“Education is a fundamental right and the basis for progress in every country. … Prosperous countries depend on skilled and educated workers. The challenges of conquering poverty, combating climate change and achieving truly sustainable development in the coming decades compel us to work together. With partnership, leadership and wise investments in education, we can transform individual lives, national economies and our world.” Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General, United Nations.
“Literacy not only changes life, it saves and transforms lives. It is the bedrock of sustainability.” Irina Bokowa, Director General,UNESCO.
” Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” Immanuel Kant
“Learning without thought is labour lost; thought without learning is perilous.” Confucius
International Literacy day is celebrated all over the world every year on September 8. The theme for year 1914 is ‘Literacy and Sustainable Development’. This day is “an opportunity to remember a simple truth: literacy not only changes life, it saves them”, says Irina Bokowa, the Director general of UNESCO, in her message for the day. Acknowledge that quality education is key to sustainable development, a new set of goals for post-Millennium Development Goals (MDG) has been proposed at the 69th Session of United Nations General Assembly on 18th of September 2014. Started in 2000, the MDG period expires in 2015. The previous United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Education for All Global Monitoring Report says that almost 1 billion people are still likely to be extremely poor in2015 and 57.8 million children still out of school.
Therefore UNESCO had set up new goals to be effective from 2015 to 2030. It has set-up 16 goals like -
- Poverty reduction,
- Nutrition improvement,
- Health gains’
- Gender equality and empowerment,
- Economic empowerment etc.
In context of India
India with 1.4 million children ranks among top five nations with kids aged 6 to 11 out of school. It will take atleast another 56 years to achieve female youth literacy. As far as quality of education in India is concerned, even after completing four years of school, 90% children from poorer households remain illiterate.
Start of modern formal education in India
During British rule in India, in 1834, new modern education system was launched in India, which was based on colonized British Grammar School type education. The traditional Indian system of education had withered away for the lack of official support.
The modern education, since its inception, has influenced the Indian society and its culture in a big way. It has both of constructive and destructive effects on its culture. On one hand, it offered to Indian intelligentsia the key to the treasures of scientific and democratic thoughts of Modern ‘West’, on the other hand, it had disassociated Indian people from their culture, classical roots, knowledge and traditional way of living. Along with it, faded Indian values, philosophies and traditions.
The issues that arise here are – what ‘Culture’ is? What is the culture of India? When and why the system of education was changed? How has it been affecting the indigenous culture of India? How can Indians remain rooted to their own Culture? How can its culture be further enriched by taking advantages of the wide horizon of knowledge, modern education offers and of the technologies developed in the Western world? And how people in general could be prevented from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of alien way of life and its culture?
Animal instincts within human being – History of evolution points out that in the beginning, animal instincts within a human were quite prominent. Thomas Hobbes has described that at that time the life of man was “nasty, brutish and short”. Degree of selfishness was at its peak. Only fittest could manage to survive in that hostile environment.
Formation of civilized society – At some point of time, people joined hands and started living together. Human beings made conscientious effort to overcome the animal instincts hidden within them. They developed empathy and the spirit to cooperate and help each other. It was through socializing and development of norms that people learnt, how to live together or how to treat others and others him. That was the beginning of culture/mannerism, which inspired human to form a cultured civil society.
|Dictionary meaning of the term ‘culture’- According to dictionary, meaning of the term ‘culture’, it is –|
- an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior of a group that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations,
- the customary beliefs, social norms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group;
- The characteristic features of everyday existence (a way of life}.
- The set of attitudes, values, goals, and practices shared by people in a place or time.
Features that reflect Culture – Culture includes within itself all the following features collectively like
- Sophisticated language as medium of expression; arts and sciences as forms of human expression;
- Thinking process as the way, people perceive, interpret, and understand the world around them;
- social activities;
- Smooth interaction with others fellow-beings; and
- Spirituality as a path to salvation of soul,
All these qualities together and way of life transmitted through generations for the welfare of people, expressed through language and actions are included in culture.
United Nation on ‘culture’ – According to United Nation, a culture is a set of values, attitudes, language and ways of life. Whenever layers of culture and civilization are overshadowed, man’s real nature with all its animal instinct is exposed. Everything works well, when people are humane and familiar with the basics of their culture.
Culture leading to refinement – For keeping humans disciplined, every society enforces its own social, ethical, or legal rules. Culture leads to betterment or refinement, whether it is an individual, society or a nation. The more one follows those norms, the more cultured one is.
In short, culture of a society includes within itself knowledge, belief and behavior as well as attitudes values, goals and practices of that society. Culture is the full range of refined human behavior patterns. It constantly changes. Across different nations all cultures are concerned about values that are humane and universal.
Culture of India
Cultural richness - India presents a fascinating picture of cultural richness, which is mainly based on Vedic literature and philosophy. Civilization of India is one of the oldest alive civilizations of the world. Because of its tolerance and capacity of internalizing alien influences, its culture has been able to be one of the oldest, continuous and uninterrupted living culture of the world.( The other three being Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece)
Many principles and cultures developed in the past, within India as well as 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 and its basic tenets, however, have been proved to be an exception in this regard. It happened due to basic tenets of Vedic culture, which have always been very close to every Indian.
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 invaders, who came to India in waves, with the culture of indigenous tribal people of India during 2nd century BC to 650 AD.
The Indian culture is identified with the whole of India. To foreigners, it represents the ancient culture in its eternity. It mainly originated and flourished in northern parts of India and later on spread throughout India.
Origin of Vedic culture
The origin of the Vedic knowledge and its culture can not be traced in any single founder; neither can it be confined in one single authoritative text. Its sacred knowledge has been handed down from time immemorial, earlier by verbal transmission and later on, in written form by the ancestor to succeeding generations.
Never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’) – Vedas teach that creation and quest for knowledge is a constant process, without any beginning or an end. It is a never ending process (‘Neti’, ‘Neti’). The Sages (Rishis and Munies) were believed that even Vedas were not the end for quest for knowledge or prescribes any final absolutes.
Strength of Vedic culture
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.
Basic tenets of Indian culture
The basic tenets of Indian culture, which kept its continuity intact, despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of various groups, are as following:
Principles of ‘Varna’ ‘Dharma’, ‘Karma’ - The foundation pillars of systems of Indian culture were the principles of ‘Varna, karma and Dharma’. Principles of Varna, Dharma and Karma together provided the whole society a quality of life and contributed to its growth.
‘Principle of Varna’ – Doctrine of Varna has given the Indian Society a stable, sustainable social structure. In the past, it had assigned duties to different groups according to their natural endowments, instincts and qualities.
Principle of ‘Karma’ – Knowledge is supposed to be necessary for giving “Karma”, its due meaning, direction and value. Ignorance is considered to be leading to futile efforts destroying direction. Doctrine of Karma teaches people to accept their surroundings, as they are and extract as much happiness as possible. Principles of Karma make the inequalities, prevalent a society, tolerable.
Principle of Dharma – Principle of Dharma defines the duties and inspires people to do their jobs well, as all worldly honor and spiritual happiness were vested there. It assures the people that proper performance of one’s work, whether high or humble, whether of a priest, warrior, Shudra or yogi are equally important for the society and were, therefore, right, respectable and worth pursuing.
Sanatan Dharma (Concept of Eternal Values)- Sanatan Dharma (Concept of Eternal Values) nurtured the basic instincts of human beings over nature, after a deep study of natural instincts, inherent attributes and natural behavioral pattern and taking care of the basic physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human beings at different stages of life.
Spirit of Tolerance
Amongst all factors, which contributed to enrich and continuity of India’s culture has been the spirit of tolerance of Indian people.
