandhar Committee, 2003 recommended the need for three mid-career training programmes in the 12th, 20th and 28th years of service. Training at these 3 stages was suggested as there is a “major shift” in the nature of work of the officer, at these stages of their career.
  • There is a need to develop ongoing training and immersion modules on a district-by-district basis.
  • There is a need to inculcate ethical underpinning in the civil servants by implementing the Code of Ethics.
  • Mid-career exams/skill assessments might be undertaken to evaluate and decide on future postings.

Evaluation:

  • Institute goal setting and tracking: There is an inherent need to set key responsibility/focus areas and progressively reduce discretionary aspects to evaluate civil servants.
  • Institute the online Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window (SPARROW) template in all central and state cadres.
  • Compulsory retirement for underperforming officers: Develop benchmarks to assess the performance of officers and compulsorily retire those deemed unable to meet the benchmarks.
  • Incentivization: Review existing schemes and introduce new schemes of incentives for extraordinary performance.

Domain Expertise:

  • The Surinder Nath Committee, 2003 suggested 11 domains, Agriculture and Rural Development; Social Sectors, Culture and Information; etc. The Committee suggested that officers may be assigned to a maximum of three domains out of the eleven listed.
  • The Hota Committee on Civil Services Reforms, 2004, had recommended that domain assignment should be introduced for civil servants to encourage the acquisition of skills, professional excellence and career planning.

Efficiency:

  • Hota Committee, 2004 emphasised the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to transform government by making it more accessible, effective and accountable.
  • The committee has pointed out that the that-the absence of a fixed tenure of officials is one of the most important reasons for the sluggish implementation of government policies.
  • It provides a breeding ground for lack of accountability of officers, for waste of public money because of inadequate supervision of programmes under implementation and for large-scale corruption.
  • The commitment has also highlighted, that how these frequent transfers at the whims and caprices of politicians result in a demoralised environment for the officers.

Accountability:

  • The Committee on Prevention of Corruption (Santhanam Committee) made a range of recommendations to fight the menace of corruption. It recommended the constitution of the Central Vigilance Commission. Changes were also suggested in Article 311 of the Constitution of India for conducting disciplinary proceedings against government servants. It was also recommended that the offering of bribes should be made a substantive offence.
  • The first ARC recommended that the departments and organizations which were in direct charge of development programmes should introduce performance budgeting. The ARC also recommended the establishment of two special institutions, the Lok Pal to deal with complaints against the administrative acts of Ministers and Secretaries to the government at the Centre and the Lok Ayuktas to deal with such complaints in States.
  • The Hota Committee recommended that Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Code of Criminal Procedure may be amended to protect honest civil servants from malicious prosecution and harassment. It also recommended that a Code of Ethics should be drawn up for civil servants incorporating the core values of integrity, merit and excellence in public service. It also recommended that a Model Code of Governance should be drawn up benchmarking the standards of governance to be made available to the citizens.

Performance Appraisal:

  • Surinder Nath Committee, 2003 recommended that - performance appraisal should be primarily used for the overall development of an officer and for his/her placement in an area where his/her abilities and potential can be best used.
  • The Hota Committee recommended a system of performance assessment in which greater emphasis is placed on objective assessment against agreed work plans.
  • Appraisal mechanisms: Such as the government’s new “360 degrees” performance appraisal mechanism for senior bureaucrats, whereby officers are graded based on comprehensive feedback from their superiors, juniors and external stakeholders.
  • Arbitrariness in Transfers (Fifth Pay Commission): It has made a recommendation about detailed, clear and transparent transfer policies. It is highlighted that the need for formulations of detailed guidelines and publicising the same by each department as a part of comprehensive transfer policy in order to eliminate the arbitrariness in transfers and make the process transparent.
  • The commission has also pointed out that minimum tenure for each posting of the officers should be predetermined and it should be for three to five years, exception can be made in favour of longer tenures if the continued availability of certain specialized skills is required. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has also highlighted the same.

Corruption:

  • In 1962, a committee had been established to review existing instruments to check corruption in the civil services and to make suitable recommendations for mitigating this problem. This committee was known as the Santhanam Committee. In its report, the Santhanam committee says that the major causes of corruption are administrative delays, high workload, use of personal discretion due to loopholes within the established procedure, cumbersome procedures, etc. These continue to be issued even in contemporary times.

