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Diagnosis and cure for ailments of present bureaucracy

 

Introduction

Administration/governance of a nation is supposed to be perhaps one of the most difficult tasks of all the acts of civilized life. The government machinery responsible for this task is usually the bureaucracy/civil service of a nation. Bureaucracy comprises of thousands of personnel from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. For the performance of its manifold activities, a government employs a team of mature, dynamic, visionary and responsible officers in its administrative apparatus known as civil services. It needs thousands of people for higher levels of its services, who have alert minds, high level of intelligence, broad vision and relevant knowledge about their subjects in all the spheres and at all the levels of administration.

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 of giving free and frank advice to the political wing of the government. Why and how it got derailed is a point to ponder.  Why does not it take a stand against the unjust dictates of political leaders or corrupt senior officers, who stops them from doing their jobs judiciously? How the credibility of the Civil services can be restored? How could correct prescription for the ailment be found out to provide a lasting solution for the problems, which could improve the image of bureaucracy? For correct diagnosis of the ailment, it becomes necessary to analyse the symptoms/causes of ailments.

Appreciation for ICS all-over the world

“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. 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.”

“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. 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”.

Civil services during British rule

The civil services in India can, without doubt, be regarded as the most remarkable of al the institutions, which Britain bequeathed to India. 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. 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. Pylee2 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.”

Structure of Civil services – The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (Rup Narain Das, ‘Marx and 1857’, 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)

British rule established, in India, a civil service, which was efficient, professional and to a great degree incorruptible. They evolved the institution of Indian Civil Service (ICS), which provided such officers, who could man the strategic posts throughout the nations, both at the center and in the states.

 In 1887, Aitchinson Commission recommended the reorganisation of the services on a new pattern. It divided the services into three group – Imperial, Provincial and Subordinate. With the passing of the Indian Act 1919, the Imperial Services were split into two classes – All India Services and Central Services. There were Provincial Services as well. The appointing and controlling authority for Provincial services was the respective provincial government, which framed rules for those services with the approval of the government of India.

From 1930 onwards, according to the Civil Service Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930, various services were divided into four categories: Class I, Class II, Subordinate and Inferior. Varadachariar Commission substituted the terms `subordinate’ and `inferior’ by class III and class IV services after independence. Since July, 1974, the classification of civil servants under class I,II,III & IV has been changed into groups `A’,`B’,`C’`D’.

Institution of ICS – The institution of ICS, the predecessor of IAS is the oldest and most wonderful institution the British Government bequeathed to India. ICS was called the Steel Frame, which reared and sustained British rule in India for such a long time. 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.

Why Civil Services were so ‘strong’?

The salient features of the strength of Civil Services during British Rule in India were –

  • Family background of senior bureaucrats – “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’. Most of the bureaucrats at higher level, especially belonging to ICS and IP belonged to British professional middle classes.
  • Educational background – They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge.
  • Sense of responsibility – ICS officers had deep sense of responsibility. 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. However, these qualities had not served so much the Indian masses, as it did the British rulers.
  • Hard-working people – The ICS, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity and hard work.
  • Work atmosphere – ICS officers had full freedom and opportunity to do something worthwhile, 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 were given to its elite services by British Government.
  • Slim and trim service – Just over a thousand officers in ICS 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

Start of Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ during British rule

The corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ started with the intensification of the nationalist movement and growing demand of greater Indian participation in Government and its administration at higher levels. The demand was supported by many national leaders, intellectuals and the Indian National Congress Party.

Balance of Power – After the introduction of ‘Modern education’ in 1834, majority of Brahmins occupied almost all the posts in administration, though mainly at lower level. But it had cautioned the rulers, who regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire national movement, agitation and terrorist activities. Therefore, they 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.

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. To counter their dominance, the British designed the scheme of giving preference to other sections of Indian society first in the admission in government controlled institutions of education and then in government jobs. It was the earliest form of present Reservation Policy. The government fixed up quotas in government jobs for different communities of Indian Society.

Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and1932, the British divided the Indian population into different groups, on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc. Apart from giving separate representation in Legislative Councils, and Assemblies, the rulers bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and Government jobs for different upcoming groups on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc. But they kept the ICS untouched from the quota system till the end.

Transfer of power – The British Government transferred service functions to the Provinces. Along with it, the British delegated to the Provincial Governments the authority to control the services, engaged in the performance of those functions and to satisfy the claims of upcoming sections of society in government jobs and education. The Colonial rulers were aware of the consequences of delegation of authority to the provinces in 1935. Therefore, they kept all control functions in their own hands.

Introduction of Diarchy system – With the introduction of Diarchy, the spirit of mild parentalism in bureaucrats 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 Provincialised 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).

                                      Corrosion of the ‘steel-frame’ after Independence

The founding fathers were very clear in their minds about the following facts  –

Importance of an efficient civil service – The forefathers of the Constitution realized its importance in order to ensure good governance to the country and providing the safety 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).

Vital for the peace and progress – 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).

Contended civil service to give good results – 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).

Suggestion, ‘power’ not to outstrip ‘ability’ – 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.

Fall in the standard of governance – Despite all the good-wishes, sometime down the line, the ‘steel frame’ started shaking under political pressure after the Independence. There has been a gradual decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. Now, bureaucracy lacks not only the qualities like vitality, imagination and humanism, but also the old time qualities of honesty, integrity, fearlessness and independence of thought and utterance. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness have been increasing every day allover the country.

  • Rot started in sixties – 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. Sectoral and regional imbalances are created additional administrative problems.
    • Revolutionary Changes in the political complex – 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.
    • Scenario of 1990’s – 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).
    • Further decay during the first decade of 21st century – 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. It is more convenient for an officer to toe the line of political leaders than standing up for principles and paying the price for it.

As time is passing on, bureaucracy is becoming more and more ineffective and powerless. Once known as the “Steel frame of the Whole structure, the administrative service appears to be unable to meet the challenges of the day. It has now lost its credibility. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness are increasing every day allover the country.

Diagnosis of present-day Ailments

Comparative analysis of situation before and after Independence

To understand the continuous deterioration of the same administrative machinery after the Independence, it becomes necessary, what were the reasons, which made bureaucracy a ‘steel-frame’ of governance during British rule?  And what led to its present day position?

Before Independence

During British rule, 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, Bombay, Asia, 1967, p.28) Centralisation tightened the regulatory functions of the officials to supervise and control the subordinate officials and made the office procedure elaborate and cumbersome.

After Independence

After independence, gradually the scenario has changed completely. Present day bureaucratic set-up has deviated from the past traditions in a big way. There are some internal and some external weaknesses in the system.

External weaknesses developed into politics of the nation

Unpleasant changes in recent past – Some unpleasant changes took place in the recent past, which have an adverse effect on the performance of bureaucracy. It is increasing every day in the character, role and inter-relationship of the six main constituent of the national elites – the political executive, the legislators, the businessmen, the organised workers, the surplus farmers and the bureaucrats. Sectoral and regional imbalances and clash in their interests have added great social and psychological tensions and problems, putting more and more pressure on administrative machinery of the nation.

Nexus between politicians and bureaucrats – 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. Corruption and caste-ism has corroded the steel frame. All this started with politicization of criminals and gained momentum with criminalization of politics.

Internal weaknesses developed into the system

Some of the internal weaknesses developed into the system, which are as following –

  • Recruitment Policy (Intake of the material) – There is a sharp difference in the in-take material into its important services. British rulers were very particular about the intake material for it.  

Before the independence

White-men superiority during British rule – British Government was very particular about the intake of the material into its elite service, till it could afford to. Initially, the British, according to their aims and ambitions, pursued the policy of racial discrimination on the dictum of White-man’s superiority for the appointment in its Imperial services.