Concedes validity to all the religions -Tolerance is most evident in the field of religion. 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 why, all the twelve major religions of the world are present and flourishing in India without much hindrance. Hindu faith in an all pervading omnipresent god, multiplicity of god and goddesses as representing some portion of the infinite aspect of the Supreme Being, inspires it to accommodate people of all faiths.
No conversions – India has adopted the path of assimilation. Its main religion Hinduism does not believe in conversion or imposing its beliefs, practices and customs on others. It has neither repulsed any trend vehemently, nor allowed others to sweep its own established culture off the roots.
Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression – Tolerance is not confined to religion alone. It is seen everywhere in the Indian way of life. Firm belief in the principles, ‘Live and let live’, ‘to each according to his needs and from each according to his capacity’, ‘simple living and high thinking’ and faith in Truth, Ahimsa, peace and non-aggression have always been the part of Indian ethos.
Whole world is one family – ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, the whole world is one family Indians is the hallmark of Indian culture. In the past, 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.’(John Fischer, India’s insoluble Hunger – 1947)
Positive effect of tolerance
Many times in the past, Indians had accepted oppression and exploitation without much protest, while such situations would have led to bloody revolutions elsewhere in the world.
Negative effects of tolerance
Even today, the people are tolerating the corruption, scams, scandals and criminal activities developed in political sphere, as well as inefficiency seeped deeply in 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.
Effect of these principles on society of ancient India
All these principles together had organized orderly performance of various functions needed to provide a quality of life to its people in the past. It gave them a distinct character, defined roles and organized inter-relationship of various sections of society. 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.
Composite Culture of India
The composite culture of India has absorbed the good points of other cultures enriching it further. More than anywhere else in the world, it holds a multitude of thoughts, processes them and practices them. There has been co-existence of varied belief, pattern and thought due to inter-mixing and cultural mingling.
The composite culture of India grew out of: -
- Growth, influence and refinement of values of different religions generated within land of India.
- Creative interaction between values of indigenous religions and religions of diverse migrating or foreign communities like Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism etc.
All the sects present in India, whether foreign or indigenous, have been influenced greatly by Vedic culture – its thinking, practices and systems. For a few centuries after the downfall of Hindu’s rule (around 5th-6th centuries), first under the rule of Turks or Muslim, the culture of Islam and their style of living, practices, traditions influenced the Indian society and afterwards Christianity under British rule flourished and dominated the scene allover in India.
Fusion of different cultures
The wonderful process of assimilation and fusion of different cultures has been a continuous process of the India civilization. It contributed to the cultural richness of India. Such flexibility is not seen in the West. When Christianity broke away from Judaism, it departed totally from the common cultural traditions. Therefore, it is very difficult for the Western world to understand and appreciate Indian culture fully.
Composite culture of ancient times - Before 6th century, a cultural synthesis took place. In ancient India, the assimilation of various racial, immigrants, locals, tribal, professionals or other groups under its mainstream was done through caste system by assigning each new group a separate caste identity. Assimilation of different social groups was done without imposing on them Hindu value system or annihilating the originality, internal order, customs or language of new groups joining the mainstream. India provided the atmosphere and opportunity the culture of each identity, coming into its fold, to flourish in its own way. A major cultural synthesis took place during 6th and 10th century between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture between Vedic Hindu culture, Buddhism and Dravidian culture.
Composite culture during medieval period - After the downfall of Hindu’s rule, under Turks, Muslim and British rule, Islam and Christianity received substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period. Their cultures flourished and dominated the scene allover in India. It led to another major cultural synthesis. After the 10th century, the thinking of Arabs, Turks and Afghan, mainly guided by reason, influenced Indian thought. As a result, Sufi and Bhakti movements emerged into the scene. These two sects taught the people to love and respect all human beings irrespective of caste or creed. 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.
Modern times – Once again, during the period of 18th to 20th century, major cultural synthesis took place with modernization and industrialization ushered in by the British.
Survived vicissitudes of time
Culture of India has survived the vicissitudes of time, saved itself by erosion from within and assault from outside only because of the adaptability.
The composite culture of India managed to continue despite numerous castes and communities living here for time immemorial; despite numerous foreign invasions, migrations and assimilation of new groups; and despite cultures of Hindus, Islam and Christians receiving substantial state patronage for sufficiently long period at different points of time.
Every time Vedic culture re-emerged
There were periods during its long period of evolution, when its main Vedic culture had weakened and shaken the confidence of people in Vedic literature and its philosophies, especially under foreign rules. However, every time, it re-emerged and whenever it re-emerged; it did not destroy the culture of other sects, but assimilated their good points within itself.
Major force retain the cultural identity
The composite culture of India acted as a major force for the failure of Islam, Christianity and other religions to make headway in India even after mass conversion. Through it, Hindus could retain their cultural identity, while living under an alien political order, whether it was Turks, Mughal, Portuguese or British.
Vedic literature not only religious books
‘Vedic literature’ is a gold mine of Indian philosophy. The ancient Vedic philosophy and literature are found in Indian scriptures known as ‘Vedas’, ‘Smritis’ ‘Sutras’, and ‘Upanishad’. These scriptures are not only revered scriptures of Hinduism or religious books, but hold in itself a vast reservoir of knowledge and experiences of great Indian scholars called Rishies, who had devoted their life in search of knowledge. It is a perfect guide to the art of living.
- “Ocean of knowledge in a jar”- According to Basham, these Epics contains “an ocean of knowledge in a jar.” (Wonder, That Was India). Vedic literature is a vast reservoir of knowledge. It presents 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.
- Perfect guide to art of living – Vedic literature is a perfect guide to art of living. It speaks of everything- on staying healthy, social values, improving concentration and tenets of behavior, which are relevant till today. Its rituals are techniques for leading a harmonious life.
- Self-restraint and self-discipline – In the past, culture of India had encouraged Indians to adopt a self-restraint and self-disciplined life-style; be in tune with the forces of nature; live harmoniously and peacefully with their fellow beings; practice non-violence in thought, action and speech and not cause pain to anyone including oneself. It advised people to lead a self-disciplined life, to do one’s own work sincerely, not to interfere in other’s work and escape from apathy or indifference. It taught people to be self-observant and try to mend one’s own mannerism rather than telling others behave.
- Stress on contentment – It has advised to be contented, to be self sufficient and to be satisfied with what one can earn honestly, but not to be greedy, jealous or too competitive; not to hoard or accumulate beyond one’s need; not to steal, beg, borrow or snatch belongings of others with or without their knowledge. According to Hindu philosophy, nature has provided enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for even one person’s greed.
- No destructive activity – It has advised people not to waste energy or over-indulge oneself in wasteful and destructive activity. People should be honest and willing to help others; observe austerity, simplicity and discipline in life; maintain cleanliness of diet, body and mind. In short, it advised people always to try to rise above the animal instincts hidden inside human-beings.
- Work is worship - Principle of Karma teaches people that “Work is Worship”. In modern world, when people are so conscious about ‘blue colored or white colored jobs’ and asserts their rights, pay scant attention to their duties, the faith in ‘Principle of Karma’ can inspires common man to do their duties sincerely. It teaches that any kind of work is worth pursuing and respectable. Any work done in its true spirit could never be derogatory or a waste. They should try for action par excellence. A work should not be valued so much for its external reward, as for the intrinsic satisfaction towards realization of Swadharma.
- No Revenge or putting blame on others – No human has any control over taking birth in a family of one’s choice. Very few are born with silver spoon in their mouth. Everybody else has to make efforts for a better future. Principle of Karma also offers a convincing explanation for inequality, affluence, poverty and happiness. It prevents people from being revengeful or putting blame on others for their own failures, miseries. Everybody has to face the inexorable consequences of one’s doings. It teaches people that they are not the slaves of circumstances/environment, over which they do not have any control. Principle of Karma teaches common man to keep on making efforts for better future. None of their effort goes waste.