LATERAL ENTRY INTO CIVIL SERVICES:

  • Lateral entry means recruiting new entrants into a system from a pool of candidates who are outsiders to the system. In the context of bureaucracy, Lateral Entry refers to the direct induction of domain experts at the middle or senior levels of administrative hierarchy, rather than only appointing regular recruits through promotion. The idea of lateral entry into civil services is seen by many as a panacea to the inertia that has crept in because of which it failed to respond to the need of the times.
  • The idea of lateral entry is not new to the Indian experience. Domain experts have been brought in from outside to head various committees. Some of the names include heavyweights like Dr Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Arvind Virmani, Raghuram Rajan, and Vijay Kelkar among others. 1st ARC talked about the need for specialization as early as 1965. The 2nd ARC also recommended an institutionalised transparent process for lateral entry at both central and state levels. The Surinder Nath Committee and Hota committee in 2003 and 2004 made similar recommendations favouring lateral entry into the civil services. YK Alagh's (2001) Committee also had recommended lateral entry into the middle and senior levels of the government.

Arguments that favour Lateral Entry into Civil Services:

  • Shortage of Officers: According to a report by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions there is a shortage of IAS officers in the country. India is facing a 22% shortage of IAS officers in the country. The authorised strength of IAS officers is 6,746, which includes 4,682 posts for officers promoted through the Indian Civil Services Examination. It is estimated that the shortage of IAS officers is well over 1,500. The Basawan Committee (2016) had pointed out that the bigger states like Bihar, MP and Rajasthan have a deficit of over 75 to 100 officers. Lateral induction is, therefore, being seen as a small step towards essential housekeeping in central government staffing.
  • Increase in efficiency and governance: Niti Aayog, in its Three-Year Action Agenda for 2017-2020 had said that sector specialists be inducted into the system through lateral entry as that would “bring competition to the established career bureaucracy”.
  • Entry and retention of talent in Government: Justice BN Srikrishna-headed Sixth Central Pay Commission report (2006) said lateral entry could "ensure entry and retention of talent in the government even for those jobs that have a high demand and premium in the open market".
  • Widen the talent pool for an appointment: The existing system makes it difficult to test potential administrative and judgement capabilities. Mid-career lateral entrants with proven capabilities will help bridge this deficiency.
  • Experience from our past and other countries: Lateral Entry has been successful in RBI and the erstwhile Planning Commission, as well as its successor, the Niti Aayog.

Recent Initiatives Taken by the Government:

E-initiatives:

  • Robust Vigilant Mechanism: Strengthen institutional mechanisms for prevention and detection of corruption. Thus, there is a need to review existing vigilance mechanisms.
  • There is a need to strengthen the implementation of a Centralized Public Grievance Redressal and Monitoring System (CPGRAMs).
  • Implementation of e-Office: Implementation of e-Office may be expedited in all ministries/ departments; all states/UTs may also be encouraged to adopt it.
  • Prompt delivery of services: Every department should seek to simplify their processes to cut administrative delays and ensure participatory feedback mechanisms for efficient service delivery.

Comprehensive Civil Services reforms programmeMISSION KARMAYOGI”:

  • “Mission Karmayogi” is a new National Architecture for Civil Services Capacity Building called that aims to transform the capacity building apparatus at the individual, institutional and process levels at the Government of India.
  • The fundamental focus of the reform is the creation of a ‘citizen-centric civil service’ capable of creating and delivering services conducive to economic growth and public welfare.
  • Mission Karmayogi shifts the focus from “Rule-based training to Role-based training”. Greater thrust has been laid on behavioural change.
  • The Programme will be delivered by setting up an Integrated Government Online Training- iGOT Karmayogi Platform.
  • An expert body called Capacity Building Commission will be set up to harmonize training standards, create shared faculty and resources, and have a supervisory role over all Central Training Institutions.
  • A Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV will be in place, a not-for-Profit Company which will own and manage the iGOT-Karmayogi platform. The SPV will own all Intellectual Property Rights on behalf of the Government of India.

Features of the Mission Karmayogi:

  • Tech-Aided: The capacity building will be delivered through the iGOT Karmayogi digital platform, with content drawn from global best practices.
  • Shift from Rules to Roles: The programme will support a transition from “rules-based to roles-based” Human Resource Management (HRM) so that work allocations can be done by matching an official’s competencies to the requirements of the post.
  • Integrated Initiative: Eventually, service matters such as confirmation after the probation period, deployment, work assignments and notification of vacancies will all be integrated into the proposed framework.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation Framework: An appropriate monitoring and evaluation framework will also be put in place for the performance evaluation of all users of the iGOT-Karmayogi platform so as to generate a dashboard view of Key Performance Indicators.