Not prepared to share authority with Indians – 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.

Illbert Bill controversy clearly shows that in the beginning White bureaucrats were not prepared to share political authority with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909.

Lord Lytton, in his confidential document, said 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 told the reason for keeping only White bureaucrats at higher level of Civil Services – 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 theEnglishmen, 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

Simple graduation basic requirement for getting entry into elite services – It is an anomaly that a simple graduation is required to enter into nation’s most prestigious higher services including IAS. While in many 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.

A graduate degree is supposed to be a recipe for getting a nice and respectable career in the government and giving final reprieve from manual work. Instead of playing a major role in knowledge generation and knowledge utilization, the sole objective of higher education has become only acquisition of degrees to get a white-collared job or to retain or improve individual or family status.

 ‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ – Gone are the days for the Jacksonian principle of “Jack of all, but master of none”, a system devised by the colonial masters for the selection of administrators during nineteenth century. Before Independence, the objectives of British rulers were – one, perpetuate their rule as long as possible, two, extract total subservience from the people.

After Independence, being development administration of a welfare state need much more an efficient civil services than previously. But for one reason or other, contrary is the trend. India, being a Socialist Democratic Republic, bent upon the socio-economic development of the masses, needs the officials in its higher services with up-date knowledge in their particular fields, officials having creativeness, dynamism and public-service consciousness. The Government’s responsibilities have become so complex that the efficient performance of these tasks demands its higher civil servants to be more qualified, more than in the past and attuned properly to the task, they are called upon to perform. And it cannot be done overnight.

Requirement of a graduate degree worked well earlier, when objectives and duties of governance were plain and simple. And people were ignorant, subservient and undemanding. Now in 21st century, it is practically impossible for a simple graduate having only common sense and intelligence with classical knowledge and literary ability to fit-in for any post in its most elite service, giving status, authority and lots of privileges. Larger the range of responsibility more is the requirement for the government to have well-educated, well-selected and well trained personnel.

There is no justification today in maintaining and continuing the education and recruitment system, which the Britishers had introduced mainly to man the large and increasing number of subordinate posts in administration. Formal education taught the people only to do, what was told to them, by their superiors.

At the same time, there is no validity in continuing the recruitment system, we have inherited from the British, which puts emphasis on degrees and diplomats with an assumption that classical knowledge and literary ability would fit a candidate for each and every administrative post.

  • Deteriorating standard of education After Independence, government put more stress on quantitative increase of students and educational institutions rather than on improving its quality. Heavy rush for a degree with such a narrow and pragmatic approach has led to tremendous demand for educational facilities. Large number of new superfluous and sub-standard institutions is continuously coming up into existence. Many Universities function as merely examining a narrow range of knowledge and skills and certifying bodies. They give degrees to students in large numbers without making them more knowledgeable or employable in real job-market. Employers, including government itself, which is the largest employer, complain about failing standards but continue to give importance to degree.

Malpractices existing in educational system- For the successful operation of any system, it is urgent that mal-practices should be kept to minimum. Among other factors, the compelling reason for the success and reputation of prestigious training and educational institutions like IITs or IIMs at present is that admission in these institutions are given strictly according to caliber and mental get up of the students.

Malpractices in admission or examination have raised a doubt in public mind about the legitimacy of university evaluation procedures and of the degree itself. Influential people, who are in positions of authority and wield economic, political or bureaucratic powers, let their wards/candidates admitted in the colleges and universities, so that they could get white collared jobs easily.

  • Link between education and employment – The link between higher education and employment in government was established in 19th century colonial India, still persists. It has not been able to prepare modern youth to meet the challenges of 21st century.

 Present education and recruitment system is neither responsive to the aspiration of officials nor to the needs of the nation. The higher education makes most of students neither intellectually competent nor motivated. Quite often it leads youth to get involved in blatantly in anti-social pursuits.