- Hopes for better tomorrow – Nobody knows ‘when one is going to hook a fish’. Principle of Karma gives hope to people not to get disappointed by their present unfavorable circumstances. One should constantly make efforts to improve situation by performing one’s own duties well. By channelizing efforts, energies and capacities in proper direction and working hard, one can specialize in his specific area of work, strengthen character, improve economic status and contribute in social/national reconstruction.
Education restricted to those, who can keep its sanctity
In ancient India, education was confined to a very small section of Indian society. It was not so much that common people were debarred or denied access to education because of discrimination, as it was because of the method of education. In absence of any written material, priestly schools in India had devised a most remarkable and effective system of transferring knowledge to succeeding generations in form of hymns. They restricted it only to those, who possessed brilliant feats of memory and capability to keep its extreme sanctity. Opening verse of Chapter (IV) says, “I gave this philosophy of (life and action called) Yoga to men of responsibility, so that, through this philosophy, they will become strong to serve and protect the people, to nourish the people.”
Rituals guidelines to lead a harmonious, disciplined and healthy life
The rituals were the techniques to help and guide the masses of all sects of India to lead a harmonious, disciplined and healthy life. Some rules were prescribed to be observed in day to day life to stay healthy, others to live in a hygienically clean atmosphere, live a self-restraint and self- disciplined life and to develop human relationship including the give-and-take of socialization especially during a variety of festivities and life-celebrating events.
Essence of the knowledge and experiences of Intelligentsia – The knowledge and experiences of Intelligentsia of ancient India (Yogis, sages and Munies) benefitted the whole community from top to bottom. The sages of ancient India prescribed certain rules, customs and rituals to be observed by the common men. Through these rituals, masses benefitted by the deep thinking and experiences of sages of many generations; and the vast treasures of Indian philosophy, rational. These rituals gave a sense of direction to the masses. Masses were disciplined through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation envisaged/prescribed by the learned sages.
Wrong practices developed deformities – Most of rituals, customs and traditions have lost their sanctity and developed many distortions because people started following them blindly and in a wrong way. People are losing the spirit of these rituals and festivals. It is necessary to understand correctly what for they actually meant, or what the messages behind it are. For example -
- Festival of Holi in India was traditionally played by making colors from the flowers and herbs. Gulal was popular for its soothing qualities. But over the years, natural colors have been replaced by synthetic colors. Synthetic colors spoil the fun. They can cause serious skin problems, eye irritation and from skin allergies can lead to cancer.
- The purpose of Holi festival is to inspire people to meet and greet each other with love and affection, forgetting old rivalries and enmity. Now many a times, people get beserk. They think holi is meant for fun. In the name of fun (mauj and masti), they play Holi in rowdy manner, misbehave and take advantage thinking it a good time to settle old scores. They use everything available to give others a really tough time, – pucca paints, dyes, grease, mud, throw each other in a pit of mud, throw balloons filled with water/coloured water and drink bhaang and get intoxicated and sometimes violent.
- The ill-effect of this change is that people dread to move out their houses almost a week before Holi. There are many fatal/serious accidents due to drunken driving, dangerous driving, over-speeding, triple riding, driving without helmets or seat-belts is common sight during Holi
Wrong practices, quite often develops a widespread misunderstanding and give birth to social evils, caste-conflicts, feudal oppressions and mass poverty.
Impact of Vedic philosophy and literature on Indian society
The impact of Vedic philosophy and literature on Indian society was as following –
- No confusion in matter of work – All the functions needed for the maintenance and growth of the society were divided amongst different groups. Each group was assigned a distinct function to perform. There was no confusion or frustration on matter of work, because every body had his traditional occupation.
- Dignity and honor for everyone –One of the unique features was that it provided work and employment to all. It avoided rivalry or bitterness for pelf, power or position amongst different sections of society. Each and every group served the community. All the groups lived with dignity and honor with the feeling that they, too, were contributing something to the society.
- Clear vision of responsibilities – Clear-cut definition of rights and duties for each group, based on its traditional occupation, developed clear vision of its responsibilities.
- Checks and balances – Orderly division of labor based on certain principles and its combination with the principle of inter dependence developed its own systems of checks and balances over arbitrary use of its authority.
- Decentralization of authority - There was an automatic decentralization of authority.
- Inculcated discipline in masses – Discipline was inculcated amongst ignorant masses through infinite variety of rituals, prayers, practices, customs and meditation envisaged/prescribed by the learned sages.
Contribution of some saints
Tulsi, a Follower of Bhakti (Devotion) Marg – Tulsidas took Rama out of Temples (Mandirs) or massive structures, freed Him from the clutches of Brahmins and placed Him in the hearts of common man. Importance of Ramayana, according to Sri Satya Sai Baba, is that principles of Ramayana teach peace, love humanity and unity. It teaches value of detachment from objective pursuits and realization the presence of Divine in every being. Renunciation leads to joy and attainment brings worries. The characters of Ramayana represents – Dasaratha is the representative of physical senses, three queens queens of three qualities (gunas) – serenity (satwa), passion (Rajas), sloth (tamas). The four goals of life are to get over ‘Kaam, Kroth, Lobh, Moh’. Rama represents righteousness in deed, word and thought, ever pure and totally free from blemish. Lakshmana symbolizes intellect, sugriva wisdom (viveka), Baali despair, Hanuman embodiment of courage. The three demon chiefs are personification of Passion (Rajasic), slothness (taamasic) and serenity (satwic). Sita is awareness of Universal Absolute (Brahma-jnana)
Kabir (15th century Sufi ‘Nirgun’ Sant) and other Sufi Sants – They did not believe in idol worship and criticized communalists and fanatics. Their followers interpreted the life and message of the saint poets. All their life they fought against orthodoxy, the ritualistic interpretation of religion and advocated spiritual uplift of a person. But after their death, most of them were caged in the same circle of rituals.
Vivekanand - (a 19th century scholar saint) – To Vivekanand, Dharma meant fulfilling duties, not performing mere rituals. Religions are the ways to reach the divine and not to confront any other faith. He did not believe in conversion and advised people to stick to their own religion. In his famous 1893 Chicago speech at World Parliament of Religions said, “I am proud of my Hinduism, which is tolerant and inclusive.” However, some fanatics did great disservice when they use this message not to spread Hinduism’s message of tolerance, but to express a supremacist mentality.
Modern education in India (Before Independence)
In 1835, Lord Macauley successfully laid the foundation of modern education in India. In 1844 through a Declaration knowledge of English was made compulsory for Government employment. It made English medium schools very popular. The traditional Indian system of education gradually withered away for the lack of official support.
The universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were started in 1837 and higher education spread rapidly thereafter. Since the British were not much interested in scientific and technical education, only three Medical Colleges one each at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras was established by 1857. There was only one good engineering college at Roorkee.
Purpose of introducing Modern Education system
Finding it too costly and perhaps practically impossible to import enough Englishmen to man the large and increasing number of subordinate or lower posts in administration, British rulers planned of educating Indians in such a way that they “should through western education get 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.”
Served Double purpose
Introduction of modern education had served a double purpose for the British rulers- they got the credit for the amelioration of the Indian society. But at the same time, through it, they devised a unique method of distribution of power, kept balance of power and prolonged their rule in India by keeping the natives busy in their in-fights.
Welcomed by all
The atmosphere was completely ready, when Lord Macauley to lay the foundation of modern education in India by 1835. Missionaries as well as National leaders, intellectuals and Reformers not only welcomed but exerted pressure on the company to encourage and promote western education in India.
