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“Right Persons at Right Places” in Government Services

“For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation”

Shri C. Rajagopalachari

“Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge.”

Anne Bradstreet

The saddest part of life right now is that science gather knowledge faster than society gains wisdom.

Isaac Asmov

Introduction

‘Mores’ – The more the challenges and problems to be tackled, the more is the pressure on government and its institutions, especially its civil services or bureaucracy, responsible implementation of developmental plans and policies. More the government is required to place ‘right men at right time on right places’ in its bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy can, without doubt, be regarded as the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests. The quality and success of governance depend on the nature, behaviour, systems and working style of its government services. Weakening of this pillar spells disaster [ii].  For any administration to be good and efficient as a whole, the right type of men placed in crucial positions in the government is more important than anything else.

Strategic posts in administrative set-up – There are certain strategic posts in every bureaucratic/administrative set up, which maintain uniformity, and supervise the working of various organizations in such a manner that public at large can live comfortably and taste the fruits of development. For manning such posts and running the administration in the country smoothly, bureaucracy or government civil services, both at the Local, State and Central, at secretariat or field levels, play a pivotal role. It takes important decisions, formulate government policies, plan, design strategies, initiate actions, execute policies, monitor the progress and taking remedial actions.

Right men at right places – Therefore, as Shri C. Rajagopalachari suggests, “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation” Its administrative cadres should have wisdom to sort out different pressing problems and capacity to meet various challenges, a government faces every day. The success of government plans and policies depends largely upon their efficiency.

Position of civil services in the government – In a democratic country, for the governance and delivering goods to public at large, the Government roughly depends on the following two general processes: –

       Process of politics, which consists of activities of the elected representatives of the people, and

       Process of administration which consists of the activities of permanent civil servants.

Most powerful wing of a democratic government – Every democratic government has three organs – Legislature to make laws, Executive to implement them and judiciary to act as a watch dog. Among these three, Executive, comprising of elected representatives + permanent civil servants, is the most powerful wing. It is the executive, as it prepares plans and policies of the government and execute them.

“Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge” (Anne Bradstreet) – Henry George comments “When democracy becomes corrupt, the best gravitates to the bottom, the worst to the top.” And then its government becomes “the Government of the poorest, the most ignorant and the most incapable, who are necessarily the most numerous.” (Lackey)

Personnel, of administrative apparatus, i.e. civil servants should be wise enough to shoulder the heavy responsibility of governance.  Any deficiency in its recruitment and training makes the whole system weak and corrupt. Therefore, Government should create sound systems for recruitment and education and training of civil servants ((people responsible for governance).

Position of political-leaders vs bureaucrats – Theoretically the administrative machinery is sub-ordinate to the political arm of a government. The decision making power rests with ministers. Bureaucracy is there to assist elected representatives of the people in governance. But, in practice, its role is very important and influential in governance of a country, because –

  • Need of expert knowledge to run the Government – Due to exclusive and specialized nature of work and the need for more and more expert knowledge in governance for improving the quality of service, the responsibility of political chiefs becomes exceedingly formal in matter of governance. They are forced to listen the advice of the bureaucrats, who dig the expert knowledge from the raw material, give it a shape with a sense of commitment.
  • Bureaucracy’s importance, is of influence and not of power – The civil services role in relation to the ministers is that of influence and not of power. Owing to other preoccupations of elected political leadership and its lack of technical know-how, the responsibility of bureaucrats in governance, policy making and its implementation, has become a determining factor. Converting available into policy, plans, programs and projects is an inevitable function of an action-oriented administration.
  • Bureaucracy a permanent link between successive elected governments – Elected representatives come for a fixed period. They come and go. But Bureaucracy is permanent, It maintains continuity and forms a link between successive elected governments. Therefore, it can visualize the whole scenario before taking decision on any vital issue and in guiding the social changes and development in desired direction, especially in the case of less developed or developing countries, where society is in a state of transition.
  • Ultimately, responsibility of Decision-making on bureaucracy – Governance is about taking tough, even unpopular, decisions. Usually elected representatives hesitates taking tough decisions, as they have to please the voters. There never is a good time for politicians to take tough decisions. In reality, this responsibility also falls on the shoulders of permanent bureaucrats, whose position is constitutionally safeguarded.  Most of political leaders remain busy in vote-bank politicking, distribution of pre-election and after-election freebies, pleasing their voters through adopting populist measures and techniques to polarize public opinion, create different conflicting social groups and create vote-banks for themselves.
  • Create conflicting groups in society – Self-aggrandizement, inflated ego and recklessness are the reasons for polarizing different social groups instead of working to bring disparate together, create an inclusive society and lead them to live in harmony.
  • Three ‘I’s for taking right decisions – Taking right decisions at right time is a very tough job for Politicians. For taking bold decisions, three ‘I’s are required – ‘Intention’, ‘Initiative’ (courage to take bold steps), and novel ‘Ideas’/Vision.  Therefore, this responsibility also falls on the shoulders of civil servants.

Very few political leaders have courage and time to take bold decisions, as Modi government took in India in 2016, like surgical strike against Pakistan’s terrorist training camps, or demonetization with an aim to control terrorism, drug-mafia, human trafficking, Naxalism, and control corruption in one stroke. Both these acts of present Modi government have been appreciated by majority of the people living in India.

Being so, as far as governance in a country is concerned, bureaucracy could be regarded as the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests. The quality and success of governance depend on the nature, behaviour, systems and working style of its government services. Weakening of this pillar spells disaster [ii]. For any administration to be good and efficient as a whole, the right type of men placed in crucial positions of bureaucracy is more important than laying down rules and methods of operation.[iii]

Future lies not in jobs but on job-holdersFuture of any country lies not in jobs, but on jobholders. A well-equipped administrative machinery is needed to face day today challenges of governance, to solve the issues and to improve the quality of governance.

The report of Inquiry on Public Service Personnel, appointed by Social Science Research Council of USA in 1935 says, “No element of career service is more important than the recruitment policy.” [iii] Gladden also points out that on recruitment rests, “The nature and degree of the usefulness of administrative machinery, to the service of which the human elements are dedicated” [iv]

Recruitment in government services – It is one of the primary duty of the government to spot out good candidates and nurture them to acquire the skills, which are required to supervise their staff ably with sense of responsibility. Initial selection of the services, if properly conducted, can provide the government efficient and effective managers, bringing positive results within who can implement its policies purposefully and achieve the goals within time and cost parameters.

For smooth functioning of governance and successful operation of its developmental activities, it is must for a nation to have an efficient civil service. Initial selection of the services, if properly conducted, can in more positive terms, provide the government with the type of officials, who can implement its policies and program in a systematic and purposeful manner. Therefore, it becomes one of the primary duty of the government to spot out good candidates and nurture them to acquire the skills necessary for higher posts.

Nothing damages governance more than faulty recruitmentNothing damages the administration more than faulty recruitment.  A solid permanent structure cannot be built on weak foundation.  Any system can be strong, only when its foundations are laid strong. Any laxity in the recruitment and performance of this Service jeopardizes the objective and pushes the developmental goals behind.

Entry of sub-standard persons into administrative cadre, inflicts a permanent, cascading and damaging effect on the system.   No amount of training or coaching, pre or post, can convert the inherent weaknesses into strength within a short period. Today’s wrong selection could be tomorrow’s organizational problem.

How to find out and recruit ‘Mr. Rights’ – It is one of the prime functions of any national Government to recruit, retain, train and retrain the best talent of the nation for its administrative work at every level and then make all the feasible arrangements to train its recruits well, so that they can shoulder the heavy responsibilities of governance judiciously.

These Mr. Rights could either be recruited directly and then be trained or could be selected from amongst already trained, experienced and skilled persons. New entrants should be told clearly about their role in administration, their responsibilities, key result areas and impact of their working on the whole system and the general public.

Study of Job requirements a must for recruitments at every level – Before working on recruitment policy, a thorough study needs to be done on job requirements, in the context of present and future roles.  The candidates should be selected on the basis of their capabilities, attitudes, aptitude and adaptability to meet the position profile.  The focus should not be only on job skills, but on attitude and behavior as well.

There are certain strategic posts in every set up for maintaining uniformity and high standard in the administration, so that public at large can live comfortably and everybody, irrespective of caste or creed could taste the fruits of development. For manning such posts and running the administration smoothly, civil servants, who hold strategic and top most posts in different departments, both at the State and Central at secretariat or field levels, play a major role. These are the people who are responsible for taking important decisions, policy formulation, planning, designing strategies, initiating actions, executing policies, monitoring the progress and taking remedial actions.

‘Merit concept’ for recruitment in career services -The need for a sound recruitment policy was first realized by China, centuries ago, which started the adoption of merit principle based on competitive examination.  Prussia was the first country, in modern times, to evolve a sound recruitment system.  Later on, the principle of merit was adopted by India in 1853, Britain in 1857 and U.S.A. in 1883 (through Civil Service Act of 1883).  Now all the nations accept that a good initial selection in positive term provide the Government with the right type of officials to implement its plans, policies and programs in a systematic and purposeful manner.

Right men at right places – C. Rajagopalachari suggests, “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation” Its administrative cadres should have wisdom to sort out different pressing problems and capacity to meet various challenges, a government faces every day. The success of government plans and policies depends largely upon their efficiency.

About Civil Services

What is ‘Civil Service’ – The administrative machinery or Civil Service is a Professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled.[i]  The main characteristics of any administrative services are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature, and its impartial and speedy working.  It is always associated with exercise of authority.  Theoretically, the administrative machinery is subordinate to the elective body i.e. the Council of Ministers. But in practice, it plays a different role. The responsibility of political chiefs becomes formal, as they are forced to listen to the advice of the civil servants, which can dig and present data in a matter as they consider fit. The service role in relation to the minister is that of influence and not of power.[ii] It is this administrative apparatus that has all the authority and responsibility to run the government.

Bureaucracy according to Max Weber – According to Max Weber2, whose study on bureaucracy has become a base for the modern exponents of the science of administration, the main characteristics of a civil service are as following:

  • Merit based selection and training – technical competence as a formal condition of employment;
  • Promotions regulated by merit and seniority;
  • Division of labour – defined rights and duties prescribed in written regulations;
  • Hierarchy – (a) Systematically ordered authority relationship;
  • Full time career-based service with fixed monetary salaries;
  • Impersonality – strict separation of office and incumbent in the sense that employee does not own the means of administration and cannot take the advantage of their position for promoting self-interest.
  • A system of rules and files – its operations are government by a consistent system of abstract rules.
  • Team-work – One of the important feature of bureaucracy is team-work, i.e. ability to work together toward a common vision. It is ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” (Andrew Carnegie, TOI, P.18, Feb 7, 2017)

Job-requirements for administrative apparatus to be well-equipped – Following are the qualifications needed for the civil servants engaged in development administration –

Personal Qualities needed in bureaucrats to face the challenges of modern times –  Civil Service is a major instrument to effect the change and translate the developmental plans into realities of life.  It, therefore, goes without saying that the civil servants should have certain characteristics and qualities to meet the challenges of modern times. These are –

Quality of Leadership – The term leadership has been defined by Dimock as, “all the means by which individuals are motivated to achieve group goals”1.  Haimen claims “Leadership refers to that process, whereby an individual directs, guides influences or controls the thoughts, feelings or behaviour of other human beings”2.  Brown and Cohen define, “Leadership as a process of influencing the activities of an organised group in its efforts towards goal – setting and goal achievements”.

As a leader, an officer needs to inculcate a sense of commitment among his colleagues and staff and influence the process of setting and achieving goals. Leadership is most effective, when a degree of congruence exists between the characteristics and demands of the following four variables –

      • Leader himself
      • His subordinates,
      • Tasks to be done and
      • Environment or organizational setting of any activity.

In government, a leader should be committed to the welfare of the masses, courageous, radical, humble, trusting, accountable, open, patient, sensitive to public needs and aspirations and self-confident.  He should have desire to assume responsibilities, possess critical knowledge and ability to organize himself with subordinates and with the people.  He must avoid fear of people, impatience and a show-off of authority.  His attitude should be positive and action oriented.   He should possess the quality of decision making.  He must be aware of his environment, views of the people, and principal aspect of the contradiction that is oppressing to the people at present.

The success of welfare and developmental plans depends on many factors, but none more important than the qualities of leadership exhibited present in its senior level civil servants.  To provide the administration with a sense of direction, purpose and priorities, they are required to encourage and control the staff and colleagues in a way that optimizes the performance of organization.  They have to see that right men are engaged in right job at right time.  Will, judgement, commitment, vision and initiative are required here.

The Middle level civil servants are the agents of development. They executive authority to supervise the implementation of policies and program.  Therefore, leadership capabilities are required at this level also. But the maximum leadership quality is needed at local field administration, where civil servants come into direct contact with people and take positive steps to create an appropriate atmosphere and attitudes, perceptions and relationship among their staff to make the local governance effective.

  • Quality of Supervision – Supervision is another important administrative task to implement the plans and policies properly.  As a supervisor, he should have command of job-content; ability to communicate his ideas to subordinates and make them understand the government’s point of view; wider outlook; courage to take decisions and assume responsibility; knowledge of administrative technology and intellectual alertness and receptivity to new ideas.  According to Halsay, a civil servant with supervisory role should have the qualities of thoroughness, fairness, initiative, tact, enthusiasm, emotional control, etc.

As a supervisor, an official is responsible:

    • To arouse the feelings of the subordinates of their personal worth and their importance to the success of the organization.
    • To encourage subordinates to develop mutually satisfying relationship.
    • Emphasize the importance of organizational goals and encourage, within his groups, the desire for excellence.
    • Facilitate such performance by ensuring that the organization’s task can be performed under congenial conditions. These can be achieved by adequate cataloging, coordinating and planning of resources.

Besides, a supervisor should has an educative as well as consultative role too.  He should be capable to teach his subordinates the best way of doing their work and give them proper advice and guidance from time to time.  He should be smart enough to select right person for each job and to arouse in each person an interest in his work.

  • Quality of Coordination – Larger the size of administrative machinery greater is the demand for coordination to avoid conflicts or duplication of efforts.  As a coordinator, an officer should be able to prevent or discourage concentration on one aspect of work at the cost of exclusion of other aspects and to curb the greed for power in different units of the government.  Difficulties arise on the way of coordination due to uncertainty of future; the lack of knowledge, experience, wisdom and character; confused mind-set or conflicting ideas and objectives; lack of administrative skill and techniques; the vast number of variables involved; and lack of orderly methods of developing, considering, perfecting and adopting new ideas and programs.
    Coordination, largely depends upon the effectiveness of verbal and written communications which channel information and ideas up and down and across the chain of Command.
  • Quality of communication – Communication is the “blood stream of administrative organization”or “the heart of management”.  Apart from imparting knowledge or transmitting information, it includes interchange of thoughts for taking of ideas and a sense of participation and sharing.  The essence of communication is, therefore, not information, but understanding.

For effective communication, a civil servant should be clear, consistent with the expectation of recipient, adequate, timely, uniform, flexible and acceptable.  An official should be well-informed. He should be able to establish a mutual trust in each other within his team; find a common ground of experience; use mutually known words; have regard for context; secure and hold the receiver’’ attention; employ examples and visual aids and practice delaying reactions.

The main difficulty on the way of communication is the complexity of language.  The problem becomes more complicated in a nation like ours with fourteen officially recognized languages and several dialects.   The lack of common experience and common background, difference in background education, lack of will or desire to communicate, size and distance and lack of definite and recognized means of communication add difficulties to existing barriers.   Good and well planned system of education and training may make officials good in communication.

  •  Quality of decision-making –Quality of taking right and timely decision is a must for smooth and effective governance. Decision-making requires careful collection of detailed facts, their analysis and interpretation, the use of broad concepts of human and physical behavior, ability to predict future developments etc.  Decisions are constantly made and remade in response to changing requirements.  It is a plural activity in government.  One individual may pronounce a decision but many contribute to the process of reaching the decision.   The factors, which influence decision-making are – Legal Limitations, Budget, Facts, History, Internal Morale, Impartiality, Future as Anticipated by Supervisors, Pressure Groups, Staff, Nature of Program and coordination of subordinates.\
  • Efficiency – For securing maximum result with minimum labor and resources – fiscal and material – in the least possible time depends on the efficient working of civil servants.  Efficiency in civil servants is very necessary for effective planning and direction of governmental activities.  It is required at all the levels of administration.   A group of civil servants headed by an inefficient official is as bad as an inefficient group headed by an efficient leader. To increase the overall efficiency in government, it is necessary to keep up the morale of the civil servants.  The morale is concerned with minds, attitudes, emotions and motives of the employees.

Besides, there should be –

  • Mental framework – it should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
  • Knowledge – it should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
  • Skills – it requires conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
  • Vision – A development bureaucrat requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat.
  • Structures – it requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, Corporations etc.
  • Behavior – The behavioral pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.

At organizational front, there should be –

  • A working partnership between the civil servants, elected representatives in the government and the people.
  •  A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
  •  A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher civil servants should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
  •  Constant field inspection by senior officials.
    • to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people; and
    • to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
  •  A smooth and harmonious relationship between generalist administrators, experts and specialists is a must.
  • Witnessing the fast modernization and technological advancement process, willingness to upgrade one’s knowledge and competence.
  • Training from time to time to understand the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.

Recruitment in government services in India

 In India, its recruitment policy is a product a long experience.  It evolved gradually and always tried to give nation a well-equipped and intellectually brilliant administrative frame-work. Recruitment in its government services has been done through open examinations conducted by an autonomous body long.

During British rule – Nobody has ever had any doubt about the efficiency and effectiveness of its civil services. In the past, it had even puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, Von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers…. They wondered how was it possible for British administrators to administer such a big empire in India  with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality? Even Indian nationalists were more likely than not to agree with such an assessment. … Or how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. It became possible only because British rulers managed to recruit in its bureaucracy ‘Mr. Rights’ at its supervisory levels of its bureaucracy, whether at national level, provincial level or district level.

Historical Background – When British East India Company consolidated it power in India, there had been different opinions on the matter of selecting the administrators. Some preferred military men and thought them to be best qualified for the job of administration, while others thought that administrative posts should be exclusively filled by civilians.  It was argued that noblemen, carrying with them the impression of high rank and birth, having served the Company for some time and possessing local knowledge and acquaintance with the affairs and people of India, should alone be appointed. However the rulers preferred to employ the most loyal persons for its administrative work.  It gave rise to spoil system/patronage system of recruitment.

Rise to spoil/patronage system in recruitments – From 1805 to 1885, the higher civil servants were nominated by the individual Directors of the Company.  From 1858 onwards, in order to make the civil services in India efficient and well equipped, the British Civil Service Commission created in 1855, was given the Charge to select officials through competitive examination.   During this period the main task of the administration was to maintain law and order intact at any cost. The appointments of covenanted civil servants were made by nomination by the individual Directors of the East India Company.  But it did not work very well.

When British Crown took over the charge in 1858 from East India Company, the British Government felt that favoritism, patronage or promotion of personal interests in recruitment would deprive the Government of the services of bright youth, who otherwise could have been selected. The realization, that Civil Service was not the conglomeration of individuals or groups, and it should comprise people with talent, integrity, dedication and apolitical and impartial approach, gave rise to the principle of Merit. The British Government desired to have a well-equipped and intellectually brilliant administrative framework.  They felt, If a succession of men of great talent and virtues cannot be found, or if the operation of any influence or party feelings and principles prevents their being chosen, we (the British) must reconcile ourselves to the serious hazards of the early decline, if not the loss of the great power, we have founded in the east.[i]

Therefore, the nomination system was abolished in 1855 by the Parliament in England and it was decided that the induction would be through competitive examinations of all British subjects, without distinction of race. The direct recruitment by competitive examination was envisaged with the idea that very brilliant person can be shaped into efficient officials suitable for holding senior positions.

Beginning of the system of recruitments based on “Merit” – Lord Maculae initially shaped the recruitment policy in 1854, which was based on the ‘Principle of Merit’ for higher services. He recommended for an open competitive examination, which should be conducted by an independent body. The procedures needed to be open, transparent and generally trouble free. Idea of direct recruitment through competitive examination was envisaged with the purpose that very brilliant person can be shaped into efficient officials suitable for holding superior/managerial positions in the government. The basic ingredients of this system were:

  • Selection of really brilliant young people – the caliber of direct recruits was ensured by their success in an open competition.
  • An intensive training program for new recruits– An intensive training either formal or informal for two years; and
  • Stress on Field Duties – Actual field work for at least a period of five to seven years, during which officials were supposed to be fully molded to suit the needs of the organization, they were serving.

Selection and nurturing ‘Mr. Rights’ –

  • From 1858 onwards, in order to make the civil services in India efficient and well equipped, the British Civil Service Commission created in 1855, was given the charge to select officials through a competitive examination every year.
  • Till 1922, the entrance competitive examinations for selection of senior officials were conducted only in England. Since 1922 onwards, India was also included as one of the competitive examinations centers.
  • So far, British Civil Service Commission was conducting the competitive examination for recruiting officers of covenanted civil service. From 1926 onwards, the newly formed public service commission was constituted for India and it began to conduct ICS examination on behalf of British Civil Service Commission. This position continued till 1937, when the Public Service Commission (India) was replaced by Federal Service Commission under Government of India Act 1935.  After 1943, the recruitment to ICS was stopped.

Intake in higher government services – British Government was particular about the intake of the material into its elite service. It firmly believed in the ‘concept of Merit’, thinking that if recruitment was done properly, the person would develop the capacity to become a good bureaucrat.[ii]

It did everything to have –

  • British Government for Principle of Merit – British government strictly followed the principle of merit while recruiting personnel for its bureaucracy. Any other system, which excluded knowledge, talent and virtue was not acceptable to British rulers. Qualifications to do a job well appeared to the British, the only worthwhile principle to select administrators. Their aim was to locate the administrators, “Capable of fulfilling duties of a nature, so particularly delicate and important, both as they respect the peace and happiness of Indian subjects and the rights and privileges of the European Community in our eastern dominion.”[iii]
  • Esprit d’ corps amongst its officersPhilip Maser said that there was esprit d’ corps amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, It is the Esprit d’ corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code. It did not need to be articulated.  Everybody knew it.
  • Smallness of service – It maintained “The smallness of service”, just over a thousand at any given time which instilled amongst officers a strong sense of service loyalty.
  • Incorruptible Bureaucracy Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence points out to only a minute handful of officers of being corrupt. “It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable.[iv]
  • Satisfactory work atmosphereThe bureaucracy, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work, though these qualities served the British rulers and not the Indian masses. This was the reason that ICS has often been called the Steel Frame, which reared and sustained British rule in India. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic Steel-frame speech, said on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants. He said, I do not care, what you build on it. If you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India.
  • Stress on TrainingThe British government was not only very particular about appointments in the ICS, but also provided atmosphere conducive to efficient performance, while on job. They believed that for being a good bureaucrat something had to be learnt by experience. Therefore, immediately after their arrival in India, the new recruits were attached to district for on-the-job training for eighteen months.

During one year of district training, the officers had to get thoroughly acquainted with villages, administrative compulsions and a working knowledge of the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters like police, agriculture, local bodies etc. Another six months were directed to more intensive revenue work in district under land settlement. It meant harder and more complicated work.

  • Great stress on touring and camping out – Great stress was laid on touring and camping out. They had to maintain diaries, which were thoroughly scrutinized by their seniors.
  • Guidance of the seniors – It was made clear to senior district officers vide G.O. No. 738, published on 18th April, 1916, in ICS Manual, Madras, The great importance of paying attention to the training of young men, who were entrusted to their guidance and whose success in life and influence for good depends so greatly on the assistance, which they received at the outset of their career.

The system was so enforced and watched, that there was no escape, whatsoever, from acquiring knowledge about the basics of administration, and to learn about the problems of each and every area of their jurisdiction.  Guidance of the seniors prepared them to deal with those properly. The Government paid all the attention to see that, the new recruits were shaped into ICS role properly.

White-man’s superiority during British Rule – The British, according to their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of ‘racial discrimination’ for recruiting officers in administration. They followed the dictum of White-man’s superiority” for the appointments of higher civil services in Government of India.  Though Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858 clearly stated, “It is our further will that so far as may be, our subjects of whatever race or creed, be freely impartially admitted to the offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability and integrity, duly to discharge.[v] But it was not meant to be followed. The rulers virtually prohibited Indians to join higher civil services intentionally for a long time. They did not want to give Indian any control over the governance of the country.

Views of some British rulers on ‘White-men Superiority”Lord Lytton, in his confidential document, acknowledged that the pledge of the Royal proclamation of 1858 was never intended to be carried out.  He said, We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straight forward course.[vi]

Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, laid down in 1893; It is indispensable, that an adequate number of members of the Civil Service shall always be European.

Viceroy Lord Landsdowne stressed Absolute necessity of keeping the Government of this wide-spread empire into European hands, if that empire is to be maintained.[vii]

In 1867, Lawrence commented, We have conquered India by force of arms, though the policy and good Government have already aided us.  In the like manner, we must hold it.  The Englishmen must always be in the forefront holding the post of honor and power, as the condition of our retaining of our rule.[viii]

In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they were pursuing with regard to White-man’s superiority in Civil Service. The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigour of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule  and any other rule being  in the circumstances of the case impossible.  The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.[ix]

Illbert Bill controversy proves that White bureaucrats were not at all prepared to share administrative powers with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909.

Dictums on which policy of recruitment was based during Imperial ruleDuring British Imperial rule, the policy of the government for manning its crucial positions depended on following dictums –

  • Background of the recruits British youth, who usually joined covenanted civil services, were mainly from the ranks of British professional middle classes. They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge. The main attractions for them, to join the Indian Civil Services, were extremely generous salaries, opportunity to do something worthwhile, quick promotions, and responsibilities with full freedom to work.
  • Paternalistic outlook of officers – These officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, Care, protection and guidance ultimately liberty to the people, they ruled.[x] Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager… Here are simple people, who need leadership. Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.
  • Restrictions on Indians to join higher services The British deliberately kept Indians at bay by creating conditions, which prohibited Indians’ recruitment in higher administrative jobs. They held the entrance competitive examination for Civil Services in England up to 1922. Only a very few Indians could bear the hazards and expenses of going abroad. There were extremely remote chances of succeeding in that examination.

With the birth of Indian National Congress Party in 1885, and intensification of the nationalist movement, the demand for greater Indian participation at higher levels in Government and its administration grew. Gandhiji, Gokhale, Tilak, Patel and other devoted leaders put great pressure on the British for holding Civil Services examination in India, simultaneously with that of England. The intensification of National movement and increasing demand of Indianization of Civil Services left a dampening effect on the attraction of British youths to join ICS. All the attempts to attract them fell flat. The number of British officials began to decline.

Start of holding Competitive Examination in India – The British Government started holding Civil Services examination in India as well from 1922 onwards. It gave opportunities to more and more Indians to join its elite services like ICS/IP. Along with it, it had transferred some service functions to the Provinces and abolished other All India services dealing with those service functions. The rulers continued their authority over control functions and services engaged in them – services ICS & IP.  British delegated the authority to Provincial governments to recruit personnel for their respective Provincial civil services, and organize the functioning of those activities.

  • Balance of power – In matter of recruitment in government jobs, another dictum, which the Colonial rulers followed, was that of ‘balance of power’. With the intensification of national movement, the rulers tried their best to balance the power in such a way, that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India. They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire struggles and agitations for gaining freedom from British rule. To control their movements, British thought it necessary to balance the power.

Act of ‘balancing the power’ led to start of quota system and policy of ‘Divide &rule’ – The dominance of Brahmins/upper castes had cautioned the ruler. To stop the preponderance theirs in administration, freedom struggles and elsewhere in modern white-collared occupations, British rulers propped up other sections of the society. To prepare other sections of society and make their entry possible in administrative set up, Rulers gave preferential treatment by fixing up separate Quotas for them in education and government jobs.

Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and 1932, the British divided the Indian population into different groups, on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc., and gave them separate representation in Legislative Councils, and Assemblies. They bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and Government jobs for different upcoming groups. Some seats were reserved for Muslims and Anglo-Indians in Central Services (Class I).

In 1932, the British accepted Reservations for scheduled castes at National level through Communal Award”. But it could not be implemented till 1943, because of the procedural constraints. After 1943, the recruitment to ICS was suspended, earlier due to Second World War and later, because of transfer of power to Indians.

British design to prepare an atmosphere for the successful implementation of quota system before quitting India, knowing well that it would divide Indian population and adversely affect administration. It is unfortunate that the independent India has fallen into the trap. British policy of communal representation took the shape of Reservation Policy in Independent India.

Hamstrung by lack of qualified candidates to fill up mandatory quota seats, the government of India has lowered the cut-offs for reserved category of students from time to time. It has also took initiative to arrange for   preparatory courses for aspirant candidates belonging to under-privileged communities.

British rulers, not ready to lower standard of its elite services – British-rulers were not prepared to weaken their Steel frame at any cost. British Government gave preferential treatment to upcoming groups in government jobs, but kept its elite services engaged in control functions (ICS/IP) untouched from the quota system till the last.  They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for anybody, as on it depended efficient governance of the country. It told the upcoming groups in clear terms, With its utmost desire to do so, the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their country-men for duties of administration and public.[xi]

  • Rigorous Foundation training for IndiansIn order to maintain the standard, dignity and honour of the services, British Government arranged for three years of rigorous foundational training for the Indians selected in its elite services. For appointees selected from UK center initial training was for two years. They were required to undergo a years training in U.K., at one of the four universities – Oxford, Cambridge, London or Dublin, immediately after joining ICS. This training was for duration of two years (+ one year) for those, selected from the Indian center (Delhi) after 1922. From 1937, it was reduced from two to one year.

Purpose of longer probation periodThe purpose of longer probation period for Indians in Britain, was to bring Indian recruits in close touch with British way of life. It was to train in such a way that they “should ….. be Anglicized in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainments”. Lord Macauley clearly said that, “we must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” No doubt, the rigorous training system for them had broaden the outlook of Indian recruits, developed their sense of duty as administrators and loyalty to the Government.

The Indian officials had to appear in two examinations at end of their probation in U.K., while their British counterparts, selected from London center, appeared only in one examination.  In all other matters like emolument and privileges, the Indian ICS officials got equal treatment, as was given to their British counterpart.

No doubt, all these efforts have helped ICS developing gradually into one of the most efficient/powerful services in the world.

 

 

                                                             Independent India

Independent India

About Governance in India – Way back on December 9, 1946, Mr. V.N. Narayan had said, At best of times, India is ungovernable country of diversities, conflicts and problems. Mr. Nani Palkiwala, a leading lawyer also expressed the same feeling saying “50 years of self-rule, gave to India empty coffers, unfulfilled promises, political instability, fractured society and perpetual divide among different groups along caste and community lines after 50 years of self-rule”. He said, Our legal systems have made life too easy for criminals and too difficult for law abiding citizens.[i] A touch here, a push there may make India ungovernable.

Present scenario of governanceRecently, Mr. VN Narayan has described beautifully the present climate, “We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalisation). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles)”

Administrative apparatus of the government – In a democratic country like India, for the governance and delivering goods to public at large, the Government roughly depends on the following two general processes:

  • Process of politics, which consists of activities of the elected representatives of the people, and
  • Process of administration which consists of the activities of permanent civil servants.

In theory, position of political-leaders vs bureaucrats – Theoretically the administrative machinery is subordinate to the political arm of a government. The decision making power rests with ministers. But bureaucracy assists the elected representatives of the people in governance of the country of administration. But, in practice, its role is very important in governance of a country.

Importance of bureaucracy in governance – The administrative machinery or Civil Service, is a Professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled.[i], It plays an important role in governance of a country. The main characteristics of civil services are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature, and its impartial and speedy working. It is always associated with exercise of authority.

Theoretically, the administrative machinery is subordinate to the elective body i.e. the Council of Ministers. But in practice, it plays a different role. The civil services role in relation to the minister is that of influence and not of power.[ii] As far as governance in a country is concerned, bureaucracy could be regarded as the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests.

Difficulties and problems posed on free India – Very few nations in the world have started out with greater initial difficulties of political, economic, social and administrative character as India had to do. Periods of unity, in Indian history, have been lesser as compared to periods of strife and conflict. Immediately after Independence and as time passed on, India has to  face many the mind-boggling challenges like –

  • After-effects of  two World Wars, or Unification of the country out of 560 and odd princely states in splendid manner and almost within a year. First President of India Rajendra Prasad wrote in May 1959, “That there is today an India to think and talk about, is very largely due to Sardar Patel’s statesmanship and firm administration.
  • Partition of the country, and settlement of a large number of refugees coming from East and West Pakistan.
  • India, still, is a transient society moving from traditionalism to modernism. It had a long tradition of authoritarianism and institutionalism. The caste, class and feudal heritage still dominate its social fabric. In the words of Nirad Chaudari 1, “An extraordinary thing about all the civilizations of India is that there have been superstructures imposed on a primitive, peasant, labor and artisan community, which itself has hardly changed since the end of the neo-lithic age in Western Asia”
  • Periodical famines and floods,
  • Bleeding economic condition.
  • Poverty, illiteracy of masses.
  • Coming up of new divisive forces, which base themselves on cultural, emotional and linguistic variations of the country.
  • Violent activities of Naxalites and disturbances in many provinces due to one reason or the other,
  • Terrorist activities in border areas which pose serious challenge before the administration at various levels and that unless local problems are solved speedily, they are likely to pose a new threat to the unity and stability of the nation as a whole.
  • Still the growth has been very slow and the economy is in a bad shape. Some basic problems of Indian economy are low per capita income, dependence of at least ¾ of her population on agriculture, industrial backwardness, capital deficiency, rapid population growth, unemployment and under-employment, prevalence of backward technology, under-utilization of natural resources and unsuitable social structures.
  • Generally law follows social change, but in India the Government is trying to foster social change through law.
  • Pervasive corruption and indiscipline has weakened the social fabric beyond repair.
  • Population is exploding virtually unchecked.
  • Standards of education have declined beyond any remedy and it has become inefficient, wasteful, dysfunctional and increasingly unrelated to national needs and aspirations.
  • Illiteracy of masses is still a problem in the society.
  • Some unpleasant changes took place in the past and are increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the 6-7 main constituent of the national elites – political executive, legislators, media, businessmen, the organized workers, the surplus farmers and the bureaucrats.
  • Sectional and regional imbalances are also sources of great social and psychological tensions.
  • Over and above it, there is disincentive to hard work, talent, honesty and sincerity, lack of accountability and alienation of common man.
  • Last but not the least tolerance of people of India is also responsible, who accept sub-standard administration, giving very little challenge to the authorities to upgrade their performance.

Until and unless, each of the above mentioned issues are not solved firmly and speedily, efficient and effective governance will remain a distant dream.

Why success seems to be far away? – People hold bureaucracy, ‘the steel frame of governance’, responsible for all the mess-up. People wonder why the steel-frame of yesteryears is shaking and failing to do its job effectively and judiciously despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to deal with unwanted situations. No doubt, there has been decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness are increasing every day all-over the country. Bureaucracy is shaking under its own pressures. But more than that, it seems that political and administrative systems are not in harmony with the developmental activities.