  • Consideration for ‘Merit’ for its elite services/Imperial services

 Before Independence

Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and1932, the British divided the Indian population into different groups, on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc. Along with separate representation in Legislative Councils, and Assemblies, British rulers started the practice of giving preferential treatment to upcoming groups in Government jobs for different upcoming groups and fixed a quota for them in government services on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc. But they kept its elite service ICS untouched from the quota system till the end.

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, the 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 (Times of India Archives, May3, 1918).

After independence

Quotas in jobs – Reservation Policy or provision of 50% quota in government jobs for different up-coming communities on preferential basis and with relaxed standards has eroded the charm to join government services. After independence, the government started the practice of relaxing the standards for filling 15% reserved seats for Scheduled Castes in all its services, 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes (earlier 5%) and after 1992, 22% for OBC’s. How can it be justified sixty five years after the independence, especially after so many developments have al-ready taken place socially and politically?

  • Constant political interference – After Independence, it was hoped that higher civil services would attract the best talents and most competent and qualified youth belonging to various sections of Indian society from all-over India till other All India services could be created. There was a time, when it did so. A large number of intellectuals, engineers, doctors, MBAs and other professionals joined different higher services. It no more attracts the best brains.

Constant political interference has diluted the charm to join the government services for talented youth. Disincentives for merit, sincerity and honesty have demoralized the upright and hard working people. The youth find the work atmosphere suffocating, because there is no incentive to do creative works.

The willingness of talented and meritorious youths to join higher government services is like a passing tide now. The cream of the society either wishes to join the private sector or to go abroad in search of greener pastures. Liberalization and globalization has given a boost to this trend. Reservation of about 50% posts has further eroded its charm.

  • All India services

 In the light of historical facts, development and achievements of last 150 years, it could be said without doubt that the All India Services were a fine instrument forged by the British Government to provide an efficient and effective administration to the whole of the country. It brought about not only stability and tranquillity, but also all round and varied development.

Before Independence

During British period, there were nine All India Services to provide adequate manpower at the top of various disciplines. On the eve of the Government of India Act 1919, there were nine All India Services in existence. At present, there are only three All India Services – Indian Administrative Service; Indian Police Service; and Indian Forest Service.

As the movement for Indenisation gained momentum, the Indian public opinion and the attitude of nationalist leaders became allergic to All India Services, not on the basis of their actual performance, but because they were controlled by the Secretary of State and were a living symbol of foreign rule. After Independence through India was committed to rapid socio-economic development, of the nine All India Services, all the technical services were either abolished or provincialized. B.B. Misra says, “it was the ICS and IP that remained unaffected and continued to act as an unifying force. Most of the other services were abolished. Considerations of national unity, the positive need of India’s alround development and the attainment of a minimum uniform standard in administration were allowed to go by default.”2

After independence

After Independence, the Constitution framers decided as follows: 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 these Strategic Posts throughout the Union.

There is also 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.

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—came into existence on 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 is an irony that the British Government, though not much interested in welfare and developmental tasks, created nine All India Services, both for general administration and for technological development. It provided adequate and efficient manpower at higher levels in various disciplines of administration. And independent India, which has embarked on a comprehensive programme of economic development and has accepted progress in its widest sense as a major aim of policy, has not been able to create any All India Service in other disciplines.

B.B. Misra had said, “It was the ICS and IP that remained unaffected and continued to act as unifying force. Most of the other All India 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.” (B.B. Misra, Administrative History of India, 1834-1947: General Administration, London, Oxford University Press, 1970, p.143)

  • Stress on Specialization

Before Independence

During British rule, Indian Civil Services, immediately after the recruitment, during probationary period and thereafter, during early years of service, the officers were geared to attain knowledge and experience in various areas of administration. The display by ICS officers for one kind of work rather than the other, their special knack and aptitude for particular type of work (administrative, financial or judicial) was taken into account for deciding their future career.