For Missionaries, modern education was a good recipe to brainwash Indians and to attract many Indians especially belonging to lower strata towards Christianity. Modern education and preaching of religious minded Westerners like William Webberforce or Charles Grant etc. had made their job easy. Formal education in educational institutions under British government led to mass conversion into Christianity. It had succeeded in leaving a deep influence in the minds of both educated and uneducated.
- Brainwashing educated Indians - In educational institutions under British government or in Missionary schools, an ideological attack was launched purposely on Indian value systems. Indian social structure and its values and systems were described as “discriminatory,” “iniquitous,” “exploitative,” “oppressive” “barbarous,” “uncivilized” and “highly stratified”. Indian social-structure, based on caste system, was held responsible for all evil social practices, feudalistic attitude, backward thinking, belief in dogmas and superstitions sustained by a unique set of rituals, and whimsical concept of purity and pollution.
Formal education in missionary or government aided schools and colleges developed a complex in the minds of educated Indians about primitiveness of Indian society and its value system. Many educated Indians were influenced greatly by the alien culture. Some of them got converted into Christianity.
- Education and employment an attraction for poor – Missionaries had attracted the attention of poor ignorant masses by preaching and by providing for submerged sections of Indian society opportunities to get free modern education in missionary schools and permanent jobs. Liberal grants were given by the British government to missionaries and their schools for this purpose. It helped missionaries to lure the downtrodden/people, belonging to lower strata, towards Christianity.
Hopes, national leaders and Reformists had from ‘Modern Education’
Humanitarians, intellectuals, leaders and leaders and social reformers welcomed rationality and other good features of Modern English education. They hoped that modern education would –
- Enlighten Indians by giving them the key to open the treasures of scientific discoveries and democratic, liberal and humanitarian thoughts of the modern ‘West’through Western literature and philosophy.
- Make people aware of the real issues hampering the progress of Indian society, remery the social, political and economic ills of the country and improve the life of common men by enabling them to conquer ignorance, hunger, poverty and disease.
- Spread of the Principles of Democracy across the nation to bring to an end imperialism and tyranny of British rule.
Impact of the efforts of National leaders
Modern education did produce much-needed manpower for lower levels of administration, as desired by the rulers. But it also generated groups of visionary national leaders, intellectuals and reformers during second half of the nineteenth century and beginning of twentieth century like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dadabhai Naoroji, Ferozeshah Mehta, Gokhale, Gandhi, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Neta Subhash Chandra Bose, Patel etc.
Aim, Economic and social uplift – The thrust of Indian leaders and intelligentsia was purely an economic and social. They put emphasis on education and science. They took upon themselves the responsibility to build a modern, open, plural, culturally rich, prosperous and powerful India out of a fragmented, poverty stricken, superstitious, weak, indifferent, backward and inward looking society.
Constructive Influence of modern education on Indian society
Eighteenth century onwards, modern education led to social awakening, gave impetus to social progress and brought many reforms. It had influenced substantially the working style and thinking of missionaries, reformers, educationists and many Indians, especially those belonging to elite and intellectual sections of society. Some of the positive effects of modern education on Indian society were as follows -
- Opened up the doors of the knowledge – Modern education opened up the doors of the knowledge flourished in Europe after Renaissance movement of Middle Ages. It had widened the mental horizons of Indian intelligentsia.
- Highlighted evil practices – Modern education had highlighted the weaknesses and real issues, which had developed in the system like rigidity and harshness of social customs and practices prevalent at that time for the weaker sections of the society i.e. women and lower strata of society.
- Attracted attention of social reformers – Modern education had attracted the attention of social reformers towards social evils caused by ignorance, superstitions or irrationality like mumbo-jumbo of rituals and superstitions created by some selfish people to entangle the ignorant and poor masses, un-touch-ability and inhuman treatment to women, Sati, Polygamy, child marriage etc. etc. prevalent at that time.
- Realization of the worth of liberty and freedom – Indians realised the worth of liberty and freedom. They got exposure to the philosophies of thinkers like Locke, Mill, Roussseau, Voltaire, Spencer and Burke etc. They came to know about the reasons and impact of English, French, American revolutions. It equipped national leaders with the intellectual tools, with which they fought the oppressive British Raj.
The destructive effects of modern education on Indian society
Some of the adverse effects of modern education system on Indian society were -
- Disintegration of Indian society – Divisive policies of British rulers divided the whole of Indian society into many uncompromising groups. The primary aim of British rulers was to ‘divide and rule’ and keep the natives busy in their in-fights. They adopted racial discrimination and many repressive policies in order to disintegrate Indian society. On surface, everything appeared fine, but in reality it compartmentalized the Indian society into uncompromising groups by taking the path of discrimination. National leaders, Reformers and a section of intelligentsia could feel the damage, British racial discrimination and their repressive policies were doing.
- Rise to unhealthy competition – Modernization of the pattern of education and occupations (making knowledge of English as basic qualification for white collared jobs especially in government) along with industrialization increased role of formal education and training for furthering future prospects of people.
In near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, people had to depend entirely on modern education and Government jobs for earning respectfully. Stiff competition for getting enough space in modern callings divided the Indian society. Opportunities in modern education and government jobs became the bone of contention between different sections of the society. The monopoly of Brahmins in these areas cautioned the British and generated anger amongst the non-Brahmin communities and Muslims. In the Southern states, there emerged two rival groups – Brahmins and Non-Brahmins and in the North – Hindu and Muslims.
- Biased census operation – British rulers redefined the structure of Indian society through Census operations according to their administrative convenience. Census operations divided Indian society into different political groups – Upper castes, Lower castes, Backward castes, minorities Tribals and untouchables – on basis of race, religion, caste, creed, or place. The government recognized all these groups officially. It divided Indian population into different un-bridgeable groups. It politicized caste and community, which were made tools for Indians to fight amongst them from now onwards.
The government allowed forming their own pressure groups. It gave encouragement to all of them to pursue their sectional interests or to insist for their claims in the areas of education, white collared jobs and power- structure of the country.
- Racial discrimination giving birth to National movement – During 1858 to 1905, the British Government adopted a racist attitude under the garb of the policy of apparent association. British, philosophers and writers started propagating theories of racial superiority and thereby, justified the domination of white races over dark races of the globe. Historians like Mill, Wilson, Ward vehemently denounced the culture, character and social structure of the native people.
The discriminatory and repressive policies and practices of British rulers alarmed the national leaders. Racial discrimination in the areas of education and jobs and their repressive policies elsewhere; Economic loot; political subjugation; assertion of lordly superiority over the subject on the ground of race; assumption of a haughty exclusiveness; persistent insulting and supercilious behavior towards all Indians; exclusion of Indians from all places of honor, authority and responsibility; and denial of their capacity for self-governance united Indians against British rule. The destructive character of repressive policies of British rulers lit the fire and gave birth to national movement.
- Masses remained illiterate – Though during second half of the nineteenth century, British government in India opened the doors of education to all sections of Indian society, irrespective of caste or creed, very few amongst the general public could avail the advantages of formal modern education. Education remained confined within a small section of societyIt was only impoverished group of Brahmin and caste Hindus in search of respectful livelihood, who opted for modern education. Educating general public was not the aim of British rulers. Relentless efforts of missionaries, with an aim to convert poor people into Christianity, could educate a very small number of people from amongst them. Reasons being:
- Modern education was very costly and, therefore, unaffordable by the masses.
- Masses did not see any immediate use of education. It was more important for them to work and arrange two square meals day.
- English as a medium of instructions in education and as Official language. It alienated the masses from the educated Indians. English gradually became the language of elite section of Indian society.