Like Four Blind Men and the Elephant, leaders of different political parties and groups of intellectuals perceive and project disparate parts of nation’s issues differently, always criticizing each other’s point of view vehemently. They ignore harsh realities/facts and attract public attention on emotional, sensitive abstract issues. Maximum damage is done by vested interests of different pressure groups, which usually spread their opinions based on half cooked knowledge or incomplete data. Their eyes are on short term gains. Success depends on how those in the realm of authority perceive and handle the real issues, find out possible solutions and decide without bias what are issues needed to be tackled on priority basis. Pressing problems needs to be analyzed taking the whole scenario in view, and then be tackled sincerely and honestly without any bias for the sustainable development of the nation.

What to do?Just as correct diagnosis is necessary for curing a disease properly, in the same way a nation needs to assess correctly the real issues, which are hampering its development within time and cost parameters. Smooth governance and Development of nation demands awareness, honesty and a sense of responsibility amongst elected representatives, of the people, government officials, and masses. Then only they can get over challenges hampering the progress of the nation as a whole. They should not waste their efforts and energy on peripheral/abstract issues for short terms gains.

To face the challenges of the day, there is a need to consciously move towards –

  • Humanizing the political and social institutions, not communalise or secularize them and
  • Creating sound systems for recruitment, education and training of personnel to be engaged in the work of governance. Today India needs more than yesterday to induct into its administrative set-up, upright, honest and best available talents, for whom interest of the country and welfare of the people always remain on the top of their mind and deed.

Recruitment in Civil Services in India after Independence –  In India, the present recruitment policy has been evolved after a long experience. In order to provide the nation a well-equipped and intellectually brilliant administrative frame-work, the recruitment to its superior government services is being done through open examinations conducted by Union Public Service Commission.

The forefathers of the Constitution knew well the importance of civil services in order to ensure good governance to the country and providing the safety of the nation. Mr. MV Kamath said, “With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the services have become onerous. It may make or mar the efficiency of the machinery of administration, machinery so vital for the peace and progress of the country. A country without any efficient Government service cannot make progress in spite of the earnestness of the people at the helm of affairs of the country. Whatever democratic institutions exist, experience has shown, that it is essential to protect public services as far as possible from political and personal influence and to give it that position of stability and security, which is vital in its successful working, as an impartial and efficient instrument, by which Government of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p585).

Position of Indian civil services according to Constitution of India – To provide the nation ‘Development Administration’ of a ‘Welfare State’, the Constitution of India has entrusted the responsibility of improving the quality of life of common-men, together to i.e. the Parliament to lay policy and frame laws for governance, the Judiciary to act as a watchdog and Executive to implement policies, laws and programs. Amongst all the three, the Executive affects the daily life of the people the most, as it implements the policies, the laws and the programs through Civil Services of the nation.

Mr. Subharajan said during Constituent Assemble debates, “Without an efficient civil service, it would be impossible for the Government to carry on and continuity to be kept. The importance of the Governmental administration has been in the fact that there is continuity and unless this continuity, there is chaos” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p952).

After Independence, many national leaders desired that ICS and similar services must disappear completely. According to them the basic task of administration had changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic change. They wanted the Civil Services of independent India to be constituted on a new basis, to fit in with the new system of Welfare State. and form the civil services of India on a new basis to fit in with the new philosophy, role, aims and objectives of a Welfare state. According to them, there were of maintenance of law and order and revenue collection only.

No drastic change possible in the administrative set-up – Visionary Sardar Patel, then the Home Minister of India, had realized that at the dawn of independence, circumstances were such that no drastic change could be made in the then existing system. Immediately after the independence, the number of IAS officers decreased to a great extent. Many British ICS officers took premature retirement after the independence. Also, a large number of Muslim officers opted for Pakistan. Many critical problems were there due to the task of unification of states, partition of the country in 1947, and bleeding economic situations. He insisted to continue the existing Institution of Civil Services. He told the national leaders very clearly that it would not be practically a wise decision to abolish the existing civil services. This decision proved to be a right direction, as the nation was facing many challenges. Consequently, save minor changes here and there, the administrative machinery set up during the Raj moved into the post-Independent era except for minor changes here and there.

Process of Recruitment in dependent India – After Independence, for smooth, efficient and effective governance and successful operation of its developmental activities, Government of India focused its attention to conduct properly the initial selection of the services. It desired to select those candidates/officials for its civil services, who could implement its policies and programs in a more positive, systematic and purposeful manner. In order to provide the nation with a well-equipped and intellectually brilliant administrative frame-work, it decided to follow the earlier British Government practice of the recruitment in higher services with minor changes here and there.

Structure of higher civil services at national level – After Independence the government of India has formed some new civil services in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist cadres.

All India services and Central Services – Services like Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and some Central Services fall in the first category. These are meant for performing the control and policy making functions of the government. All India Services are meant basically for providing personnel for national and state administration. Maximum number of policy level posts under the Union are held by Officers belonging to this group.

Amongst the three, elite status is given to Indian Administrative service (IAS). Right from its inception, IAS attracts the maximum attention of the government and the politicians. Along with the council of Ministers, they control, virtually, all the levers of the governance of the country. Also for an educated youth, it is a matter of pride to be a part of IAS, as it was with the ICS in pre-independence days. The Government offers them best career opportunities, more power, higher responsibilities, higher salaries, better perquisites, and superior status than any other service at the center or in the states and a place of pride in socio-political circle. They exercise state authority from day one and continue to do it till their retirement. Its officers deliberate directly at the highest level of policy formulation and decision making.

Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service are incorporated in Article 312(2) of the Constitution. Government offers to IAS best career opportunities, more power, higher responsibilities, higher salaries, better perquisites, and superior status than any other service at the center or in the states and a place of pride in socio-political circle.

Central civil services – Central civil services are professional by nature. Its functional areas are mentioned in Central List of Subjects under the Constitution, such as Railways, Posts and Telegraphs, Excise and Customs etc. Appointments in professional services does not require any professional qualification or experience.

Technical Civil services – The government has the power to create technical and specialized government services as and when nation require them. Technical Civil Services require knowledge and experience of a defined field, professional degree, diploma and/or experience for appointment to these services. Engineering services, Health services etc., come in this category.

These services deal especially with developmental programs or work for building up infrastructure for the development of the country. It is considered expedient to have a Central Control/guidance for uniformity in technical fields such as water resources management, power generation etc. Some Technical Services are Indian service of Indian Meteorological Service; Overseas Communication Service; Indian Statistical Service; Indian Economic Service; Indian Railway Services of Engineers (of Electrical Engineers; Signal Engineers; Mechanical Engineers; (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics, Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Engineering Branch).

Recruitment System after Independence

After 1947, independent India needed, more than earlier, in its managerial cadres, energetic officers with drive, initiative, unquestionable integrity and positive outlook to meet the challenges of insurgent India. Along with the traditional task of the maintenance of law and order, revenue collection, developmental works like integrated planning, implementation of programs, coordinate programs for economic and social regeneration and construction of new modern India, were added to the responsibilities of the administrative service. Now India required more in numbers, “The officers, manning the executive, must not only be good administrators, but should be imbibed with the service, possess leadership of a high order and be able to play the role of a guide and friend of the people.” [i]

Recruitment pattern after Independence – After Independence, for smooth, efficient and effective governance and successful operation of its developmental activities, Government of India focused its attention to conduct properly the initial selection of the services. It desired to select those candidates/officials for its civil services, who could implement its policies and programmes in a more positive, systematic and purposeful manner. In order to provide the nation with a well-equipped and intellectually brilliant administrative frame-work, it decided to follow the earlier British Government practice of the recruitment in higher services with minor changes here and there.

The recruitment pattern remains almost the same after Independence except for some marginal modifications, here and there, from time to time. Recruitment in all the government services is to be done through open examinations every year. The responsibility to spot out good candidates and nurture them to acquire the skills necessary for performing responsibilities of administration is entrusted to an autonomous body called Union Public Service Commission at the centre and State Public Service Commission of the respective state.

The basic ingredients of the system are: –

  • Selection of really brilliant youths through an open competitive examination, conducted annually by an independent agency – Union Public Service Commission and Provincial Public Service Commissions, which have been entrusted with the responsibility to spot out good candidates.
  • Promotion of brilliant officers into Central from the State Civil Services.
  • Intensive formal and informal training to nurture them to acquire the skills necessary for performing responsibilities of higher posts has been planned by the government. There has been arrangement for two years foundation training for new recruits and many in-service training programs, refresher courses, seminars, workshops etc., at frequent intervals.
  • Like British rulers, Independent India also acknowledges the value of actual field experience for initial four-five years, “What constitutes of being a good bureaucrat is something, he has still to learn and it can only be learnt by experience, for it is a lot of things, which one never can get into books.”[ii]

Twenty-first century India needs more than earlier, in its managerial cadres, energetic officers with drive, initiative, unquestionable integrity and positive outlook to meet the challenges of insurgent India. Along with the traditional task of the maintenance of law and order, revenue collection, developmental works like integrated planning, implementation of programs, coordinate programs for economic and social regeneration and construction of new modern India, are added to the responsibilities of the administrative service. Now India required more in numbers, “The officers, manning the executive, must not only be good administrators, but should be imbibed with the service, possess leadership of a high order and be able to play the role of a guide and friend of the people.” [iii]

Therefore, government needs to induct the best available talents into the service. Candidates recruited on an all India basis would help the state administration to acquire broader outlook and exposure. Broader vision and outlook of candidates would make them objective, enable them to withstand local influence and provide them strength to give free and frank opinion. At present, there are many divisive forces within the country based on cultural, social, religious, lingual status etc. which may threaten the unity of the country at any point of time. In such an atmosphere, bureaucrats are supposed to play a role of an integrating force. They can do so by objectively reconciling conflicting viewpoints and diverse interest of the people and always keep the interests of the nation on the top.

India has everything, a nation needs for its development – like tremendous amount of skilled and unskilled manpower, all kind of raw materials in abundance, a good legal system, a huge market and potential to export virtually everything, provided cost of its inputs are kept at international levels.

Pattern of Central Civil Services competitive examinationBefore 1979, the written examination consisted of three compulsory subjects of 450 marks – Essay, General English and General Knowledge. These were required to be taken by all the candidates. There were three optional papers, of 200 marks each, for candidates trying for IAS and IFS and Central Services Class I and II. For Police Services of Union Territories, candidates had to take only two optional papers of 200 marks each. Candidates appearing for category – I had to take two more optional subjects (Higher papers) carrying 200 marks each, additionally. This position is summarized in the table below: –

The standard of the lower papers (Optional papers) was approximately of an honors degree examination of an Indian University. The standard of two additional subjects (higher papers) for category I was higher than that of an honors degree examination, that, too, were examined, only if a certain minimum marks, as fixed by the Commission, in three compulsory and three optional papers had been secured by the candidates. Interview for personality test carried 400 marks for IFS, 300 for IAS and 200 for all other services. From 1969 onwards, candidates had the choice to answer the compulsory papers in English or in any one of the languages included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.

Kothari Commission’s recommendations In 1975, under Dr. D.S. Kothari, a Committee was set up to review to suggest improvement in the system of recruitment to the higher services. The Commission observed, that in order to meet the challenges and to achieve rapid socio-economic and political development, the administrators must have not only relevant knowledge and skills, but also Socio-emotional and moral qualities for working with the community. Therefore, some changes in the recruitment policy and selection method were suggested. On the basis of Kothari Commission’s recommendations a common Civil Service Examination, having equal number of papers, for all the three categories, which is conducted by UPSC, has been introduced since 1979.

It recommended unified competitive examination consisting of a preliminary screening examination to test skill, speed and accuracy for non-technical civil services, an objective type to facilitate identification of those, who have the requisite range of knowledge, main examination in four compulsory and four optional papers to test the depth of knowledge and an interview to examine communication skills, public speaking skills, leadership qualities, ability to exchange meaningful ideas and attitude. This scheme came into practice from 1979. Since then, it is done in three stages –

  • Preliminary examination (MCQ type) – The first stage is of Unified competitive examination consisting of a preliminary screening examination to test skill, speed and accuracy for non-technical civil services. It facilitates quick identification of those, who have the requisite range of IQ. Preliminary examination consists of General Studies paper of 150 marks and an optional subject of 300 marks. This examination is of objective type with multiple choice questions. Through preliminary examination, about 85,000 to 10,000 candidates are short listed in order of merit, who are allowed to appear in the second stage of examination known as Main Examination.
  • Mains examination (descriptive type)The qualified candidates of preliminary examination are called for Mains examination. Main examination to tests the depth of knowledge in compulsory and optional subjects of candidates’ choice. consists of conventional essay type paper in any Indian language, as per the Eighth Schedule, consisting of 300 marks, a paper of 300 marks in English, General studies I of 300 marks, General Studies II also of 300 marks, and two papers in each of the two optional subjects, each carrying 300 marks. Indian language and English papers are part of the qualifying examination. These two papers are of matriculation standard. Marks secured in these papers are not added to the total score.
  • Personal interviewThose, who succeed in main examination, are called to appear for an Interview/Personality test for final selection. Its purpose is to find out leadership qualities, depth of knowledge, attitude and willingness to understand all sides of a problem, communication skill and command over language. The merit list of successful candidates is prepared on the basis of their performance in the main examination (1800 marks) and interview (250 marks).

Qualifications For entering directly into the managerial cadre of different government services, candidates should have the following qualifications –

  • Educational Qualification – A graduate degree is needed from a recognized university (incorporated by an Act of Central OR State Legislature in India OR Other educational institution established by Parliament Act OR announced to be deemed university under section-3 of the UGCA), 1956 or an equivalent degree. a simple graduate degree from anywhere in India can appear in the Civil Services examination conducted by UPSC. Appointment into non-technical professional civil services does not require any special professional qualification or experience. Professional civil services’ functional areas are mentioned in Central List of Subjects under the Constitution.
  • Age Limit– The upper age limit varied between 24 to 28 years for general category candidates, from time to time. Age limit differs from time to time. Sometimes it is 21 to 24, sometimes from 21 to 28 years and at present according to official notice 2016 (If there is change UPSC updates)
Category Upper age limit No. of attempts
General 32 Years 06 Attempts
OBC 35 Years 09 Attempts
SC/ST 37 Years No bar
PH (Blind, Deaf, Orthopedic) 42 Years

SC/ST= No bar

J & K Domicile GEN=37 Yrs, OBC= 40 Yrs, SC/ST=40 Yrs, PH=50 Yrs No bar
Disabled servicemen, disabled from duty. GEN=37 Yrs, OBC=40 Yrs, SC/ST=40 Yrs. No bar
  • The allocation of services – the IAS, IFS, IPS, or the Central Services – is on the basis of merit and choice. Normally, the top rankers opt for either the IAS or the IFS.
  • Concessions to weaker sections – However some seats are reserved for SC (15%) ST (7.5%) and OBC (27%) on relaxed ground in all the services.
  • Concessions to SCT – In order to increase the number of SC/ST in government services, in addition to Reservation of posts, many other benefits are also given to them in direct recruitment. These are: –

      • Age relaxation. The maximum age of direct recruitment for SC/ST increased by 5 years.
      • SC/ST allowed taking as many attempts, to appear in the competitive examination, as they could avail. This works out to as many as 9 attempts.
      • SCT candidates qualifying by general standard not to be adjusted against quota.
      • SC/ST candidates exempted from payment of examination fees.
      • Separate interviews for SC/ST.
      • Pre-entry coaching classes organised by the Government for them.
      • Relaxation in standard to further improve their representation in the service.
      • If, in any particular year, the number of suitable candidates available is less than the number of reserved posts, the posts, so in excess, are to be treated as unreserved for that particular year. However, in the next year, the number of posts unreserved would be added to the reserved posts of that year. This carrying over process is to operate for a period of two years, at a time.
      • Reservation in Promotions, not given effect to, in a particular year is carried forward to three subsequent recruitment years. SC/ST candidates to be given Reservation leading to their accelerated promotions. As per the Supreme Court judgement, in Indira Sawney case, delivered on 16.11.92, Reservations in promotion could not continue beyond 15.11.97. Hence 77th Amendment Act, 1995, notified on 19.6.95 (issued on 13.8.97), enabled the State, vide Art 16(4A), to continue it indefinitely.
      • De-reservation in a group A services permissible only in exceptional cases having: –
        • The approval of the Minister in charge of Department of Personnel,
        • On the basis of recommendations of a committee, comprising the secretaries in the Ministries of Personnel, Welfare and the administrative Ministry concerned.
        • Only after receiving the comments of the national Commission on SCT.
    • Concessions given to OBCs – The concessions to OBC’s are less than SC/ST in following respect:
        • They get relaxation in upper age limit up to 3 years only,
        • Number of chances available within the relaxed age limit for appearing in competitive examination limited to seven as against 9 in the case of SC/ST.
        • Relaxation in standard of suitability has been prescribed to further improve the representation of OBCs
    • Steps taken to implement Governments decision for appointment of OBCs are as follows-[iv]
        • A list of caste/communities, to whom the orders of Reservation are applicable are notified.
        • The persons/sections (Creamy layer), to whom the Reservation shall not apply, are specified.
        • A model format of an application form for claiming the benefit of Reservation, as well as, their not belonging to the creamy layer have been prepared and sent to State Government authorities, competent to issue certificate in respect of OBC status.
        • The Chief Secretaries of the state Governments are advised to issue necessary instructions to their district authorities for providing certificates required by the OBCs.
        • The existing 40-point roster for recruitment by open competition on an All India basis has been revised to a 200-point roster.
    • Concessions to Women – As for as women were concerned, on 17th July 1948, the Government of India announced that woman, too, were eligible for any public service including IAS and IFS.[ii] However, till 1965, there were some restrictions on married woman on joining IAS or appearing in the competitive examination. If they got married after the selection, their retention depended on the performance of their work.[iii]  Though percentage of women comprising of 50% is very little in the corridor of of power, much lesser than the percentage of STC or OBC, still they have always been expected by political leaders to compete with others on merit. It is a matter of pride for them that their number in various  civil services is continuously increasing. They have also been amongst the top rankers in various competitive examinations held annually by UPSC.

One of the toughest competitive Examination – Civil Services Examination (CSE) is one the toughest examination in India, with more than 900,000 applicants having one of the lowest in the world success rate of 0.1%­0.3%. a nationwide competitive examination in India for recruitment to various Civil Services of the Government of India, including the Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Revenue Service (IRS) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. The process takes roughly one year from the notification of the pre examination to declaration of the final results.

Foundational training – Immediately after their selection into various services, the successful candidates are sent to various training Institutions for their foundation training so that they may get the picture of the political, social and economic aspect of the administrative set-up and they may get acquainted with the basic concepts and requirements of their jobs.

Technical Civil servicesBefore Independence, there existed some technical All India Services which were recruited and controlled by the `Secretary of State’. These died their natural death, when in 1935, authority and control of the services engaged in service functions was handed over to provincial government. Very few remained with Central Government. After Independence, the government created some new technical and specialized government services as and when nation required them. Some of the services on technical side are Indian service of Indian Meteorological Service; Overseas Communication Service; Indian Statistical Service; Indian Economic Service; Indian Railway Services of Engineers (of Electrical Engineers; Signal Engineers; Mechanical Engineers; (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics, Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Engineering Branch); In India,

Technical Civil Services require knowledge and experience of a defined field, professional degree, diploma and/or experience for appointment to these services. Engineering services, Health services etc., come in this category.

These services deal especially with developmental programs or work for building up infrastructure for the development of the country. It is considered expedient to have a Central Control/guidance for uniformity in technical fields such as water resources management, power generation etc. For Technical and Specialist services, UPSC conducts separate examinations.

The pattern of examination is slightly different for technical services. No preliminary screening has been considered necessary as technical graduates have already undergone a rigorous curriculum in their respective fields of study. For joining various organised group `A’ services on technical side, the candidates have to appear in various competitive examinations conducted annually by UPSC itself.

Some weaknesses of present recruitment system – Many efforts have been done so far to improve the system of recruitment to induct officials of caliber, character and leadership capabilities in Government services. But general public feels that the performance of civil services has been deteriorated day by day. The changes, brought in so far have not improved the situation. Something more is required to be done. There are some inherent weaknesses in the recruitment system. Until and unless, necessary changes and improvements are not done in the following areas, not much can be expected from bureaucracy –

  • Only a graduate degree not enough to enter into elite services of the nation –  One of the striking features is that in this age of specialization and very fast technological advancements, government still does not give enough importance to specialisation.  In the modern times, there are very few jobs, which can be done efficiently without some measure of specialization through education, training or experience.  The nature and degree of specialisation have to be geared to the nature of the job and responsibilities to be shouldered. Each new area of administration , be it economic, social, industrial, technical, science or agriculture – has its own body of academic requirements, knowledge and techniques.  The effective administration of each demands an intimate knowledge of its underlying principles and an awareness of its problems.  This knowledge can only come through the study and understanding of that area for a longer period of time. Then only,when politicians are to be advised on policy matters, alternatives can be properly put forward by government officials.

Even in 21st century, in most of the areas with which government deals, the system of collecting information, analysing data and using modern theoretical studies is inadequate and unsatisfactory. Most of the time policy advice continues to be primitive and amateurish.  Usually comparatively ignorant politicians are being advised by comparatively ignorant officers – the situation is of blind leading the blind.    

  • Age-relaxation – By increasing the age limit for entering into the government services, nation is losing the services of the youth at the time when they are full of energy and their minds are fresh and creative stage.
  • Diluting the integrity of the Government services  – No compromise should be done with integrity and merit-oriented recruitment in the government services. Mr. Appu says, “No reforms would work without improving the political atmosphere of the country”. System of fixing quotas for different sections of society has created a wedge between quota and non-quota candidates.

After the First World War, a wave of socialism and emancipation of submerged people through governmental measures had swept all over the world. The leaders of independent India, too, thought to do something more for the downtrodden. They felt, if the nation allowed the weak to stand and compete on equal footing with the strong, it would be throwing the dice in favour of the strong. Already after the departure of British, the administration fell into the hands of affluent people. If nothing special were done for the Backward-class, the affluent class would keep the poor suppressed.

At the time of independence, some weaker sections of Indian society were alarmingly under-represented in the corridor of power. They did not have access to education, gainful employment, land ownership and other civic facilities. Social justice and commitment to welfare ideologies demanded Governments intervention.

During Constitutional Assembly Debates, it was advised to keep in mind consideration to maintain a balance between efficiency in administration and protective measures, so that neither they negate merit, competitiveness, nor development of underprivileged groups. They warned the nation that  this effort may create greed or abuse of power, increase communalism, or hamper the growth of national unity and solidarity.[i]

Pt Hriday Narayan Kunjru feared, The regulations, made in this regard, may be unnecessarily wide or they may even be changed in such a way, from time to time, as to enable the executive to exercise a considerable amount of undesirable patronage. Many constituent Assembly members apprehended the fall of efficiency and administrative standard.

Constitutional provision  -Feeling that if something more was not done for this vast segment of society, it would remain backward, exploited and deprived forever, , the forefathers thought of giving preferential treatment to weaker sections in matter of education, jobs and other civic facilities. With his unparalleled skill of speech Dr. Ambedkar calmed down all the voices raised against protective measures at that time, and with his legal acumen shaped the Constitutional provision about Reservation.

Thus, with Art. 15 guaranteeing equality to all irrespective of caste, creed or gender, Clause (4), was included through First Amendment Act, on the pressures of leaders from South like Kamraj etc. It authorizes the state to take special care for the advancement of any socially, educationally and economically backward class of citizens or Scheduled caste and Scheduled Tribes. Art. 16 (4) permitted the state to make a provision for the Reservation of appointment, in posts, in favour of any backward class of citizens, which in the opinion of state were not adequately represented in the services under the state. Simultaneously, the emphasis was laid that the claims of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistent with the maintenance of efficiency in the administration, while making appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of Union or of a State (Article 335).

The Constitution framers neither fixed up any quota, nor designated the people, who could be put in SC/ST or backward class list, nor did they fix any period. However the debates of the constituent Assembly clearly indicated that Reservation were meant only for a limited period.

In pursuance of the constitutional provisions contained in Art. 16(4) and 335, various instructions were issued, from time to time, providing Reservation for SC/ST and OBC. The Government of India made provision for Reservation for SC/ST in Government jobs. By a resolution in 1950, the Government reserved 12.5% (for SC) and 5% (for ST) of the total available vacancies in all the Civil Services of Government of India, on the basis of their numerical strength in total population. It was raised to 15% for SCs and 7.5% for STs in 1970.

The Central Government issued orders for 27% Reservation for OBC on 13.8.90. This was challenged in the court of law. The judgement was delivered on 16.11.92. Based on the judgement, revised orders were issued on 8.9.93. Reservation for OBC started at national level from 1994. The Reservations for minorities was terminated by the Constitution.

Impact of Reservation No doubt, immediately after the independence provision of preferential treatment/Reservation has compensated and helped the underprivileged to offset the accumulated deprivation and make their empowerment a reality. It has provided opportunities to some of the most neglected sections of the society to come up and join the administrative services. Their inclusion has made the composition of the service broad based.

As a result of the Reservation, there has been a considerable increase in the representation of SCT in terms of absolute member and percentage of the total number of employees in IAS and other group A” services. In 1953, there were only 0.35% (absolute numbers of 20) of SCs and 0.10% (absolute number 6) of STs in Civil Services group A. Their numbers rose to 96 SC and 34 ST in 1966, 227 (8.56%) for SCs and 132 (4.8%) for STs in 1976. Non-adjustment of the meritorious SCT candidates against reserved vacancies, in direct Civil Services-recruitment has increased their number to more than 15% and 7 1/2%, respectively, every year.

OM No.1/1/70 Estt. (SCT) dated 25.7.70, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, stipulates that in direct recruitment, whether by examination or otherwise, if sufficient numbers of SCT candidates are not available, on the basis of the general standard, to fill all the vacancies reserved for them, the SCT candidates should be selected on relaxed standards provided they are not unfit for such posts. The UPSC continues, till now, the practice of relaxing standards, to the extent possible, while recruiting candidates belonging to SCT, to make up the short fall in reserved quota provided, they were otherwise considered fit for appointment.

It was hoped, that the candidates selected on relaxed standards would come up to the standard of other recruits selected along with them after receiving additional instructions, foundational training, in-service training and on- the jobs experience cum training arranged by the Government. But, so far, neither there is enough arrangement for giving formal additional training to the candidates selected on relaxed standards, nor for scrutinizing strictly or taking stern steps to improve their standard, apparently because of political reasons.

Hamstrung by lack of qualified candidates to fill up mandatory quota seats, the government lowers the cut-offs for reserved category of students from time to time. It has not arranged enough preparatory courses for aspirant candidates belonging to underprivileged communities, so that they can compete with others on equal footings.

But now, the deliberate policy of the Government of India to give patronage to certain castes and communities under reservation policy has aggravated the crisis. It has generated rivalry between different sections of the society and created slackness in recruitment and training, which has ultimately led the nation to ineffective governance. There is not

Seed sown by British blossomed in Independent India – It is quite evident that the British design to prepare an atmosphere for the successful implementation of Reservation policy before quitting, knowing well that it would divide Indian society and adversely affect administration. It is unfortunate that the independent India has fallen into the trap. The deliberate policy of the Government of India to give patronage to certain castes and communities under reservation policies has aggravated the crisis. It has generated inter-cast and intra-caste rivalry. It has compromised with the integrity, efficiency and effectiveness of the government services.

The political leadership needs to come out of this trap. Any laxity in the qualifications of officials in recruitment and promotions naturally leads to inefficient or mal-administration and sub-standard services to general public. C Rajagopalachari was absolutely right in commenting, Short sighted favoritism and concessions, to produce contentment among classes and castes, will be short lived and will deteriorate into a constant pondering to intrigues and factions, if we do not look to real efficiency.

Suggestions – As has been seen, the Indian Civil Service has a long historical background and is a product of centuries, and so is the case of its Recruitment system and systems of their further Education and Training. These systems have been progressed slowly, but steadily under three regimes – the East India Company, the Crown and the Indian Republic.

Although considerable attention has been paid to Recruitment into government services and their Education and Training, yet it has not been able to bring out the desired results – an inference based on various opinion polls and interviews. It has been pointed out by different levels of officers  that  Recruitment system should be job-oriented instead of its being degree oriented. Training time of initial training is insufficient and training system is too general. There is lack of interest among senior officers towards training, as it was during British rule. Officers are not trained to lead a simple life. Generalist services hampers technological advancement. IAS officers generally occupy almost all the higher posts even in departments of technical nature. Appointments of technical personnel would adversely affect their career prospects. In training institutes, usually sidelined officers are sent as trainers.

Building up of responsible and efficient civil servant does not start from the day, he joins the civil services, but right from the day he starts his education.

  • The pre-entry education has a vital impact on the personality building, outlook and maturity of the prospective citizens, whether or not they join the civil services. The pre-entry education should be comprehensive in scope and sound in nature, so that it could provide firm foundation for the continuing education of higher civil servants.
  • If the education and training after their recruitment is correctional in nature, its effectiveness and efficiency would receive a set-back and a much more massive effort for training would be called for.
  • As of today, the general pre-entry education system especially the higher education in India is increasingly becoming unrelated to national needs and aspirations, in-efficient, wasteful and dis-functional.
  • As any deficiency in recruitment system is likely to have an adverse effect on the system of civil service itself. It frustrates the efforts of national reconstruction. One of the grave weaknesses in recruitment system is that it is degree-oriented instead of job-oriented.
  • Competitive entrance examination system for civil services is  academic and favors the examination minded candidates. Just assessment of different subjects poses difficult problems in evaluation of comparative merits.
  • Seeing the inherent weaknesses in Indian education system and recruitment system, it is suggested that the recruitment to various Government Services should be done immediately after higher secondary education at a raw age, when the minds of candidates are in formative, creative and energetic stage.
  • The idea of such Recruitment, Education and Training is not new to India and has proved to be successful in Defense and Railways.It could be done through an open competitive examination as is being done for Defense Services and Indian Railways Mechanical Engineering Service (successful candidates trained in Jamalpur).
  • It would facilitate the Government to arrange properly for their continuing education and intensive and comprehensive training at various administrative colleges and training institutions.
  • It would not only make it possible to have the intellectual knowledge and qualities required for performing their specific jobs, but would also inculcate in them emotional qualities and capacities required for doing their jobs such as social purposefulness, ability to understand the administrative and political implications of a problem and resourcefulness in solving them, capacity for team-work and flair for leadership, which are basic requirements of any welfare administrators.

Other organisational changes – While the civil servant is an important element in the scheme of civil services and, he must possess the qualities discussed above. The goals may still remain elusive, if the civil service, as an organisation, lacked the qualities conducive to effective working.  The civil servant as an individual cannot improve the overall efficiency in administration.  It cannot hope to solve a large number of organisational maladies, which have already resulted in loss of cohesion, espirit-de-corps and even raison d’etre (rationale).  Reckless expansion, virtual stagnation of salaries for more than a century, disparities in career prospects within civil services and seething conflict between generalists and specialists have affected adversely the efficiency of services as an organisation.  Above all, the prevailing mistrust between the political executive and bureaucracy is truly most frightening.  While politicians regard civil-servants as a bunch of self-serving, corrupt and arrogant obstructionists, the bureaucrats regard them as a pack of ignorant unprincipled opportunists.

In order to get an efficient and effective administration and streamlining the working of civil service, Mr. A. D. Gorwala (Chairman, Report of Public Administration, New Delhi, Planning               Commission, Government of India, 1951, P.4) had made the following suggestions:-

  • Clear distinction between formulation of policy and its execution;
  • More and better coordination at the secretariat level;
  • Better selection from a wider range of officials for the Finance Ministry;
  • Improved Cabinet procedures of work;
  • More supervision and inspection by senior officers;
  • Decentralization of pay, rewards and punishments;
  • Better discipline by means of better pay and rewards and punishments;
  • Improved techniques of selection of higher officials;
  • Harmonious Minister-Secretary relationship;
  • Non-interference by the Ministry in the working of the various departments;
  • Greater freedom for administrative ministries from too minute control of the Finance Ministry;
  • Better organisation of parliamentary control through the Estimates and Public Accounts Committee.

Some other changes, though not directly related to training, could, to a great extent, help in increasing the effectiveness of the education and training of government Servants.

  • The independent Indian needs smooth relationship between politicians and civil servants.
  • There should not be any undue political interference on administrator.
  • There should be working partnership between generalist and specialist.
  • Career prospects and salary structure should be reasonable and just, otherwise recruitment  and retention of good officers would be difficult and situation would lead to inefficiency and corruption.
  • There appears to be no scientific and sound rationale for keeping a substantial differential in the pay scales and career prospects of IAS and non-IAS services, because in no way IAS personnel are superior to others either in intelligence, or in quality or recruitment, or in degree of responsibility or in nature of job or inequality of work-load.
  • Therefore, there should be unified civil service with integrated pay structure, so that government could bring a sense of equity amongst various disciplines of civil service of their choice and would enable the candidates to go in for the service of their choice and aptitude.
  • The government would be able to gain the full advantage of the sincere and honest working of scientists, engineers, doctors, economists and officers of other disciplines.

 

[i]   Speeches of Raj Bahadur, pp622-24, Avanta Sayanam Ayyangar, pp 626-628, Constituent Assembly Debates.

[ii]   Hindustan Times, Milestone P8, August 15, 1997.

[iii]   All India Service (Recruitment) Rules 1954, introduced vide MHA Notification NO.13/7/56 (AIS) (III dt. 25.4.1957).

[iv]   Report of Ministry of Personnel, 1995-96.

[i]   Administrative Decentralization Report, Chairman Flotcher AL, 1956.

[ii]   Zinkim M, Development for free Asia, p83, 1963.

[iii]   Administrative Decentralization Report, Chairman Flotcher AL, 1956.

[i]   Palikawala, We the People – The Lost Decade, p3.

[i]   Major General Sir John Malcolm, Political History of India from 1784 to 1823.

[ii]   Zinkin M, Development for free Asia, p83, 1963.

[iii]   Malcolm, ibid, p79.

[iv]    Times of India, August 10, 1997, p2.

[v]    Banerjea AC. Indian Constitution documents, Volume II, p28, 1948.

[vi]    Annie Besant, How India wrought for freedom, p420.

[vii]    Bipin Chandra, Modern India, p158.

[viii]    Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India, p497.

[ix]    Supplement to Gazette of India, June 4, 1904, p937.

[x]    Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993.

[xi]    Times of India Archives, May3, 1918.

[i]      Finer. Theory and Practice of Modern Government, p709, 1950.

[ii]      Paipandikar VA, Bureaucracy in India – An Empirical Study, IJPA, pp187, Vol. xvii, no.2, April-June, 1971.

[iii]    Report of Inquiry on Public Service Personnel appointed by Social Science Research Council of USA (1935 P.37)

[iv]   Gladden N, Civil Service – its problems and future, p64.

 

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September 1, 2017 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services, General | | Leave a comment

Reasons for Corrosion of the Government Services (Civil Services) in independent India

 further”Better to starve free than be a fat slave.” Aesop

Introduction

Better to starve free than be a fat slave” – India got its Independence from a long period of slavery  under British rule in 1947 after lots of struggles and sacrifices. After receiving its freedom, the country needs many more efforts to maintain it justifiably and progress further.

Legacy of past – The general framework of its Civil services, recruitment system, training system, generalist supremacy, anonymous character procedure oriented system, salary-structure, centralization of power, caste-considerations in recruitment to higher services and apathy towards masses are some of the legacies, India has inherited from the British India.

To find out when and what went wrong in the system of governance and what best can be done in which area, analysis of what bureaucracy was under British Government and what it is now becomes important. Seventy years have already passed since India got its independence. During this period, it has taken many right as well as wrong turns.