The service, in practice and not in theory, built a cadre of specialists in administration and encouraged 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)

After Independence

The work of bureaucracy after the independence has 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. It requires specialization with varied experience. In present atmosphere, it 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.

The knowledge of any particular area is not considered important for the 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.

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.

  • Bloated Size

Before Independence

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 the predecessor (the ICS) of India’s most elite service ‘IAS’ –, 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.

After Independence

Continuous increase in number – 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.

Civil services have gradually grown into a bloated and top heavy service. Cadre-strength of IAS was only 957 in 1950, is having 4991(as on 1.1.1997) administrators at present. The first causality of this obesity is its efficiency. 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.

Creation of more posts – In order to solve the problem stagnation, with each cadre review, the government creates/upgrades more and more posts in different departments at higher levels. 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.

The cadre strength in various years is given below: –

  • Cadre Strength of IAS after Independence
Authorized Cadre Strength and Number of Officers in
Position of Indian Administrative Service in India
(1951, 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001 to 2010)
Year
(As on 1st January)
Authorized
Cadre
Strength
Number of
Officers in
Position
1951* 1232 957#
1961 1862 1722$
1971 3203 2754##
1981 4599 3883
1991 5334 4881
2001 5159 5118
2002 5159 5051
2003 5159 4871
2004 5159 4791
2005 5261 4788
2006 5337 4790
2007 5422 4731
2008 5460 4761
2009 5671 4572
2010 5689 4535

Note: *: At the time of initial constitution of the service
#: Including 336 officers of the Indian Civil Service.
$: Including 215 officers of the Indian Civil Service.
##: Including 88 officers of the Indian Civil Service.

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                               Cadre Strength of IAS after Independence

 

 

 

 

Adverse effects of bureaucracy becoming a ‘white elephant’ – Bloated size of bureaucracy has done irreparable damage to machinery of governance. A rot has set in on account of the continuous increase in number of its officials. The Bloated size of the service has always been noticed. The Fifth Pay Commission advised the Government to reduce the flab of IAS by 30%. 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,
  • 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 at higher level to accommodate all and give the officials timely promotions,
  • Multiplicity of focal points – In order to solve the problem stagnation, government creates more and more posts at higher grades. As a remedial action, the Government sub-divides one job so many times that many senior officers have very little work or authority to get a job done. They have hardly two or three hour of work for a day. What is worse, a number of them are doing jobs, which was earlier done by their juniors.

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.

  • It has generated resentment in Non-IAS Services against IAS officers. IAS officials have already usurped the preserves of other services. Now in order to avoid stagnation in its top heavy elite service and accommodate the large number of its senior IAS officers, the Government has created many cushy jobs at the top in public sector corporations and elsewhere. A cold-war is going on between IAS and Non IAS central services and also between IAS and State Civil Services just to get top posts there. While this battle has become something of a scandal, no one bothers about the basic issue- whether services are achieving the objectives, for which they have been created.
  • Side-lining upright officers, thus discouraging excellence of performance. A large number of officers are always there in the queue, which 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.

The 21st century administrative machinery needs to be lean, thin and down-sized for efficient and effective administration.

  • All India Character

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)

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)

Adverse effect on its working – 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.

  • Close contact with people, source of strength in a Democratic country

In a democratic, people are the source of strength for any political institution – this basic truth is forgotten by most of the administrators of the day. It has made the position of bureaucrats weaker than present day politicians.

Before Independence

The close contact with the people and the peoples 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.

After Independence

An administrator is supposed to maintain links with the people directly through the channels of understanding and persuasion, not through authority or force.

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 bureaucrats.

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.

  • Field Experience

Feel of real life and social realities -First five or six years of service in the state are crucial for all IAS officers. During this period, they are supposed to go on field postings 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.

Acquaintance with administrative structure – Newly recruited officials get acquainted with the administrative structure in the district and the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters. This period enriches them with a variety of experiences and makes them ripe for senior positions. Besides collection of revenue and maintenance of law and order, an administrator is also responsible the traditional task – coordinating activities of various departments at district level. A collector enjoys immense power and prestige at district level.