- White collared jobs- Introduction of modern education in 1835 and introduction of Wood’s dispatch of 1854, known as Magna Carta, which declared English as an official language, changed the scenario. It gave importance and popularity to ‘White collared jobs’ in organized sector. Declaration of English as Official language pushed the masses away from new employment opportunities. More a person withdraws from physical labor, more honored; civilized and qualified he/she is considered by modern society. The trend of easy and quick money started.
- Discredited traditional occupations – Emergence of white-collared jobs based on formal education tended to make many traditional occupations obsolete, as they were considered less paying, more hazardous or time consuming. It scattered the efforts, sense of direction and manufacturing skills of millions of artisans, craftsman, weavers etc. There had been casualty of workers first, afterwards their work style, commitment, motivation and culture. They lost their creativity, sense of achievement and pride. Work culture has changed tremendously since then.
- Unemployment increased – Very few of them could join modern occupations. Majority of people could neither enter into modern sector, nor could stick to their traditional occupations considering the menial work derogatory. In the near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, most of them had no option, but either to join band of agricultural labors, industrial workers and marginal labor for their survival or increase number of unemployed or under employed.
- Traditional jobs hijacked by educated entrepreneurs - Some young entrepreneurs, having education, money and awareness, did market survey and hijacked many discarded traditional occupations. They modernized such disdained and contemptuous jobs like mechanization of fishing or leather industry and made them profit oriented. Even less capital-intensive occupations like that of barber or washer-men have been hijacked by educated middle class. They re-christened them as saloon, laundry etc and employed those poor traditional workers, who were earlier practicing such occupations independently.
Modern education and Reform movements
Social reforms of 19th and early 20th century – The thrust of reformers was purely social. They got alarmed at the erosion of rich ancient Culture of India. Modern education was steadily disassociating Indians from their traditional way of learning, classical roots and knowledge. They undertook the path of internal reforms. They tried to revive it through Sanskritization.
Formation of Social reform organizations in 19th and early 20th century – The thrust of reformers was purely social. Many organizations were formed allover India, like Brahma Samaj founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1828) in Bengal or Prarthana Samaj in Maharashtra (1867). Arya Samaj (1875) was founded by Swami Dayanand in Northern India, and Rama Krishna Mission, Theosophical Society of India (1879), Dev Samaj in Lahore and Servants of India society. They suggested people to form similar organizations allover India spread awareness amongst common man.
Efforts to awaken the masses and interpret religion rationally – Social reformers took upon themselves the job to revive their own rich ancient culture and prevent the masses from being swayed away by the glamour and materialism of alien culture.
They organized people, held conferences and published articles to inspire and spread awareness amongst the people allover India. They interpreted religion rationally. They familiarized the masses with the greatness of Hindu Vedic culture and about Vedas as the source of all knowledge and truth. The intellectual ferment was strongest in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu as there was more rigidity than other parts of India in observances of various rituals and rules. Illiterate and ignorant masses followed them blindly.
Advice of social reformers to Indians
Social reformers drew attention of the public towards the real issues hampering the progress of Indian society and guided people to remain firmly rooted to Indian Culture.
- Advice to eradicate social evils – Social reformers told people to stop all forms of exploitation, inequality and injustice and then move forward. Emphasis was laid on education and science. They asked people to fight against all inhuman practices or treatment given to women and lower strata of society at that time. Women were victimized because of evil practices like Sati, Polygamy, child marriage etc. And practice of untouchablity, which developed into the system made millions of people from lowest strata of society to suffer because of arrogance, ego and irresponsible behavior of some persons. Such persons were responsible for creating the mumbo-jumbo of rituals and superstitions to serve their own vested interests and entangle/exploit the ignorant and poor masses.
- Free Hinduism from all degenerate features – Social reformers advised people to set free Hinduism from all degenerate features without foreign intervention. They asked the submerged sections of society to fight with “Abhava” (Scarcity), “Agyan” (Ignorance), “Annyaya” (Injustice), and “Alasya” (Laziness), as these were the causes of all evils.
- Not the principles, but practices went wrong - Reformers believed that it was not the Hindu principles, but the practices, which went wrong. Vivekanand who founded the Rama Krishna Mission said, “It is we, who are responsible for our degradation.” … He said, “Each nation like each individual has a theme in this life, which is its center, the principle note, around which every other note comes to form the harmony. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality, the direction, which has become its own through the transmission of centuries, that nation dies.” i
- Call to ’Return to Vedas’ – Swami Vivekanand and many other reformers asserted the superiority of Hindu Vedic culture. They gave a call to “Return to Vedas”, as Vedas were to them source of all knowledge and truth. They advised Indians to interpret religion rationally and remain firmly rooted to their own Culture.
Familiarizing the masses of India and the Western World
Awareness about its greatness confined within a small group – For a long time, the greatness of Indian culture and its philosophy was known only in India, that too, not to the whole of India, but only to a few Sanskrit scholars. For the first time in the 8th century Sankaracharya placed it before the people. Even then, its worth was realized within the world of few scholars and saints.
Later on, during 19th and 20 centuries, Saint Jnanesvar, Vivekanand, Rama Krishna Mission), Lokmanya Tilak, Theosophical Society of India and others tried to reveal to the common man and Western world the greatness of Indian Philosophy and culture as well as the charm and graciousness of Vedic literature. They contributed in making Vedic culture popular all over India.
Inspiration not only Indians, but foreigners as well – From now onwards, this gold mine of knowledge and vast treasures of Hindu philosophy with all its rational thinking, social and religious experiences contained in Indian Scriptures and Epics have inspired not only Indians, but foreigners also, not only in the past, but at present as well. Indian philosophy and its value system gave to people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. It commanded the respect and attention of an average Indian once more. German scholars, in the early Nineteenth Century and English scholars in the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century were deeply fascinated by Hindu philosophy and its rich spiritual and traditional treasures, accumulated through centuries.
Scholars reinterpreted it for a rational mind – Intellectuals from India as well as various countries have translated it in their own languages and reinterpreted it for a rational mind with an aim to spread it throughout the world.
. After Independence
With minor changes here and there, the education system basically remained the same. Karl Marx remarked that British, “had a double mission in India, one destructive, the other regenerating; the annihilation of the old Asiatic Society and laying the material foundation of Western Society in Asia.”I (Dutt RP, India Today, p476) The regenerating character can be seen in the social transformation in India through modern education. British rulers made English language as a medium of learning and official language. There was modernization in economic sphere. It led to political unification of the country and laid foundations for many democratic institutions.
The reactionary and destructive character was seen in the economic and social sphere. The growth of casteism had a close connection with these developments. Its result on Indian society was –
Complex in the minds of many educated Indians about their social values -Modern education has developed a complex in the minds of many educated Indians about the primitiveness of Indian society and about efficacy of its value systems. Many educated Indians have lost faith in social customs and practices altogether. Some Indians consider Hindu philosophies and its way of life impractical, or its social practices indefensible.
Apathy towards their values and systems – Apathy towards their value systems has made a large number of intelligentsia alien in their own country. It has disassociated them from their own way of living, classical roots and traditional knowledge. With it; are fading steadily Indian value-system, philosophies and traditions. Usually a person becomes miserable, when he is cut off from his source of life – his own roots. A large number of educated Indians have lost faith in the traditional values, principles and way of life. They have lost faith not only in their fellow-beings, but also in themselves.
Wide gulf between common man and educated – Quality of education, especially in government or government-aided educational institutions has also deteriorated to a great extent. The costly nature of quality education especially in private institutions has further alienated uneducated masses from educated ones. Quality education has become a monopoly of the richer classes and city dwellers. Their youth have become quite insensitive, arrogant and does not hesitate speaking their minds bluntly.
Culture of Neo-rich – A drastic change is visible in the values, behavior and etiquette of a new educated neo- rich youth of elitist class, which has emerged especially in urban areas and Metros. Their life style and value system have been gradually replaced by the Western ones. They want to enjoy pleasures of modern life at any cost. They are more conscious of their rights.