Right steps – After  Independence, the prominent national leaders along with dedicated civil servants put India on the path of progress, like, they did it –

  • It appeared to be an unattainable dream in early 60’s to put foundations of ISRO, which has made it possible to carry developmental measures into homes all-over the country.
  • Now the government can reach out to the people, provide communication through networks in remote areas.
  • It has developed disaster warning systems, quick research surveys to target ground water etc.
  • Dreams of many Indians in IT sector, scientific, agricultural, cultural, artistic and social fields have come true.

But somehow, the progress was slow. Then developed many undesired systems in the body-politic of the country, which pushed it backwards.

The dreams of our forefathers in these areas has just partially been achieved. Still it has to cover a long distance.

Wrong steps – The successive governments failed to provide efficient and effective governance to the country. So far, it has not been able to provide enough basic services to the people like sound ‘education to all’, income-generating skills to millions of unskilled poor labor, employment to youth, poverty (still millions are living below poverty line), proper health-care to common-men, 24 hour electric supply, especially in rural areas without break etc. Business suffers. People are strained. Farmers are committing suicides day-in and day-out. Governance has collapsed. Power-hungry leaders and bureaucrats work to acquire immense power to control the destiny of others without responsibility and accountability. Above all law and order situation has become almost irreparable – not enough safety for women and senior citizens without caste-considerations. Is it the freedom for which many Indians had in the past and even now are sacrificing everything in life?

One of the reasons is population explosion since 1921. Every year almost 20 millions Indians are added to the nation. It is a tough task to enable such a large number of poor masses to rise well above the poverty-line, to have improved health, education, self-esteem and contribute more productivity to the nation. To progress at faster speed, India needs to ignite young minds up-to the maximum.

Efficient governance during British Raj“It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers…. how was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality? Even Indian nationalists were more likely than not to agree with such an assessment. … Or how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century.

“Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule, and, in a fascinating episode, when Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the rebel Indian National Army, flew to Berlin during the Second World War to solicit help from Hitler, the Führer dismissed him, taking the view that Indians needed to be civilized by another hundred years of British rule.”

Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ started before Independence

Corrosion of steel-frame started during British Raj itself. But situation became from bad to worse after Independence. With the intensification of national movement and introduction of Diarchy, the downfall in the quality of governance had started. The spirit of mild ‘parentalism’ for the people in civil servants began to fade. Pannikar says, “The Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India, for after that there was no claim, that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished” (Pannikar KM, The Development of Administration in India, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institution of Public Administration, vols. 2 and 3, p14).

Rowland Committee Report – The Rowland Committee remarked “The present position, in our judgment, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself, as well as, from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…. He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrates and Collectors failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he cannot compel… In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further, because activities of the Government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of Provincialized Service and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the Government” (Report of the Bengal Administrative Enquiry Committee, 1944-45, p18).

Position after Independence – After Independence, the situation deteriorated further. Civil services have become more and more spineless, ineffective and powerless as time passed on. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness are increasing every day all-over the country. Once known as the “Steel frame” of the “Whole structure”, the bureaucracy appears to be unable to meet the challenges of the day. Sometime down the line, the ‘steel frame’ started shaking under its own pressure. There has been a gradual decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness are increasing every day all-over the country. Why and how it got derailed is a point to ponder.

Forefathers of Indian Constitution aware of the importance of Civil Services – Immediately after the independence, the forefathers of the Constitution realized the challenges, Indian government was going to face in order to provide safety to the nation. They were also aware of the importance and crucial role to be played by the bureaucracy in order to ensure good governance to the country and its importance for the safety and development of the nation in future.

The forefathers of the Constitution views about governance – Pt. Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India and many other important leaders like Pt. G.B. Pant, etc., did not like the idea that for building up a new India, the very machinery that was till now hampering and countering the freedom movement should be used. Pt. Nehru is on record to have said: – “…But of one thing I am quite sure that no new order can e built up in India, so long as the spirit of ICS pervades our Administrative Public Service. That spirit of authoritarianism is the ally of imperialism and it cannot co-exist with freedom. It will either succeed in crushing freedom or will be swept away by itself. Only with one type of State, it is likely to fit in and that is the Fascist type. Therefore, it seems quite essential that the ICS and similar services must disappear completely, much before we can start real work on a new order.”

Other members of the Constituent expressed their opinions –

  • Mr. Subha Rajan – Mr. Subha Rajan said during Constituent Assemble debates, “Without an efficient civil service, it would be impossible for the Government to carry on and continuity to be kept. The importance of the Governmental administration has been in the fact that there is continuity and unless this continuity, there is chaos” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p952).
  • Mr. MV Kamath – Mr. MV Kamath Mr. MV Kamath said, “With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the services have become onerous. It may make or mar the efficiency of the machinery of administration, machinery so vital for the peace and progress of the country. A country without any efficient Government service cannot make progress in spite of the earnestness of the people at the helm of affairs of the country. Whatever democratic institutions exist, experience has shown, that it is essential to protect public services as far as possible from political and personal influence and to give it that position of stability and security, which is vital in its successful working, as an impartial and efficient instrument, by which Government of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p585).
  • Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel – In his letter to the Prime Minister, Sardar Patel wrote, “I need hardly emphasize, that an efficient, disciplined and contended (civil) service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work, is a “Sine-Quinan” of sound administration, under a democratic regime, even more than under an authoritarian rule. The (civil) service must be above party and we should ensure that political consideration, either in its recruitment or its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether” (Patel Vallabh Bhai in a letter to Mr. Nehru).
  • Dr. Radhakrishnan – After Nehru’s midnight hour speech between 14th and 15th August 1947, Dr. Radhakrishnan warned the nation, “Our opportunities are great, but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability, which would help us to utilize the opportunities, which are now open to us. A free India will be judged by the way, in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and social services.”
  • Speaking in the Constituent Assembly, Sardar Patel said “There was no alternative to this administrative system….The Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security …. If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution…. This constitution is meant to be worked by a ring of service, which will keep the country intact. There are many impediments in this Constitution, which will hamper us. ….. These people are the instruments. Remove them and I see nothing but a picture of chaos all-round the country.”

Issue Seeing the pitiable condition of Civil Services, the diagnosis of its ailments becomes necessary. One wonders, what were the reasons for the corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ of yester years? why the steel-frame of yester years has failed miserably after the Independence to do its job effectively and judiciously, despite having a constitutional status and enough powers to perform its duties freely and frankly. Why it could not take a stand against the unjust dictates of political leaders or corrupt senior officers? What stops it from doing its job sincerely?

Indian civil services were well-known for their efficiency and effectiveness during British rule.

Before Independence, Reasons for efficient performance of bureaucracy under British Rule – British ruled India for a long time. The East India Company came to India in 1600 AD to trade. And established trading posts and factories in Madras, followed by Calcutta and Bombay. East India Company handed over the charge of governance to the British crown in1858. Since then, efficient governance was a reality during British rule. Gilmour comes to the sensible conclusion that the men of the ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments. Often a District officer in his early twenties would arrive fresh from his ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. The wide-ranging responsibilities of the District Officers of the ICS were responsible for almost everything. The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (From Rup Narain Das, titled ‘Marx and 1857’, published in TOI, P.22, 16.5.07, excerpts quoted from an article of Gilmour on Marx, June July 15, 1857 in New York Daily Tribune as a leading article). Following were the salient features of Indian Civil Service, which made it so strong –

  • Family background – Most of them belonged to British professional middle classes.
  • Recruitment Process – A number of individuals were ‘coming to the institution through stiff competition, not the other way round’.
  • Educational background – They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge.
  • Incorrupt Bureaucracy – “One reason for this perception was that the ICS was manifestly neither venal nor corrupt in the way in which, for example, some officials and officers of the old East India Company had been. There are, however, other forms of corruption, including assumptions of racial superiority and the conviction that the ICS always knew best”.
  • Sense of responsibility – The ICS, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work. They had deep sense of responsibility. However, these qualities served mainly the British rulers and not so much the Indian masses. They had full freedom and opportunity to do something worthwhile.
  • Work atmosphere – So far as it did not jeopardized the Imperial interests, Civil Services officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, “Care, protection and guidance” ultimately liberty to the people, they ruled (Times of India, August 10, 1997, p2). Mr. Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, “I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager… Here are simple people, who need leadership.” Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, “Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.”
  • Bright career prospects – Extremely generous salaries and quick promotions.
  • Slim and trim service – just over a thousand at any given time – made for a strong sense of service loyalty.
  • Esprit-de’-corps – Philip Maser said that there was esprit de ’corps amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, “It is the Esprit de’ corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code.” It did not need to be articulated. Everybody knew it.
  • Honesty – Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers being corrupt. It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable (Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993).
  • Extra-curricular activities were an integral part for the jobs at the higher levels in civil services.

Above mentioned were the reasons, why ICS was called the “Steel Frame”, which reared and sustained the British Raj.

After Independence

Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ – With many of the old visionary leaders having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties, a rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up.t Again during late eighties, once again the political complexion of the nation underwent a revolutionary change after the fall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government and then disappearance of Nehru-Gandhi family from the political scene. The era of instability started.

Mr. VN Narayan commented on the climate of 1990’s, “We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalization). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles) There is only one solution to all problems – a human and spiritual solution. We have to consciously move toward humanizing our social institutions and spiritualize (not communalize or secularize) ourselves” (Narayanan VN, Hindustan Times, June 1, 1995, p13).

Since beginning of 21st century, over the years, there has been decline in the quality, competence and commitment of the civil services officers. Rarely are factors like competence, aptitude, past experience and public spirit taken into account, while making appointments to responsible posts. Generally officers feel that it is better to toe the line of political leaders than standing up for principles and paying the price for it. The Vohra Committee has vividly described the nexus that has developed between unscrupulous politicians, corrupt bureaucrats, media persons and criminals. The appointment of tainted officers at crucial positions itself makes the intentions of the politicians clear. Corruption and caste-ism has corroded the steel frame.

Reasons for Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ Reasons for corrosion becomes clear when one analyses the scene before independence and after independence. These are as following –

Red tape-ism in Government

Before Independence

Lord Curzon’s had said, “Round and round like the diurnal revolution of the earth went the file – stately, solemn and slow”. Similarly, decades later, Malcolm Muggeridge observed, “It was governments pure and undefined, endlessly minting and circulating files, which like time itself has neither beginning nor end.”

After Independence

Mr. Arun Shourie comments, “… – a mindless, endless, shuffling (of files) in slow motion – is not a device, it is more than a habit. It has become a nature. You will find it in every aspect of governance – big or small.”  Jayant Narlikar, an eminent scientist, has observed that India always has one of the most obdurate, cold, insular and inflexible Civil Service, the free world has ever known. In government there has always been a soulless movement of files. (Times of India, December 25, 1995) (Narikar Jayant, Two Cheers for Bureaucracy, Times of India, December 13, 1995, p10)

Status of All India services

Before independence

Bureaucracy was mainly responsible for keeping law and order situation and revenue collection. Rulers were not concerned much about welfare or developmental activities. The concept of Welfare State and Development Administration gained popularity only after Second World War. Still, on the eve of the Government of India Act 1919, there were 9 All India Services to provide talented manpower in different areas at managerial level for supervising uniform and all-round development of the country.-

    • Indian Civil Service;
    • Indian Police Service;
    • Indian Forest Service;
    • Indian Education Service;
    • Indian Medical Service;
    • Indian Civil Veterinary Service
    • Indian Forest Engineering Service
    • Indian Agricultural Service; and
    • Indian Service of Engineers.

After independence

From traditional tasks of the government, Indian government is committed to infra-structure building, and other welfare and developmental activities/rapid socio-economic development of the whole of nation. However, the circumstances were such just before and immediately after the Independence that out of nine All India Services, seven All India services existing in socio-economic or technical spheres were discontinued or provincialized just before the Independence to be formed afterwards. Only IAS and IP, the services engaged in control functions,  continued to function as unifying force.  B.B. Misra says, “Most of the other services were abolished. Considerations of national unity, the positive need of India’s all-round development and the attainment of a minimum uniform standard in administration were allowed to go by default.”

Nation needs urgently to create more All India Services – With the shift from traditional to Developmental tasks after independence and now with the trend towards Globalization and liberalization, time demands that there should be more All India Services in developmental or infra-structure sector at par with IAS. All the areas like economic, education, legal, industrial, technical, scientific or agricultural areas urgently need talented personnel at managerial levels for speedy and all-round development of the nation. All the disciplines require amongst its officers at its managerial level personnel having in-depth knowledge and experience of the relevant areas.

There is a provision in the Constitution for creation of one or more All India Services. Article 312(2) says: “If The Council of States declares by Resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting that it is necessary or expedient in the national interest to do so”. Since 1960’s, a need to create more all India service was felt, so that apart from control functions, best talents could be provided on strategic posts at various levels in the areas of development/specialized functions. Each and every discipline needs personnel having enough knowledge about the subject-matter of their respective work. Along with it they should have skills, attitude and know-how of techniques to co-ordinate properly with other functionaries at district, provinces or centre and to face different kinds of challenges, current economic and socio-political developments poses on their way.

In accordance with the above provision, and seeing the need of the day, the Rajya Sabha, on December 6, 1961, adopted a resolution for creating the following three All India Services on technical side:

  1. Indian Services of Engineers
  2. Indian Medical and Health Services, and
  3. Indian Forest Service.

Out of these three, only one service—Indian Forest Service—could see the light of the day since July 1, 1966. Others could not because the State Governments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Himachal Pradesh revised their stand mainly on the ground of State autonomy.

It has been increasingly felt that in modern life, there are very few jobs, which could be done efficiently without some measure of specialization through education, training and experience. Doubts were expressed about the capacity of IAS to act as an instrument of modernization and technological advancement. It is felt that in this age of fast-growing technological advancements, liberalization and Globalization, there are many areas such as power, irrigation, industry, steel and mines, petroleum and chemical, which require technical expertise and in-depth knowledge of the subject-matter. It has been experienced now and then that in the Secretariats, there is little or no appreciation of the technical aspects of most of the present problems. It has also been felt that when a generalist officer transmitted professional or specialist advice to the minister, he sometimes fails to transmit or interpret the advice with clarity and precision with which a specialist officer can do.

Chairman, K.N. Nagarkatti of a reform commission says “Each new area of administration, be it economic, social, industrial, technical, scientific or agriculture – had its own body of academic requirement, knowledge and techniques. The effective administration of each demanded an intimate knowledge of its underlying principles and an awareness of its problems. This knowledge could only come through practice and experience of administration in relevant area over a long period of time, in some cases, at least, long enough, in fact, to amount to a commitment – a professional commitment.” (ARAC Report on Promotion Policies, Govt. of India, 1968, p.26.)

Besides, All India services are losing its all India character/outlook. Professor Maheshwari says, “In a never ceasing see-saw game of adjustment and bargaining between the center and the states in federal cum competitive politics, neither its all India outlook, nor its talent, nor even its supposed loyalty to the center comes into active play.” (Maheshwari SR, The All India Service, published in the lecture series of 80th Course on Personnel Policies in practice organized by 11PA, 1980, P305) The Union Home Ministry has, from time to time, advised Chief Secretaries of the states not to recommend transfer of cadre members to their home states, but those with influence are able to manage it. In many states like Bihar, Punjab etc, more than 60% of the officers are from within the state. It is mainly because of the political ties. (Saxena NS, IAS and IPS at war with the state cadre, Times of India, April 6,1984)

Elite status

Before independence

The British Government was very clear about its aims and objectives. The British Government in India did not favour its indulgence in any kind of social welfare activity, which would, later on, pose problems for Imperial rule in India. The primary object of the government was to keep the nation under subjugation for economic exploitation, collection of revenue and to ensure the supremacy of the European race. In order to achieve these aims, it gave primacy to the administrative services and entrusted with the task of revenue-collection and maintenance of law and order. These services were supposed to have majority of European officers. It was against this background that higher civil services in India functioned.

  • ICS and IP were given the elitist character or the place of pride    Most of the officers in these services were Europeans. The responsibilities of these services were primarily – maintenance of law and order in the whole of country, revenue collection and perpetuation British rule in India as long as possible. In accordance with these objectives, the ICS responsible for law and order situation and revenue collection, was conceived and propped up as the elite service meant predominantly for British citizens and was bestowed with all kinds of authority, favours, concessions and privileges. Owing to its high prestige, remuneration and enormous authority, it was nicknamed as the “Heaven Born Service”. At the level of local administration, ICS officers were dubbed as “Little Napoleons”.
  • For services catering to subjects like Education, Finance, Medicines, Telegraph and Communications, Railways and Survey of India etc. which occupied in order of priority a place next to the paramount functions of law and order and revenue collection. An admixture of European and native officers was considered suitable; and
  • Scientific and technical services which would not pose any serious danger to the Empire were allowed to be managed by the Natives, because sufficient British personnel were not available to man these services.

Historic “Steel-frame” speech – British government gave the elite status to ICS amongst all the services under it. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic “Steel-frame” speech, said it very clearly on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants.

He said, “I do not care, what you build on it, if you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India.

After Independence

Elite status given only to Indian Administrative Service (IAS)Indian Administrative Service (IAS, the successor of reputed, efficient and powerful institution ICS) virtually controls all the levers of the governance of the country. It has been given an elite status. Right from its inception, Government pays maximum attention to IAS. Its officers deliberate directly at the highest level of policy formulation and decision making. They exercise state authority from day one and continue to do it till their retirement.

A Glamorous service – Still until 1960s, there was very little difference between the standard and behavior of IAS officers and other central government officers (class 1) in Government of India. Today, IAS officers deal directly with politicians, plan bigger things, moves all over the world frequently. It has added glamour to the service. The result of this development has been that the IAS has attracted the attention of politicians, especially of those pursuing the sectoral interests. To youth, entry into IAS is the surest and quickest means to get control over others, to improve one’s status in the society, to command instant admiration and respect of the people, thus in reaching quickly to the commanding position in the society. It is supposed to be the manifest symbol of power. It makes an easy access to levers of authority. It enables them to occupy positions having immense power and privileges at the highest level in the Government. Once in service, a person could lead an easy life, is a general conception.

IAS, an attraction for educated youth –For an educated youth, it has been a matter of pride to be a part of IAS. Like ICS, the Government offers to IAS best career prospects, more power, higher responsibilities, higher salaries, better perquisites and superior status than any other service at the center or in the states and a place of pride in socio-political circle. That is why, IAS has always remained the most sought after of all the services for the talented youth, as it provides the highest entry point in bureaucracy. Its officers have to pass through well-planned professional training.

The craze for getting into the service has increased in a large scale amongst the newly emerging sections of the society. Most of them are now not bothered about the high ideals, intellectual competence and high standards of administration, commitment to public service, constitutional values, or concern for justice. They are mainly interested in getting entry into the service anyhow and exercise the State authority over millions of powerless people and in making as much money as possible by misusing their authority.

Responsibility of IAS as Administrators – The IAS officers play a significant role in administrative work of the Government both at the centre and in provinces as well as in the Secretariat as well as in fields. Along with a few officers of other services, they look after policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. For doing justice. For efficient performance of work and doing Justice to the responsibilities, there is need for really bright and talented officers with in-depth knowledge and experiences in their respective areas.

  • In the Secretariat -However, most of the top posts in almost every department in Central Secretariat as well as in the State Secretariats are occupied by IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy. Officers from other civil services have limited scope to get postings in Secretariat. In Secretariats following functions are being done:
    • Obtaining decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
    • Overall planning and finance,
    • Legislative business,
    • Personnel management policies,
    • Legal advice,
    • Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
    • Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
    • Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.
  • District Administration – Administrative work in the fields has its distinctive challenges. In district, an IAS officer as Collector continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration. He performs both regulatory as well as developmental tasks. District is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of Civil Administration can be concentrated and where it comes into direct contact with the people. Its importance arises from the fact, that it is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation.

It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration.An IAS officer enjoys immense power and prestige at district level. During first five or six years of service in the state, IAS officers go on field postings to get the feel and first-hand knowledge of real life and social realities.

In addition to the traditional task of collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, IAS officers as a collector of various districts are responsible – coordinating activities of various departments at district level.

Field-experience during postings in districts open up the minds of young officers, by bringing them into direct contact with administrative life, with people at grass-root level, with their concrete problems and with different human and social conditions prevailing there. They are also acquainted with the administrative structure in the district and the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters. The experiences of this period makes them ripe for senior positions.

Recruitment

Before Independence

“White-man’s” superiority” – The British Government was very particular about the intake of the material into its elite services. The British, according to their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of racial discrimination on the dictum of “White-man’s” superiority for the appointment in Imperial services of the nation. For a long time, the Indians were virtually prohibited to join this service intentionally. The rulers never wanted to give Indian any control over the governance of the country. The British deliberately kept Indians at bay by creating conditions, that prohibited Indians’ recruitment in higher administrative jobs. They held the entrance competitive examination for Civil Services in England up to 1922. Only a few Indians could bear the hazards and expenses of going abroad.

Lord Lytton, in his confidential document, confirmed that the pledge of the Royal proclamation of 1858 was never intended to be carried out. He said, “We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straightforward course.” (Annie Besant, How India wrought for freedom, p420)

Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, laid down in 1893; “It is indispensable, that an adequate number of members of the Civil Service shall always be European.” Viceroy Lord Landsdowne stressed “Absolute necessity of keeping the Government of this wide-spread empire into European hands, if that empire is to be maintained” (Bipin Chandra, Modern India, p158)

In 1867, Lawrence said very clearly, “We have conquered India by force of arms, though the policy and good Government have already aided us. In the like manner, we must hold it. The Englishmen must always be in the forefront holding the post of honor and power, as the condition of our retaining of our rule.” (Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India, p497)

In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they were pursuing with regard to “White-man’s superiority” in Civil Service. “The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigor of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule and any other rule being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.” (Supplement to Gazette of India, June 4, 1904, p937)

From 1805 to 1885, the higher civil servants were nominated by the individual Directors of the Company. From 1858 onwards, in order to make the civil services in India efficient and well equipped, the British Civil Service Commission created in 1855 to select officials of higher services through competitive examination.

Though the British Government initiated the practice to give preferential treatment to upcoming groups of Indian society in government jobs, they kept the ICS untouched from the quota system till the last. They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for anybody, as on it depended efficient governance of the country. It told the upcoming groups in clear terms, “With its utmost desire to do so, the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their countrymen for duties of administration and public.

After Independence

There was a time, when Government services attracted the best talents of the nation. A large number of intellectuals, engineers, doctors, MBAs and other professionals wished to join central government services. Willingness of talented and meritorious best brains to join the Government services is are no more the attraction. It is like a passing tide. There is no freedom to the officers to do any creative work. Modern youth find the work atmosphere suffocating. Disincentive to hard-work, merit and sincerity has demoralized the honest and upright officials. Present system encourages pen-pushers according to the dictates of their political bosses. Reservation of about 50% posts has further eroded the charm to join government services. Liberalization and globalization has given enough opportunities to the best talents of the nation to join either private sector, especially IT sector or explore the green pastures abroad.

The best-talent syndrome – For last few years, constant political interference in administrative work and 49% of quota system in recruitment has diluted the charm of many talented youth to join Central civil Services under Government of India including IAS. It is a myth now that Civil Services attract the best talents and most competent and qualified youth from all over India.

It appears rather odd that a simple graduation is required to enter into the most prestigious services of the nation. While in other services like Indian Economic Service and Indian Statistical Service, the requirement is a post-graduate degree. For Engineering/technical services or medical services, a basic graduate degree is required, which can be acquired after four years of hard-work, while studying and rigorous training on various aspects to pass out the graduation course.

The time demands the government to have a cadre of better qualified administrators in its generalist nature of services as well, more than in the past. Either the candidates should be selected earlier, say after passing out higher secondary courses and then trained properly for any particular job, as is done for Defense Services. Or MBA degree must be made a basic requirement for appearing into competitive entrance examination in competitive, as is done in the case of Engineering/medical services. Lateral entries could also be made by including bright persons already employed elsewhere, like: –

  • Technocrats having sufficient experience in management,
  • Professionals from other civil services,
  • Entrepreneurs, willing to switch over.

Promotions in the service should be strictly based on good performance. Administrator should be encouraged to upgrade, sharpen, and focus their knowledge towards analysis and problem solving

Bloated Size

Before Independence

As stated earlier, “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule, and, in a fascinating episode, when Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the rebel Indian National Army, flew to Berlin during the Second World War to solicit help from Hitler, the Führer dismissed him, taking the view that Indians needed to be civilized by another hundred years of British rule.”

After Independence

– There has been a continuous increase in number of government servants. After Independence, the IAS has gradually grown into a bloated and top heavy service. The IAS cadre, which had only 957 officers in 1950, is having 4991(as on 1.1.1997) administrators at present. The first causality of this obesity is its efficiency. The cadre strength of its predecessor – the ICS, so-called steel-frame, had always remained less than 1500. With that cadre strength, they were able to cope with the administrative work of the undivided India efficiently and effectively. In Independent India, the annual intake went up from about 33 in 1947 to 138 in 1965 and to 160 in 1985. It again came down to 80 in 1990. The cadre strength in various years is given below: –

Cadre Strength of IAS after Independence

Year Authorized          Cadre-strength                 In-position

1951                               1232                           957              (Includes 336 ICS)

1981        4599                               3883

2017                                                                                   5004

Source: Civil lists Pay Commission Reports, Report of Dep’t. of Personnel.

Outcome of this increase – The rot set in on account of continuous increase in its cadre strength resulted in:

  • Adverse effect on the “Espirit-d’corps” in the service,
  • Creation of additional high level posts to accommodate timely promotions.
  • Establishment expenditure is eating away most of the resources generated by the Government for development projects.
  • Continuous increase at entry point has led to stagnation at Joint Secretary level, resulting in frustration,
  • Creation of many insignificant unnecessary posts, that has very little work or authority,
  • Generating resentment in Non-IAS Services against IAS officers for encroaching the preserves of other services,
  • Side-lining upright officers, thus discouraging excellence of performance. A large number of officers are always there in the queue, who were willing to toe the line (dictates) of politicians with vested interests.

The “Bloated size” led to unbalanced infrastructural development with cadre-reviews, creating multiple layers in administrative hierarchy. It led to poor communication, duplication of work, and delay in action and decision taking.

Almost Pay Commissions have noticed the “Bloated size” of the service and advised the Government to reduce the flab at-least by 30%. For efficient and effective administration, the 21st century administrative machinery needs to be lean, thin and down-sized.

Lack of Specialization

One of the striking feature is that responsible authorities do not give enough importance to specialization. In the modern life, there are very few jobs, which can be done efficiently without some measure of specialization through education, training or experience. The nature and degree of specialization have to be geared to the needs that have to be met.

Before Independence

Stress on attitude, knack/aptitude – Before Independence, during British period, there were nine All India Services to provide adequate manpower at the top of various disciplines. Even within ICS, immediately after the recruitment, the officers were geared to attain knowledge and experience for higher assignments, during probationary period and thereafter-early years of service. Mr. L.K. Jha, an ICS officer said that specialization during British Raj started immediately after joining the service. The display by ICS officers for one kind of work rather than the other, their special knack and aptitude for particular type of work was taken into account for deciding their future career.

While promoting officers on the posts of higher responsibility, the display of their work done during field postings, their attitude and aptitude and knack for particular type of work were taken into account. Thus, in practice and not in theory, the Government was building up a cadre of specialists in administration and also encouraging further specialization in different areas of administration. It was done, not as a rule or through formal training, but through experience in doing a job under the supervision of those with greater experiences in those particular areas. Thus the Government was organizing a cadre of experts in different disciplines not through formal training, but through gaining experience by doing job under the supervision of those, having greater experience. (LK Jha, Administrator as Specialist Management in Government, July-September, 1980). Following were the three distinct areas identified for specialization –

  1. General Administration
    1. Personnel Administration
    2. Financial administration
    3. Defense Administration & Internal security
  2. Agricultural & Social Welfare Administration,
    1. Agricultural & rural development administration
    2. Social Services & Educational Administration
    3. Planning
  • Economic Administration
    1. Economic and Commercial Administration
    2. Industrial Administration

After Independence

Constant battle between Generalists and Specialists – The story does not end here only. In order to avoid stagnation, make enough space for its elite service, and keep them satisfied, Government creates many cushy jobs at top-level of bureaucracy, in public sector, corporations, which are mostly manned by IAS officers. As a consequence, a battle is going on between Generalist administrators and Specialist or other professional and also between IAS and State Civil Services just to get top posts in the public sector corporations. While this battle has become something of a scandal, no one bothers, whether services are achieving the objectives, for which they are created.

The need of specialization after the independence is much more than it was earlier as socio-economic development and other welfare activities have become much more important than earlier. Besides, role of whole of bureaucracy has become more demanding and challenging due to the complexity of modern times and fast changing social, political, economic and technological developments in the recent past. But for one reason or the other, contrary are the trends. The officers of the elite service are supposed to perform duties of an extraordinary variety and technical difficulty. In addition to it, an administrator might be in-charge of personnel today, tomorrow in-charge of steel, on the third day in charge of health and so on. The results of this practice are there for all to see –

  • Owns no responsibility – The quick changes, from one type of job to another, make the knowledge of administrators, occupying top level postings, superficial. There are some hard working and sincere IAS officers, who are eager to learn the maximum about the subject matter of their job. But they are also constrained because of the swift changes from one functional area to another. The real knowledge is obtained by sustained hard work for a long period in one type of job, which enables a person to develop innate ability needed for the smooth functioning and development of that area. Administrators own no responsibility for a wrong policy. By the time, the results of a policy or the implementation of a program comes out or is evaluated, the officer concerned might be in a quite different department.
  • Jack of all but master of none” – Administrators are “Jack of all trades, but master of none”. The knowledge about the particular field is no importance for the appointment of the officers to senior posts. The knowledge of any particular subject/area is of no importance for appointments at the top-level of bureaucracy or at the Secretary level posts. Consequently, just as politicians depend on secretaries for knowledge, secretaries depend on their specialist subordinates and technical staff for the fundamental concepts, knowledge, data and information. Time demands that bureaucrats should have Sufficient and in-depth knowledge of the area, in which one works.
  • Blind leading the other blind – Knowledge in technical and professional areas, modern systems of collecting information, analyzing data and using modern innovations has been advanced at a very speed especially after information technology revolution. When comparatively ignorant politicians are being advised by comparatively ignorant generalist officers on policy matters or on critical issues, situation becomes like blind leading the blind. Quite often alternatives are not put forward by officials properly, whose knowledge and experiences are in-adequate or not professionally sound enough in that particular area. It is one of the reasons why many times policy advice on critical issues remains primitive, amateurish, untimely, or not up to the mark. Some IAS officers desired that some sort of technical training – a layman’s bird’s eye view on certain technical matters like power, irrigation, industry, agricultural techniques – and knowledge about the functioning of technical departments should be given to them.
  • Meaning of Specialization in the present day context – Specialization with varied experience, in present atmosphere, means that an officer for strategic senior post should have sufficient knowledge of the area he is supposed to work. In addition to that in their own discipline, there should be varied experience of different aspects and activities concerned with it – such as planning, coordinating work at different levels, advising ministers on policy matters, taking into account the social, legal and economic constraints, particularly in his/her functional area etc. All this could be achieved only after working in any area for a reasonable period.
  • Suggestion of ARC (1968) – ARC had also suggested way back in 1968 that the IAS officers should be confined to areas, which are well known to them. They should not try to encroach those areas, which belongs to others and for which others have acquired special knowledge and training. (Report of ARC on Personnel Administration in Government of India, 1969, p16)
  • Even in their own area, there should be some specialization, because the role of each posting in the government has become more challenging and complex with the fast changing environment all over the world.   The pressures of achieving better results while dealing with more complex and difficult situations, it is necessary to place a premium on improvements and specialization in administration.
  • Creation of more posts through cadre-reviews– In order to solve the problem stagnation, there the government creates more and more posts at the top level of bureaucracy, as a remedial action. Through cadre-reviews, one job is sub-divided into multiple jobs. The outcome of it is that many personnel at various levels have hardly two or three hour of work a day. What is worse, a number of them are doing jobs, which was earlier done by their juniors.
  • Multiplicity of focal points – By creating too many posts in any cadre, the Government creates many points of control and coordination. Multiplicity of too many focal points, in turn, creates overlapping of functions and jurisdictions. More men, less wok, duplication of efforts, lack of supervision and control have resulted in confusion and inefficiency.

Field Experience

An administrator is supposed to maintain links with the people directly through the channels of understanding and persuasion, not through authority or force. Many ICS officers claimed that earlier they had been closer to public than present day administrators. The work experience at district or sub-division level was considered to be a qualification for ICS officers.

Before Independence

Personal knowledge of village conditions – During British rule, the rulers insisted on personal knowledge of its executives of what was happening in the farthest village. Administrative officers established and maintained contact with rural masses at the highest level of the administrative hierarchy. Great emphasis was laid on getting young officers thoroughly acquainted with village and the administrative structure dealing with matters, which touched the rural people, such as land, irrigation, Government loans etc. The most important of these, from villagers’ point of view, was his right on land – whether as owner, tenant or worker. It had to be correctly recorded.

Rendering effective, just and quick service to the villagers – Also, various exaction of government, such as land revenue, higher irrigation dues, return of loans etc. were to be fairly assessed and collected. The village community had a vested interest in the efficiency and honesty of revenue system. Whatever be the motivation of British administration, it certainly rendered effective, just and quick service to the villagers. The system was so enforced and watched, that there was no escape, whatsoever from acquiring knowledge about village conditions and methods to deal with them. (Mangat Rai, Commitment my style in ICS, 1973)

Exhaustive touring from village to village – The officers made exhaustive tours, moving from village to village and lived a camp-life for considerably long period. The symbol and instrument of village contact was horse. This was partly because of the manner, in which these were conducted, were slow, and easy, involving staying out near village and imbibing thoroughly their atmosphere and conditions.

Close contact with people, source of strength in a democracy – The close contact with the people and the people’s faith in their uprightness gave them the strength to become the “Steel frame” of the whole system. Now many retired ICS officers claim, that the nature of functioning before the independence was such, that they had better understanding and knowledge of the people of their area than officials of today.

After Independence

Field experience, lost its validity – Unfortunately, after independence and progressively over the years, importance of field experience has lost its validity. Most of the officers are habitual of leading a comfortable urban life. It is difficult and troublesome for them to spend enough time in rural areas. As a result, they have to depend to a great extent on the advice of their subordinates posted and living in rural or far-off areas. As a result, many times decision-makers do not get timely and reliable information.

Escape from field postings – Many smart and ambitious officers find their way out and skip rural, sub-divisional or district experience. A study by DPAR, in 1981, has shown that in eight state cadres, 70% or more IAS officers of the elite service have not done sub-divisional charge even for two years. (Seventy Seventh Report of Estimate Committee of Seventh Lok Sabha, August 17,1984, pp76-77) It is fast becoming a secretariat service.

Little grass-root contacts – The same is the story of district charge. Many officers manage their postings at the center and/or state capitals throughout their career and do not care to revive or develop what little grass-root contacts, they had earlier.

Official tours to remote areas just a formality – Because of the improved road network in the villages and availability of fast moving vehicles, such as cars, jeeps etc, the district officers lack the intimate knowledge of the rural areas. The tendency of officers is merely to complete the formality of being on tour, as might have stipulated by the state Government. They make touch and go visits to rural areas, especially the one, which are easily accessible by road, spend the prescribed compulsory number of night halts in some wayside Dak bungalow.