The idea of maximum governance and minimum government:

A governance system which espouses the idea of maximum governance and the minimum government has to have a bureaucracy which is ready to embrace skill, scale and speed. To realize this goal reforms, have to be directed so that the Civil service becomes: (a) skilled (b) converged (c) open and (d) connected

  1. killed Bureaucracy: Civil Servants have to equip themselves with domain/sector-specific skills.
  2. Converged Bureaucracy: There is a need to break down the silos within Government to unlock productivity and outcomes.
  3. Open Bureaucracy: A culture of openness needs to be cultivated toward new ideas, new challenges and innovation to bring about continuous transformation for better service delivery.
  4.  Connected Bureaucracy: There is a need for the Bureaucracy to be connected within and globally to imbibe the best practice.

The Way Ahead:

  • Resistance to change is nothing new in any large administrative setup, but the political system should push for reforms when the bureaucrats resist all-important changes. Even the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, a major government-led initiative to prepare a blueprint for overhauling the Indian bureaucracy had recognised that “inefficiency, corruption and delays have become, in public perception, the hallmarks of public administration in India”.
  • Framing New Rules and Regulations: A number of bills to improve performance and accountability and to curtail political interference – like the Public Services Bill (2007), the Civil Services Bill (2009), and the Civil Services Standards, Performance, and Accountability Bill (2010) which are lying pending with the Parliament must see the light.
  • Doing away with Permanent Bureaucracy: A practicable way forward would be to continue with the existing system of entry through the UPSC examination which has many advantages and focuses on the specialisation and training of such entrants while increasing the percentage of lateral entrants to, say 30 to 50 percent, and making the direct entrants compete with them for higher decision-making positions.
  • Establishing National Institutes of Public Administration: This French style may help cultivate future civil servants with appropriate attitude, knowledge and motivation, a recommendation that was made by the Second ARC.
  • Changing Nature of Relationships between Politicians and Civil Servants: During the last quarter of a century, the administrative systems in Western countries have undergone major structural changes. The contract has replaced command; the product has replaced capacity and performance has replaced loyalty to politicians.
  • New Public Management (NPM): The 1980s marked a paradigm shift in the discourse around public administration. Public management as a concept was rising due to the apparent failures of the incumbent system. Some of the features of NPM are given below:
    1. Management practices are based on the way things were done in the private sector
    2. Emphasis on outputs by linking incentives and rewards to performance.
    3. Increased accountability measures lead to better control of government resources and less wastage of the same.
    4. The managerial style of hierarchy, with accountability, also extended to managers for failures of their subordinates.
    5. Standard-setting and goal-setting for the entire organisation and individuals, with clearly defined indicators to measure the actions taken.
    6. Greater competition to work in the coveted public sector by introducing the concept of lateral entry.
  • Accountability: The most important reform is regarding In a parliamentary democracy, they are not directly accountable to citizens. They are accountable to the political executive and it has only resulted in the politicisation of the Civil Services. We must focus on external accountability mechanisms like citizen charters, and social audits and encourage outcome orientation among civil servants.
  • Performance Evaluation: Performance records are mostly prepared by superiors leaving a lot of scope for personal biases and prejudice. As suggested by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, it can be made more objective. Prime Minister N. Modi has suggested a 360-degree performance evaluation.
  • Relationship between the Bureaucracy and Political Executive: The tendency of a political executive to prefer loyalty over efficiency in selecting civil servants for higher posts, has impacted their morale. As pointed out by Sardar Vallabhai Patel, civil servants should provide unbiased, rational and meritorious suggestions to the political executive in policy formulation. It requires an impartial Civil Services Board that can look after all the aspects related to promotions, transfers, posting and suspensions.

Conclusion:

  • Civil Service Reform is a deliberate change effort by the government to improve its capacity to effectively and efficiently execute policies. Reforms in the Civil Service have occurred ever since the Chinese invented bureaucracy – they are a continuous process with no general starting point, and equally no end.
  • It required a new philosophy of administration to align and restructure the civil services to the demands of the new philosophy. Most developed countries have successfully negotiated that difficult transition, while we have remained caught up in our time warp, adjusting only the volume, not the scope and nature of government’s involvement in society. It must be remembered that the steel frame of the country should be strengthened by implementing necessary reforms instead of blaming them for problems.
  • We need to alter the scope and nature of government’s involvement and that needs a different breed of people, equipped with expertise and specialised knowledge, ideas and creativity, vision and imagination. Our old bureaucratic ways are way behind the expectations of a new India.
X

Verifying, please be patient.

Enquire Now