Undisciplined behavior – Present-day youth want to enjoy life fully in any possible way without any bondage/restriction/comment on their behavior or way of life. Loosening grip of social bondage and observances has made many of them selfish, self-willed and arrogant. Some of them have become so intolerant and aggressive, that they out-rightly discard all social norms and etiquette. Their thinking and value systems are quite different from the older ones.
Failure of Present Education System – Education is supposed to develop positive thinking in learners, so that they can channelize their efforts, make their thinking-base broader and flexible, increase openness to information and enhance spirit to work hard, sincerely in a responsible manner in order to attain desired goals. Present system of education has miserably failed to inculcate in youth these qualities. They do not have a clear vision about their aims and ambitions, courage to own responsibilities, face bravely the challenges in life and a balanced approach towards one’s rights and duties, which are the basic ingredients of any cultured/matured/civil society.
Large population of Illiterates and unskilled work-force - ‘Education for all’ and ‘employment for all’ is still a dream. Lack of proper education and training systems combined with illiteracy and lack of skills amongst a large number of people has turned the visions of national development into empty dreams. Only 64.84 people are literate according to 2001 census, (Males – 75.26% and Females – 53.67%). In absolute number, the figure is alarming. No nation can afford to have a large number of its population to remain illiterate, ignorant and unskilled. Not only the number of illiterates and unskilled is a matter of concern, but also quality and insufficient resources of education and training are the matter of great concern. Population explosion has put a heavy pressure on available infrastructure of education and training.
All powerful Government making common man a pigmy – Being a ‘socialist’ and ‘Welfare state’, government has assumed absolute power and taken over itself the responsibility of improving the quality of life of its people from `womb to tomb’. Instead of being a facilitator, it has become the provider. Instead of teaching people ‘how to fish’, it obliges different sections of society by ‘giving a fish’. It has led to centralization of all control systems and made common man a pigmy.
Populist policies to catch vote-banks – In order to create vote banks discriminatory populist policies are being pursued in the name of ‘equality’ or ‘social justice’. More emphasis is being given in pursuing abstract and emotional issues rather than solving the real problems of people. Attempts for social changes make a virtue of narrow loyalties of caste and religion, generating sub-cultures like favoritism, lure for easy money, nepotism and, in-discipline in the society. Caste and communal conflicts are increasing. There are sectarian and regional imbalances generating social and psychological tensions.
Unhealthy competition – There is neck to neck competition for a few places in educational institutions of repute or in employment, especially in organized sector. Rivalry and bitterness for pelf, power or position is continuously increasing. Total aversion of youth from their traditional occupations and stiff competition elsewhere for employment pushed millions to poverty. It has rendered millions of people unemployed or underemployed, who are now wasting all their efforts and most energetic and creative time of their lives, while hunting for a job.
Effect of Political turmoils on Indian society – Recent political turmoils have adversely affected the whole atmosphere. A few Individuals and groups, with political, money or muscle power control the destiny of millions and have say in almost every walk of national life. They are working day and night to deny justice to common men and upright citizens. Favouritism, in-discipline, violence, corruption, lure for easy money, nepotism and chase of materialism based on ruthless competition have weakened the social fabric beyond repair. The erosion of basic moral and human values has turned the life of men, “nasty, brutish and short”.
Standard of Administration – Standard of governance has declined. Work culture in government offices whether at Centre, state or local level, has been degenerated. Under-currents of caste politics have made the task of governance difficult, making the governance difficult and ineffective. It has given birth to sectarian and regional imbalances generating social and psychological tensions. People are disgusted with the non-performance of government. The administration has become incompetent to solve the burning national issues.
Technological advancement – Scientific and technological developments has endowed human with tremendous power both to preserve and destroy. At slightest provocation, people do not hesitate to unleash destructive powers accessible to them. That is one of the reasons for increase in the incidents of violence and crimes.
There is no denial to the fact that Modern education has brought social awakening and awareness amongst people all over India. Recent revolutionary developments in the areas Science and technology, information technology and mass media have brought tremendous changes in the life style and working of people. Thanks to it, now any kind of information in any area of human knowledge or about any aspects of life is easily accessible, that too at the door-step of each and every individual. It has made the present generation much more informed about the developments happening anywhere in the whole world and knowledgeable than previous generations. But only gaining knowledge is not enough.
Khalil Gibran has pointed out that a little knowledge that acts is worth more than much knowledge that remains inactive. A person, whose knowledge is confined to books, is unable to use his wealth of knowledge, when the need arises. Knowledge, the object of knowledge and application of the knowledge – all the three are equally important for motivating to take a wise action.
According to Hindu philosophy, human beings possess three shakties (Powers) – knowledge, will and action. A human mind consists of right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy imagination (illusion), sleep, memory. It is only the right kind of knowledge, which gives essence and which is the source of spiritual light and remover of all ignorance. Knowledge brings in understanding and consciousness that vibrates with different types of learning. Right kind of knowledge, like a rock, is a solid support to human beings, which stays with them all the time. Spiritually it brings harmony and peace of mind and materially happiness, relaxation and celebration in life.
There is a difference between knowledge gained through information (intelligence) and its application to real day today life (intellect or wisdom). Intelligence leads to the world of information and knowledge. And intellect enables one to analyze, reason, judge the thinking process and distinguish between facts/realities and opinion. Intellect guides how to apply knowledge. It is lack of intellect that leads a person to vices like egoism, superiority complex etc and creates problems in people’s life and in the world. Only intellect can control human mind and lead it mind to right direction. When intellect becomes weak, negative reasoning takes over mind.
Intellect shows the path to come in touch with ones own inner truth, becoming truly aware of oneself. Self realization/self introspection changes the attitude of a person. After knowing ones strengths and weaknesses, rise above ‘I, me and myself’. It makes a person to put stress on life principles, understand better oneself and other people around without bias, make more intelligent choices and stay calm in the face of crisis and chaos.
Modern education led to ‘Intelligence’, but not to ‘intellect’ – Modern education has made people intelligent and knowledgeable, but could not develop the ‘intellect’ of people properly. Revolutionary developments in the areas Science and technology, information technology and mass media made all kind of knowledge accessible and organized knowledge, but could not guide people to organized life.
Deficiencies of modern education system – Modern education, which has been inherited from the British, has brought social awakening and awareness all over India amongst Indian people. But there are also certain deficiencies in it. Internally, as Mahatma Gandhi had pointed out long ago, modern education based on colonized British Grammar School type education has deprived masses. English medium has put undue strain upon the nerves of the Indian students, made them crammers, imitators and unfit them for original work and thought. India’s massive human resource needs to be cultivated through sound system of education and training to get out of the rut of mediocrity.
Ignored the culture of heart – Modern education has ignored the culture of heart and hand and confined itself simply to head. It has made people aware of their rights, but unfortunately not about their duties. It has pushed modern youth away from their roots and their own culture, which advised them to adopt a self-restrained and self- disciplined life style, to learn to be contented, honest and willing to help others; to observe austerity, simplicity; to maintain cleanliness of diet, body and mind and; not to waste energy or over-indulge oneself in wasteful and destructive activity. In short, it advised people to rise above the animal instincts hidden inside human-beings.
Pushed people away from their indigenous culture – It has not taught youth of the day to have pride in their surroundings. More modern and advanced they become, the farther they are removed from their surroundings and at the end, becoming estranged from their surroundings. People basically become miserable when they are cut off from his source of life- one’s roots.
Today, people are loosing their natural character, because they are getting away from roots, from their traditional aspirations and values in preference to the western materialism. The traditional culture in its true form can still give to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Modern educated intelligentsia needs to stop imitating the ‘West’ blindly.