Before Independence

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.

Personal knowledge of village conditions – During British rule, the rulers insisted on personal knowledge of its executives of what had happened 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.

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 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 in headquarters at state capitals throughout their career and do not care to revive or develop what little grass-root contacts, they had earlier.

Improved road network in the villages and availability of fast moving vehicles, such as cars, jeeps etc, has deprived the district officers to get thorough 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.

  • Corruption

Before independence

Governor of Madras, Thomas Pitt was convinced that every man had his price and every policy its pay-off point. He repeatedly laid stress on the need to employ local men both with honesty and ability at lower levels, “but if I was under a necessity to take on a servant that wanted either of ’em, it should be the former. For I could call him to account and oblige him to satisfaction; but fools that want ability can give none.” (Quoted from John Keay, The Honourable Company, A history of the English East India Company, Harper Collins Publisher1991)

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

Many reports reveal that although an increasing number of bureaucrats figure 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 to 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.

Extensive Government controls 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.

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.

  • Lack of Specialization

Before Independence

Earlier 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. 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)

After Independence

The need of specialization for IAS is much more than it was for ICS. But for one reason or other, contrary is the trend. The Service does not have different functional cadres. Its officers move from one functional area to another.

‘Jack of all trades, but master of none’ – Gone are the days for the Jacksonian principle of “Jack of all, but master of none”, a system devised by the colonial masters for the selection of administrators during nineteenth century. Before Independence, the objectives of British rulers were – one, perpetuate their rule as long as possible, two, total subservience from the people.

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 effects of Swift changes – The work of modern bureaucracy has 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. It requires bureaucrats to have varied experience. In the present atmosphere, it means that an officer manning strategic senior post should have sufficient knowledge in the area, he works.

 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.

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.

No functional cadre of its own – Till today, there are not different functional cadres in IAS. Swift changes of its officers from one functional area to another either on transfer or on Promotions makes difficult to fix responsibility. Promotions in the service are also not strictly based on good performance.

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.  

Suggestion of ARC (1968) – Way back in 1968, ARC had suggested 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)

  • 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.

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.

Someone else held responsible – Whatever may go wrong, either at the field level or at the secretariat level, bureaucrats are never held responsible for the apathetic state of affairs. The incompetent officials unable to shoulder the responsibility entrusted upon them,, especially officers belonging to the elite service i.e. IAS, get total immunity from responsibility and irregularity, so far. If law and order situation deteriorates in a district, IPS officer is held responsible. If a policy decision goes wrong, IAS officers claim that they were wrongly advised by the specialists or specialized organizations dealing with that particular subject.

Herbert Hoover has once commented about the responsibility and role of an engineer in nation-building as –

“The engineers’ work is out in the open, where all men can see it. If he makes a mistake, he cannot like a doctor bury it, he cannot like a lawyer, blame it on the judge or jury. He cannot, like a politician, claim his constituents demanded it.

Nor can he, like a public official, change the name of it and hope the voters will forget; unlike clergyman, he cannot blame it on devil.

  • If his works do not work, he is utterly damned.
  • If they do work, the world mostly forgets the name of the engineer.

The credit goes to some fellow who used others “peoples’ money to pay for it.”

Inefficient and ineffective performance – The failure of bureaucrats to give efficient and ineffective performance, by and large, in their chosen fields either in Collectorate or Secretariat has affected the lives of millions of people. At present, these offices have become dens of corruption, mismanagement and mal-administration.

  • Politicians vs. bureaucrats

Before independence

Before Independence, Bureaucrats especially, ICS enjoyed the authority to take decisions. The ministers and politicians used to find their authority shadowy over them.

After the independence

Table was turned – After the independence, the table was 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 the deterioration of law and order and slower rate of economic growth.

Authority to punish or reward bureaucrats – 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 civil servants 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.