Lack of grass-roots contacts making ‘Politicians’ stronger and ‘Bureaucrats’ weaker – The basic truth that in a democracy people are the sovereign and real source of strength, is often forgotten by many government servants. Such an attitude makes the position of bureaucrats weaker in comparison to political leaders. Politicians are closer to people than bureaucrats. It is due to this lack of enough field experience, grass roots knowledge and experience in the absence of direct contact with the rural masses that the local politicians could exert pressure on administrators.

Closer contact with people could save bureaucrats from undue political pressure – Today’s politicians think themselves to be exclusive guardians of the people. The government servants have, lost the faith of the people. The people doubt their credibility and efficacy of occupying policy level posts.

Alienation from the common man leads the administrator to base their decisions on second hand information. Because of inadequate data, inefficient resource allocation and inward looking project monitoring; plans and policies remain, often, far away from the reality and actual needs and aspirations of the people. Closer contact, coordination with people and their confidence in administrator could save them from undue political pressure.

Corruption

Before Independence

As pointed out earlier, Majority of the Imperial services’ officials were manifestly neither venal nor corrupt in the way in which, for example, some officials and officers of the old East India Company had been. There are, however, other forms of corruption, including assumptions of racial superiority and the conviction that the ICS always knew best”.

Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers being corrupt. It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable (Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993).

After Independence

Unlimited Authority without Responsibility – It is said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The concept of “Welfare state” and “Development administration” has bestowed immense authority in the hands of Government, which is mainly exercised by the executive, meaning the ministers and the Bureaucrats. But authority of bureaucracy is without owning any responsibility.

Extensive Government levers of controls and vast powers have been given to bureaucrats. They can find out unlimited opportunities to make money, through delays, dilatoriness and excuses. In addition to get political patronage and good postings, they can support the greedy and power hungry politicians.

Always someone else held responsible – Whatever may go wrong, either at the field level or at policy-level, administrators are never held responsible. If law and order situation deteriorates in a district, IPS officer is held responsible. If a policy decision goes wrong, it is said that those in echelons of power were wrongly advised by the specialists or specialized organizations dealing with that particular subject.

Various factors like colonial tradition, monopoly of few groups in power echelons, no regard for meritocracy or expertise for development of the nation, monopoly of coercive power, tiredness of workforce, inadequacies and instability of political leadership and the near absence or weakness of groups exercising countervailing force over authorities men and to work for the development of nation.

Swift changes makes difficult to fix responsibility – Swift changes, from one functional area to another, make it difficult to hold an officer responsible for any wrong policy. By the time, the results of a policy or the implementation of a program is evaluated, the concerned officer gets shifted to another post, department or goes back to his parent state.

Political Interference in day today work

Before independence

Before independence – ICS enjoyed the authority to take decisions.

After Independence

After the independence, corrupt and self-seeking administrators have become expensive parasites on the system and society. Wheels of justice are not moving fast enough to punish the guilty. Procedural delays, political patronage and resistance from within the bureaucracy, appear to be helping corrupt officials evade the long arm of the law. Many excuses are given to protect them. Many reports confirm that an increasing number of senior bureaucrats figures in corruption cases. .

Political patronage – The ministers and politicians used to find their authority shadowy over them. The table has been turned. Now, the minister dictates and the officers obey without any resistance. Dominance of political consideration over administrative and economic matters has been one of the prominent features of independent India, which is responsible for large scale of corruption, the deteriorating situation of law and order and slower rate of economic growth.

The political leaders have acquired the authority to reward and punish officers, through transfers and postings. It has become an effective tool to make officers fall in line with them and be loyal to them. Honest and upright officers face quick transfers, bad entries, judicial inquiries, and loyalist officer’s prestigious postings, foreign trips special allowances etc. It has made many officers to succumb almost absolutely to political pressures. Growing politicization of services and lack of support from seniors has put a negative effect on the initiative and creativity of young officers.

Mr. SC Vaid has very correctly said, “In most of the cases as long as bureaucrats support misconduct of politicians, they remain in their good books. Strict compliance with code of conduct by bureaucrats comes in the way of selfish interests of politicians. It causes a lot of discomfort to legislators. Hence the latter frequently transfer honest officers. The government must adhere to the Supreme Court directive stipulating minimum tenures for bureaucrats and curb arbitrary transfers.” Upright officers needs to be enabled to create an ideal condition for development and good governance by giving them enough opportunities to do their jobs without unnecessary political interference.

Premature promotions

Before Independence

Earlier, ICS officers used to work under senior officers for about seven to eight years, before they were given independent charge as collector.

After Independence

Now officers have to take the responsibility of independent jobs prematurely. After foundation-training of two years, hardly a year or 18 months passes, when an IAS officer gets promoted to the responsible post of collector. He is not mature enough either service-wise or age-wise to handle the challenging job of a collector. When officer himself does not have enough experience as a collector (head of district administration), how can he take up the responsibility of training others?

Lack of senior’s support

Before Independence

During British period, young ICS officers were placed under the strict supervision of senior officers, who used to take keen interest in the development of their capacity to run the administration effectively. It was made clear to senior district officers, that it was very important to pay attention to the young officers, who were put under their guidance. Their success in life and reputation, as good officers, depended greatly on the assistance; they received from their seniors at the outset of their career. (GO No.738, published on April 18, 1916, ICS Manual Madras) As a result, the junior officers were groomed well on job ad possessed a marked degree of professionalism in their area of activity. Their claim of superiority, over others, was clearly established.

After Independence

Not enough protection from Senior officers – Many incidences and recent Durga Shakti Nagpal (an upright officer’s) case, initially administrators ware gradually losing interest in their subordinates. Reasons for it are generally the following –

  • Unfortunately, now the main function of the administrative service has become to maintain status quo and defend the wrong practices of its political masters, not to guide well the junior officers or stand by them when in difficulty. Today the efficiency of the service as a whole is at its lowest ebb. Complete breakdown of discipline everywhere is mainly responsible for the disintegration of administrative system and its future.
  • Because of changing political culture, senior officers themselves are so insecure, how can they instill sense of security and confidence amongst their juniors?
  • There is scarcity of well-experienced senior officers at the district level. Most of them have drifted to the central and state secretariats or to public corporations etc,
  • There is too much political interference in their day-to-day work.
  • There is lack of sound personnel planning.
  • Senior officers are so occupied with their own work, that they hardly spare enough time and attention to see and guide the work of their juniors.

In short

Diagnosis of the Ailments – In short, the reasons of the corrosion of the steel-frame are poor personnel policies, excessive protectionist policies of the Government, bloated size, unbalanced infrastructural development with concentration of authority in a few hands, cumbersome office procedures, increased paper work, delay in action and decision – taking, disincentive to hard work, talent and sincerity, lack of accountability, alienation from the common man and the last but not the least tolerance of people of India, who accept sub-standard administration, giving very little challenge to the officers to upgrade their performance.

Suggestions

  • First of all, the Government of India should merge all its civil services – technical as well as non-technical – into one unified service with an integrated pay structure. The Government should ensure complete parity in pay scales, same time- frame for all services for getting promoted into next grade, promotional avenues and career development.
  • The attainment of high standard of administration depends a great deal on the environment of work, which requires selection of capable officers, proper placement of officers and proper atmosphere of work.
  • It requires a change in attitude, more of field work, people’s cooperation, not by force or use of authority, but by prompting, persuading, suggesting, stimulating and inspiring them.
  • It must be realized by each and every bureaucrat that he is there only because of the people and for the people, not the people because of him. People are not an interruption to his work, but the purpose of it. In a country like India, where most of its people are illiterate or semi-literate, mere functional efficiency cannot stir warmth. A little glow of welcome in the eyes of civil servant converts disappointment into exhilaration in the public. People, after meeting a civil servant, should return with satisfaction that they were heard patiently and sympathetically and that someone would be taking interest in their problems.
  • Last but not the least, each and every citizen must realize, as Napoleon has said, “The world suffers a lot, not because of the violence of bad people, but because of the silence of good people!”

July 30, 2017 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

Role of Civil Services/ Bureaucracy in Governance

“For the forms of government, let fools contest.

              That which is best administered is best.”        Finer

 Introduction – A Government roughly falls into two general processes

  1. The process of politics, which consists of the activities of elected representatives of the people and
  2. The process of administration to assist politically elected ministers, which consists of the activities of permanent bureaucrats/civil servants.

Permanent bureaucrats/civil servants belong to a Professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled.(Finer. Theory and Practice of Modern Government, p709, 1950). The main characteristics of bureaucracy/Civil Services are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature, and its impartial and speedy working. It is always associated with exercise of authority.

Theoretically, the administrative machinery is subordinate to the elective body i.e. the Council of Ministers. But in practice, it plays a different role. The responsibility of political chiefs becomes formal, as they are forced to listen to the advice of the civil servants, which can dig and present data in a matter as they consider fit. The service role in relation to the minister is that of influence and not of power. It is this administrative apparatus that runs the government.

Civil servants are professionally recruited and trained in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as police force to maintain law and order, a diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc.

Governance, the most difficult task – In modern times, for good governance of a nation, it is the civil service/bureaucracy, which is responsible. Efficient and effective civil service is foundation stone to build a forward- looking nation. Of all acts of a government of a civilized society, perhaps, governance is one of the most difficult tasks, as it deals with issues – political, economic or social, that directly affect public life of living human beings, who are full of psychological and sociological complexes and prone to unpredictable behavior.

Concept of ‘Nation State?’ –The idea of a ‘nation state’ is not very old. For medieval scholars, the concept of a nation might have been unimaginable. A secular government ruled by the consent of the people rather than by holy mandate was perhaps unthinkable.  ‘Nation state’ in its present sense is more or less a nineteenth century concept. The notion of a ‘nation state’ is different from the idea of ‘city state’, ‘multi-national state’, ‘empire’, ‘confederation’ or other state forms. Idea of ‘nation state’ is associated with the rise of modern sovereign state, in which the government administers its specific territorial area for the unity and social, economic and cultural development of the people living in that area.

Exist in a type of society – Whether in the past or in present, the institution, whether in a nation state or city state or an empire, civil services have always been closely related, connected with the tasks of governance. Bureaucracy has now become a very potent and vital element of any government all over the world. It is an indispensable part of each and every political system, be it communism or socialism or capitalism. It can exist in a type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society. The civil service is, therefore, an indispensable part of any government. Due to its exclusive and specialist nature of work and the need for more expert knowledge in administration for improving the quality of life, the importance of civil services increases day-by-day.

Bureaucracy works from behind the scene – To run the administration of a country nicely, a band of capable officers—efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic—belonging to different disciplines of civil services are required. Though they always live behind the scene, but it is the bureaucrats/civil servants, who not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Politicians come for a short period and go. It is the bureaucrats, appointed on a long-term basis, who provide continuity in the governance of the nation.

Governance the most complex task – Governance/administration of a country is perhaps the most complex one, of all the acts/tasks a government performs, as it has to deal with living human beings prone to unpredictable behavior. As, it deals with different kinds of issues – political, economic or social, which directly affect day to day life of common men – the people.

Emergence of Welfare and Development activities – Earlier in the nineteenth Century the main tasks of an administration were universally the maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. In the post Second World war period, in general and especially in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, Welfare and Developmental tasks were added in the responsibilities of civil services. Since the emphasis in administration has shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development, every nation require and civil service for effective implementation of its developmental activities. It, in turn demands officials of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity.

Civil services in a ‘Welfare State’  – French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, Industrial Revolution and Contemporary developments had a great impact in widening the scope of State activities. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. The ultimate aim of governance is to help common men live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten.

Demand of Public for better deal – Increased consciousness of public compelled them to demand, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses now wish themselves to be benefited as much as possible, from the resources of their nation. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people could have better deal, gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration, the former being the objective and the later the machinery to achieve these objectives.

Aims of a Welfare State – In a welfare state the government assumes and aims at improving the quality of life of its masses and the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It tries to bring about `social, political and economic justice’. The main aim of initiating and nurturing this concept is to bring about betterment to the lots of weaker section of society by building up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy. Uplift of the marginalized sections of society, provision of basic necessities to all, irrespective of their caste or creed, voluntary abdication of riches and power, that these riches bring and establishment of a productive, vigorous and creative political and social life are some of the aims of a Welfare government.

In short its objective is a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. The welfare concept of state has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals – national reconstruction and development – is that of the development of administration through the institution of civil service, which puts all its energies at bringing about socio-economic and political development of the nation as a whole. An efficient administration can successfully comprehend what is attainable, what is practical and what can help the agencies in the community to formulate plans and policies, by which the community can seek to assure welfare of all its members.

Maintenance of law and order all over the country is still very important. Then only, desired objectives for the sustainable development of the nation could be achieved. Those engaged in the task of governance could yield maximum results with minimum labor and resources within time and cost parameters and provide convenience to public at large.

In the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development.

Requirements for efficient governanceFollowing are the requirements for the civil servants engaged in welfare and development administration –

  • Mental framework – it should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
  • Knowledge – it should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
  • Skills – it requires conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
  • Vision – A development bureaucrat requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat.
  • Structures – it requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, and Corporations etc.
  • Behavior – The behavioral pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.

Besides, there should be –

  • A working partnership between the civil servants and the people.
  •  A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
  •  A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher civil servants should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
  •  Constant field inspection by senior officials.
  • to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people;
  • to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
  • Smooth relationship between generalist administrators and experts/specialists; and
  • Training from time to time to understand the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.

 

              

 

 

   

 

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | , , | Leave a comment

India – One nation, One culture

Introduction

India occupies a special place in the global society and Indian civilization is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. It presents a fascinating picture of unity amidst diversity, cultural richness, largeness of area and huge population. It has assimilated multi-ethnic migrants into its fold. India comprises people of different ethnic, religious, castes, linguistic and regional identities.

Usually diversity makes divide easy. In India also, there have been periods of discord. However, the forces of unity have always been stronger than the divisive forces. Different identities in India have lived together for centuries and present a mosaic culture.

Factors leading to the unity of India – Important factors, which have kept unity and continuity of India intact, are:

  • Indian philosophy, Vedic literature and its value system – Indian philosophy contains a vast reservoir of knowledge. It is found in  Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras and Smritis. Basham says that Vedic literature contains “an ocean of knowledge in a jar.”

The Vedic literature is a magnificent example of scientific division and orderly arrangement of rules, in a few words, in different branches of human knowledge, covering almost all the aspects of life, be it phonetics, arts, literature, medicine, polity, metrics, law, philosophy, astrology or astronomy.

Indian philosophy and its value system still commands the respect and attention of an average Indian. The priestly schools had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in the form of hymns, restricting it only to those, possessing brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep extreme sanctity.

Only after raising oneself from ignorance, a person could be able to understand the greatness of the Indian value system. Like a jeweler, one could spot out gems from amongst worthless pebbles. A knowledgeable person could pick up knowledge and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed in it with passage of time.

 This gold mine of knowledge inspired not only Indians, but foreigners as well. Intellectuals from various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind.

  • Doctrines of Varna, Dharma and Karma

The foundation pillars of the Indian civilization are the principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma, which give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved.

Doctrine of Varna gives the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure, which distributes and organizes performance of various functions. It has made it possible for the people to lead a quality of life and ensured the continuity despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups.

The doctrine of Dharma defines the duties and vocations for different sections of society, ensures social harmony and prevents rivalries and jealousies.

Doctrine of Karma makes the inequalities, prevalent in the society, tolerable to an average Indian.

Together these principles laid the foundation stones of  Indian social structure and contributed to its growth. It has organized inter-relationship of various groups of society. These principles have given to the people a distinct character. It has defined their roles by distributing various functions and managed the performance to improve quality of life.

In the past, these principles had wisely directed all the activities – social, political, intellectual or economic – into proper life functions and controlled its malfunctioning or dis-functioning. It had made it possible for people to reach a high level of intelligence having specialization in different areas. It contributed to all round growth of cultural heritage and encouraged self-discipline, consciousness, self control and self-direction. Decentralized self-regulated systems were the mode in social, political and economic life in ancient India.

  • ‘Sanatan (eternal) Dharma’ of Hinduism takes care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life. It nurtures the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern.

It has prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different groups –  be it ruler or ruled/rich or poor. It has provided unity of culture throughout India and serves to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity.

  •  Tolerance – The spirit of tolerance and firm belief in the principle, ‘Live and let live’ has always been the part of Indian ethos. Indians believe in ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – The whole world is one family. Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression are the hallmark of Indian culture. Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion.

Tolerance is not confined to religion alone. It is seen everywhere in the Indian way of life. The people endure injustice and unfairness until they are pushed right to the wall.

John Fischer mentions, “Even during Bengal famine, an extreme situation – when necessity knows no laws, people did not take law in their own hands, nor was there any violence. No grocery stall, no rice warehouse, none of the wealthy clubs or restaurants was ever threatened by a hungry mob… They just died with docility, which to most Americans is the most shocking thing about India.’ Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations, elsewhere in the world, would have led to bloody revolutions.

Even today, the people are patiently tolerating the criminalization of politics, high-handedness of authorities, corruption, scams and scandals and inefficiency of the administration without much protest. Administration is one such area, where tolerance is harmful, as it not only hinders the development, but also pushes the nation backwards.

  • Validity to all religions – Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of gods and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspired it to accommodate people of all faiths.

 Hinduism concedes validity to all the religions and does not lay down strictures against any faith or reject any religion or its god as false. That is the reason, why all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without any hindrance.

  • Path of assimilation – Hindu religion neither repulses any trend vehemently, nor allows others to sweep its established culture off its roots. It has adopted the path of assimilation. It does not force others to convert. It does not impose its beliefs, practices and customs on others. In the past, it has assimilated numerous social groups willing to join it.

C. Rajgopalachari said, “If there is honesty in India today, any hospitality, any charity…. any aversion to evil, any love to be good, it is due to whatever remains of the old faith and the old culture”.

Fusion of different cultures

As India passed through various phases in the past, each and every group left its influence on its culture, which came down to the present generation in an unbroken chain of succession, with some modifications and adaptations. All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Hindu thinking, practices and systems. Different religious communities also influenced Indian culture.

Following cultures have contributed in enriching the composite culture of India : –

  • Ø The growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within the land of India.
  • Ø The interaction between value-system of indigenous religions of India and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zorastarianism etc.

Vedic Hindu Culture

Vedic Hindu Culture is one of the oldest living cultures in the world. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India. The word ‘Vedic’ is derived from the word ‘Vid’ meaning ‘Knowledge’ and signifies’ ‘knowledge par excellence’.

The Vedic culture came into being due to intermixing of the culture of Aryan with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD. The origin of the Vedic culture can not be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text.

Its knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations. It has not prescribed final absolutes. It is a constant search for more knowledge. Vedas are not supposed to be the end of quest for knowledge. It is a non-ending process (Neti-Neti).

The strength of Vedic culture is proved by the facts: –

  • Despite centuries of foreign rule over 75% of Indian population remains Hindu.
  • Had it become obsolete, it would have given place to other religions and cultures.
  • It influenced almost all other religions found in India.

Buddhism and Jainism

Budhism and Jainism has influenced the thought, moral and life style of many Indians. Buddhism attracted equally the elite as well as the lower strata of Hindu society. Buddhism drew the attention of people towards the harsher effects of the caste system, sympathetic attitude towards lesser human beings and system of organised education. Major contribution of Jainism is the principle of non-violence.

Dravidian culture

After the sudden disappearance of Indus valley culture, of which the most characteristic feature was its town planning, Dravidian culture with its advanced social system, industry and trade made a mark in the South.

Islamic culture

After the tenth century, Islamic culture influenced the Indian culture substantially. Its influence could be seen in the rejection of elaborate rituals and caste pretensions. It preached a simple path of faith, devotion, brotherly love and fellowship. With the growing political strength of Muslims, the need for mutual understanding and communal harmony gave rise to Sufi tradition of Islam and Bhakti movement of Hindus. Both these emphasized the need for mutual appreciation, tolerance and goodwill. Like Buddhism, Islam also provided an alternative to people, wishing to opt out the caste system.

British Culture 

Eighteenth century onwards, the British culture influenced the Indian culture substantially, especially that of elite and intellectuals. Access to modern education, Western literature and philosophy gave Indians the understanding of liberal and humanitarian ideas of the West.

Some of the contributions of the British to India are political and administrative unity, many democratic institutions like Parliament, bureaucracy and concepts like rule of law, unified nationality, a common currency, a common Judiciary. They gave a new economic structure based on industrialization. British-rule gave an impetus to social progress and brought many reforms.

The British influence on Indian minds was as discussed below: –

  • Many reformers welcomed rationality and other good features of English culture. They advised people to interpret religion rationally and make efforts to eradicate social evils like Sati, child marriage, untouchablity etc. prevalent at that time.
  • Some people were so influenced by the alien culture, that they developed a complex about the primitiveness of Indian society.
  • Some reformists tried to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of Western culture. It gave the call for ‘Back to Vedas’.

Two aspects of Hindu culture received a good deal of attention of British: –

  • The Caste system and
  • Reluctance to convert people of other religions, on the ground that all religions are valid.

The British condemned the Caste system, but the later, they enthusiastically applauded.

Hindu, Islam and Christian religions had received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period.

Assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century, between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture. Another assimilation was seen after the 10th century, when the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. Sufi and Bhakti movements are examples of this. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. These also brought changes in the nature of mutual understanding, communal amity and accommodation.

Once again, during the period between 18th century to 20th century, a major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British.

Winding up

Many principles and cultures developed in the past, elsewhere in the world, had created such a wave that swept over the entire world for some time. An anti-wave, replacing such waves, emerged soon. It wiped off the previous influence. The Vedic culture, however, has proved to be an exception in this regard. There had been periods, when the Vedic culture became weak, especially under foreign rules. But it re-emerged every time, and whenever it re-emerged, it did not destroy other sects, it assimilated them within itself.

Despite of having different kinds of diversities, most of the times, the Indian society has been able to develop “an attitude of reconciliation rather than refutation, cooperation rather than confrontation and co-existence rather than mutual annihilation.”

It has happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture along with tolerance, which are very close to every Indian. The principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma have contributed to the growth of the Indian society as a whole in a systematic way. It has organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people. It prepared an atmosphere for co-existence of different sections of the society – be it ruler or ruled, be it rich or poor. It served to give Indian society coherence, stability and continuity; and held together different castes and communities having diverse languages and practices for generations – thus making unity in diversity a reality.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lost Glory, Civil Services in India

Once upon a time, bureaucracy in India was known for its being ‘the backbone of imperial rule’ and ‘the steel-frame’, on which the whole system of administration depended. Though it mainly served the imperial interests, but it worked efficiently and effectively. Now it has become a ‘spineless’ because of its ineffective way of working. Quite often, it is called contemptuously ‘Babudom’. When, how and why did it lose its past glory is an interesting story.

Need of a bureaucracy – A Government roughly falls into two general processes – I) The process of politics, which consists of the activities of elected representatives of the people and ii) the process of administration to assist politically elected ministers, which consists of the activities of permanent bureaucrats/civil servants. These civil servants are professionally recruited and trained in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as police force to maintain law and order, a diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc.

Theoretically the administrative machinery is subordinate to the political arm of a government, but in practice, it plays a very important role. It has become a very potent and vital element of any government all over the world. It is an indispensable part of each and every political system, be it communism or socialism or capitalism. It can exist in a type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society.

To run the administration of a country nicely, a band of capable officers—efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic—belonging to different disciplines of civil services are required. Though they always live behind the scene, but it is the bureaucrats/civil servants, who not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Politicians come for a short period and go. It is the bureaucrats, appointed on a long-term basis, who provide continuity in the governance of the nation.

The civil service is, therefore, an indispensable part of any government. Due to its exclusive and specialist nature of work and the need for more expert knowledge in administration for improving the quality of life, the importance of administrative civil services increases day-by-day. In every administrative set-up, there are certain positions or posts, which might be called strategic from the point of view of maintaining the standard of administration.

Evolution of civil services in India 

British have laid down the foundation of many democratic institutions in India including bureaucracy/civil services. It is one of the oldest and most wonderful institutions, the British has bequeathed to India. It has a long historical background and is a product of centuries. It has evolved, slowly but steadily, under the three successive regimes—

  • The East India Company,

  • the Crown and

  • Indian Republic.

                                                    Under East India Company

Employees as traders – The term ‘civil service’, was first used in the late eighteenth century to designate those employees of East India Company. Roughly from 1606 to 1740, its employees, known as ‘Factors’, were managing primarily trading operations, and incidentally administrative work. Notably after Battle of Plassey, its administrative work grew more and more in size. Precisely from 1741 to 1834, the civil servants were entrusted with purely administrative activities.

Consolidated its position – After the annexation of Indian territories, East India Company consolidated its position as a dominant power in India by 1784. The spread of its authority changed the character and role of its employees, from merchants to that of statesmen, from traders to governors, and judges and magistrates. Earlier they were known as ‘writers’.

Tasks and performance during East India Company’s rule – The shape to bureaucracy was given during the regimes of Warren Hastings, Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellasly. Lord Wellasly (1798-1805) created a corps of specially talented officers —selected from the Commercial services as well as army. These officers were called `pioneers’ and were made responsible for the pioneering task of settling newly conquered areas, making political adjustments, restoring law and order, assessment and collection of land revenue, administration of criminal and civil justice and some of developmental tasks to gain confidence of people.

The administrative structure under East India Company was simple, but effective. Formalities were the minimum. The officers possessed a high sense of responsibility. They developed traditions of character, initiative, imagination, understanding and paternalism. The civil service was not only a career for them, but something which they had built-up, united and administered. They were the spokesmen of its dumb masses and often fought with their superiors for the interest of the people. A civilian of those days said, “They ruled with an iron hand in a velvet glove”.

Responsibilities – In the absence of any fast means of communication, the officers at the district were compelled to take decisions of their own o important matters of policy and administration. The main characteristics of the administration during those days were as follows:

  • Concentration of authority and responsibility in the District Officer who was Magistrate, Collector, and Judge;

  • The area of the district was not so large as to make this undivided responsibility impossible. The District Officer had complete knowledge of his area and people;

  • The administration was based on a set of simple laws and rules, respected Indian Institutions and local customs, so far as they did not clash with the Imperial interest;

                                           Under the Crown (1858-1919)

Golden Period of Indian Bureaucracy – This was the golden period of bureaucracy. From 1858 to 1919,bureaucracy, especially the ICS, attracted best talents of British Society, mostly graduates from Oxford or Cambridge. During this period, the civil services were institutionalized. The whole system, from top to bottom, became well-knit, highly centralised and behaved like an unbreakable steel frame with all the characteristics of a full-fledged Autocracy (M.V. Pylee, Constitutional History of India, 1600-1950, p.28, Bombay, Asia, 1967).

Objectives of British rulers – – In 1858, when the transfer of power from East India Company to the British Crown became a reality, the foundation of the Indian Civil Services were formally laid. Without doubt, higher Civil Services during this period were exclusively made to suit the special needs of British Imperial Power.

The British Government was very clear about its aims and objectives – to maintain law and order, collect revenue and perpetuate British rule in India as long as possible, as India was like a precious ‘Jewel in the Crown’. It aimed to enforce due process of law, collect revenue, to maintain efficiency in all basic matters – crime, land revenue, records of rights and economy ( K.M. Pannikar, “The Development of Administration in India”, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institute of Public Administration, Vol. II, Nos. 2 and 3, p.14)The British Government in India did not favor its indulgence in any kind of social welfare activity, which would, later on, pose problems for Imperial rule in India. Initiative and actions were the aims to be sought.

ICS propped up as the elite service – ICS responsible for law and order situation and revenue collection was conceived and propped up as the elite service meant predominantly for British citizens. Its members were bestowed with all kinds of authority, favors, concessions and privileges. They exercised and enjoyed immense power and privileges.

Performance of Bureaucracy during Imperial Rule The bureaucracy of this period had developed certain traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work, though these qualities served the British interest. Due to its decisive role, these services, particularly the ICS, came to be called “Steel-frame of the whole structure”, which reared and sustained the British rule in India.

Centralization of Power – Unlike the decentralized administration during the East India Company, growth of rapid means of communication made centralization of administration possible. It not only became rigid in its class structure, but also became bureaucratic in methods and procedure of work. Centralization tightened the regulatory functions of the officials to supervise and control the subordinate officials and made the office procedure elaborate and cumbersome.

Sir William Hunter commented, “He governed most, who wrote most”. Thus came into being multiplication of reports, returns and correspondence and obsession for office work. Routine work and cumbersome office procedures severely affected the power of initiative and enterprise which were found in abundance in the older generation of the civil service. So much so, that those officers, who once wielded the sword so fearlessly began to grumble under the tyranny of pen. (H.K. Trevaskis, Punjab of Today, Vol. II, 1931, p.287)

Whiteman’s superiority” – Though Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858 declared that her subjects, of whatever race or creed, were entitled to be appointed in all her public services, the British Rulers wanted the appointments in superior Services by the dictum of “Whiteman’s superiority” due to its decisive role in the governance of country. Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State wrote in 1893, “It is indispensible that an adequate number of members of the civil services shall always be Europeans”. Viceroy Lord Landsdown stressed: “The absolute necessity of keeping the government of this widespread empire into European hands, if the empire is to be maintained” (Quoted from Bipin Chandra, p.158, Modern India).

Lord Curzon also justified this policy by stating as follows: “The highest ranks of the civil employee in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, …. though open to such Indians, ….. must nevertheless, as a general rule, be held by the Englishmen for the reasons that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of government, the habits of mind and vigour of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule, and any other rule, being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it”(Supplement to Gazette of India, , p.937, June 4, 1904).

Most efficient and effective civil services in the world – Without doubt, during this period, bureaucracy gradually developed into one of the most efficient and powerful civil services in the world. It developed certain traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work, though these qualities served the British interest. The bureaucracy, particularly the ICS, came to be known as the “Steel-frame of the whole structure”.

Under Dyarchy (1919-35)

Vanishing of idealism of the past – In post 1919 period, as the National movement intensified, the demand for Indianisation of higher civil services increased. Dyarchy promised progressive realization of responsible and self-government in India. India Act of 1935 allowed the continuance of only three All India Services, namely, Indian Civil Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Medical Service (Civil). These services performing control functions were kept under the direct supervision of British rulers. Certain All India Services, particularly, those dealing with service functions were provincialized like Education Service, Agriculture Service, Veterinary Service or services dealing with roads and building etc. Other services were not abolished abruptly or left to die its own death.

With the gradual Indianisation of All India Services, the class consciousness of these services became dim. British element in the service had lost its old sense of mission, was feeling frustrated. It weakened the solidarity of services.

Dampening effect on “The Espirit de Corps”– Indian public and leaders were already allergic to bureaucracy, not on the basis of its actual performance, but because they were a living symbol of foreign rule. Criticism of of the services by individual members in provincial and Central legislatures, the `ignominy’ of working under Indian Ministers in provinces, the non-cooperation movement of 1920-22, the insufficiency of salaries due to high price-rise in the wake of the World War I etc. have changed the character of Indian bureaucracy. It left a dampening effect on the attraction of Civil Services as a career service for British Youth. All efforts to attract them fell flat and the number of British Officers began to decline. They lost their old sense of mission and were frustrated. It is evident from the following chart: –

Period

British

Indian

Total

1919-23

102

80

182

1924-28

77

91

168

1929-33

111

136

247

1934-38

97

122

219

Source: Misra BB. Bureaucracy in India, p292

Indian element in bureaucracy was imbued with a national spirit, looking forward to a day when Indian would be independent. These changes affected the “The Espirit de Corps” of these services.

Breakdown of the spirit of the civil services – Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India. With the introduction of Dyarchy, the spirit of mild paternalism in them also began to fade. After it, there was no claim that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished. (K.M. Pannikar, “The Development of Administration in India”, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institute of Public Administration, Vol. II, Nos. 2 and 3, p.14).

Under Provincial Autonomy (Post 1935 Period)

Fall in standard of governance – During this period, the ICS officials had lost much of its past authority and therefore, showed a noticeable fall in standards. The period after 1935 witnessed frequent clashes between the Indian Ministers and British officials.

Officials learnt to tolerate elected representatives – Post-1935 period taught the officials to learn to tolerate elected representatives and ministers. Those, who were still thinking in terms of their previous status and authority, took premature retirement. This period witnessed frequent clashes between the Indian Ministers and British officials and former’s helplessness in regard to All India Services.

Further deterioration in standard – Rowland Committee remarked: ‘The present position, in our judgement, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself as well as from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrate and Collector failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he cannot compel…In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further because activities of the government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of a “Provincialized service” and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the government’(Report of the Bengal Administration Enquiry Committee, p. 18, 1944-45).

No radical changes desirable – Report of the Joint Committee on Indian Constitution Reforms proposed that in the early days of `New Order’ and indeed until the course of events in the future could be more clearly foreseen, the new Constitution should not be exposed to risk and hazard by radical changes in the system, which had for so many generations produced men of the calibre (Report of the Joint Committee on Indian Constitution Reforms, Para 286, Vol. I, Part I, 1934).

Only fresh recruitment into these services was discontinued, thus enabling its painless extinction through the natural process of retirement, resignation and causalities of its members.

                                          During Interim Period (From 1947 to 1950)

Designs for Independent India – Many national leaders did not like the idea of building up a new India, the very machinery that was till now hampering and countering the freedom movement should be used. According to them the spirit of authoritarianism of bureaucracy under imperial rule could never co-exist with freedom.

Nation left with no alternative– Immediately after the independence, the nation had no alternative but to leave the things to time. During the last days of British rule, many problems arose, such as communal tension, lawlessness, Railway and Postal strikes, short-supply of goods and the danger of another famine in near future (P. Ramachandran, “Partition Legend”,  p.9, The Hindustan Times, September 1, 1980). This was followed by departure of British and muslim officers from higher services, partition of the country, Pakistan’s incursion into Kashmir and annexation of widely spread conglomeration of provinces and princely states in the Union of India, which made the situation worst at the dawn of independence. Events, invariably unplanned, were moving so fast that there was no question of even attempting to supervise their course.

Sardar Patel’s Foresight – Sardar Patel visualized the whole situation. He insisted on the continuance of same set-up of bureaucracy and assured the nation, “I wish to assure you that I have worked with them during this difficult period. I am speaking with a sense of heavy responsibility and I must confess that in point of patriotism, in point of ability, you cannot have a substitute…I wish to place it on record in this house that if, during the last two or three years, most of the members of the service had not behaved patriotically and with loyalty, the Union would have collapsed. ( Indian Constituent Assembly Debates, pp. 48-50, 1949).

                                        Under Indian Republic (Post 1950)

Changes in the role of bureaucracy

The performance and role bureaucrats, being the product of the same society, depended on changes happening in the social and political scenario around them from time to time. The image, Indian bureaucracy acquired after the independence, was that of effective bureaucracy under the able, sincere and visionary leadership of Patel, Nehru and Pant. Then, some where down the line, things fizzled out and became the committed bureaucracy of 1970s, demoralized bureaucracy of 1977, especially, after the Shah Commission proceedings, insecure bureaucracy of 1980’s and the corrupt bureaucracy after 1990. Personal upbringing, training and discipline has always kept a few of upright and honest officers away from these influences.

In context of free India – Shri C. Rajagopalachari had told the nation right in the beginning that performance of bureaucracy depended on the calibre of officials, who are appointed to its strategic posts. “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation”.