Common men in India still have faith in good intentions and wisdom of their ancestors, who have contributed in developing the culture of India. Rajgopalachari has 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”.
Today, when Indians are getting away from their roots, it is important to keep their feet firmly on the ground and to instill right values in them. In recent past, traditional values have lost their sanctity and developed many distortions because people started following them blindly and in a wrong way. It developed a widespread misunderstanding. Apathy of people towards the value system of Indian society has generated caste-conflicts, feudal oppressions, exploitation of vulnerable sections of society and mass poverty. Only after understanding the rationale behind them, people should follow them systematically.
Traditional value system still gives to the people, a purpose to live for and ideals to be achieved. Blind following quite often leads to practice social customs and practices incorrectly or in a wrong way. Later on, with the passage of time, there develops many deformities into the system and harms the whole of the society. All the principles, rituals or customs of ancient India should not be followed blindly without understanding the logic behind it.
But there are some values and systems, which are still relevant and inspire common men to lead a disciplined life style. After evaluating its worth in the light of present circumstances, people should follow them systematically. Modern times and circumstances have changed completely especially after 1970 with information technology revolution. There were many things which the ancestors did not know like World Wars, nuclear weapons, technological advancements in the areas of media, transport, and communications or in the world of computers.
Education should guide youth to have a clear-cut vision of one’s responsibilities and a balanced approach towards one rights and duties, which is a must for any matured/civilized society. It should lead to positive thinking, which could channelize human efforts in proper direction, make vision broader, thinking flexible, increase openness to information and enhance spirit to work hard. Discipline and productivity are also necessary for a sound system of education.
Modern intelligentsia, who have some faith in traditional values and system welcome the rationality and other good features of Modern education, but wish to remain firmly rooted to Indian Culture.
Reformers and intellectuals have shown their anguish at the declining moral and ethical standards and discipline of the modern society. They try to combat negative forces like deceit, treachery, violence, crimes and degradation of values and make the society a better place to live in. There is enough goodness inside and around every human being. Only people need to channelize their ambitions, desires and energies towards right direction through sound education system.
In the recant past, it is not the principles, but the practices, which went wrong. Today, when Indians are getting away from their roots, nothing is more needed than the constant interpretation of past experiences and present circumstances. Present should be a constant challenge to the opinions of past. A value or a system, which in the light of modern times appears more effective and beneficial, should be replaced by a better one. At the same time, it would be suicidal to sacrifice ancient value systems to an increasing passion for change.
After raising oneself from ignorance, and with a rational and open mind, a person can understand the greatness of the Indian culture and its value system. A knowledgeable and civilized person like a jeweler should spot out gems from amongst worthless pebbles from this ocean of knowledge; pick them up and leave the undesired obsolete elements developed into it with passage of time. In a changing world, nothing can be more disabling than its idolization of past.
As a conclusion it can be said that “education is only a ladder to gather fruits from the tree of knowledge, not the fruit itself.”
For the sustainable development of nation, “education for all” and employment generating “skill development” are the fundamental requirements. India has all the basic resources – men (nearly 35% are the youth having some talent or the other), money and material. The only problem is to utilize the three by providing ‘education to all’ and honing their natural talents/skills through proper training.
Need for sound system of education and training - There has been a growing realization, in the recent years, all over the world that both ‘Education and Training’ play a very important role in skill development of youth, which together impart knowledge, shape attitudes, cultivate skills, build work-habits, and thus enable people to meet the challenges of modern times.
Present scenario in 21st century – World-over, almost all the national governments are facing in full blast many problems, especially after the ‘great economic depression’ of 2008. It is the time to make full efforts to improve economic situation, continuous modernization, higher productivity, improvement in the quality of service. In turn, it demands more trained people in all the spheres to increase productivity, and effectiveness and efficiency in service.
Necessity to impart new knowledge and new skills – The more the problems, better equipped should be the people to face the challenges and meet new demands. Not only that new challenges are being faced by the modern governments, knowledge in this space age, is growing faster than ability of individuals to handle it, especially after the info-tech revolution. Therefore, there is a necessity to impart new knowledge and new skills and to inculcate new attitudes in the people through a well-planned and systematic arrangement of education and training. A well-planned sound system of education and training could enable people to contribute to and guide the social changes and development into desired direction and help them to achieve the goals within time and cost parameters.
Issue – Generally people do not understand the distinction between education and training and its impact on work-culture. Education has unfortunately been misunderstood as something formal going to educational institutions schools/colleges for academic or theoretical studies, and acquiring degrees/diplomas/certificates. They expect that it would get them a respectable place in the world of modern callings. In a mindset, where Education is degree-oriented, there are always certain gaps between learning and practical requirement. Without Training these gaps remain unfilled. It is here that training becomes relevant. Therefore it becomes necessary to understand what education and training means?
Education and training, intertwined – Both education and training are intertwined in such a way that without one or the other, it is practically impossible/very difficult to cope with the challenges of modern world. Whereas education helps students to choose and decide their activity, training helps them to improve their performance in it. Education deals mostly with knowledge and understanding, training with understanding and skill. Training prepares to deal with the complexities of real work-life – pressures, limited resources, choices uncertainties and conflicting motives etc.
Role of education and training in skill development - Thus, education covers the necessity of modifying behaviour, attitudes and beliefs. It develops an understanding about social and economic position and about public affairs in general. Training cultivates skills and build work-habits. It confines itself to the study of job-skills and knowledge related to a person’s immediate functions.
Meaning of education – (‘Neti, Neti’ meaning unending process) Education is a continuous process and is identified with the complete up-bringing of the individual from the childhood. Education/learning never ends. It is a life-long/continuous process for complete upbringing of the individual right from his birth to death. At each and every, an individual learns something. Education is neither for a fixed period nor look only for theoretical or academic pursuits leading towards award of degrees/diplomas and certificates.
A relentless process – It is, indeed, difficult to define education. Education is a relentless process of becoming. It is growth and consciousness. A sound system of education develops the power of concentration, the capacity of attention and observation. It ensures physical, intellectual, emotional and ethical integration of an individual. It can be said that the ultimate aim of education is to establish a just and equitable social order, where every individual shall have opportunities to grow to one’s fullest stature, so that he may be able to contribute his utmost to the social well-being.
Develops mental and moral faculties - The development of the mental and moral faculties, which has a material bearing on the formation of character is the task of education. In its wider sense, it embraces reading, observation, thought and its proper application in real life. `Education’ helps a person to increase knowledge, under-standing and attitude, so they are better adjusted to their surroundings.
Education generates confidence - An educated person is sure of his knowledge and is keen to know more. He/she is able to create new knowledge and transmit it to others; to discriminate between right and wrong, to be honest in his dealings with others. He/she can resist evil and exploitation and work for the establishment of a peaceful, just, healthy and happy social order. He/she has a rational outlook and is able to resolve personal conflicts realistically. He owns responsibility and faces consequences; is bold and upright in the presentation of his views; appreciates other people’s point of views, qualities and virtues; and is fully conscious of his real self and his place in cosmos.
Purpose of education – The purpose of education, is human excellence, improvement in the form of thought and action and full control over one’s objective self. Human excellence needs to be conditioned by the prevailing norms of human behaviour in a particular society and is, therefore, a relative concept. As it is, the term `Education’ aims at increasing knowledge, understanding and attitudes of the candidates, so that they are better adjusted to their environment. It develops mental and moral faculties, which have a material bearing on the formation of character. In its wider sense it embraces reading, observation and thought.
Scope of education – Within its jurisdiction, it embraces the formation of habits, manners and character, and mental and physical aptitude. Education also opens out the world of job-market to students, so that they can choose their occupation/career and mode of living according to their interests, attitude and aptitude. The scope of education is much broader than of training.
