Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Origin of Civil services/bureaucracy in India

The East India Company had consolidated its position as a dominant power in India by 1784. The spread of its authority demanded a change in the administrative system. The role of the civil servants of East India Company changed from merchants to that of statesmen, from traders to governors, and judges and magistrates. The shape, to this sytem, was given during the regimes of Warren Hastings, Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellasly. After the annexation of Indian territories, Lord Wellasly (1798-1805) created a corps of specially talented officers—selected from the Commercial services as well as army—called `pioneers’ and entrusted them with 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, maintenance of roads and bridges, digging canals, opening schools and hospitals and thereby gaining confidence of people.

During this period, the administrative structure was simple, but effective. The officers possessed a high sense of responsibility. They developed traditions of character, initiative, imagination, understanding and paternalism. Munro, Malcolm, Elphinston, Metcalf, and Lawrence brothers were some of those great administrators, belonging to the group of `Pioneers’, who are still remembered as the founders of a new tradition of administration. 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”.2

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; and

  • Formalities were at the minimum level.

In the absence of any fast means of communication, the officers at the district were compelled to take decisions of their own on important matters of policy and administration. They travelled to grassroots at regular basis, keeping a constant check on corruption and in case of any slip, officials responsible were punished on the spot. In this manner, the British bureaucrats ruled India with iron hands.



2 Needham Cust, Memoirs of Past Years, London, 1894.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | 2 Comments

‘Catch them young’

For efficient and effective governance, the basic requirement is to place ‘right persons at right place on right time’. It needs well trained team of dynamic, responsible and visionary persons having adequate knowledge in their respective disciplines.

Seeing the deteriorating standard of education and its incapacity to equip much needed dynamism, knowledge and skills to perform their jobs in responsible manner, people’s faith is increasing in principle of “Catch them young and train them” in their respective areas of work accordingly.

The present scheme of education and training has failed in introducing dynamic and responsible people in the governance of the nation. The quality of education is such, that it hardly makes majority of students either intellectually competent or motivated to do constructive work in responsible manner. The requirement of modern education for getting white collard jobs has resulted in over crowding the institutions of education and training. The stress on quantitative increase has subverted all the attempts to improve the quality of teaching and learning. It has led to continuous fall in the standard of higher education. The examination and evaluation system tests only a narrow range of skills, especially those of memory and suffers from grave errors, so much and so, that people question the legitimacy of a modern education system itself.

Today, when other democratic institutions have lost public faith, the Defence Services are still keeping up some standard. The candidates passing out from National Defence Academy commands a high esteem in public’s eye,when they join the services. They are regarded to be the best disciplined cadre of officers – dynamic, sincere, responsible and dedicated to their duties.

The selection of army officers is done after higher secondary education on the basis of written examinations and a thorough interview testing aptitude, leadership qualities, general ability and intellectual acumen. After their selection, they get four years of rigorous training – three years in NDA at Kharakwasla, and for one year in IMA at Dehradun in the case of Army, Hyderabad in the case of Air Force and Cochin in the case of Navy.

Their training is at an age, when their minds are still in formative stage. The training is so tough and seriously imparted that either trainees come upto the desired standard or quit it in between, if they were unable to cope with the rigors of the training. The officers are given further education and initial training under strict supervision of seniors. The three years training in NDA prepares them for performing their duties as armed forces officers well. By the time they pass out, they are well equipped with basic requirements of their jobs.

Similar is the practice in the field of medicine and engineering – selection after higher secondary and then further education and thorough training in their specific discipline for a period of four years. A small band of officers for Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers are well known for their expertise and efficient performance. It is well known that Indian Engineers, especially from IITs and Indian Doctors are in great demand abroad.

Recently Kota in Rajasthan has developed into a coaching hub for IITians. It has produced many toppers and send hundreds to engineering colleges. Now-a-days competition has become so tough that it is never too early for learning. Many coaching institutes in Kota, and elsewhere in Rajasthan Assam and Punjab are planning to start special training programmes (Pre-foundation Career Care Program (PCCP) aimed at “better conceptual understanding” for students of Std VIII. It is meant to develop a “scientific temperament, mathematical aptitude, problem-solving skills, reasoning and competitive sychology” at an early age, no matter whether students pronounce/comprehend these phrases or not.

It is advisable that the cadre of officers engaged in the task of governance should be selected early to equip them with intellectual, moral and physical qualities essential to perform the complex and delicate job of development administration effectively and efficiently. While their minds are still in the formative stage, it is easier for the Government to take a purposeful approach to articulate the required thinking, attitude and knowledge in them.

 Job-oriented education and training will imbibe in them intellectual knowledge, qualities, attitudes and skills according to the increasing and diversified needs of the modern administration, such as social purposefulness, public service consciousness, ability to understand administrative, political and economic implications of a problem, resourcefulness in solving them, creativeness, dynamism, up to date knowledge in their particular discipline, capacity for team-work, good fellowship, ability to cooperate, alertness in grasping a situation and quickness in assimilating relevant facts and persuasiveness in presenting their point of view. It will deepen the awareness of professional norms. It will facilitate the Government to have right type of people required for an efficient administration.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | Leave a comment


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