This is more true in a large country like India, where there have been perplexing diversities in geography, language, race and culture, which have existed through ages and pervaded every aspect of life. In such a situation, it becomes necessary to evolve some standards and guidelines, whereby the interest of the nation, as a whole, is taken care of.

Pressing problems immediately after the Independence – After Independence many national leaders did not like the idea of building up a new India by the very machinery that was till now hampering and countering the freedom movement. – The main reason for continuation of the same administrative machinery was that during the last days of British rule, there were many pressing problems before the nation. Situation became worst at the dawn of independence because of departure of British and Muslim officers from higher services, partition of the country, Pakistan’s incursion into Kashmir and annexation of widely spread conglomeration of provinces and princely states in the Union of India, which made any drastic change impossible.

Along with it, there were other difficulties too, such an communal tension, lawlessness, Railway and Postal strikes, short-supply of goods and the danger of another famine in near future, arose. Events, invariably unplanned, were moving so fast that there was no question of even attempting to supervise their course. Therefore, the nation had no alternative but to leave the things to time.

Bureaucratic set-up after independence

Without depriving the States of their right to form their own Civil Services, there are many All India and Central Services recruited on an all India basis with common qualifications, with uniform scale of pay, members of which alone are appointed to the all the Strategic Posts throughout the Union. Sardar Patel was very sure that India has no alternative to this administrative system. He said, ‘I wish to place it on record in this house that if, during the last two or three years, most of the members of the service had not behaved patriotically and with loyalty, the Union would have collapsed.’ Civil servants and visionary national leaders built the infrastructure for a new modern India and for its all round development.

Objectives of the Government in free India

Since India became a Republic (1950), the aims, objectives and the role of government changed completely. The Constitution laid emphasis on national reconstruction and development—a shift from the traditional task of only maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. The objectives of the Government were now to launch a massive attach on five major evils of the society—Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness—and to secure to all its citizens “Justice—social, economic and political”. This change had brought about many new responsibilities pertaining to economic development and social welfare on the shoulders of its civil services. The civil service was supposed to come closer to masses and feel the agony of the millions of underfed, under-read and under-clothed citizens and then design strategies, formulate and execute policies, take right and timely decisions, initiate action and remedial measures for improving the lot of masses and upliftment of the country as a whole.

Role of bureaucracy during Nehru Patel era

During1950’s, the performance of IAS was at the best. It represented one of the finest services in the world. The image, it acquired immediately after the independence, was that of effective bureaucracy under the able, sincere and visionary leadership of Patel, Nehru and Pant. They remained as honest, upright and efficient, as the society around them had been or as their political masters wanted them to be. Higher civil services of government of India represented one of the finest services in the world.

Perfect tuning between leadership and bureaucracy – There was a perfect tuning between the leadership and administration. Together (with the tact and fairness of prominent national leaders and the coordination of able officers) they had solved innumerable pressing problems that came on the way at the dawn of independence. Once, it was decided to continue with the same bureaucratic set-up, the political leadership drew best out of the depleted administrative machinery and inspired it with proper correctives.

Administrators encouraged for ‘Free’ and ‘Frank’ opinion – Their vigilance, integrity and honesty saved the administration from falling victim to wrong practices. Political interference, in matters of day to day administration; was not much. The administrators were encouraged to give their free and frank opinion. They were free to work out details and implement their decisions. Only when something was found going wrong or implementation got unduly delayed, the political leadership interfered in administrative matters. The political and administrative wings of the Government together put the nation on the path of progress, accommodating diverse viewpoints and interests without bias.

Built infrastructure for new modern India – Officials of initial period tried to live up to the high standards set down by British ICS. They were hardworking, fair and prompt in taking timely decisions. The position of law and order was intact and people were living peacefully. They built the infrastructure for a new modern India and for its all round development.

Added responsibilities – In the early 1960s, besides executive functions, normal development work, basic planning and advent of five-year Plans exposed the administration to economic aspects of development. For the first time, officials were interacting with the economic functions.

The Industrial policy Resolution of 1956 laid stress on the development of heavy industries with public sector given an important role to play in the development of economy. The sincere efforts, organizing capacity and drive of bureaucracy put India at the tenth rank amongst the nations of the world in terms of industrial out-put by 1960.

Analysis of the role played by bureaucrats in this era – It was not, that everything was all right during this period. The structural change started putting the service under stress and changed its value system later on. The traders, industrialists and businessman expected favors for backing the politicians financially during elections, who in turn demanded compromise from the bureaucracy.

‘Ivory tower life style’ – The administrators of this period were criticized for their ivory tower life style, which alienated the bureaucrats from common man. However, now it is being realized that ‘ivory tower life style’ prevented bureaucrats from succumbing to outside pressures and helped them to remain honest, upright and impartial. But at the same time, alienation from common man, while on work and therefore, ignorance about the pulse of public started making bureaucracy weaker day by day. Unfortunately, after independence and progressively over the years, higher civil services at the centre began losing its sheen.

Corruption could not be rooted out totally – In 1962, Santhanam Committee observed that in the governance of the state, all the leaders could not set a standard of integrity that might justify the popular expectations. Even the leaders like Patel and Nehru could not root out totally the proliferating corruption in political and administrative set up. However, A good percentage of our public servants maintain and function in accordance with strict standard of integrity.On the whole, during this period, inner restraint and control had effectively led the officials to preserve the honour and fair name of the service and saved it from getting corrupt or spoiled by outside powerful agencies.

Mrs. Gandhi Era (1965 to 1980)

Era of ‘Committed Bureaucracy’ – The period, from 1965 to 1980 was an era of committed bureaucracy. With many of the old visionary leaders having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties, a rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up. During mid sixties, political climate at provincial level started changing.

New regional parties emerged at provincial level – Many new regional parties emerged at provincial level and came to power. Some states like Bihar, U.P., Haryana, and Punjab etc. witnessed political opportunism. Tall promises were made to win elections. Floor crossing, defections, attempts to topple Governments; betrayal of people’s faith and consequently political instability and frequent changes in provincial Governments became the order to the day. All this resulted in intensification of competitive politics. Mrs. Gandhi, after becoming Prime Minister in 1966, felt very insecure due to the hold of syndicate in politics. But she refused to act as a puppet in the hands of the syndicate and, therefore a split in Congress took place in 1969.

Economy of the nation under severe strain – The two wars of 1962 and 1965 followed by successive droughts in 1966 and 1967 put the economy under severe strain. Economic logic and administrative acumen was subordinated to the logic of politics. The developmental activities of the previous years could not keep pace with the challenges facing the country at that time. Concept of easy money started taking birth. The politicians relied more on populist slogans rather than on tackling the real issues troubling the progress of nation like population explosion, illiteracy, inadequate health care and poor social service programs. It led millions to poverty and unemployment.

Attempt to divert public attention from real issues to abstract issues – In order to divert public attention from real issues, abstract issues like social justice, socialism, secularism, communalism were floated in the political world. Government assumed a pervasive role of being the sole guardian of public interest and assumed tremendous authority in the name of socialism. Economic logic and administrative acumen was subordinated to the logic of politics. The developmental activities of the previous years could not keep pace with the challenges facing the country at that time.

Intoxicated political leaders – The absolute authority intoxicated the politicians, making them trample over everything including the democratic institutions – bureaucracy being one of them. The change in the political complexion of the nation was reflected in the performance of Administrative Service and its capacity to work impartially without any fear or favor.

The leaders of that time could not appreciate the value of efficient and impartial civil services and did precious little to check deteriorating standards of the service. The officers were not expected to be as loyal to the Constitution, as they had to be to their respective ministers. Bureaucracy gradually became more committed to the ruling party.

Sense of insecurity – Political upheaval made political leaders very insecure. For her political security Mrs. Gandhi thought it necessary to get complete hold over the bureaucracy. During 1969 to 1974, personality cult was promoted with full force. Politicians desired the bureaucrats to be completely committed to the ministers under whom they were working. Bureaucrats were supposed to be the servicemen to carry out the orders of political bosses.

Power of transfers, posting, and extensions as powerful arm-twisting measures – The simplest of the arm-twisting measures, which politicians took in their hands, was to take the power of transfers, posting, and extensions. It placed the officers at the receiving end. Political patronage gave encouragement to corrupt and ambitious officials. Shrewd officers, who could get away, if any wrong done, were given more importance. Upright officers with some mission and neutral approach had been sidelined.

On a sustained and systematic basis, the process of committed bureaucracy flourished, thus undermining the integrity, values, ethos and confidence of the service. IAS, the service of proven competence and integrity, too found it comfortable to toe the footsteps of the political leaders. They became a willing tool in the hands of politicians.

Bureaucracy lost capacity to be the true agents of healthy change – Earlier, attention was paid to initial training, Departmental examinations in accounts, civil, criminal and revenue laws and varied experience to understand, what happens behind the scenes. The role of senior was crucial, both to impart professional knowledge and also to inculcate proper service values like honesty – intellectual and pecuniary, impartiality in dealing with the rich/powerful and the poor/weak, political neutrality and so on.

Now professionalism of officers depends on amorality – meaning capacity to get done, what superior authorities want to be done and proximity – meaning getting closer to people having authority and position. Right or wrong, presence of laws, rules and regulations were irrelevant to smart officers. During Emergency in 1975, the trusted officers of the Congress Party were placed on crucial positions. Slowly, but steadily the service lost its capacity to be the true agents of healthy change.

Demoralized and insecure bureaucracy of 1980’s

Trend of bureaucrat politicians nexus – For the first time Government officials were made to depose before the Shah Commission for their alleged commissions and omissions during the emergency, sometime around 1080. The blames for failure of system were put on the bureaucracy. It demoralized the bureaucracy. With every change in the Government, there started the trend to shuffle the bureaucrats. It further developed the unhealthy trend of bureaucrat politicians nexus.

Unhealthy developments of 1980’s – During 80’s, terrorism raised its head. Escalated communal problems and economic developments gave rise to economic crimes. BOFORS became a big issue. Transfers, postings, accelerated promotions, suspension, denial of promotions had already bent the civil service to a great extent. Compromises, delays in decision making and shielding unjust acts of political masters by subverting rule of law, flourished in full during this period. One of the leading features was the deep involvement of a core group of civil servants in scandals. The crisis management and cover up operations were undertaken quite unsuccessfully by politicians.

Inter-services rivalry – Apart from being accomplices in politician’s corrupt practices, there was a rise in inter-service rivalries during 1970s and 1980s. Government could not give their due place and proper work atmosphere to its bright technical, scientific and professional personnel in bureaucracy. Their services were and are still required urgently for rapid industrialization and technical progress of the country. Professionals, by their very nature and training, work harder than their generalist counterparts. They are more target oriented in their approach and disciplined. Still they remain far behind their generalist counter-parts in matter of career progression.

Gradual shift in recruitment base – The rapid growth in education, liberal grant of scholarship and stipends, general improvement in the social standard and cultural values of rural people, rural development, economic and other concessions to weaker sections brought a gradual shift in the recruitment base from diverse background. It was hoped that people coming from widely varied background carrying with them diverse experiences would be better placed to appreciate the ground realties of the nation. The wider, the spread of recruitment net, the larger would be the talent base and richer would be the service.

Hope was belied – However, it belied the hope and made the service more vulnerable to political pressures and other extraneous influences. There was a fall in officer like qualities, which made the service object of reducible and contempt in the eyes of public. Mr. Tyagi commented, “The old zeal and stamina for strenuous work is now missing. Similarly moral considerations play a less conspicuous role in the official life of a civil servant today than formerly. As the country is moving forward in the direction of industrialization, the values and the old moral standards of its civil servants are tending to diminish. The civil service is less disciplined and less united today than it was formerly.(Tyagi, Ibid. p172).The adverse effect on the quality, work-culture and ethos of the service was not felt that much earlier, but in 1990’s groupism in the service became evident and harmed the integrity of the service to a large extent.

The Corrupt bureaucracy (1990’s)

Changes after the fall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government – The political complexion of the nation underwent a revolutionary change after the fall of Rajiv Gandhis Government and then disappearance of Nehru-Gandhi family from the political scene. The era of instability started. The last time a general election in India producing a clear parliamentary majority was in 1984. Since 1989, the Governments are acutely handicapped by their minority status.

Criminalization of politics– It led first to politicization of criminals, then to criminalization of politics, which made it increasingly difficult for decent, peace loving people to breath freely. Mr. VN Narayan commented on the climate of 1990’s, We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalisation). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles) There is only one solution to all problems – a human and spiritual solution. We have to consciously move toward humanizing our social institutions and spiritualize (not communalize or secularize) ourselves(Times of India,  p1, July 27, 1994).

Transfer-posting Raj – The period between 1975 to the beginning of the 21st century was

the transfer-posting raj in the government. Successive ministers and political parties made it a money minting business. Administrators have lost out by letting the political class prevail. The critical first two decades after the independence were lost and by 70’s and 80’s the political class had come into its own.

Economic offences increased – “A dubious alliance among a section of bureaucracy, politicians and criminals led to the denials of fruits of economic development in the country. This period saw a marked shift in the complexion and scale of economic offences from the rough and tumble of gold smuggling and other merchandise to more sophisticated white collar crimes like bank scams, import andexport fraudsetc.”(Memoirs of Mr. Pande, former director general of DRI and economic intelligence bureau, quoted from TOI N.Delhi, p.14, dt.29.3.2008)

Explosive problems of this period – Instead of plugging the loopholes of the system, political leadership gave importance to electoral gains and losses and to attain political power, with an aim to lead a luxurious life at the cost of public money. The country faced many explosive problems, which made the nation weak and adversely affected the daily life of a common man in many ways. In the absence of any sound ideology and clear vision, the politicians of 1990s depended ideologically on “Caste”, “Community”, and “Political secularism” considerations, in pursuance of sectoral interests and use of power of money and muscle to widen their electoral base.

Polarization of society on caste and communal basis – This period witnessed complete polarization of society on caste and communal basis. Politics of Mandal had divided the society on a permanent basis, which suited the interests of sectional parties well. There are inter-caste and intra-caste, inter-community and intra-community and inter-tribal and intra-tribal conflicts.

Unstable governments – The result – hung Lok Sabha and Assemblies, loss of parliamentary culture and decorum, increasing fall in the standards, ability, values and conduct of legislatures, as is seen by poor quality of debates and scanty attendance in the houses of legislature, unruly behavior of members, scenes of pandemonium, all round erosion in the role of legislatures and bad image of legislator due to criminal records, corruption, manipulation, sale and purchase (horse trading) of legislators to increase their number in legislature etc.

Coalition governments – The Governments are formed, not on the basis of popular mandate, but through post election manipulations, unholy alliances, bargaining, horse-trading and give and take principle. Voter turnout in general elections hardly reaches 50% of the total population. It is difficult for any single party to get clear majority. Even the majority party in Parliament, without its alliances, could hardly get 25-26% voters support. A minority party, getting a few seats, forms the Government, with majority party supporting it from out side. Hung Parliament and hung assemblies give power to even marginal regional parties with handful of MPs and MLAs to dictate their terms and conditions to national issues and pursue their sectional plans.

Net result – The developments of 1990s threw challenges before the nation to run a viable, assured and stable Government to check casteism and communalism, to tackle separatist movement tactfully, keeping the unity and Integrity of the nation intact and to decentralize excessive concentration of authority at center.

“Toe the line” bureaucracy of 21st century

Rot in the steel-frame – The beginning of 21stcentury has seen the steel frame shaking

under political pressure. Transfer has become a powerful weapon in politician’s hands enough to make a bureaucrat compliant. “….Rarely are factors like competence, aptitude, past experience and public spirit taken into account while making appointments to responsible posts. Instead, these attributes are often a disqualification. Pliable functionaries, who are not overburdened with ethics, are handpicked for plum postings.” (Javed Chowdhary, 1965 batch IAS Officer, Quoted from Steel Frame to His Master’s Voice, Sakina Yusuf Khan, Sunday Times of India, New Delhi, May 4, 2003). There is a general acceptance that “toeing the line is better than standing up for principles and paying the price” Bhasker Ghosh (also an IAS Officer, ibid}. One wonder is the new age bureaucrat less idealistic, more pragmatic?

Simple living and high thinking – “In the fifties and sixties, bureaucrats could live comfortably on their salaries. Not any longer. More and more bureaucrats today use the system to make money.”{ A former diplomat G Parthasarthy, ibid}. Attuned to today’s highly competitive and material world, expediency, money and power are the main attractions in life for the youth of the day. Now-a-days nobody believes in the principle of ‘Simple living and high thinking’. The luxuries and comforts of modern materialistic world have lured everybody including the bureaucrats. Now Corruption, casteism and unhealthy competition to get hold of a few influential posts in the corridor of power has corroded the steel frame. Whatever salaries officials get is not enough for them to live the way they want in the modern world. It is one of the reason for increased corruption, casteism and unhealthy competition to get hold of a few influential posts in the corridor of power, so that they can make more money. It has corroded the steel frame beyond repair.

Critical analysis of the present day situation

Disintegration of society – At present, the country is facing caste-communal divide; forward-backward divide, urban-rural divide and division based on class, gender, language and region. The feeling of oneness has almost disappeared with the emergence of many myopic, local regional parties pursuing sectional interest. They, hypocritically shout slogans like, Socialistic pattern of society, Equity, Share in power structure or Secularismetc. which have, more or less, run out of steam all over the world. These abstract ideologies have been proved unable to solve the problems of poverty, overpopulation, deteriorating condition of law and order, violence and general coarsening of the moral fiber of the whole society.

Morale of the service at an all time low – The old values are dying, but the new ones could not be created for the benefit of the society as a whole. It has its adverse effect on bureaucracy, as well. Today, the morale of the service is at an all time low. Mrs. Gandhi started the concept of committed bureaucracy in early 1970’s, except for a few positions, but she usually honored the principle of seniority in making appointments. In the first instance, Rajiv Gandhi overlooked the principle of seniority, when he brought Mr. Kaul as cabinet Secretary, then brought Mr. Deshmukh. After that began the musical chair for higher posts and generally by-passing the seniority-rule.

Blatant use of ‘transfers’, ‘postings’ and ‘extensions’ – Every leader wishes to have his own men in senior positions, so that he could manage his course of action without much resistance. Politicians use the tool of postings and transfers arbitrarily and blatantly, while making senior appointments in the states or the center. With every change in the Government, be it in center of state, there is a shuffle and reshuffle in the bureaucracy. Some IAS officers in the states have been even suspended by the Chief Ministers in recent past. IAS association in UP had passed a resolution in 1997 saying, We are the leaders of the state administration. IAS officers can not be suspended on anyone’s whims and fancies. There is a procedure to follow… It is a simple rule of administration….”. Mr. Narsimha Rao, during his Prime Ministership, started giving extensions, year by year, to chosen officers, so that they could be put under control. Top posts were filled only for a short periods. In his 5 years of Premiership, Mr. Rao had four Cabinet Secretaries. There had been frequent changes in the position of Secretaries also.

Adverse effect on Work culture’ – The trend of having a following of one’s own in the service and giving plum postings to one’s loyalists has mortgaged the national interests. It led the nation to chaos, criminality and corruption. It has adversely affected the work culture. The Vohra Committee has vividly described the nexus that has developed between unscrupulous politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and criminals. The appointment of tainted officers at crucial positions itself makes the intentions of the politicians clear. It has also been felt that young recruits are acquiring more and more skills but are deficient in understanding and attitude.

Misappropriation of public funds – Corruption and misappropriation of public funds was always there, but not so rampant, as has been witnessed after 1990. The corruption has deeply entrenched into the system and become its integral part. It has acquired a kind of legitimacy, as a price to be paid for “Getting a job done in the Government and saving citizen’s Time, energy and money. Otherwise, one has to run from pillar to post to get a job done.

Liberalization – Liberalization was meant to ease government control on economy and reduce corruption. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out as desired. Numerous scams and scandals rocked the nation after 1990, like Bank Security Scam, Telecom Scam, Jain Hawala Scam, Bihar Fodder Scam, Petrol Pumps allotment Scam, House Allotment Scam, Public Service Commission’s scam in appointments (April, 2002) etc. These are the direct consequences of the nexus between the politicians and the bureaucrats. Most glaring were –

  1. Harshad Mehta Scam (1992) – The loss to banks was put at about Rs 5,000 crore. Till now (2011) banks are trying to recover what they can from the inheritors of Mehta.

  2. Enron Scandal (1992) – Dabhol power project of the US energy major in Maharashtra was always controversial. In late 2001 it came to light that Enron had for years concealed debt and overstated profits. The energy giant went bankrupt and several executives, including CEO Keneth Lay were convicted on many counts in 2006.

  3. Telecom Scam (1996) – In 2009, former telecom minister Sukhram was convicted by a Delhi court of accepting bribes to grant licences and purchase equipment from companies during 1993-96 tenure at the centre.

  4. Ketan Parekh Scam (2001) – The stockbroker was accused of engineering mayhem in the market. Parekh was banned from the capital markets for 14 years.

  5. Telgi scam (2003) – (Counterfeited stamp paper) Telgi allegedly had links with several officials anf politicians.

  6. Koda Scam (2009) – Jharkhand CM 2006-08, allegedly made Rs. 4,000 crore through graft, including grant of mining licenses, and illegally invested it in real estate, shares and other avenues in Mumbai, Kolkata, Thailand and even a coal mine in Liberia.

  7. Satyam Scam (2009) – It has falsified its accounts and diverted money to fund real estate transactions. Raju was arrested and is facing prosecution for a scam estimated at Rs 7,000 crore.

  8. 2G Scam (2010) – The award of spectrum to new telecom licenses in 2007 at 2001 prices sparked off a controversy. The CAG later held that the loss to the exchequer could be up-to Rs 1.76 Lakh crore.

Playing safe attitude of upright bureaucrats – Sincere and honest officers have lost interest in their work. They do not have much to loose, so long as they play safe, do as little as possible, take no risk, display no initiative and refer everything to the minister that involves taking important decisions. Many bureaucrats adopt the line of least resistance, though off and on, they are being criticized for their non-performance. Due to excessive political interference in day to day administration, the upright officers try their best to escape from district postings, where they are in direct contact with the public.

Adverse affects of frequent transfers and postings – For sustainable development, a bureaucrat needs a reasonable tenure in one post. In order to do justice to his work and to get a grip over the situation, one needs time to understand the atmosphere, to plan, to supplement it and to see the results. With politicization of services and tenure being increasingly insecure, offices work on the principle of short-term measures, which could yield quick results.

Senior’s support – Earlier during difficult situations a bureaucrat could depend on his seniors for help or advice. Now seniors, themselves being insecure, can not give support to their juniors. Failure to get seniors support at crucial moments further dips the morale of young and enthusiastic officers.

Career progression – At present, for moving ahead in career, competence or seniority carry much weight. It is not good enough to have right political connections, but also needs to belong to the right caste. After 1990, the card of Reservation and representation of Backwards in higher bureaucracy has been overplayed.

Politics of Reservations – A good governance is based on a delicate balance of relationship between multiple cultural communities. The politics of Mandalisation has destroyed inter cultural balance and harmony. Reservation is being used for political expediency. It has diluted the standards and integrity of the service as a whole. The poison of groupism and casteism has spread in the elite service as well. Praful Bidwani says,Social conservatism, casteism, communalism and provincialism are more apparent today in the services than in the past(Praful Bidwai, p15, Times of India, July 23. 1995).

Criminalization of politics – Some of the criminals, under-world Dons have joined the politics. They mix up freely with the bureaucrats and politicians. Mutual support is there to shield each others guilt, wrong practices and corrupt behavior. Given decline in character and morale of politicians and confusion about their objectives, the only role left for the service is to defend the deeds or misdeeds of the ministers before Parliament, Legislatures and public by twisting the arms of law in their favor. The high IQ, decline in value, expediency being the order of the day, this disastrous combination tends many bureaucrats to connive with politicians and others, whose only concern is to further their own interest and to benefit their kin and loyalists.

Perception of people about the bureaucracy of 21st century

People think that the present bureaucracy has developed some undesirable features like personal loyalty, dependent thinking, superfluous functioning, hierarchical thinking, distrust and class thinking. Its feudal framework, its tuning in British class discipline and its chaining in socialist ideology, prevent it to exhale the fragrance of free administration of a free state. Officers are inaccessible to people, resist changes, and favor status quo. They are obstructionist, inefficient and obsessed with the rulebooks, precedents and procedures. They hesitate to shoulder responsibilities for their actions. They either blame the political leadership or other technical or professional services in case of any wrong done. The decline in the standards of performance of bureaucrats can be seen in: –

 Acute law and order situation in the country, which includes Criminalisation of social and political activities,

 Half-hearted implementation and monitoring of developmental plans and policies resulting in increased number of illiterates, poor and unemployed.

 Impediments in the successful implementation of the new economic policy.

Who is to be blamed?– Most of the bureaucrats are not attuned well to the culture of creativity, dynamism, liberalism and progress, which needs open-mindedness, tolerance for listening to other’s ideas and views, giving dissent a chance, having a sense of responsibility, imagination, honesty and confidence. Majority of people blame present politicians for such a deterioration of the bureaucracy. Political parties have conditioned today’s atmosphere in such a way, that upright officers are identified very soon after joining the service and are sidelined. Key posts are given usually to ‘committed’ officers. Every change in power structure – at the centre or the state- follows mass transfers and placement of pliable officers on crucial posts.

Bureaucracy itself responsible for such a sad situation – Some people feel that it is not fair to blame the political leadership solely. The over-ambition of officers has incited the politicians. They themselves sought political interference to get desired postings and transfers. Now the politicians have learnt the tricks and interfere in administrative work, whenever and where-ever it suits them well. Disregard for merit, bloated size of the service, insecurity and changes in values have added fuel to the gradual decay of the service.

Humiliating situation for bureaucrats – Never before, the powerful bureaucrats faced humiliation and devaluation of its role and significance, as in the recent past. Ex-Minister Kalp Nath Rai, annoyed with his secretary went up to the extent of saying, Bureaucrats are just like servants… Chaprasis, who bring water, when you tell them to. They should not be allowed to act on their own. The Ministers today follow the dictum, Satisfy me, I will satisfy you.

Bureaucracy not supposed to play a secondary role –It is not fair for the elite government services to toe the lines of politicians and play a secondary role in the matter of administration, as they have Constitutional protection. There was a time, when officers could gather courage to resist irrational demands of politicians. During the times of Kairon, the Chief Minister, a chief secretary could tell Sir, you are elected, I am selected. But now in order to avoid confrontation, an officer finds it easier to provide rationale for a decision taken by the political boss.

Distracted the cream of the society to join government services – The suffocating atmosphere in the government services has distracted bright young people to join the government. They either join private sector especially information technology area or go abroad, where they get recognition for their talent, respect in their circle, atmosphere to work and handsome salaries with many perks and facilities as well as command prestige in the modern industrial world because of their calibre.

Usually, when young men join the service, they are full of enthusiasm to meet the challenges and to do something positive and creative. But the realities of life, political and bureaucratic culture evaporate their enthusiasm soon. Circumstances teach them to compromise their neutrality, creativity and professionalism. Those unable to do so, find the atmosphere stifling and unresponsive. The dream of visionary Sardar Patel of apolitical Indian Administrative Service has been throttled by the present day political leaders because of their vested interests.

Winding up

There is decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the officers. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness are increasing every day allover the country. The task of governance has become very difficult. People wonder, why the steel-frame of yesteryears has been corroded to such an extent that it is failing to do its job effectively and judiciously despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to deal with unwanted situations. They are surprised why these officers could not take stand against those dictates of their superiors (political leaders or bureaucratic superiors) which stops them from doing their jobs judiciously.

Way out

The only way to get out of such a depressing situation is to form a slim and trim bureaucracy as suggested by Parthasarthy. A smaller bureaucracy with a smaller role, greater transparency should be set up and there should be a statutory Civil Service Board to control postings, promotions and transfers.

It is not fair for the bureaucrats to toe the lines of politicians and play a secondary role in the matter of administration, as they have Constitutional protection. Besides their task to work without any fear, favor, undue pressures or political interference has been made easy these days in the presence of vigilant mass media.

Many persons from intelligentsia are still hopeful that, despite all the weaknesses, the bureaucracy, which had helped the political leadership in transforming the British colonial Government with a democratic republic, met successfully the challenges of resurgent India and laid the foundation of modern India and recently pulled the nation out of the great economic depression could still perform miracles with the help of a few really brilliant officers. There are still few bureaucrats, who are committed, idealist and hardworking. They, along with some more sitting on the fence, could successfully meet the challenges of 21st Century. They only need once again, the sincere and committed leadership, which could understand their position and allow them to function judiciously.

(Fundamental causes of the deterioration of bureaucracy to be discussed in my next post – “Ailments of Present bureaucracy”)

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bureaucracy in India

“For the forms of government, let fools contest.

That which is best administered is best.”

And also

But what is best must free man still decide,

Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.”

 

Introduction

The civil services in India can, without doubt, be regarded as the most remarkable of all the institutions, which Britain bequeathed to India. The term `civil service’, which is now applied to the general body of persons employed as non-combatant work connected with the administration of states, was first used in the late eighteenth century to designate those employees of East India Company, who were engaged in Mercantile work. As the character of the company changed – its trading operations were first supplemented by territorial dominion and eventually replaced by the responsibilities of government – its employees were transformed from traders into Civil Servants/administrators.

Structure of Bureaucracy – The organizational structure of  administrative set-up plays a very important role in the efficient performance of tasks As an employer, Government’s primary duty is to make all feasible administrative, organizational and working arrangements for its employees. Prof. Applebly says, as far as civil services are concerned, its “structure determines, where responsibility lies; how and to what extent responsible and controllable delegation takes place; what emphasis should be given to various objectives.   It poses and conceals issues of policy. It provides or relatively fails to provide a structure of progressive responsibilities for decision making and thus at each level screens out some decisions and relieves those in higher positions, so that they may give attention to decisions really important to their functions”.

Classification of Civil Services – For the performance of its manifold activities, Government employs thousands of personnel into a governmental organization from almost all vocations, occupations and professions into its Civil Services every year. All government services work as an integrated whole. It is divided vertically and horizontally in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks. e. All its personnel work together in harmony and cooperation with each other. The whole administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to achieve the national goals, execute different plans and policies of the government and meet the different  emerging requirements of its society and do other administrative/developmental tasks.

Basis of position-classification in bureaucracy – A proper job evaluation leads to position-classification and forms the basis of personnel management. Position classification is a systematic division of different posts in several classes in accordance with the functions to be performed, responsibilities to be shouldered and other conditions. It is “the systematic sorting and ranking of position in a hierarchical sequence according to comparative difficulty and responsibility”. Positions, supervision and authority to be exercised downward, other responsibilities, simple or complicated type of work, qualifications required for the post etc., are the factors, which operate in the determination of classification.

Pre-Independence Position classification in India:- In India, a bureaucratic hierarchical structure came into existence as soon as the `Rule of Company Bahadur’ was terminated and replaced by the `Rule of Crown’. During that period, the Secretary of State for India was at the top the Viceroy and Governor General of India just below him; Provincial Governors/Lt. Governors/Chief Commissioners below Viceroy; and Collector/Magistrates or Deputy Commissioners and other civil servants etc. occupying the lowest rung of the four tier structure of the centralized white bureaucracy.

Civil Services during the rule of British Crown

From traders to Administrators – The term “Civil Services” was used to designate those employees of East India Company, who were engaged in mercantile work. As the character of the company changed, its trading operations were first supplemented by territorial dominion and eventually replaced by the responsibilities of government. Its civil servants were transformed from traders into administrators. Roughly from 1606 to 1740, the civil servants were managing primarily trading operations, and incidentally administrative work which grew more and more in size as the East India Company acquired territorial possessions notably after the battle of Plassey. Precisely from 1741 to 1834, the civil servants were entrusted with purely administrative activities. By 1858, when the transfer of power from East India Company to the British Crown became a reality, the foundation of the Indian Civil Services was formally implemented.

Civil services under the Crown – By 1858, when the transfer of power from East India Company to the British Crown became a reality, the foundation of the Indian Civil Services was formally implemented. And about this period of British Rules, the Simon Commission (Report of the India Statutory Commission 1930, Vol. I.P. 263) said, “of no country can it be said more truly than of India that `Government is administration”.  Pylee had said  “The whole system from top to bottom was well knit, highly centralized and behaved like an unbreakable steel frame with all the characters of a full-fledged autocracy.” (Pylee, M.V. Constitutional History of India 1600-1950 P. 28)

During British period, the bureaucracy consisted of two parts:

  • Government in London headed by the Secretary of State for India and curiously called the `Home Government’ of India.
  • Government in New Delhi (in Calcutta before 1911), headed by Viceroy and Governor General of India, called the Government of India.

The two parts were closely related despite of the factor of long distance between England and India.

The Secretary of State for India – The Secretary of State used to be a Member of British Cabinet (the creation of the Act of 1858). He was at the top of the administrative machinery and controlled the political destiny of India from England. His powers were immense. All the Members of higher civil services were appointed by him and his control over them was pervasive.

The Act of 1919 and that of 1935 made little, though formal, changes in regard to his powers. Though his powers relating to the superintendence, direction and control of the Indian Administration   were   retained, his interference   in the   administration   of   the transferred subjects assigned to the popular ministers was to be reduced to the minimum. As a result, the day to day interference of the Secretary of State in the provincial administration was relaxed to some extent.

The position of Viceroy and the Governor General in India – the Viceroy and the Governor General was the Crown’s representative. His office was set up by the Regulating Act of 1773, while the Act of 1858 decorated its title as Viceroy and the Governor General of India. He had assumed much authority in his own hands on account of being the `man on the spot.’ He was the supreme bureaucrat, so far as the Government of India was concerned. All provincial and local administration was under his absolute control.

Due to the policy of maintaining a uniform administrative system all over the country, his control was very extensive in the administrative sphere.   Though the public services were recruited by the Secretary of State, it was the duty of the Government of India to lay down policies of reform and progress of the administrative system in the form of Resolutions. The net result was that provinces only acted as the Agents of the Centre in implementing these resolutions. By the end of 1918, British India had its 15 units variously designated as given here:

Presidencies        Lieutenant Governorship                  Chief Commissionership

  1. Bengal             1. Bihar & Orissa                                1. Ajmer Mewara
  2. Chennai                2. Burma                                          2. Andamans
  3. Mumbai                 3. Punjab                                        3Assam                                                 .                             4.UttarPradesh                                Baluchistan                                                                                                                              CentralProvinces                                                                                                                                       Coorg
    1.                                                                              Delhi                                                                                                                               North-West Frontier Province

(Governors were       (Appointed by the Crown        (Appointed by the Crown on the

appointed by the           on the recommenda-           recommendation of the Governor

Crown)                      tion of the Governor General)   General)

(Johri J.C. Indian Government & politics P. 157)

Immense Control of Bureaucracy – During the whole period of British rule, the main task of the civil services was to maintain law and order intact at any cost. What was common to the administration of all these units or provinces was that they were under the charge of bureaucrats acting under the supreme control of the Governor General. The Governor or the Lt. Governor, as the case may be, of a province remained the pivot of the bureaucratic administration at the provincial level despite the introduction of a sort of `provincial autonomy’ under the Montfort Reforms. There were some subordinate services for minor and ministerial jobs.

Classification of Civil Services  – Responsibilities, simple or complicated type of work, qualifications required for the post sphere of work, nature or quality of supervision by superior etc. were the factors, which operated in the determination of classification. All the civil services in British India were grouped as covenanted (higher) and uncovenanted (lower) services on the basis of the nature of work, pay-scales and appointing authority.  Positions, supervision and authority were to be exercised downward.