  • 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 and possessed a marked degree of professionalism in their area of activity. Their claim of superiority, over others, was clearly established.

After independence

After independence, the scene is not like the past. The senior officers gradually lost interest in their subordinates. Reasons for it are generally the following –

  • There is scarcity of experienced IAS 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 pass, 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 get enough spare 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 instill 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.

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 in the social status, standard and behavior between IAS officers and class 1 officers belonging to other services of Government of India.

To reach quickly to commanding position – Today, IAS has become the most glamorous civil service amongst all central services class I. To aspirants, 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.

Symbol of power – It is supposed to be the manifest symbol of power. Its 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.

Easy access to levers of authority – 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.

Craze amongst newly emerging sections – The craze for getting into the service is increasing continuously amongst the newly emerging sections of the society.

No commitment for high standard in administration – 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.

  • o     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 undefied, endlessly minuting and circulating files, which like time itself has neither beginning nor end.” (Times of India, December 25, 1995)

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 for curing the ailments

  • De-link degrees from employment – For making higher education more purposeful and relevant to the present needs of developing society, de-link of degrees from employment is necessary. Proposals for such a step have already been mooted by many eminent persons in India like Dr. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Kothari, Dr. Mudaliar, or by Ivan Illich in “De-schooling Society”.
  • There seems no justification today in maintaining and continuing the education system, which the Britishers had introduced mainly to man the large and increasing number of subordinate posts in administration. These persons were taught only to do, what was told o them, by their superiors. Such an education has also created a wide gulf between the educated persons and the masses.
  • At the same time, there is no validity in continuing the recruitment system, we have inherited from the British, which puts emphasis on degrees and diplomats with an assumption, that classical knowledge and literary ability would fit a candidate for each and every administrative post.
  • The present system of pre-entry higher education and recruitment is not able to introduce the much needed dynamism in the administration. Success lies in recruiting ‘right persons for right places on right time’ and design their further education and training in such a way, that could instil in them in right perspective relevant knowledge, skills and sense of responsibility.
  • Picking up youth at the age of 21-30 years (21-35 for SC/ST, 21-33 for OBC) and then train them for 2-3 years for their future roles, is a colossal waste of most vital, impressionable and imaginative period of a person’s life. It could be utilized gainfully for constructive and creative purposes only if the candidates are picked-up for various disciplines a little earlier.
  • Catch them young – The approach should be “Catch them young and train them” after entry into the services through tailor-made job-oriented courses for their future roles in different branches of governance. Youth should be advised and encouraged to choose right career for themselves after passing out 10 or 10+2 Std according to their attitude and aptitude.
  • 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.

What is desired to be done?

To restore the credibility following measures may help –

  • Well-educated and well-trained personnel – A sound system of pre-entry education, right quality of personnel at point of entry into the service, proper induction level training supported with adequate in-service training, would go a long way in improving its image. It can shape personnel to shoulder the responsibilities of Independent India’s administration at higher levels.
  • Divorce between Degree and Employment.
  • System of Recruitment System.
  • Unified civil service – 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.
  • Checks and balances at every stage must be ensured to prevent bureaucratic corruption and arbitrary attitude.
  • Multi-layers in bureaucracy, which dilutes the effort, should be reduced to reduce delays in decision-making.
  • Decentralization of authority.
  • Transparency in order to prevent corruption.
  • Specialization meaning it means that an officer manning strategic senior post should have sufficient knowledge in the area, he works.
  • 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 and more honest, upright officers need to be engaged in the field work or in public dealings.
  • Cooperation of public needs to be sought after, not by force or use of authority, but by prompting, persuading, suggesting, stimulating and inspiring them. Today In the name of socialism, the government has created a domineering State controlling the smallest detail of the economic and social life of the people. People are made pigmies.
  • Above all, ‘Sense of service’ should be inculcated in all bureaucrats. Each and every public servant must realise 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.

 

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September 28, 2011 - Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services |

3 Comments »

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