  • Administrative set-up at the Central Level –  In 1887, Aitchinson Commission recommended the reorganization of the services on a new pattern. It divided the services into three group – Imperial, Provincial and Subordinate. All the important and superior positions were included in Imperial Services on the basis of field of work (All India status), nature of work and quality of supervision by superior. The recruiting and controlling authority of these services was the `Secretary of State’. Mostly British citizens were recruited for these services. With the passing of the Indian Act 1919, the Imperial Services were split into two classes – All India Services and Central Services.
  • Administration in Provinces – There were Provincial Services as well. The appointing and controlling authority for these services was the respective provincial government, which framed rules for those services with the approval of the government of India. The Governor or the Lt. Governor, as the case may be, of a province remained the pivot of the bureaucratic administration at the provincial level despite the introduction of a sort of `provincial autonomy’ under the Montfort Reforms. Provinces have their own Provincial Services. The appointing and controlling authority for these services was the respective provincial government, which framed rules for those services with the approval of the government of India. There were then, subordinate services for minor and ministerial jobs.
  • District Administration during British rule – The civil servants of different ranks, i.e. Commissioners/Deputy Commissioners/District Collectors and Magistrates etc., were entrusted with the responsibility of running the administration of their division, district or some such local area according to the dictates of the upper echelons of British Bureaucracy. The civil service was characterized as hierarchy of officers neither chosen nor accountable to the Indian people. The bureaucracy at the level of local administration meant `Raj’ to the masses of the country, as the rule of an officer “was based on fear and awe and mass obedience was extracted by repression and suppression of popular demands”.   The higher civil servants were appointed and for that reason, accountable to those above them.

Civil Service Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930 – From 1930 onwards, the classification of services came to be governed by Civil Service Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930. According to it, various services were divided into four categories : Class I, Class II, Subordinate and Interior.

The Government of India Act of 1935 –  The Government of India Act of 1935 provided for a constitutional relationship between the Centre and Indian States on a federal basis. The provincial part of the government of India Act of 1935 had been put into operation and elections in the provincial legislatures had been held in 1937.

Failure of the Diarchy in the provinces – Despite of the relaxation of Central control over the provincial administration according to the Act of 1919 and that of 1935, the fact remained that governor continued to act as the concrete embodiment of the bureaucratic administration under the absolute superintendence, direction and control of the Governor General.

The position and role of the Governor remained one of the important factor that caused the failure of the Diarchy in the provinces. By virtue of his belonging to the cadre of bureaucracy, the fact of strong bureaucratic control continued even under the so-called partially representative government.

A special feature of the Government. of India Act of 1935 was that whereas in the case of the provinces accession to the federation was to be automatic. In the case of the States it was to be voluntary. (The story of the integration of the Indian States, VP Menon, p. 34) Joint Select Committee’s report commented, “The main difficulties are two: that the Indian states are wholly different in status and character from the Provinces of British India, and that they are not prepared to federate on the same terms as it is proposed to apply to the Provinces. On the first point of Indian states, unlike the British Indian Provinces, possess sovereignty in various degrees and they are broadly speaking, under a system of personal government…. On the second point the Rulers have made it clear that while they are willing to consider Federation now with the Provinces of British India on certain terms, they could not, as sovereign States, agree to the exercise by a Federal Government in relation to them of a range of powers identical in all respects with those which that Government will exercise in relation to the Provinces on whom autonomy has yet to be conferred.”

Consequences of the failure of the Diarchy in the provinces – Post 1919 period witnessed the intensification of the national movements, the emergence of Gandhi and Congress and the acceptance of the methods of violence by some parties as a means to achieve independence. Ultimately, India got its Independence on 15 August 1947.

Civil Services in India after Independence

In 1947 came the Independence. With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic change.

Political set-up in Independent India – India is a large country with perplexing diversity in geography, language, race and culture. The political system adopted by India, after its Independence, is that of a federal parliamentary democracy. The federal structure consists of Union and State Administration. As it is, there are three pillars of the government both at the centre and provinces – Parliament/Legislature in which Legislative powers are vested, executive to implement laws and there is also an independent judiciary, which acts as a watchdog of the Constitution and is the supreme law of the land.

The Constitution of India is based upon the principles of `Justice, Social, Economic and Political’, (Preamble to the Constitution of India 1950).

The successful operation of these welfare plans needs an efficient civil service with clear vision of its responsibilities. Maintenance of law and order in the country and speedy socio-economic development requires effective and efficient administrative efforts directed towards the assigned goals. The successful operation of its welfare plans needs an efficient civil service.

Executive powers of the government – The Union Government at the Centre consists of a President in whom all the executive power of the Union is vested. He exercises his authority either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with the Constitution [Article 53 (1)]. The Vice-President is only a ceremonial dignitary. Then there is a council of ministers with Prime Minister as its head “to aid and advice the President in the exercise of his functions”. 

The President is the nominal head of the executive. The Prime Minister and his colleagues are real political heads of different government departments. Their executive power, in practice, is exercised by permanent civil service (civil services mean all the streams of functional, technical and specialist cadres as well as managerial and generalist cadres. In a federal set-up like ours, it also includes the officials at regional or state level) which works under ministers and serves as a link – so essential to maintain continuity of policy and consistency of administration between successive ministers.

No alternative, but to leave the things to time – After Independence, Pt. Nehru, the first PM of Independent India and many other important leaders, such as GB Pant etc., did not like the idea that for building up a new India, the very machinery/administrative set-up, that was till now hampering and countering the freedom movement, should be used. They wanted to reconstitute the administrative service on a new basis to fit in with the new system of a welfare state and Development Administration. However, they could not do so, as during the last days of British Rule many explosive problems arose.

Explosive problems, which arose at the time of Independence – The Second World War, then its aftermath and internally communal tensions were on a breaking point. Existence of lawlessness everywhere made the situation bad. The armed forces had mutinied in several places. There had been Railway and Postal strikes. Goods were in short supply. There was a danger of another famine in near future. These factors in combination with departure of British and Muslim officers from the civil Services, partition of the country, Pakistans incursion into Kashmir and annexation of widely distributed conglomeration of provinces and Princely states in the Union of India made the situation worse at the dawn of Independence. Events, inevitably unplanned, were moving so fast, that there was no question of even attempting to supervise their course. The country had no alternative, but to leave the things to time, opportunity and initiative of officers and organizations. It is for these reasons mainly that the pre-independence administrative set up moved in the Post Independence era without any major change.

Civil services during Post-Independence era

The Prime Minister and his colleagues are real political heads of different government departments. Their executive power, in practice, is exercised by permanent civil service (civil services mean all the streams of functional, technical and specialist cadres as well as managerial and generalist cadres. In a federal set-up like ours, it also includes the officials at regional or state level) which works under ministers and serves as a link – so essential to maintain continuity of policy and consistency of administration between successive ministers.

Gazetted and Non-gazetted Civil Services – During British period, there was another classification of the Civil Services into Gazetted and Non-gazetted. All positions, the names of whose occupants were published in the Government Gazette in connection with their postings, transfers, promotions and privileges in respect of disciplinary action, right to appeal and retirement etc. were called `Gazetted’ posts. Among all the Government Services, group `A’ and `B’, which are engaged at different levels of administration and play an important role in policy-making and decision-making processes and their implementation work  enjoyed the gazetted status. In contrast other positions, the names of whose occupant did not appear in government gazette were categorized as non-gazetted. This practice continued even after independence. As on March, 1970, there were about 52,000 gazetted officers under the Central Government and 76,000 in the provincial governments. This distinction continued to exist till 1974. After that it was done away with, in order to reduce the workload in government presses, economy in the cost of paper and printing and more efficient management of service in the audit offices.

Classification of civil services according to the nature of work: After Independence, classification of the services in India is governed by the Civil Services Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930, as amended from time to time.  The civil services are now classified into  class I,  II, III  and IV. After independence Varadachariar Commission had substituted the  terms `subordinate’ and `inferior’ by class  III and  class IV .  Since July,  1974,  the classification  of civil  servants under class I, II, III & IV  has been changed into groups  `A’,`B’,`C’`D’.

The present day classification of the services in India is governed by the Civil Services Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930, as amended from time to time.

Now the different services are designated as All India Services, Central Services and State Services. These are classified into class I, II, III and IV.  Varadachariar Commission substituted the terms `subordinate’ and `inferior’ by class III and class IV services after independence. There is a monetary basis of this classification also. According to Third Pay Commission1, officers appointed to a service whose minimum starting pay was Rs.700/- and above were in class I service, Rs.650/- in Class II Service and the persons drawing Rs.650/- and below are in class III and class IV. Since July, 1974, the classification of civil servants under class I,II,III & IV has been changed into groups `A’,`B’,`C’`D’.

Government Departments/offices responsible for building up the structure of Civil Services – The different government offices, which are associated with the process of classification, are:

  • Ministry of Home Affairs;
  • Department of Personnel;
  • Finance Ministry; and
  • U.P.S.C.

After proper job evaluation, position classification/division of different posts in several classes and creation of new civil services has been done in a systematic way  in accordance with the functions to be performed, responsibilities to be shouldered and other conditions and necessities. The systematic sorting and ranking of position in a hierarchical sequence has been done according to comparative difficulty and responsibility.

Structure of Civil Services in Independent India – At present, there are three categories of civil services –

  1. All India Services,
  2. Central services,
    1. Professional and
    2. Technical
  3. Provincial civil services
  • All India Services – All India Services are governed by Article 312 of the Indian Constitution. Constitution framers provided that, “without depriving the states of their right to form their own civil services, there shall be All India Services recruited on an All India basis with common qualifications, with uniform scale of pay and members of which alone could be appointed to those strategic posts throughout the Union”. At present, there are three All India Services: Indian Administrative Service; Indian Police Service; and Indian Forest Service.
  • (Professional) Central Civil Services under Government of India 
    • (a) There are many central civil services for performing various service functions  for which Central Government is responsible. Such functions are mentioned in Central List of Subjects under the Constitution (such as Railways, Posts and Telegraphs, Excise and Customs, Income tax Service, Indian Excise and Customs Service or Accounts Service etc.). The prior to appointment into these services. No professional degree, diploma, certificate or experience is required.
    • (b) However, for appointment in technical central services (like Indian Tele-communication Service, Central Water Engineering Service; Central Power Engineering Service; Central Health Service etc.) knowledge and experience of a defined field, professional degree, or diploma is necessary. These services deal especially with developmental programs or work for building up infrastructural structures.
  • Provincial Civil Services – Different provinces or states in India have their separate political set-up similar to that of Centre. In the states, Governor, instead of President, is the nominal head. They have their own legislature, council of Ministers with a Chief Minister and its own civil services. The subjects for the Centre as well as state administration have been divided clearly by the Constitution itself in the Seventh Schedule.

The district civil administration still occupies a key position. It is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of civil administration can be concentrated and where it comes into direct contact with people. Its importance arise from the fact that it is at this level that bulk of people come into close contact with the government policies, programs and their implementation. It is here that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. It has regulatory as well as developmental tasks. The collector continues to play a pivotal role in the district administration. Besides the collection of Revenue and the maintenance of law and order, he is responsible for coordinating the activities of various departments at district level. He enjoys immense power and prestige. Each district has several district officers, who head their respective units at district level. There are some technical departments also. Which are entrusted with functions, which require knowledge and experience in a defined field.

Winding up  – Continuous modernization, higher productivity, rapid advance in socio-economic and technological sphere and desire to improve the quality of life of common-men demand that personnel joining the government services should be effective, efficient and goal-oriented. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans depend upon the efficient and effective performance of all the civil services, as a whole. Therefore, all the civil services at every level should be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India.

 

 

 

 

June 17, 2017 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

Resume of Dr. Lata Sinha

At present

Permanent member of AIWC since 1978 –  an NGO working for education, enlightenment and empowerment of women since 1927.

Member-in-charge A.I.W.C. from 2013 to March 2017. Edited and published five Newsletters for AIWC, which were circulated all over India – the branches of AIWC and concerned Government Officials.

Managing Trustee of ‘Bhagwati Dayal Scholarship fund Trust (private) from1977 to 2000. It gives financial help to about 40-50 poor Kayastha students, widows, and poor students taking up professional courses irrespective of caste or creed.

Participation in International Conferences

  • 2013 – Attended Conference organized by International Women’s League, held in Lincoln Hall, London.
  • 2014 –UN/CSW 59 – In New York
  • 1992 – Triennial Conference of International University Women’s Association, held at Stanford University, USA. Invited as Workshop Leader on “Role of Home-wives in Nation-building”.
  • 1978-1979 – Annual Extension Lectures Certificate on cotemporary international issues, Organized by JNU School of International Studies

6 Research Experience

  • 1989-98 – Part-time Research Associate (University Grants Commission, India) for post-doctoral work on the theme “Reservations in India administrative Service”. Under the supervision of Dr. R.B Jain, then the head of the Department, Political Science, Delhi University, Delhi.
  • 1978 to 1986 – For Ph.D. in political Science from Allahabad University in on “Education and training of higher civil services”, under the guidance of Dr. H. M. Jain, then the head of the department of Political science Department, Allahabad, University.
  • 1975 – Fellow, Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, prepared research paper on ‘Judicial Review and 42nd Amendment act,( written during Emergency period, declared by Indira Gandhi’s Government in 1975) under the supervision of Retired Law Secretary to Government of India (An ICS officer)
  • 1975 – Research paper on “Civil Services in India” for Diploma certificate, awarded by Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies.

8, Award-winning Essays

  • !972 – “Democratic Values and Indian Society” by Indian Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs,
  • 1992 – “Role and Rationale of All India Service” in1992 by Indian Institute of Public Administration, and
  • 1992 – “Reservation Policy (Affirmative Action Program) in India” by Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Society.
  • 1991 – ‘Role of Housewives in Nation-Building’ selected by Geneva office of ‘Federation of International University Women’.
  1. Academic qualifications
  • 1988 –  (Top-position in 1988 batch of 40 students) Post-graduate Diploma Certificate in translation, New Delhi Evening Institute of Delhi. Organized by Bharti Vidya Bhavan in Translation,
  • 1986 – Ph. D., Allahabad University, India.
  • 1963 – Post-graduation in Political Science from Allahabad University
  • 1961 – Bachelor’s degree (Political Science, Hindi Literature and Vocal Music) from Allahabad University.

May 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weaknesses of Indian bureaucracy

 Introduction 

“For the forms of government, let fools contest.

That which is best administered is best.”

   “But what is best must free man still decide.

Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.” Finer

And also

“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pigmies.” V. Hon0re De Balzac

British Government the institution  bequeathed to India – The institution of civil services in India is the oldest and most wonderful institution the British Government had bequeathed to India. British rule had evolved the institution of civil service as an efficient, professional and to a great degree incorruptible organization. It was popularly known as ‘‘the Steel Frame’ of British administrative structure”, Fortunately India, along with Pakistan, has inherited from the past, a unique administrative system, which knows, what these strategic posts are and who are the persons to hold them.

Thousands of employees in Administrative set-up – Government of India employs up (civil services/bureaucracy) from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Government makes all feasible administrative, organizational and working atmosphere arrangements for its employees. The administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks.

The higher civil service is one of very important government institutions for solving nation’s problems. The more the problems, better equipped the civil service should be to face the challenges and meet new demands.   Not only that new responsibilities are being continuously, added to the traditional tasks of the civil services, knowledge in this space age, has been growing faster than ability of the services to handle it. Therefore, it is a must to select the best talents in the bureaucracy and equip them properly by imparting new knowledge and new skills and to inculcate new attitudes in the civil services through a well-planned and systematic arrangement of education and training.

Best talents –  Officers of  civil services of government of India are selected by UPSC through a competitive Combined All India/Civil Services examination every year.  It is one of the toughest entrance examinations. In order to employ best talents in the services, every year UPSC conducts a common civil services examination (CSE) for to select personnel for many services under government of India like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), as well as for other non-IAS services like IFS, IPS and other central services for different departments like Revenue, Railways, Audit and accounts Services, civil services and Police Service for Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli , Pondicherry.

For civil services examination 2015, 9.41 lakh students registered, out of which 4.6 took preliminary test. Of it 15,008 (+1415 for Indian Forest Service Exam.) 3,308 were further shortlisted for personality test. Finally 1,236 (3.5% candidates)were appointed to the 24 services that come under Civil Services.

IAS propped up as the Elite service – During British rule, ICS was propped up as an elite service. Its officers in their early twenties would arrive to India after being trained at Cambridge or Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. They were responsible for maintaining law and order and revenue collection.

Now IAS officers have wide-ranging authority in districts as collectors. and at centre as policy-makers. They have-

  • Have easy accesses to levers of power.
  • Are symbol of power – dealing directly with Ministers at centre and provinces.
  • Have smoothest career-progressions. And
  • Occupy almost all senior-most posts at centre and States.

Issue

One wonders why the steel-frame of yesteryears has failed to do its job effectively and judiciously, despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to perform their duties freely and frankly. Inefficient and ineffective performance of Bureaucracy/civil services by and large has affected the lives of millions of people. Now sarcastically, people call bureaucracy as ‘babudom’ and bureaucrats as ‘Glorified Babus’.

Why does not bureaucracy take a stand against the unjust dictates of political leaders or corrupt senior officers, who stops them from doing their jobs judiciously? Why and how civil services in India got derailed is a point to ponder. What were the reasons behind ineffective and inefficient performance needs to be analysed.

ICS, the “Steel-frame of governance” during British rule  – “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule, and, in a fascinating episode, when Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the rebel Indian National Army, flew to Berlin during the Second World War to solicit help from Hitler, the Fuehrer dismissed him, taking the view that Indians needed “to be civilized by another hundred years of British rule.” “How was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality?

“Gilmour comes to the sensible conclusion that the men of the ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments. A number of individuals were ‘coming to the institution through stiff competition, not the other way round’. Often a District officer in his early twenties would arrive fresh from his ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. The wide ranging responsibilities of the District Officers of the ICS were responsible for almost everything.

Structure of the civil service – The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (From Rup Narain Das, titled ‘Marx and 1857’, published in TOI, P.22, 16.5.07, excerpts quoted from an article of Gilmour on Marx, June July 15, 1857 in New York Daily Tribune as a leading article)

The ICS – ICS (Indian Civil Service) called ‘steel-frame of administration’  Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic “Steel-frame” speech, said it very clearly on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants. He said, “I do not care, what you build on it, if you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India.”

What made ICS so strong and efficient?  – What made ICS was strong enough to rear and sustain British rule in India for such a long time? Some of the reasons were as  was because –

  • Family background – Most of them belonged to British professional middle classes.
  • Educational background – They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge.
  • Sense of responsibility – The ICS, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work. They had deep sense of responsibility. However, these qualities served mainly the British rulers and not so much the Indian masses. They had full freedom and opportunity to do something worthwhile.
  • Work atmosphere – So far as it did not jeopardized the Imperial interests, ICS officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, “Care, protection and guidance” ultimately liberty to the people, they ruled (Times of India, August 10, 1997, p2). Mr. Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, “I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager… Here are simple people, who need leadership.” Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, “Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.”
  • Bright career prospects – Extremely generous salaries and quick promotions.
  • Slim and trim service – just over a thousand at any given time – made for a strong sense of service loyalty.
  • Esprit-de’-corps – Philip Maser said that there was esprit-de’-corps amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, “It is the Esprit de’corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code.” It did not need to be articulated. Every body knew it.
  • Honesty – Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers being corrupt. It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable (Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993).

Balance of Power – Illbert Bill controversy indicates that White bureaucrats were not at all prepared to share administrative powers with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909.  When the demand for the participation of Indian nationals at higher levels of administration increased, the dominance of Brahmins in administration, though mainly at lower level, had cautioned the rulers. They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire national movement, agitations and terrorist activities. Therefore, British rulers tried their best to balance the power in such a way, that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India. British rulers managed it by adopting the following measures –

  •  Propped-up other sections of society against Upper-castes – The British thought it necessary to keep a balance of power by propping up other sections of the society in order to stop the preponderance of Brahmins and forward castes in modern callings.
  • Divide and rule – They divided Indian population, through censuses, into different groups, i.e. upper castes, backward castes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities.
  • Start of quota system – To counter Brahmin’s dominance in administration, the British designed Reservation Policy. They fixed up quotas in government jobs for different sections on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc.
  • Separate representation and preferences to non-Brahmins -Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and1932 the rulers provided separate representation to different communities in Legislative Councils and Assemblies. The rulers bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and jobs for different upcoming groups.
  • ICS remained untouched from preferential treatment till end – Though the British Government gave preferential treatment to upcoming groups in government jobs, British rulers kept the ICS untouched from the quota system till the last. They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for any body, as on it depended, efficient governance of the country.  It was told the upcoming groups in clear terms, “With its utmost desire to do so, the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their countrymen for duties of administration and public (Times of India Archives, May 3, 1918).

Breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India – With the intensification of national movement and introduction of Diarchy, the downfall in the quality of work began to fade. Pannikar says, “The Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India, for after that there was no claim, that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished” (Pannikar KM, The Development of Administration in India, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institution of Public Administration, vols. 2 and 3, p14.)

The Rawland Committee remarked, “The present position, in our judgment, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself, as well as, from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…. He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrates and Collectors failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he can not compel… In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further, because activities of the Government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of Provincialized Service and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the Government” (Report of the Bengal Administrative Enquiry Committee, 1944-45, p18).

Transfer of power – In 1935, with the intensification of the nationalist movement, supported by Indian National Congress Party and growing demand for greater Indian participation in Government and its administration at higher levels, the Colonial rulers delegated some authority to the provinces. They were aware of the consequences of delegation of authority to the provinces. Therefore, they transferred to the Provincial Governments only the authority to manage the services engaged in service-functions and kept ‘control functions’ i.e. maintaining law and order and revenue collection in their own hands. Ultimately in 1947, India got its freedom as an independent country.

After independence

Civil services after the Independence  – With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration had undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic changes. Bureaucracy was now expected to play a significant role in administrative and developmental work of the Government.

Dreams of constitution-framers – The forefathers of the Constitution realized the importance of civil services in order to ensure good governance to the country and providing the safety of the nation. Mr. MV Kamath said, “With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the services have become onerous. It may make or mar the efficiency of the machinery of administration, machinery so vital for the peace and progress of the country. A country without any efficient Government service can not make progress in spite of the earnestness of the people at the helm of affairs of the country. Whatever democratic institutions exist, experience has shown, that it is essential to protect public services as far as possible from political and personal influence and to give it that position of stability and security, which is vital in its successful working, as an impartial and efficient instrument, by which Government of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p585).

Mr. Subharajan said during Constituent Assemble debates, “Without an efficient civil service, it would be impossible for the Government to carry on and continuity to be kept. The importance of the Governmental administration has been in the fact that there is continuity and unless this continuity, there is chaos” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p952).

Vallabh Bhai Patel in his letter to the Prime Minister wrote, “I need hardly emphasize, that an efficient, disciplined and contended (civil) service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work, is a “Sine-quanan” of sound administration, under a democratic regime, even more than under an authoritarian rule. The (civil) service must be above party and we should ensure that political consideration, either in its recruitment or its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether” (Patel Vallabh Bhai in a letter to Mr. Nehru).

After Nehru’s midnight hour speech between 14th and 15th August 1947, Dr. Radhakrishnan warned the nation, “Our opportunities are great, but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability, which would help us to utilize the opportunities, which are now open to us. A free India will be judged by the way, in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and social services.”

Need of efficient employees in administration – Civil services in Independent India Independent India required that the civil administration at every level must be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans would depend largely upon the efficiency of its administrative cadres.

Attraction for the youth – Jobs in the Government have always remained an attraction for the youth. Entry into IAS and central services are the most sought-after jobs for students as it provides the highest entry point in bureaucracy. Government employs officers on various responsible posts after being successful  in a well-planned entry competitive examination and then go for rigorous professional training in different training institutions. making processes and their implementation work.

IAS (Indian Administrative Service), the successor of ICS after Independence After independence, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) was created as the successor of ICS, which was till now a reputed, efficient and powerful service.  IAS is now an elite service meant predominantly to be engaged in control functions of Indian provinces. political circle. up of the nation.

Functions of the civil services – The civil administration, whether in Centre or in State, can be divided into two groups:

• Working in the Secretariats – Policy making body;

• Working in field organisations – for implementation of policies and plans.

Working at Secretariat level – Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.

Following are important functions at the level of Secretariat: –

  • Obtaining decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
  • Overall planning and finance,
  • Legislative business,
  • Personnel management policies,
  • Legal advice,
  • Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
  • Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
  • Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.

Administration at field level – The district administration occupies a key position. ‘District Collector’ continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration. District is the most convenient geographical unit, where the total apparatus of Civil Administration is concentrated and where officials come into direct contact with the people. Its importance arises from the fact, that it is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation. It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration. It has regulatory as well as developmental tasks.

The first five or six years of service in the state are crucial for all IAS officers. During this period, they go on field postings at district level to get the feel and first hand knowledge of real life and social realities. These postings open up the minds of young officers, by bringing them into direct contact with administrative life, with people at grass-root level, with their concrete problems and with different human and social conditions prevailing there. They get acquainted with the administrative structure in the district and the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters.  The experience of field work enriches officials with a variety of experiences and makes them ripe for senior positions.

Besides for collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, District collector is responsible. He also coordinates activities of various departments at district level. A collector enjoys immense power and prestige at district level.

Both kinds of work at district and in headquarter equally important – Work at Secretariat and work in the field have their distinctive challenges. For efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for really bright and talented officers. Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ after Independence With many of the old visionary leaders and bureaucrats having gone from the national and state scene in the sixties, a rot started setting up rapidly in the administrative set up.

Problems of the day

Fall in the standard of governance – After Independence the bureaucracy  has started shaking under its own pressure.  Undesirable political pressure on it increased continuously. With the result that bureaucracy in India has now appears to be unable to meet the challenges of the day and has become an ineffective and powerless institution. administration.

The political complexion of the nation underwent a revolutionary change after the fall of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government and then disappearance of Nehru-Gandhi family from the political scene. The era of instability started. Mr. VN Narayan commented on the climate of 1990’s, “We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalization). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles) There is only one solution to all problems – a human and spiritual solution. We have to consciously move toward humanizing our social institutions and spiritualize (not communalize or secularize) ourselves” (Narayanan VN, Hindustan Times, June 1, 1995, p13).

Bureaucrats known as ‘Babus’ –  Since beginning of 21st century, there is decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. Rarely are factors like competence, aptitude, past experience and public spirit taken into account, while making appointments to responsible posts. Instead of known as Government officials, the bureaucrats are called ‘glorified clerks’ and bureaucracy as ‘babudom’.

Most of the bureaucrats find it more convenient to toe the line of political leaders rather than standing up for principles and paying the price for it.  The situation has led to the nexus that has developed between unscrupulous politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and criminals, as Vohra Committee has vividly described it. The appointment of tainted officers at crucial positions itself makes the intentions of the politicians clear. ism has corroded the steel frame.

Reasons , that made the difference – Reasons for derailing the whole administrative system are very simple, which are as following –

  • Intake of the material

Before Independence – Then, during British rule, the British Government was very particular about the intake of the material into its elite service. The British, according to their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of racial discrimination on the dictum of “White-man’s” superiority for the appointment in ICS. For a long time, the Indians were virtually prohibited to join this service intentionally. The rulers never wanted to give Indian any control over the governance of the country. Lord Lytton, in his confidential document, confirmed that the pledge of the Royal proclamation of 1858 was never intended to be carried out. He said, “We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straightforward course.” (Annie Besant, How India wrought for freedom, p420)

Lord Kimberley, the Secretary of State, laid down in 1893; “It is indispensable, that an adequate number of members of the Civil Service shall always be European.” Viceroy Lord Landsdown stressed “Absolute necessity of keeping the Government of this wide-spread empire into European hands, if that empire is to be maintained.” (Bipin Chandra, Modern India, p158) In 1867, Lawrence said very (clearly, “We have conquered India by force of arms, though the policy and good Government have already aided us. In the like manner, we must hold it. The Englishmen must always be in the forefront holding the post of honor and power, as the condition of our retaining of our rule.” (Tara Chand, History of Freedom Movement in India, p497)

In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they were pursuing with regard to “White-man’s superiority” in Civil Service. “The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigor of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule and any other rule being in the circumstances of the case impossible. The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.” (Supplement to Gazette of India, June 4, 1904, p937

After Independence – Now, after independence the hope of the best-talent syndrome belied. It was hoped that civil services would attract the best talents and most competent and qualified youth from all over India. There was a time, when it attracted the best talents of the nation. A large number of intellectuals, engineers, doctors, MBAs and other professionals joined the services. One of the reasons is that now 50% candidates are taken into the services on quota basis with relaxed standards in order to give make space for upcoming sections of society. Reservation of about 50% posts has further eroded the charm to join government services for the talented youth.

Civil services no more attract the best brains.  The willingness of talented and meritorious youths to join government services is now like a passing tide. For the last few years, constant political interference has diluted the charm to join the civil services. The youth find the work atmosphere suffocating, because there is no freedom to do any creative works. It has created many pen-pushing bureaucrats. Disincentive to hard work, merit and sincerity has demoralized the honest and hard working people.  The cream of the society either wishes to join the private sector or to go abroad. Liberalization and globalization has given a boost to this trend.

  • Bloated Size 

Under British rule – As said earlier, “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule. The cadre strength of ICS ‘the steel-frame’ and the predecessor of IAS, the elite service of Independent India, had always remained less than 1500. With that cadre strength, they were able to cope with the administrative work of the undivided India efficiently and effectively.

After independence, white elephant – There is a continuous increase in number. After Independence, the civil services have gradually grown into a bloated and top heavy service. In one of its elite service IAS, which had cadre strength of only 957 officers in 1950, is now having 4377 (as on 1.1.2012) administrators in position. The first causality of this obesity is its efficiency. In Independent India, the annual intake in IAS went up from about 33 in 1947 to 138 in 1965 and to 160 in 1985. The cadre strength in various years is given below: –

                                                             Strength of IAS after Independence

Year                         Authorized   Cadre strength                 In position

 1951                                     1232                                       957 (Includes 336 ICS)

1961                                    1862                                       1722 (Includes 215 ICS)

1971                                     3203                                       2754 (Includes 88 ICS)

1981                                      4599                                         3883

                            1991                                     5334                                             4881

2012-                                     6154                                   4377

Source: Civil lists Pay Commission Reports, Report of Deptt. of Personnel.

It is not only in IAS, but the number of civil servants has increased in all the services. Bureaucracy has become like a white elephant.

Outcome of this increase – The rot set in on account of continuous increase in the number of government employees resulted in:

    • Adverse effect on the “Espirit-d’corps” in the service
    • Creation of additional high level posts to accommodate timely promotions,
    • Establishment expenditure is eating away most of the resources generated by the Government for development projects.
    • Continuous increase at entry point has led to stagnation at Joint Secretary level, resulting in frustration,
    • Creation of many insignificant unnecessary posts, that has very little work or authority,
    • Generating resentment in Non-IAS Services against IAS officers for encroaching the preserves of other services,
    • Side-lining upright officers, thus discouraging excellence of performance. A large number of officers are always there in the queue, willing to toe the line (dictates) of politicians with vested interests.
    • Leading to poor communication, duplication of work, and delay in action and decision taking.
    • Creating multiple layers in administrative hierarchy, over the country

Specialization

During British rule – During pre-independence days there were some 9 All India services to provide adequate manpower at the top of various disciplines + other Non ICS services of generalist nature, which were as popular as ICS was. Even within ICS, immediately after the recruitment, the officers were geared to attain knowledge and experience in specific areas for higher assignments, during probationary period and thereafter-early years of service. Broadly there were three main areas ICS (Judicial as there was not much pressure of Imperial Government on their working) or Indian Custom Service (as they always got postings in big towns).  Even after Independence, for some time, there was not much difference in the social status, career progression, standard and behavior pattern of IAS and Non IAS class I services. However since 1960 onwards, slowly but steadily, IAS has become more and more powerful and the only ‘Elite service’ under Government of India. The display by ICS officers for one kind of work rather than the other, their special knack and aptitude for particular type of work was taken into account for deciding their future career. Therefore, in practice and not in theory, the ICS was building a cadre of specialists in administration and also encouraging further specialization in particular field of administration, not through formal training, but through experience by doing job under the supervision of those, having greater experience. (LK Jha, Administrator as Specialist Management in Government, July-September, 1980)

Now, after independence -After Independence, the need of specialization in IAS, one of the most powerful service in Government of India is much more than it was for ICS. But for one reason or other, contrary is the trend. IAS does not have different functional cadres. Its officers move from one functional area to another. With the result that-

Jack of all trades, but master of none – They are “Jack of all trades, but master of none”. The knowledge of any particular area is not considered important for their appointment to senior posts. Consequently, just as politicians depend on secretaries for knowledge, secretaries depend on their subordinates and technical staff for knowledge and information.

Blind leading the other blind – Many times, when politicians are to be advised on policy issues, alternatives cannot be put forward by them properly, because they, themselves, are professionally ignorant about the subject. It is often alleged that in technical areas, the system of collecting information, analyzing data and using modern innovations is so inadequate, that policy advice is neither according to time nor fully matured. Therefore, critics say that such a practice leads to a situation, where ignorant politicians are being advised by comparatively ignorant generalist officers. The position is similar to blind leading the other blind.

Adverse effect of quick changes, from one type of job to another – The quick changes, from one type of job to another, make the knowledge of IAS officers superficial. There are some hard working and sincere IAS officers, who are eager to learn the maximum about the subject matter of their job. But they are also constrained because of the swift changes from one functional area to another. The real knowledge is obtained by sustained hard work for a long period in one type of job, which enables a person to develop innate ability needed for the smooth functioning and development of that area.

• Creation of more posts – In order to solve the problem stagnation, there the government started creating more and more posts at higher grades. As a remedial action, the Government had sub-divided one job so many times that many senior officers have hardly two or three hour of work a day. What is worse, a number of them are doing jobs, which was earlier done by their juniors.

• A battle between IAS and Non IAS – The story does not end here only. In order to avoid stagnation in its elite service, i.e., IAS, the Government is creating many cushy jobs in public sector corporations, which are manned largely by IAS officers. As a consequence, a battle is going on between IAS and non-IAS central services and also between IAS and State Civil Services just to get top posts in the public sector corporations. While this battle has become something of a scandal, no one bothers, whether services are achieving the objectives, for which they are created.

• Multiplicity of these focal points – By creating more and more posts at the top level, the Government has created too many points of control and coordination. Multiplicity of too many focal points has created overlapping of functions and jurisdictions. More men, less wok, duplication of efforts, lack of supervision and control have resulted in confusion and inefficiency.

• Swift changes makes difficult to fix responsibility – Swift changes, from one functional area to another, make it difficult to hold an officer responsible for any wrong policy. By the time, the results of a policy or the implementation of a program is evaluated, the concerned officer gets shifted to another post, department or goes back to his parent state.

• Unlimited Authority without Responsibility – It is said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The concept of “Welfare state” and “Development administration” has bestowed immense authority in the hands of Government, which is mainly exercised by the executive, meaning the ministers and the Bureaucrats. But this authority is without responsibility.

• Always someone else held responsible – Whatever may go wrong, either at the field level or at the secretariat level, an IAS officer is never held responsible. If law and order situation deteriorates in a district, IPS officer is held responsible. If a policy decision goes wrong, it is said that the IAS officers were wrongly advised by the specialists or specialized organizations dealing with that particular subject.

Lack of senior’s support

During British period – During British period, young officers were placed under the strict supervision of senior officers, who used to take keen interest in the development of their capacity to run the administration effectively. It was made clear to senior district officers, that it was very important to pay attention to the young officers, who were put under their guidance. Their success in life and reputation, as good officers, depended greatly on the assistance; they received from their seniors at the outset of their career. (GO No.738, published on April 18, 1916, ICS Manual Madras) As a result, the junior officers were groomed well on job and possessed a marked degree of professionalism in their area of activity. Their claim of superiority, over others, was clearly established.

Now after the independence – However, after independence, the scene is not like the past. Senior officers gradually lost interest in their subordinates. Reasons for it are generally the following –

• There is scarcity of experienced officers at the district level. Most of them have drifted to the central and state secretariats or to public corporations etc

• There is lack of personnel planning.

• Premature promotions – Earlier, ICS officers used to work under senior officers for about seven to eight years, before they were given independent charge as collector. Now officers have to take the responsibility of independent jobs prematurely. After foundation training of two years,   hardly a year or 18 months passes, when an IAS officer gets promoted to the responsible post of collector. He is not mature enough either service-wise or age-wise to handle the challenging job of a collector. When officer himself does not have enough experience as a collector (head of district administration), how can he take up the responsibility of training others?

• Senior officers are so occupied with their own work, that they hardly spare enough time and attention to see and guide the work of their juniors.

• Because of changing political culture, senior officers themselves are so insecure, how can they instil sense of security and confidence amongst their juniors?

• Unfortunately, now the main function of the administrative service has become to maintain status quo and defend the wrong practices of its political masters, not to guide well the junior officers or stand by them when in difficulty.

Suggestion of ARC (1968) – ARC had also suggested way back in 1968 that the IAS officers should be confined to areas, which are well known to them and should not be allowed to encroach on those areas, for which, others have acquired special knowledge and experience. (Report of ARC on Personnel Administration in Government of India, 1969, p16) All India Character  Professor Maheshvari has said, “In a never ceasing see-saw game of adjustment and bargaining between the center and the states in federal cum competitive politics, neither its all India outlook, nor its talent, nor even its supposed loyalty to the center comes into active play.” (Maheshwari SR, The All India Service, published in the lecture series of 80th Course on Personnel Policies in practice organized by 11PA, 1980, P305)

IAS is fast loosing its all India character. The Union Home Ministry has, from time to time, advised Chief Secretaries of the states not to recommend transfer of cadre members to their home states, but those with influence are able to manage it. In many states like Bihar, Punjab etc, more than 60% of the officers are from within the state. It is mainly because of the political ties. (Saxena NS, IAS and IPS at war with the state cadre, Times of India, April 6,1984) It has become very difficult for IAS officers to take the side of Union Government, while working in states. It becomes more difficult, when other parties than that of the center rule states. Working with state governments compels them to take care of local influences – political and social. In order to avoid local pressures, many officers avoid field postings. They either prefer to have postings in the state capitals or be on deputation in the central government at Delhi, where there is lesser political pressure on them.

  • Field Experience

An administrator is supposed to maintain links with the people directly through the channels of understanding and persuasion, not through authority or force. Many ICS officers claimed that earlier they had been closer to public than present day administrators.

During British rule – The work experience at district or sub-division level was considered to be a qualification for ICS officers. Personal knowledge of ground realities/village conditions was considered necessary. The rulers insisted on personal knowledge of its executives of what was happening in the farthest village. Administrative officers established and maintained contact with rural masses at the highest level of the administrative hierarchy. Great emphasis was laid on getting young officers thoroughly acquainted with village and the administrative structure dealing with matters, which touched the rural people, such as land, irrigation, Government loans etc. The most important of these, from villagers’ point of view, was his right on land – whether as owner, tenant or worker. It had to be correctly recorded. Rendering effective, just and quick service to the villagers – Also, various exaction of government, such as land revenue, higher irrigation dues, return of loans etc. were to be fairly assessed and collected. The village community had a vested interest in the efficiency and honesty of revenue system. Whatever be the motivation of British administration, it certainly rendered effective, just and quick service to the villagers. The system was so enforced and watched, that there was no escape, whatsoever from acquiring knowledge about village conditions and methods to deal with them. (Mangat Rai, Commitment my style in ICS, 1973)

Exhaustive touring from village to village – The officers used to make exhaustive tours, moving from village to village and lived a camp-life for considerably long period. The symbol and instrument of village contact was horse. This was partly because of the manner, in which these were conducted, were slow, and easy, involving staying out near village and imbibing thoroughly their atmosphere and conditions. Close contact with people, source of strength in a democracy – The close contact with the common men and the people’s faith in their uprightness gave them the strength to become the “Steel frame” of the whole system.  Now many retired ICS officers claim, that the nature of functioning before the independence was such, that they had better understanding and knowledge of the people of their area than the IAS officers of today. In a democratic, people are the source of strength – this basic truth is forgotten by most of the administrators, making them weaker.

Now, After Independence – Unfortunately, after independence and progressively over the years, importance of field experience has lost its validity. Mostly, while ‘sitting in an air-conditioned room’ or ‘living in an ivory tower’, bureaucrats are hardly aware of the problems/realities at ground level of the common-man.

  • Field experience lost its validity – Most of the officers are habitual of leading a comfortable urban life. It is difficult and troublesome for them to spend enough time in rural areas. As a result, they have to depend to a great extent on the advice of their subordinates there. Many times, there is a lack of timely and reliable information. Escape from field postings – Many smart and ambitious officers find their way out and skip sub-divisional or district experience. A study by DPAR, in 1981, has shown that in eight state cadres, 70% or more IAS officers have not done sub-divisional charge even for two years. (Seventy Seventh Report of Estimate Committee of Seventh Lok Sabha, August 17,1984, pp76-77) IAS is fast becoming a secretariat service.
  • Little grass-root contacts – The same is the story of district charge. Many officers manage their postings at the center and/or state capitals throughout their career and do not care to revive or develop what little grass-root contacts, they had earlier. Because of the improved road network in the villages and availability of fast moving vehicles, such as cars, jeeps etc, the district officers lack the intimate knowledge of the rural areas. The tendency of officers is merely to complete the formality of being on tour, as might have stipulated by the state Government. They make touch and go visits to rural areas, especially the one, which are easily accessible by road, spend the prescribed compulsory number of night halts in some wayside Dak bungalow.
  • Lack of grass-roots contacts making ‘Politicians’ stronger and ‘Bureaucrats’ weaker –Today, politicians are closer to people than bureaucrats. It is due to this lack of enough field experience, grass roots knowledge and experience in the absence of direct contact with the rural masses that the local politicians could exert pressure on administrators. It has made them stronger than bureaucrat.
  • Politicization

Before and after independence – ICS enjoyed the authority to take decisions. The ministers and politicians used to find their authority shadowy over them.

After the independence, the table was turned. Over the years bureaucrats have succumbed to the dictats of its political masters. Now, the minister dictates and the officers obey without any resistance. Dominance of political masters over administrative and economic matters has been one of the prominent features of independent India, which is responsible for the deterioration of law and order and slower rate of economic growth.

The political leaders found the authority to reward and punish officers, through transfers and postings, as an effective tool to make officers fall in line with them and be loyal to them. Honest and upright officers face quick transfers, bad entries, judicial inquiries, and loyalist officer’s prestigious postings, foreign trips special allowances etc. It has made Bureaucrats to succumb almost absolutely to political pressures.

  • Growing politicization of services and lack of support from seniors has put a negative effect on the initiative and creativity of young officers. Today the efficiency of the service as a whole is at its lowest ebb. Complete breakdown of discipline everywhere is mainly responsible for the disintegration of administrative system and its future.

Glamorous service

Until 1960s, there was very little difference between the standard and behavior of IAS officers and class I officers belonging to other services of Government of India. Today, IAS officers deal directly with politicians, plan bigger things, moves all over the world frequently. It has added glamour to the service. The result of this development has been that the IAS has attracted the attention of politicians, especially of those pursuing the sectional interest. To them, entry into IAS is the surest and quickest means to get control over others, to improve one’s status in the society, to command instant admiration and respect of the people, thus in reaching quickly to the commanding position in the society. It is supposed to be the manifest symbol of power. It makes an easy access to levers of authority. It enables them to occupy positions having immense power and privileges at the highest level in the Government. Once in service, a person could lead an easy life, is a general conception. The craze for getting into the service is increasing continuously amongst the newly emerging sections of the society. Most of the new recruits are now not bothered about the high ideals, intellectual competence and high standards of administration, commitment to public service, Constitutional values, or concern for justice. They are mainly interested in exercising the State authority over powerless people and making as much money as possible by misusing their authority.

Red tape

Jayant Narlikar, an eminent scientist, describes government functioning as the soulless movement of files. According to him, India has one of the most obdurate, cold, insular and inflexible Civil Service, the free world has ever known. (Narikar Jayant, Two Cheers for Bureaucracy, Times of India, December 13, 1995, p10) Lord Curzon’s remarks are, “Round and round like the diurnal revolution of the earth went the file – stately, solemn and slow”. Similarly, decades later, Malcolm Muggeridge observed, “It was governments pure and un-defied, endlessly minuting and circulating files, which like time itself has neither beginning nor end.” (Times of India, December 25, 1995)

What should be done?

Sufficient knowledge of the area, in which one works

 The role of civil services have become more demanding and challenging due to the complexity of modern times and fast changing social, political, economic and technological developments of the recent past. Specialization with varied experience, in present atmosphere, means that an officer for strategic senior post should have sufficient knowledge of the area he is supposed to work.  In addition to that in their own discipline, there should be varied experience of different aspects and activities concerned with it – such as planning, coordinating work at different levels, advising ministers on policy matters, taking into account the social, legal and economic constraints, particularly in his/her functional area etc. All this could be achieved only after working in any area for a reasonable period.

Basic qualification – It appears rather odd that a simple graduation is required to enter into the most prestigious service i.e. the IAS. While in other services like Indian Economic Service and Indian Statistical Service, the requirement is a post-graduate degree. In Engineering or technical services a degree in Engineering, which takes four years of rigorous graduation course. The time demands to have a cadre of more and more qualified administrators, more than in the past.  Either the administrators should be selected earlier and then trained properly for their jobs as is being done in Defence Services or MBA degree needs to be made compulsory for appearing in competitive entrance examination. Lateral entries could also be made by including bright persons already employed elsewhere, like: –

•Technocrats having sufficient experience in management,

•Professionals from other civil services,

•Entrepreneurs, willing to switch over.

Promotion policy Promotions in the service should be strictly based on good performance. Administrator should be encouraged to upgrade, sharpen, and focus their knowledge towards analysis and problem solving Closer contact with people could save bureaucrats from undue political pressure – Today’s politicians think themselves to be exclusive guardians of the people. The Administrators have, at present, lost the faith of the people.

The people doubt their credibility and efficacy of occupying policy level posts. Alienation from the common man leads the administrator to base their decisions on second hand information. Because of inadequate data, inefficient resource allocation and inward looking project monitoring; plans and policies remain, often, far away from the reality and actual needs and aspirations of the people. Closer contact, coordination with people and their confidence in administrator could save them from undue political pressure.

Corruption

Many reports reveal that although an increasing number of IAS figures in corruption cases, the wheels of justice are not moving fast enough to punish the guilty. Procedural delays, political patronage and resistance from within the bureaucracy, appear to be helping corrupt officials evade the long arm of the law. People are given all kinds of excuses for the corruption prevalent in the service. Corrupt and self-seeking administrators have become expensive parasites on the system and society.

Independent machinery for transfers and promotions Extensive political controls over transfers and promotions give vast powers to them and unlimited opportunities to make money. Through delays, dilatoriness and excuses they help the greedy and power hungry politicians. In return get their patronage and good postings.

In order to provide bureaucracy functional independence and give a chance to conscientious and competent bureaucrats to contribute for good governance, recently Supreme Court ordered setting minimum tenures for bureaucrats and put curb on arbitrary transfers and postings. But lack of political will is the hurdle on the way to much required administrative reforms.

 Winding up

In short, the reasons of the corrosion of the steel-frame are poor personnel policies, excessive protectionist policies of the Government, bloated size, unbalanced infrastructural development with concentration of authority in a few hands, cumbersome office procedures, increased paper work, delay in action and decision – taking, disincentive to hard work, talent and sincerity, lack of accountability, alienation from the common man and the last but not the least tolerance of people of India, who accept sub-standard administration, giving very little challenge to the officers to upgrade their performance.

Conclusion

Following are the steps to be taken by the government –

  • First of all, the Government of India should merge all its civil services, technical as well as non-technical, into one unified service with an integrated pay structure and career prospects. The Government should ensure complete parity in pay scales, same time- frame for all services for getting promoted into next grade, promotional avenues and career development.
  • For efficient and effective administration, the 21st century administrative machinery needs to be lean, thin and down-sized.• The attainment of high standard of administration depends a great deal on the environment of work, which requires selection of capable officers, proper placement of officers and proper atmosphere of work.
  • On their part, bureaucrats require a change in attitude. They should be accountable for their decisions.
  • There is need to do field duties in districts more seriously, to get the feel of the pulse of the nation and to get people’s cooperation, not by force or use of authority, but by prompting, persuading, suggesting, stimulating and inspiring them.
  • It must be realized by every bureaucrat that he are there because of the people, not the people because of him. People are not an interruption to his work, but the purpose of it. In a country like India, where most of its people are illiterate or semi-literate, mere functional efficiency can not stir warmth. A little glow of welcome in the eyes of civil servant converts disappointment into exhilaration in the public. People, after meeting a civil servant, should return with satisfaction that they were heard patiently and sympathetically and that some one would be taking interest in their problems. 

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Dalit Assertion

A Journey From ‘Shudras’-‘Outcastes’-‘Panchamas’ to ‘Dalits’

Introduction – An alarmingly large number of people in India,  irrespective of caste or creed, continues to suffer due to poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and unbridled exploitation, even 70 years after its Independence. The efforts done by the governments, so far, have led the Indian society towards fundamentalist and separatist attitudes, conflicts, in-fights between different sections of society, instability, in-decisiveness, and rigid and irrational attitude. The whole nation has been divided into numerous water-tight political camps like pro-Hindu camp, anti-Hindu camp, secular camp,  fundamentalist camp, and caste camps into forward, backward and Dalit camps. There are regional camps too. Attempts to place a society in different camps for selfish motives is against the law of humanity/nature and threat to unity.

The political developments with an aim to empower submerged sections of Indian society, including the ‘Policy of Reservation’ and other paternalistic policies, based on caste-consideration, have not been succeeded, so far, to yield desired results. Instead, it has sowed the seeds of mutual strife and polarized the Indian society into water-tight compartments. Also it has developed a mindset amongst very ambitious persons/individuals belonging to so-called Dalits and other backward castes that they will occupy the posts of ‘PM, CMs’ through elections and of ‘DMs and GMs’ through reservation.

Entrusting power in weak hands, without making them strong enough to hold it judiciously, could never bring any positive/desired results. Instead of enabling through sound education and training system to upgrade the social-status and economic position of submerged sections of society, paternalistic policies have divided  the whole nation into numerous political camps like pro-Hindu camp, anti-Hindu camp, secular camp,  fundamentalist camp, and caste camps into forward, backward and Dalit camps. There are regional camps too, playing up federal card to woe the electorate. increased rivalries and in-fights between different groups of castes and created social disorder, making now and then, the task of governance difficult.

Correct diagnosis of the ailment –  It is said that prescription works, if diagnosis of ailment is correct. To facilitate upward mobility of the oppressed and deprived sections of society,  valid prescriptions needs to be applied to deserving persons at right time, and in right quantity and quality.

Issue – The main issue is not the political empowerment of Dalits without enabling them to hold the responsibilities, but is of their sustainable development, creating awareness through sound education and training, so that nobody could exploit them and thus enable them to lead their life peacefully with dignity and honour.

Inter and Intra-Caste rivalries – All paternalistic policies are based on caste-identity. Therefore it is necessary to understand what caste is? Caste is a conglomeration of many sub-castes and sub-sub-castes. No caste or sub-caste or sub-sub caste has given up their separate identity, while interacting with each other.

The unity of backward castes under the label of Dalits or “OBCs” is an illusion created by vested interests. Neither the term Schedule caste”, nor OBC nor Dalit makes them a homogenous class. Only for political purposes, many castes and sub-castes have come together, formed a pressure group and emerged as strong force to persuade government to accept their demands for  special measures/preferences for empowering them.

Different castes  have accepted the identical tag given to them by the government – i,e. forward castes/caste-Hindus, backwards, SCs, STs and minorities.   In the opinion of MSS Pandian, the current inter caste rivalries are part of a series of periodic revolt, whose prime object is self-assertion. (An academic with Madras Institute of Development Studies, Sunday, pp. 12-13, and 8-14, June, 1997). 

Historical background

All the social groups as vertical parallels in ancient India – In ancient India all the social groups were placed more or less as a series of vertical parallels. All of the people living in a local area, whether high or low, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence. Different castes and communities living in the same area cared and supported each other in fulfilling different kind of their needs. Socially, Shudras were supposed to do all sorts of menial work and serving the upper castes of the three Varnas.

Respect not on the basis of material success or control of power – Respect to a person or group was never given on the basis of material success or control of power. There was hardly any room for any section of society to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another. Concept of forwards or backwards or feeling of exploitation of lower strata by upper castes was almost non-existent at that time.

Many studies have shown that Hindu system always kept masses reconciled, if not contended in the past. Hindu Dharma taught the people that instead of holding others responsible, for all their sufferings, exploitation and miseries it was their own “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) which were to be blamed.

Opportunities to Shudras to earn respect of the society – It never prevented Shudras or others to rise in the scale of society or to earn respect of the society. In many parts of the country, people belonging to lower strata held position of power/superior status or earned respect of Hindu society. Many warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins’ help to acquire Kshatriyas status for themselves. Many Shudras were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers.

Low status and sufferings of ‘Shudras’ – All troubles of lower strata of society started after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values around Seventh century onwards. Continuous invasions by Turks, Afghans and Mughals who earlier drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands and afterwards made India their homeland and ruled the country for centuries.

Feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled. Therefore, it can be said that it was not out of malice, but the circumstances, which has pushed Shudras away from the mainstream.

Centuries old enslavement, ignorance, suppression, ostracism/low status and sufferings of Shudras or their exclusion from the mainstream had gradually stopped growth of their personality and made them completely dependent on others for their livelihood. It shook their confidence and their condition deteriorated continuously. They had to suffer inhuman treatment by the well-to- do sections of the society.

Depressed Class – During the nineteenth Century, in official circles lower castes were addressed as ‘Depressed class’ or ‘Exterior class’. British government in India regarded these people as ‘Oppressed of the oppressed and lowest of the low’. Missionaries were trying to convert this section of society into Christianity. British rulers passed many Legislative regulations and administrative orders and declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.

Till now, untouchable activities were combined with the intermediate castes’ non- Brahmin movement. But now all these developments inspired them to enter into the political arena under the name of “depressed class” and desired to a share in political power separately in India.

Harijans

The attempt of British rulers in 1911 to exclude untouchables from Hindu population and continuous decline of number of Hindus cautioned the national leaders. In order to retain their Hindu identity, Gandhiji and his followers called them Harijans meaning the “people belonging to god”. On one hand, Gandhiji tried to create compassion in the hearts of forward communities for Harijans and on the other he appealed to Harijans to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up freely with other sections of society. Dalit leaders did not like the word Harijan as it symbolized a meek and helpless person, at the mercy and benevolence of others, and not the proud and independent human being that they were.

During this period, the attention of humanitarians and reformers was also drawn towards the pathetic condition of untouchables. They took the path of Sankritisation to elevate them. In order to prevent alienation of untouchables from Hindu community, they drew the attention of forward communities towards inhuman condition of lower strata of society and tried to create compassion in their hearts for downtrodden.

They gave top most priority to the abolition of untouchability. They tried to clarify that Untouchability was neither an integral part of Hinduism nor an outcome of Varna/caste system, nor have any religious sanctity, but an external impurity and sinful blot on Hinduism. They laid emphasis on education, moral regeneration and philanthropic uplift. and become proud and independent human beings, that they were.

Untouchables

By 1909, the lowest strata of Indian society came to be known as untouchabes. Emergence of Dr. Ambedkar on the political scene provided the leadership and stimulus to untouchable movement. He insisted to address untouchables just as untouchables. He regarded the terms ‘Depressed classes’, ‘Dalits’, ‘Harijans’ either confusing or degrading and contemptuous. Dr. Ambedkar made it abundantly clear, ‘It was through political power that untouchables were to find their solution, not through acceptance by Hindus’. He gave untouchable movement a national character and a distinct identity during late twenties and early thirties.

Other prominent Dalit leaders like Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh vehemently criticized Hindu hierarchical structure and regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of Varna/caste system. They taught the lower castes to get united and make eradication of caste system their major plank as it engaged them to forced labor or unsavory jobs, imposed many restrictions on them and prevented them from joining the mainstream of the society. According to them, Hindus treated lower castes as lesser human beings, meek and helpless persons, who should always remain at the mercy and benevolence of upper castes. They tried to find the solution of their problems through political power, not through acceptance by Hindus.

By 1920’s, numerous caste organizations, specially in the South and West, organized themselves into larger collectiveness by keeping contacts and alliances with their counterparts at other places; formed associations and federations at local and regional levels and emerged as a powerful political force. Together, they demanded special legal protection and share in politics and administration on the basis of caste.

In 1928, Simon Commission established their separate identity at national level, independent of intermediate castes as untouchables. It readily accepted their demands through Communal Award of 1932. Gandhiji along with other National leaders regarded it as the Unkindest cut of all”, which would create a permanent split in Hindu Society, perpetuate casteism and make impossible the assimilation of untouchables in mainstream. Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, The principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morely Reforms, had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms….The electorate in 1919 was broken up into ten parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Giving separate representations to Schedule Castes further weakened Hindu community… The British introduced every possible cross-division.

Scheduled Castes

In accordance with the provisions of the Communal Award of 1932, instructions were issued, in July 1934, to schedule a list of the people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of special electoral representation and appointment in the Central Government jobs. This gave birth to the term Scheduled Caste in 1935. Scheduling was a legal activity having sanction of legal authorities. Therefore, no one had any objection to this term. The term continued after the independence as well, for the purpose of Reservation.

Untouchables in Independent India

After second world war emergence of the concept of ‘welfare state’ swept the whole world. Independent India, as a civilized democratic society, considered it its humanitarian obligation to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. The overwhelming poverty of millions belonging to lower strata of society and their near absence in echelons of power at the time of Independence has led the government to of India to intervene. The Constitution of India has directed the Government to promote social justice and educational, economic and other interests of the weaker sections with special care. It instructed the Government to remove the poverty and reduce inequalities of income and wealth and provide adequate representation to the downtrodden in power echelons through Affirmative Action Program/Reservation Policy. Public facilities, which were denied to untouchables so far, should be made accessible to them. The successive governments both at national as well as provincial levels initiated various Welfare Plans and Policies for employment generation and their social, economic and political growth from time to time.

Dalits

Dalit, a Maradhi word means suppressed. The term was chosen and used proudly by Ambedkar’s followers under the banner of various factions of Republican Party of India (Formed in 1956). The Mahars of Bombay (8%), Jatavs of UP (Half of the SC Population in UP) and Nadars and Thevars of Southern TN being numerically significant, played a decisive role in taking forward Dalit movement. Maharashtra Dalit movement has a longest and richest experience.

In 1972, a distinct political party, in the name of Dalit Panther was formed in Maharashtra. It organized the lower castes under the banner of ‘Dalit’ throughout India. One of the founders of Dalit Panther, Mr. Namdeo Dhasal widened the scope of Dalit by including SC, tribes, neo-Buddhists, landless labor and economically exploited people. Its orientation was primarily militant and rebellious. Dalit Sahitya Movement legitimized and reinforced the use of the term Dalit. Since then, this term is very popular amongst the untouchables.

Earlier, a few leaders of untouchables had at least some regard for the cultural tradition of India. They did not reject Vedic literature or the foundations of Hinduism, out-rightly. Dr. Ambedkar accepted that all parts of Manusmiriti were not condemnable. Gopal Baba Walangkar had said that Vedas did not support untouchability. Kisan Fagoi, another Mahar leader of pre-Ambedkar era had joined Prarthna Samaj. But present Dalit leaders are vehemently against cultural traditions of India, which according to them, are based on inequality and exploitation. There is always a fear of upper caste or intermediate caste backlash.

In mid sixties, an aggressive Dalit movement started under the banner of Shoshit Samaj Dal in Central Bihar, which has, presently, become a major center of Naxalite movement. Dal was founded by Jagdeo Mahto, who began to mobilize the lower castes against economic repression and exploitation of women by upper caste feudal elements.

The new phase of Dalit assertion is most prominent in the most populous state of UP, where the upper caste domination has been challenged by BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) formed in 1984 under the leadership of Kanshi Ram and Mayavati. They redefined Dalit politics especially in north India. Their approach to Dalit issues was more socio-political rather than economic. BSP has started pursuing power with militancy since 1990. Of late, BSP has made significant inroads in UP, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. BSP has borrowed all their phraseology from Dalit Panthers. Most of their utterances are arrogant, revengeful and opportunistic. Political and economic vested interests of its leaders has aroused militancy among discontented youths of different castes and communities all over the nation. They care only for rights and pay scant attention to their duties. There started a cutthroat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige.

Once again, the tendency of ‘divide and rule’, as was there during British domination, has emerged in national scenario. The growing desire of Dalits to rule has made them very sure of their friends and foes. Dalit leaders, even after so many years of Independence has identified Upper Castes as their enemy and intermediate castes sometimes as their friends and sometimes as their enemies. Kanshi Ram, a BSP leader initiated a formula of DS4, meaning Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangarsh Samiti, taking into its fold untouchables, STs, Muslims and OBCs.

OBC leaders also know that Dalit parties now control a large vote bank. Therefore, from time to time, they try to please Dalits leaders in order to increase their own political strength. But Dalits are in no mood to play a second fiddle to other national political parties. They are aware of their growing influence and crucial role as a kink-maker in today’s highly competitive and unstable political atmosphere. All the three major national political formations – Congress’s UPA BJP’s NDA and National Front – are wooing frantically Dalit leaders and competing with each other to have a pre or post poll alliance with them. Instead of demanding a share in power structure, equity or social justice, Dalits now want to reverse the power equation and to transform the society by capturing all political power. Their aim is to get hold over the posts of PM-CM (Political Power) through electoral politics and control over administrative authority – the bureaucracy – through Reservations/Affirmative Action Program.

There is an elite section amongst Dalits, which protects its turf under the banner of Dalits at the cost of poorest of Dalits. It does not care much to bring Dalit masses into the mainstream. For some, presence and miseries of large number of dalits is a recipe for Dalit vote-bank, for others enjoying all the benefits of affirmative action programs initiated and implemented by the Government of India and other concessions given to them. Whatever might be the condition of Dalit masses, but the political power and arrogance of Dalit leaders and intellectuals are at rise. And here lies the crux of Dalit poltics.

Dalits at International platform

Dalits are not satisfied even after having growing influence in ballot-box politics and attaining enough places in the government jobs. Since 2001, these activists have been pushing the cause internationally arguing that Indian Dalits are like blacks in US till 1950. They faced problems in workplace, at school and in temples.

In 2005, some Dalit leaders belonging to All India Confederation have sought intervention USA, UN and the British and EU Parliaments on the issues of ‘untouchability’. UN recognizes religion, race, language and gender as main causes of inequality in the world. Dalt activists want caste to be included too in this category. They desire to have Global alliance, global involvement and intervention of the international community to put pressure on the government of India to address the problem Dalit marginalization. They feel that globalization and privatization has made it difficult for Dalits, tribals and OBC’s to compete on equal footing or find enough space in the job market within the country or abroad. At the behest of the Republican Congressman from New Jersey, Chris Smith, the US Congress had held a hearing on 6.10. 05 on the subject. A resolution on the issue – “ India’s unfinished Agenda: Equality and Justice for 200 million victims of the caste system” was prepared by the house committee on International Relations and US Human Rights to be tabled in the US Congress. “Despite the Indian government’s extensive affirmative action policies, which aim to open government service and education to Dalits and tribes, most have been left behind by India’s increasing prosperity…. Much much more remains to be done.” The resolution says, “It is in the interest of US to address the problem of the treatment of groups outside the caste system… in the republic of India in order to better meet our mutual economic and security goals….”

So far, intensive lobbying by Dalit groups including followers of Ravidass sect succeeded in getting passed the Equity Bill on March 24, 2010 in the house of Lords. It empowered the government to include ‘caste’ within the definition of ‘race’. In 2001, India was able in keeping caste out of the resolution adopted at 2001 Durban Conferernce.

Along with it, staunch supporters of Human Rights, some Scandinavian countris, Church organisations around the world and Lutheran World Federation have shown interest and expressed their solidarity with Dalits. Recently the comment of UN Commissioner for human rights, Navi pillay asking India that “time has come to eradicate the shameful concept of caste” and proposals of UN Human Rights Council’s or US based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to recognise caste as a form of discrimination ‘based on descent and birth’ appear not to be based on rational understanding of caste system. Their opinion about untouchability is greatly influenced by the lobbying of powerful/influential Dalit leaders and Dalit intelligentia.

No one knows where the Dalit assertion will lead the nation to? It is not the paternalistic policies, (which have failed to yield so far the desired results) that are required for the upliftment and empowerment of submerged sections of society, but there is need to educate, make them aware of their rights and duties, provide enough employment opportunities and other civic facilities like health etc at the grass root level for the sustainable growth of backward communities.

‘Shudras’, ‘Outcastes’ and ‘Panchamas’

In ancient India all the social groups were placed more or less as a series of vertical parallels. All of the people living in a local area, whether high or low, were bound together by economic and social ties and had a strong bond of mutual dependence. They cared and supported each other in fulfilling different kind of their needs. Socially, Shudras were supposed to do all sorts of menial work and serving the upper castes of the three Varnas.

Respect to a person or group was never given on the basis of material success or control of power. There was hardly any room for any section of society to consider itself, as being placed in greater or lesser disadvantageous position with reference to another. Concept of forwards or backwards or feeling of exploitation of lower strata by upper castes was almost non-existent at that time. Many studies have shown that Hindu system always kept masses reconciled, if not contended in the past. Hindu Dharma taught the people that instead of holding others responsible, for all their sufferings, exploitation and miseries it was their own “Adharma” (immoral behavior), “Alasya” (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) which were to be blamed.

It never prevented Shudras or others to rise in the scale of society or to earn respect of the society. In many parts of the country, people belonging to lower strata held position of power/superior status or earned respect of Hindu society. Many warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins’ help to acquire Kshatriyas status for themselves. Many Shudras were accepted and revered as philosophers or spiritual teachers.

All troubles of lower strata of society started after the downfall of Hindu Raj and old Hindus values. Continuous invasions by Turks, Afghans and Mughals who earlier drained out the wealth of the nation to foreign lands and afterwards made India their homeland and ruled the country for centuries. Feudalistic attitude, extravagance and luxurious life style of rulers and those at the helm of authority, increased the disparity between the rulers and the ruled. Therefore, it can be said that it was not out of malice, but the circumstances, which has pushed Shudras away from the mainstream.

The low status and sufferings of Shudras or their exclusion from the mainstream for centuries has gradually stopped growth of their personality and made them completely dependent on others for their livelihood. Centuries old enslavement, ignorance, suppression and ostracism shook their confidence, deteriorated severely their condition and made them to suffer inhuman treatment by other sections of the society.

Depressed Class

During the nineteenth Century, in official circles lower castes were addressed as ‘Depressed class’ or ‘Exterior class’. British government in India regarded these people as ‘Oppressed of the oppressed and lowest of the low’. Missionaries were trying to convert this section of society into Christianity. British rulers passed many Legislative regulations and administrative orders and declared denial of access to untouchables to schools, well, roads and public places as illegal.

Till now, untouchable activities were combined with the intermediate castes’ non- Brahmin movement. But now all these developments inspired them to enter into the political arena under the name of “depressed class” and desired to a share in political power separately in India.

Harijans

The attempt of British rulers in 1911 to exclude untouchables from Hindu population and continuous decline of number of Hindus cautioned the national leaders. In order to retain their Hindu identity, Gandhiji and his followers called them Harijans meaning the “people belonging to god”. On one hand, Gandhiji tried to create compassion in the hearts of forward communities for Harijans and on the other he appealed to Harijans to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up freely with other sections of society. Dalit leaders did not like the word Harijan as it symbolized a meek and helpless person, at the mercy and benevolence of others, and not the proud and independent human being that they were.

During this period, the attention of humanitarians and reformers was also drawn towards the pathetic condition of untouchables. They took the path of Sankritisation to elevate them. In order to prevent alienation of untouchables from Hindu community, they drew the attention of forward communities towards inhuman condition of lower strata of society and tried to create compassion in their hearts for downtrodden.

They gave top most priority to the abolition of untouchability. They tried to clarify that Untouchability was neither an integral part of Hinduism nor an outcome of Varna/caste system, nor have any religious sanctity, but an external impurity and sinful blot on Hinduism. They laid emphasis on education, moral regeneration and philanthropic uplift. and become proud and independent human beings, that they were.

Untouchables

By 1909, the lowest strata of Indian society came to be known as untouchabes. Emergence of Dr. Ambedkar on the political scene provided the leadership and stimulus to untouchable movement. He insisted to address untouchables just as untouchables. He regarded the terms ‘Depressed classes’, ‘Dalits’, ‘Harijans’ either confusing or degrading and contemptuous. Dr. Ambedkar made it abundantly clear, ‘It was through political power that untouchables were to find their solution, not through acceptance by Hindus’. He gave untouchable movement a national character and a distinct identity during late twenties and early thirties.

Other prominent Dalit leaders like Mahatma Phule, Ambedkar or Gopal Ganesh vehemently criticized Hindu hierarchical structure and regarded untouchability as an inevitable concomitant of Varna/caste system. They taught the lower castes to get united and make eradication of caste system their major plank as it engaged them to forced labor or unsavory jobs, imposed many restrictions on them and prevented them from joining the mainstream of the society. According to them, Hindus treated lower castes as lesser human beings, meek and helpless persons, who should always remain at the mercy and benevolence of upper castes. They tried to find the solution of their problems through political power, not through acceptance by Hindus.

By 1920’s, numerous caste organizations, specially in the South and West, organized themselves into larger collectiveness by keeping contacts and alliances with their counterparts at other places; formed associations and federations at local and regional levels and emerged as a powerful political force. Together, they demanded special legal protection and share in politics and administration on the basis of caste.

In 1928, Simon Commission established their separate identity at national level, independent of intermediate castes as untouchables. It readily accepted their demands through Communal Award of 1932. Gandhiji along with other National leaders regarded it as the Unkindest cut of all”, which would create a permanent split in Hindu Society, perpetuate casteism and make impossible the assimilation of untouchables in mainstream. Dr. Rajendra Prasad said, The principle of dividing population into communal groups, which had been adopted in the Minto Morely Reforms, had been considerably extended, even beyond what had been done by Montagu Chelmsford Reforms….The electorate in 1919 was broken up into ten parts, now it is fragmented into seventeen unequal bits… Giving separate representations to Schedule Castes further weakened Hindu community… The British introduced every possible cross-division.

Scheduled Castes

In accordance with the provisions of the Communal Award of 1932, instructions were issued, in July 1934, to schedule a list of the people entitled for preferential treatment in matter of special electoral representation and appointment in the Central Government jobs. This gave birth to the term Scheduled Caste in 1935. Scheduling was a legal activity having sanction of legal authorities. Therefore, no one had any objection to this term. The term continued after the independence as well, for the purpose of Reservation.

Untouchables in Independent India

After second world war emergence of the concept of ‘welfare state’ swept the whole world. Independent India, as a civilized democratic society, considered it its humanitarian obligation to uplift and empower the submerged sections of society. The overwhelming poverty of millions belonging to lower strata of society and their near absence in echelons of power at the time of Independence has led the government to of India to intervene. The Constitution of India has directed the Government to promote social justice and educational, economic and other interests of the weaker sections with special care. It instructed the Government to remove the poverty and reduce inequalities of income and wealth and provide adequate representation to the downtrodden in power echelons through Affirmative Action Program/Reservation Policy. Public facilities, which were denied to untouchables so far, should be made accessible to them. The successive governments both at national as well as provincial levels initiated various Welfare Plans and Policies for employment generation and their social, economic and political growth from time to time.

Dalits

Dalit, a Maradhi word means suppressed. The term was chosen and used proudly by Ambedkar’s followers under the banner of various factions of Republican Party of India (Formed in 1956). The Mahars of Bombay (8%), Jatavs of UP (Half of the SC Population in UP) and Nadars and Thevars of Southern TN being numerically significant, played a decisive role in taking forward Dalit movement. Maharashtra Dalit movement has a longest and richest experience.

In 1972, a distinct political party, in the name of Dalit Panther was formed in Maharashtra. It organized the lower castes under the banner of ‘Dalit’ throughout India. One of the founders of Dalit Panther, Mr. Namdeo Dhasal widened the scope of Dalit by including SC, tribes, neo-Buddhists, landless labor and economically exploited people. Its orientation was primarily militant and rebellious. Dalit Sahitya Movement legitimized and reinforced the use of the term Dalit. Since then, this term is very popular amongst the untouchables.

Earlier, a few leaders of untouchables had at least some regard for the cultural tradition of India. They did not reject Vedic literature or the foundations of Hinduism, out-rightly. Dr. Ambedkar accepted that all parts of Manusmiriti were not condemnable. Gopal Baba Walangkar had said that Vedas did not support untouchability. Kisan Fagoi, another Mahar leader of pre-Ambedkar era had joined Prarthna Samaj. But present Dalit leaders are vehemently against cultural traditions of India, which according to them, are based on inequality and exploitation. There is always a fear of upper caste or intermediate caste backlash.

In mid sixties, an aggressive Dalit movement started under the banner of Shoshit Samaj Dal in Central Bihar, which has, presently, become a major center of Naxalite movement. Dal was founded by Jagdeo Mahto, who began to mobilize the lower castes against economic repression and exploitation of women by upper caste feudal elements.

The new phase of Dalit assertion is most prominent in the most populous state of UP, where the upper caste domination has been challenged by BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) formed in 1984 under the leadership of Kanshi Ram and Mayavati. They redefined Dalit politics especially in north India. Their approach to Dalit issues was more socio-political rather than economic. BSP has started pursuing power with militancy since 1990. Of late, BSP has made significant inroads in UP, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. BSP has borrowed all their phraseology from Dalit Panthers. Most of their utterances are arrogant, revengeful and opportunistic. Political and economic vested interests of its leaders has aroused militancy among discontented youths of different castes and communities all over the nation. They care only for rights and pay scant attention to their duties. There started a cutthroat competition for scarce positions of power and prestige.

Once again, the tendency of ‘divide and rule’, as was there during British domination, has emerged in national scenario. The growing desire of Dalits to rule has made them very sure of their friends and foes. Dalit leaders, even after so many years of Independence has identified Upper Castes as their enemy and intermediate castes sometimes as their friends and sometimes as their enemies. Kanshi Ram, a BSP leader initiated a formula of DS4, meaning Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangarsh Samiti, taking into its fold untouchables, STs, Muslims and OBCs.

OBC leaders also know that Dalit parties now control a large vote bank. Therefore, from time to time, they try to please Dalits leaders in order to increase their own political strength. But Dalits are in no mood to play a second fiddle to other national political parties. They are aware of their growing influence and crucial role as a kink-maker in today’s highly competitive and unstable political atmosphere. All the three major national political formations – Congress’s UPA BJP’s NDA and National Front – are wooing frantically Dalit leaders and competing with each other to have a pre or post poll alliance with them. Instead of demanding a share in power structure, equity or social justice, Dalits now want to reverse the power equation and to transform the society by capturing all political power. Their aim is to get hold over the posts of PM-CM (Political Power) through electoral politics and control over administrative authority – the bureaucracy – through Reservations/Affirmative Action Program.

There is an elite section amongst Dalits, which protects its turf under the banner of Dalits at the cost of poorest of Dalits. It does not care much to bring Dalit masses into the mainstream. For some, presence and miseries of large number of dalits is a recipe for Dalit vote-bank, for others enjoying all the benefits of affirmative action programs initiated and implemented by the Government of India and other concessions given to them. Whatever might be the condition of Dalit masses, but the political power and arrogance of Dalit leaders and intellectuals are at rise. And here lies the crux of Dalit poltics.

Dalits at International platform

Dalits are not satisfied even after having growing influence in ballot-box politics and attaining enough places in the government jobs. Since 2001, these activists have been pushing the cause internationally arguing that Indian Dalits are like blacks in US till 1950. They faced problems in workplace, at school and in temples.

In 2005, some Dalit leaders belonging to All India Confederation have sought intervention USA, UN and the British and EU Parliaments on the issues of ‘untouchability’. UN recognizes religion, race, language and gender as main causes of inequality in the world. Dalt activists want caste to be included too in this category. They desire to have Global alliance, global involvement and intervention of the international community to put pressure on the government of India to address the problem Dalit marginalization. They feel that globalization and privatization has made it difficult for Dalits, tribals and OBC’s to compete on equal footing or find enough space in the job market within the country or abroad. At the behest of the Republican Congressman from New Jersey, Chris Smith, the US Congress had held a hearing on 6.10. 05 on the subject. A resolution on the issue – “ India’s unfinished Agenda: Equality and Justice for 200 million victims of the caste system” was prepared by the house committee on International Relations and US Human Rights to be tabled in the US Congress. “Despite the Indian government’s extensive affirmative action policies, which aim to open government service and education to Dalits and tribes, most have been left behind by India’s increasing prosperity…. Much much more remains to be done.” The resolution says, “It is in the interest of US to address the problem of the treatment of groups outside the caste system… in the republic of India in order to better meet our mutual economic and security goals….”

So far, intensive lobbying by Dalit groups including followers of Ravidass sect succeeded in getting passed the Equity Bill on March 24, 2010 in the house of Lords. It empowered the government to include ‘caste’ within the definition of ‘race’. In 2001, India was able in keeping caste out of the resolution adopted at 2001 Durban Conferernce.

Along with it, staunch supporters of Human Rights, some Scandinavian countris, Church organisations around the world and Lutheran World Federation have shown interest and expressed their solidarity with Dalits. Recently the comment of UN Commissioner for human rights, Navi pillay asking India that “time has come to eradicate the shameful concept of caste” and proposals of UN Human Rights Council’s or US based Human Rights Watch (HRW) to recognise caste as a form of discrimination ‘based on descent and birth’ appear not to be based on rational understanding of caste system. Their opinion about untouchability is greatly influenced by the lobbying of powerful/influential Dalit leaders and Dalit intelligentia.

No one knows where the Dalit assertion will lead the nation to? It is not the paternalistic policies, (which have failed to yield so far the desired results) that are required for the upliftment and empowerment of submerged sections of society, but there is need to educate, make them aware of their rights and duties, provide enough employment opportunities and other civic facilities like health etc at the grass root level for the sustainable growth of backward communities.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment

Factors, that changed caste-system into casteism

 

Introduction

The Government of India Act of 1858 brought an end to British East India Company’s rule and placed India directly under the Crown. With it ended the era of expansion and commercial exploitation and the nation ushered into the era of economic exploitation and policy of divide and rule.

At that point of time, it was difficult for Europeans and British understand and appreciate the role of caste system in totality. They were mystified by the amazing pluralities and unique social structure, because of its being an indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India. Its complete localization and unfamiliarity with the rest of world made the task more difficult.

Discredited caste-system along with Hindu religion – The Western thinkers and sociologists from Max Weber to Louis Dumont, discredited Hindu religion, which had given birth to caste-system. Showing his occidental irritation, Kitts criticized caste-system, as lacking all rational arrangements. Many British thinkers held caste system responsible for all social evils and practices, feudal attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, beliefs and whimsical concept of purity and pollution.

Prejudice against everything native including case system

Through sophisticated ways, the British imperialists vehemently criticized caste system. They held Hinduism, caste-system and its practices for being as discriminatory barbarous, uncivilized and its social system highly stratified where multiplicity of communities and their cultures were exploiting each other for their own advantage. They divided different castes and communities living in India in every possible manner.

Caste responsible for all miseries of Hindu society – The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British rulers developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage, and social structure based on caste system. They forcefully implanted in the minds of Indian intelligentsia, the real and imaginary, a complex, exaggerating the distortions developed into the system during its long period of evolution and carefully avoiding telling people the salient features whole truth or strong points of Indian culture.

Ward’s and others British intellectuals’ charges, that were levied on caste system were not wholly correct, were not based on the real-situations existing then in India. Ward commented that Not only is the caste contrary to every principle of justice and polity, it is repugnant to every feeling of benevolence. The social circle is almost invariably, composed of persons of the same caste, to the careful exclusion of others. It aims one class of men against another; it gives rise to greatest degree of pride and apathy. It forms a sufficient excuse for not doing an act of benevolence towards another, that he is not of the same caste, Ney, a man dying with thirst will not accept a cooling drought of water from the hands or the cup of a person of a lower caste.

An humble attempt has been made to show how correct are these allegations in the following paragraphs: –

  • Stratified System – British vehemently could criticized caste system for its being highly stratified, which divided the Hindu population into innumerable caste-groups having distinct and diverse thinking and life styles. But could not appreciate the role of caste system
  1. All the incoming groups were welcomed and accommodated in Hinduism on their own terms. Hinduism had assimilated all new groups through caste system. For centuries in ancient times, Hinduism integrated different tribes, groups and communities together under one umbrella. Without conversions and by giving each one a new caste-name, it set a unique example in the world history.
  2. It did not thrusted on incoming new groups its own values, thoughts, processes, superstructures and practices. It legitimized their beliefs, behavior patterns and life styles with freedom to evolve and change according to their internal rhythm.
  • An iniquitous society – They easily put all the blame on caste system for peoples’ poverty, misery and deprivation. They told the people that caste was one of the greatest scourges of Indian society. Caste was blamed for the selfishness, covetousness, indolence and apathy of some individuals. It had doomed masses to mental and physical degradation and kept them away from education, prosperity and honour. It had created an iniquitous society, exploitative and oppressive by nature, which fostered caste-conflicts and caste rivalries.
  • Discriminatory System – It is an anomaly that British, who themselves played discriminatory practices by keeping their railway compartments, waiting rooms, parks, clubs, hotels, places of other entertainment and residences segregated, criticized caste system as being discriminatory. But criticized caste system for opposing admissions of children belonging to untouchable communities, in public schools.[i]
  • Prevented upward mobility of lower strata of society – Ward’s blames caste system for intentionally denying upward mobility of lower strata of society, because individual’s social status depended on the caste of his/birth, over which nobody had any control. In western world, wealth had been the determining factor to decide the social status rather than birth, which made social mobility easier and faster. But this belief is not wholly correct as it forgot that wealth was also acquired through birth. That is why, there was a sharp distinction between nobility and commoners.
  • No choice in the matter of occupation – British rulers, along with Missionaries criticized that Caste system forced people/individuals to pursue hereditary vocations. There was no choice in matter of occupation in caste system. The system had killed spirit of initiative, creativity, and innovation. It prevented people from taking any risk. It is also alleged that caste system gave importance to birth in matter of occupation and showed utter disregard to social or material environment of a person. Therefore, it served the interests of haves and enhanced the agonies of have-nots. However, in ancient and medieval societies in Europe and Asia, occupations not only tended to become hereditary, but also actually allowed to be followed by specific classes. It was the industrial revolution, which had changed the trend.Westerners could not appreciate that system to do traditional jobs kept everyone engaged, prevented in large scale unemployment, made almost everybody to contribute something to the society and saved them from any confusion in matter of job or being guided, not by aptitude, but by whims and fancies in this matter choosing their vocations. Professor Shah says, Caste system has a long range and permanent plan embracing every class of society. If applied to every individual, regardless of age and other conditions, no one could be unemployed. Nor could have one worked inappropriate to one’s ability, training, environment, aptitude and attainment, nor could any work be inadequately remunerated. [ii]Some liberal thinkers like HT Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit Scholars says, It may be received as a general maxim that occupation appointed for each tribe is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, was open to every description of persons and the discouragement arising from religious prejudices is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of Municipal and Corporate laws. [iii] It was after 1858, that with the introduction of modern education and start of the process of industrialization, the avenues for entering into different occupations increased.Disregard for menial work. – It was argued by British rulers that giving Shudras the lowest place in social structure, engaged in menial jobs, showed disregard of Hindus for menial work. But for Hindus work was worship. So it was not the caste system, but the industrial revolution, which taught Indian masses to escape from or disregard the menial work. In addition to it, creation of new white collared jobs by British rulers developed the attitude to discredit manual work. The more a person withdrew from physical labor, the more civilized and qualified he was regarded by modern society. Such an attitude lured all the sections of society to leave their traditional occupations and join white collared jobs in organised sectors, irrespective of their background, aptitude, skill and knowledge.
  •  
  • Concept of purity and impurity – Systems which were based on concept of ‘purity and impurity’ developed in ancient India were nothing more or less than systems developed in modern world, which are based on the idea of ‘hygienic and unhygienic’.
  •  
  • Gradation of different professions – Gradation of different professions was based on its being clean or unclean. Unclean occupations were given a lower status. Even Brahmins, who opted for menial professions for their livelihood, were assigned the status of Shudras. Such as Brahmins, known as ‘Mahabrahmins’, performing last rites, were also treated, ike Shudras. It was only the learned/knowledgeable Brahmins, who were given a superior status and their stronghold was the centers of learning.Apart from that warrior kings of Shudra and tribal origin sought Brahmins help to acquire Kshatriyas status. Bengal was among the last areas to come into contact with Brahminical Hinduism. It was only during the reign of Sen Guptas, that Kanyakubja Brahmins from Varanasi were invited to settle in Bengal. Brahmins never acquired status of dominant group there and remained just yet another Jati. In Punjab, it was Jats (farming community and protector of the outer periphery of the city-states), that were politically and economically dominant groups, says Prakash Tandon. Thakurs held prominent status in the eastern region of present day U.P. The Aine-Akbari informs that in the year 1600 AD, Thakur Zamindars paid more than two third of the total revenue in the middle Doab, Awadh and eastern parts of UP, Rohailkhand and Doab were controlled by Jat Chief-tons and later by Muslim Zamindars. In Bihar, around Darbhanga region, Maithili Brahmins held political control, though they also continued their traditional occupations as priests and scholars of Sanskrit.
  • Another yardstick of gradation was their contribution/utility of their services to the society. Many studies have shown that in many parts of the country, like Punjab, Gujarat, and Marathi speaking areas of western India, tribal MP. Orissa, Bengal etc. people other than Brahmins held superior status. Iqbal Narain and PC Mathur inform that in Rajasthan, Rajputs and Kshatriyas served as the models of caste, with emphasis on personal valor and military skills, for over a thousand years. In large part of peninsular Gujarat, according to Ghanshyam Shah Biswas, Banias had overshadowed Brahmins in economic and political areas for several centuries. Maharashtra, Jayant Lele says, Brahmins were far behind the Maratha – Patils (village headman) and Maratha Deshmukhs (regional administrators). In Orissa, Brahmin influence remained confined to small areas around the royal palaces.

Untouchability – It is alleged that untouchability was an integral part of caste system and kept Shudras at bay. This allegation is not wholly correct. Shudra community had always remained the nerve-system of Indian society. It performed essential social and economic tasks and provided different kinds of services, whether in agricultural or other sectors, to the whole of society living in their respective regions.

As said earlier, relations between various castes were expressed in terms of the ideas of hygiene, cleanliness and purity.[iv] Caste Hindus were very particular about eating dressed food, because it became stale very quickly in the past. Undressed food or fruits were regarded pure, whatever hands it came from. As far as Shudras causing pollution was concerned, Shore said that despite British being so powerful and the ruling community, Indians called even Whites as ‘Mlechch” meaning not clean in their mannerism. They were treated at par with the lowest natives in all social functions. But still a Brahmin in the service of Englishmen never hesitated in doing his duties. Certainly the lower castes are more tenacious on the subject of their caste than the higher. A low caste man, if asked for a drop of water from his pot will often refuse, A Rajput or a Brahmin will not only consent, but will show his respect by offering it decently. [v]

 

It was also alleged that laws of punishment were mild for caste Hindus, but severe and horrible for Shudras.[vi] Shore said that it was impossible to say laws never were stringent for lower castes. Probably it might have occurred very seldom by a very bigoted prince or a bigoted Brahmin. The horrible punishment to lower class did not exist, in general, during his times, nor had they been, perhaps for centuries, held in any more estimation, terror or respect, practically than bull or anathimas issued by Pope Gregory the Seventh in England.

 

Many liberal British thinkers conceded that it was not so much the social apathy, which kept the lower strata away from prosperity as, their ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and necessity to earn their livelihood right from an early age. They some liberal British thinkers of that period conceded that the criticism of caste system was over-drawn. Shore, governor general of India during 19th century, regarded caste fully as a civil and religious distinction. To him, its influence was so extensive, so minute and so intricate, as almost to defy generalization. To a certain extent, its influence may have had the injurious effects described, but infinitely less than was usually supposed and that too were wearing away.[vii] He said that many castes or groups lagged in the matter of modern education and employment in the government, because the business and administration of a large portion of India was being carried on in an alien language for centuries (First in Urdu and from 1844 onwards in English).

Strong points of caste system – Caste system took on different shades and meaning with the changing times and places. Its character kept on changing along with times. It was different in the context of village, locality, region or religion. Like other social institutions, caste system managed daily necessities and day to day relation of its members. It gave occupational guidance to its members, leading to excellence. It had an advantage of very long experience and deep thinking behind it[viii] Professor Shah says, Caste system was a long range or permanent plan embracing every class of society. It applied to every individual, regardless of age or other conditions.[ix] Normally social mobility from one group to another was not allowed. Permanent loss of caste was considered to be the greatest catastrophe for an individual, short of death penalty. Breaking the caste rules meant loss of caste, meaning complete ostracism or having no place in the society.

At its best, the caste system had wisely directed all the activities – social, political, intellectual or economic – into proper life functions and controlled its malfunctioning or di-sfunctioning. Caste system provided self-discipline, conscious, self-control, self-direction. It contributed to provide stability, all round growth of cultural heritage and development of the society.   The salient features of caste system were: –

  • Local character – Neither any caste took an All-India Character before British rule nor there had been nation-wide-hierarchy of castes earlier. Local semi-autonomous nature of Caste system made each community self-sufficient and capable to fulfill all the needs of its people locally.
  • System showed a high regard for knowledge, wisdom, virtues, characters and will power.
  • Whereas, Western cultures have grown around the idea of `rights forming the natural foundation of human relationship, caste system evolved around the concept of duty, tolerance and sacrifice. Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant.
  • In Western societies, wealth had always been associated with power, authority and social status. India was never a materialistic society. Caste system separated wealth from status, power from authority, pursuit and achievement in knowledge from temptations of worldly comforts.
  • Though the caste system believed in segmental ranking of different caste groups, according to their relevance and contribution to the society, it placed all the individuals, within a caste group – rich or poor – on the same footing.
  • Local semi-autonomous nature of Caste system made each community self-sufficient and capable to fulfill all the needs of its people locally.
  • There was a close bond between individual and the society and individual and the occupation through caste. It held its members together.
  • The unique feature of caste system was that it provided work and employment to everyone. There was no dearth of employment opportunities for persons willing to work
  • Originally Varna and then Caste system were based on the principle of division of labor. All the functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were distributed among different caste groups according to its attitude and aptitude.
  • Assignment of work was done on the basis of tendencies, potentialities, limitations, traits and character of a caste-group. It assigned different activities to different groups according to its natural endowment, qualities, attitude and aptitudes. It taught people not to blame others. `Adharma (immoral behavior), Alasya (laziness) and Agyan (ignorance) were held responsible for evils, exploitation, and miseries of the people.
  • Don Martindale said that India possessed a reservoir of natural leaders – Brahman trained in literary skills and Kashitryas in art of leadership.
  • The Caste system served as a spawning bed for social and technical skills. By its very nature, it encouraged the development and preservation of local skills.
  • The Caste system transmitted the traits of a trade, intelligence abilities, experiences, values and skills from one generation to another in a natural way.
  • Elders of every caste-group took care of maintaining discipline within the caste and helped the members, who were weak and helpless.
  • Considerations of self-discipline, hygiene and cleanliness on the basis of climatic conditions of the region were given importance.

The caste was so strong that when the world was passing through the Dark Age, India was full of light. The first few centuries are recognized as the golden period of Indian history. During this period, arts, commerce, crafts, philosophy and knowledge flourished magnificently. Many travelers visiting India, from alien lands at different points of time, confirmed that India possessed huge wealth, knowledge, and quality of life. It was a cheerful land. Each person found a niche in the social system.

Factors that changed Caste-system – The face of caste system changed tremendously with the following developments done during the British rule: –

Introduction of Modern Education – In 1835, modern Education system was introduced by Lord Macaulay. People got access to the enlightened spirit of many liberal thinkers, like Locke, Mill Roussseau, Voltaire, Spencer and Burke; and the knowledge about English, French, American revolutions, through modern education. It offered to Indian intelligentsia, the key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thought of Modern West. It opened up the doors of knowledge and widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia. In due course of time, it produced many national leaders. Modern education itself equipped them with the intellectual tools, with which they fought the oppressive British Raj.

Modern education also highlighted the weaknesses, rigidity and harshness of caste system towards weaker sections of the society. It had attracted the attention of the people towards social evils, that had developed in the system.

It gave access to all sections of Indian society to get educated irrespective of caste or creed though Muslims (because Muslims were more dependent on the use of sword) and other non- Brahmin communities lagged behind in matter of modern education. Brahmins, who had previously involved in the process of learning were, were quicker to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Modern education. It brought social awakening and awareness amongst masses about their rights.

But, simultaneously, it disassociated a large number of Indian intelligentsia from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. With it, faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions. It divided the Indian people. It loosened the bonds of caste system. They lost their faith in caste system. A group of Indian intelligentsia started feeling the caste system to be indefensible.

Modern means of transport – The modern means of transport and communications brought to an end the local character of caste system, shortened distances and made mobility faster and easier. Small local castes, confined within a small area earlier, grew in size, embracing a much wider area than before. Many caste organizations emerged and entered into region-wise caste alliances. It sharply restricted the hold of caste-elders over its members and replaced the traditional pattern of checks and balances and leadership by voluntary associations, social reformers and leaders.

Industrialization – The Company’s rule had reduced India to a producer of raw material and market of their products.   During its rule, India missed out first few phases of Industrial revolution – one that revolutionized agriculture and textile production. Second one occurring in the first half of the 19th century, which was based on capital goods industry and the third during the last quarter of the 19th century, when science was fused with technology. Thus, India remained to produce low technology, low productivity, low wage and low profit items. As against this, Britain, along with other European nations, was producing high technology, high productivity, high wage and high profit commodities. It left India economically far behind the advanced nations. And within India, industrialization had eroded the authority of caste and kinship in matters of occupation. Many new occupations emerged giving choice of occupation, accessibility to which was through modern education, knowledge of English language and loyalty to British. It was no more through caste affiliations. Industrialization led to the decay of village industries as the competition was directly with the cheap machine goods. It also led to urbanization.

Apathy of Imperial rulers for indigenous arts and craft – The British discouraged local genius, cottage industries and fine arts. It made many traditional occupations obsolete. Many castes of rural artisans, craftsman and traditional occupations abandoned their traditional work. They either migrated to cities as industrial labor or became agriculture labor. The British apathy towards indigenous skills, knowledge and occupations pushed millions backward in a very subtle manner and loosened the sanctity of caste rules and caste consciousness in matters of occupation. This, in order to get hold on modern occupations, led to inter-caste rivalries, social tensions and group conflicts among Indians. The erosion of traditional pattern of occupation divided Indian people into the following three groups: –

Ø         People, for whom work was essential for survival

Ø             People, who were educated and loved to work for self-advancement and prosperity (Middle class people).

Ø             People, who lived on other’s labor benefiting from their position in society.

 

New legal system – Earlier discipline and order was maintained by Shastric and customary laws. The sense of duty to one’s caste was wide spread in traditional social order. Caste matters were decided by their respective caste councils. The establishment of nationwide civil, criminal and commercial legal system by British and its uniform application to all castes and communities eroded the authority of caste-system tremendously. It granted equality before law and equal access to all castes and communities. In their search for a Uniform law code, the British studied hard. They took help of some centers of learning, regarded to be the stronghold of Brahmins. For the first time a uniform, supposedly Brahminical legal system, became operational over Hindu Community, on an all India level. It took control of the political, economic and social apparatus of the country. Positive laws of State were also enacted. The effect of these measures was that a clear line was drawn, which demarcated the areas between the caste control of personal behavior of its members and the new administration of justice. The authority of caste groups in matters of civil rights was diminished, but in other spheres, it received legitimization from the courts in the form of caste autonomy. Section 8 of Bengal Regulation III of 1793 made a beginning in Administration of justice in new direction, Bombay Regulation II of 1827 made further change and in 1850, the Caste Disabilities Act (Act 21 of 1850) further eroded the authority of caste laws.

 

The new settlement policy – The British Settlement Policy differed from region to region depending upon the geography, history and customs. Jamindari system prevailed in Bengal, Orissa and Oudh, Ryotwari in Bombay and Madras, Villagewari in Delhi and Punjab, Malguzari in Central Provinces and Mahalwari in Northwest Province. The new land revenue system led to the rise of a new class of landlords, who wholeheartedly supported the British rule. Policy of Permanent Settlement led to the growth of absentee landlords living in luxury in towns and fleecing the tenants at will. The British policy of land revenue extracted as exorbitant amounts as possible from the peasants, which compelled the cultivators to live at the mercy of landlords, for the fear of eviction.

 

The poor farmers were caught into the clutches of moneylenders. The impoverishment of cultivators grew due to rack-renting, high rates of interest and uneconomic cultivation, resulting in large-scale alienation of land. Marginal farmers became landless laborers. The vast majority of people belonging to peasants, artisans sunk in poverty and misery.

 

The exploitative policies of British overcrowded the agricultural sector. With it grew resentment of Indian subjects towards the authority. The mutiny at Vellore in 1806, Barrakpore in 1824, Ferozepore in 1842, followed by the meeting of 7th Bengal Cavalry, the kol insurrection of 1831-32, the revolt of the kings of Kangra, Jaswar and Datarpur, the Santhal rising in 1855-56 and the revolt of 1857 throughout India are a few examples of peoples’ resentment to early British rule. The oppressive policies of British created a new class of landless laborers, which came to be known, later on, as Scheduled Castes. The British drained the wealth and resources of India in a most systematic, shrewd and unjust way.

The economic exploitation, economic drain and repressive attitude submerged the masses in ignorance, enfeebled by diseases and oppressed by wants.[x] In 1880, WT. Thortan confessed that the annual tribute, tapped India’s very heart blood and dried up the mainspring of her industrial position.[xi] Sir William Hunter remarked, there remains forty million Indians, who go through life on insufficient food.[xii]

 

Increasing disparities – Access to modern education, new opportunities of gain and legal redress was not available to the masses, because the education was expensive and its mode of instruction was an alien language – the English. The new opportunities based on modern education, therefore, were inaccessible to poor. The expensive legal procedure, involved in getting justice, could favour the `haves and poor could hardly afford to appeal and seek justice. All this developed a new kind of inequality. The emergence of new classes with new education, job and legal profile coupled with changed behavior of old surviving classes added to confusion and made Indian society A complicated organism with extremely variegated and antagonistic social forces struggling for their respective interests within it.[xiii]

 

Census Operations – Under British rule the process of Census operation began with the purpose to gather information for administrative purposes/conveniences. After consolidating its position, the British Government in India made an effort to know about the people, whom they want to rule and chalk out strategies for the colonial governance. British anthropologists worked very hard to collect data and to catalogue various castes and tribes. For the first time, the Census operations drew the attention of the rulers, intelligentsia and public to the diversity of Indian society and multiplicity of castes and sub-castes throughout India.

British rulers did not hesitate to exploit information/data on social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India collected through census operations. The process of Census enumeration was far from neutral. The British retained the distinctions between different sub-castes, relevant to them for organizing labor and homogenized all those sub-castes, for which they had no use, therefore, no interest. All the floating population like Gujjars, Bhattis, Ranger Rajputs, who remained out-side caste system were fused into one. The Census operation kept Brahmins, whom, the British administrators, Christian Missionaries and Orientalists, pinpointed as the potential threat to the British, at periphery and, instigated other castes against them.

Caste was a flexible and fluid unit of Indian society. Census operations made it rigid. They codified the castes and standardized the system by placing all the jatis into four Varnas or in the categories of outcastes and aborigines.

Middleton, a Census Superintendent accepted, We pigeonholed everyone by caste and community. We deplore its effect on social and economic problems. But we are largely responsible for the system…Our land records and official documents have added iron-bonds to the old rigidity of caste. Caste, in itself, was rigid among the higher castes, but malleable amongst the lower…The government’s act for labels and pigeon-holes had led to a crystallization of the caste system, which, except amongst the aristocratic caste, was really very fluid under indigenous rule.”

 

Thus, Census operations destroyed the flexibility of caste system, led to an all-round hardening of social-system and to frantic effort by each group-for upward mobility. The first volume of Man in 1901 (the Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute) noted, The entire framework of native life in India is made up of groups of castes and tribes, and status and conduct of individuals are, largely, determined by the rules of the group, to which he belonged. Risley’s efforts, in 1901 census, of recording and putting in order numerous castes in hierarchical order like modern Manu had fossilized, imparting it a solidity, it did not have earlier.[xiv] Therefore, the Census operations instigated caste consciousness, caste animosities and made caste a tool in political, religious and cultural battles, that Hindus fought amongst themselves.

Like modern Manu, The census operations divided all the castes and communities into following groups – Brahmins, Non-Brahmins, Muslims, Anglo-Indians, untouchables, non-Hindu Communities and backward castes. This division remained a by-word even for the present leaders of Independent India.

 

Electoral Politics and Casteism – With census operations and the start of electoral politics started caste calculations, caste chemistry and pure casteism. The British authorities were aware that, in the Hindu society, caste opinion and caste loyalties always remained a cohesive regulatory force and the easiest, quickest and the most powerful mode to communicate. They were also aware of the influence of Brahmins over the whole society.

 

While introducing electoral politics in India, the British purposely and successfully divided the Hindu population into two uncompromising groups viz. `We the Non-Brahmins and `They the Brahmins and caste Hindus. They instilled deeply in the minds of millions of unlettered Hindus, venom against caste-system and the Brahmin community. The introduction of electoral politics, in the beginning of the 20th century gave rise to Power in numbers. It gave political leverage to the non-Brahmin castes on account of their numerical strength. Since then, their influence in politics has been growing continuously.

 

Ideological attack on the system by Imperial rulers – Rulers launched an ideological attack on caste-system. They depicted the Indian culture and practices as discriminatory barbarous, uncivilized and its social system highly stratified where multiplicity of communities and their cultures were exploiting each other for their own advantage. They forcefully implanted in the minds of people, the real and imaginary, evils of Hindu Social structure and its practices.

 

The Government of India Act of 1858 brought an end to company’s rule and placed India directly under the Crown. With it ended the era of expansion and commercial exploitation and the nation ushered into the era of economic exploitation and policy of divide and rule. Through sophisticated ways, the British imperialists created differences between different castes and communities, and developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and caste system. The British gathered information, exploited material relating to social, demographic, linguistics, religious and cultural diversities of India and flared up caste animosities. They exaggerated the distortions developed into the system and carefully avoided telling the whole truth or strong points of Indian culture. The European teachers, missionaries, bureaucrats and British easily put all the blame on caste system for peoples’ poverty, misery and deprivation. They made caste appear as one of the greatest scourges of the country, which doomed large classes of men, to mental and physical degradation and kept them away from education, prosperity and honour. Caste system, to them created an iniquitous society, exploitative and oppressive by nature, which fostered caste-conflicts and caste rivalries.

 

Conclusion

Many liberal British thinkers of that period conceded that the criticism of caste system was over-drawn. Viceroy Shore, governor general of India during 19th century, regarded caste fully as a civil and religious distinction. To him, its influence was so extensive, so minute and so intricate, as almost to defy generalization. To a certain extent, its influence may have had the injurious effects described, but infinitely less than was usually supposed and that too were wearing away.[xv] He pointed out that many castes or groups lagged in the matter of modern education and employment in the government, because the business and administration of a large portion of India was being carried on in an alien language for centuries (First in Urdu and from 1844 onwards in English).

They alo accepted that it was not so much, the social apathy, which kept the lower strata away from prosperity as ignorance, poverty, illiteracy and necessity to earn their livelihood right from an early age. For many Europeans and British, it was a difficult task to understand and appreciate the role of caste system in totality. They were mystified by the amazing pluralities and unique social structure, because of its being an indigenous system, conceptualized, developed and practiced exclusively in India. Its complete localization and unfamiliarity with the rest of world made the task more difficult. The charges, that British put on caste system were not wholly correct.

Winding up

In the end it can be concluded that seeds of dis-chord  sown by British rulers before independence,  blossomed in full after Independence especially after 1990s, when Indian politicians with vested interests tried their bes. There was a rat between them to grab  political power and perpetuate anyway – by hook or crook, as long as possible.

 

[i] Zelliot, Dr. Ambedkar and Mahar Movement, P48.

[ii] Shah TK, Ancient Foundation of Economics, p 3, Times of India, dated 10.4.94.

[iii] Indian Express, dated 18.9.90, p 8.

[iv] Srinivas, MN, Social Change in Modren India,

[v] Shore, Ibid. Pp 567-477

[vi] Ward, cited in Shore, p 66.

[vii] Hon’ble Fredrick John Shore, Indian Affairs, pp474.479

[viii] Prabhu Pandharinath H. Ibid pp 90-97.

[ix] Shah TK, Ancient Foundation of Economies, Times of India, dated April 10,1994, p3.

[x] Tarachand, History of Freedom Movement in India, Vol.I, pp283-84.

[xi] Annie Besant, India – A Nation, pp98-99.

[xii] Fisher FB, India’s Silent Revolution, pp37-38.

[xiii] Desai AR, Social Background of Indian Nationalism, p176.

[xiv] Das Veena and Kagal Ayesha, Through the Prism of Clerkdom, Times of India, dated September 16, 1990, p2.

[xv] Hon’ble Fredrick John Shore, Indian Affairs, pp474.479

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Social and political values and systems | | Leave a comment