Levels of formal education – Formal education is usually imparted –
1. Before entering into job-market and
Before entering into job-market – Before entering into job-market, the main aim of formal education is learning on the basis of study of facts, principles and data. A regular contact between ‘Teachers’ and ‘Students’ is primary, everything else gives way to it. It follows a set pattern and is generally conducted at three levels:
I. Primary education at School Level – School level education gives more importance to character forming. Its main task is of implanting in the minds of young children those values and attitudes that will influence their entire perception of life.
ii. Higher education at Secondary level and at University level – Higher level education at College or University level promotes innovative attitudes and depth of perception. It prepares workers/personnel for different occupations be general, technical or professional or medical. The lacunae in formal higher education is that it is academic in nature and teaches students about events, which are remote. The curriculum still remains purely theoretical and away from real life-situation.
Education after entering into a job - Understanding of various aspects of a specific occupation/profession is the chief objective of education after entering into a job. It is based more on “common-sense” approach. It is based on experiences gained, while dealing with the immediate, real, practical and specific needs/problems of different kinds of occupations/professions. Its programs are seldom definite and do not follow any routine. What is learned is usually applied immediately. It moulds and refines the attitudes of students to deal properly with challenges and hazards of real occupational life.
After completing the formal education, people generally enters into the world of work. At this stage, one realizes the value of training –formal or on the job.
Role of training - Training is one of the primary means of building up competence and effectiveness of workers/employees all over the world. It provides participants with broad understanding of various facets of their respective work. Whether it is a developed nation or an underdeveloped or developing nation, training becomes necessary for action required for achieving desired goals.
Meaning of training - Training is job-specific. It enables people to apply knowledge in their real work life. It is primarily concerned with preparing the people for certain lines of action, which are delineated by technology and by the occupation, in which he engaged. It is an approach to improve the output – quantitatively and qualitatively. It is a process, by which the attitudes, skills and abilities of trainees to perform specific jobs are increased. It hones natural talents of the people and prepares them to skills, which they do not possess, but are necessary for doing their jobs efficiently, of which they are a part.
Training, a self-generating action – There was a time when force was used for getting a job done or for a change, but effect of ‘force’ is short-lived. It is only training, which can lead to sustained, self-generating action. Capacity-building through training promises inculcating that expertise which is essential for using modern technologies properly. It is essential for economic development as well. It inculcates flexibility in action through understanding and confidence, inventiveness, initiative and ability to make decisions and also respect for the contributions of others and readiness for collaboration with others.
Objectives of training – There are different and specific objectives for different occupations and organizations at different levels. In any profession, training at initial level cultivates skills for specific jobs. At middle and senior levels stress is on human development. Obviously, development of the human resources at this level would require cultivation of the mind; cultivation of the heart to enable trainees to acquire adequate social sensitivities and appropriate patriotic zeal and public spiritedness; and the cultivation of right attitudes and behaviour patterns towards the job, toward the seniors, towards the juniors and ultimately towards the people at large. At higher level personnel need to be trained in the art of rational and quick decision making.
There is a general consensus on the following aims of training -
- To produce employees, whose precision and clarity in the transaction of business can be taken for granted.
- To attune employees for the tasks, they are called upon to perform in this fast-changing modern world. It constantly and boldly adjusts their outlook and methods to the new needs of the new times.
- Not to allow workers to fall into the trap of becoming mechanized. A new entrant, from the start, is made aware of the relation of his work to the service rendered by profession/occupation to the community. The capacity to see what he is doing is a wider setting makes the work not only valuable to his organization but more stimulating to himself.
- To direct, not only for enabling an individual to perform the current work more efficiently, but also equipping him for other duties and appropriately develop his capacity for higher work and greater responsibility.
- To develop and maintain morale of workers to offset the dull monotony of routine work.
- To inculcate right attitude towards others occupations.
Training at higher level needs to focused, additionally, on:
• Improving the capacity of making correct judgements and take timely decisions;
• Increasing the willingness and ability to accept responsibility, to delegate authority and to develop subordinates;
• Developing an appreciation of the value of time and efforts of others;
• Developing a concept of personal integrity and public responsibility.
Informal training – Informal training (on the job) is learning on the job. It has been the traditional method of training for the workers engaged in different occupations. Earlier it was considered that any worker in any occupation, having common-sense, judgement and attitude and aptitude could understand easily the essentials and responsibility of his profession well and could do his job well. It was, therefore, considered to be the only way to train most of the workers/professionals.
• Learn from their mistakes – Informal training as has been said earlier, is training individuals on-job so that they could learn from one’s own mistakes, and acquires required skill through practice. It is a continuing process running through the entire career span of an individual. There are no set procedures for informal training. It automatically comes out of day today relationships between an employee and his colleagues in horizontal formation, between an employee and his juniors in downward vertical formation and between an employee and his seniors in upward vertical formation at meetings of professional associates or reading and study that a person does on his own initiative or at his superior’s suggestion.
• Responsibility of seniors – Since such a training is not backed by compulsion, but is more or less self-inspired, motivation is necessary. Besides, the ultimate success of informal or on-the-job training depends upon the interest, experience, sincerity, knowledge, skills and attitudes of the co-workers, especially seniors.
• Seniors to spare time to train new-comers – It is necessary in the interest of a profession/occupation that its seniors find out some time to devote on youth working under them, so that the later can achieve something from the experiences of their seniors. If seniors are not able to guide and train their juniors properly, due to one reason or the other, very little positive results can be achieved. It, however, should not lead to the situation of “spoon-feeding”. It should be a judicious mixture of self-observation and guidance by seniors.
In modern times, complete reliance on on-job training not desirable – Complete reliance on on-the-job training – a training by trial and error, alone is neither possible nor desirable. In the present space age, when knowledge is growing faster than one’s ability to handle it, it can perpetuate outmoded methods of work, generate resistance to change and reform. Therefore, a well organized system of formal training becomes necessary.
Formal Training – Formal training aims at inculcating skills by well-defined courses at proper stages in one’s career as also updating the stock of initial skills or knowledge. Formal training can be divided into following groups –
a. Pre-entry training- :- The purpose of pre-entry training is to prepare trainees for different kinds of work in general, as requirement of various organizations dealing with same profession vary widely. Education given in vocational/professional institutions may be called as pre-entry training. Pre-entry training is available for professionals as Engineers doctors, managers, accountants, lawyers, etc.
b. Orientation or foundation training: Foundation training program equips a new recruit with conceptual, technical and human relation skills as applied to the organization, he joins. In any occupation, where pre-entry training facility is not available, foundation training program becomes necessary to orient and model the new recruits. Foundation training also brings the professionals, drawn from heterogeneous segments of society with divergent educational and cultural backgrounds, together in present scenario. Foundational training program may range in duration from a few weeks to a couple of years. Some of the main objectives of foundation training could be:
– To acquaint the new recruit with the people, with whom he has to work, and the atmosphere, in which he has to work. It helps him to know the rules, regulations, privileges, hour of work, leave, pay-days etc., within a short period;
– To familiarize him quickly with some of the history and general objectives of his organization and its relation to the rest of the departments/Ministry;
– To prepare and make available to the new recruits list of materials and references that he needs to become familiar with the job;
– To explain the new employee the organizational set-up of his work-place, with its lines of authority, so that he may know to whom he is to report, from whom he is to take directions and the limits of his responsibilities;
– To help the new entrant to analyze his position, the analysis should include a list of various duties of the position, why each is important, how to do it and some measure to know how well it has been done;
– To develop in the employee the habit of taking his requests for information, his problems and difficulties to his seniors/more experienced persons for solutions.
In-service Training or training while on job:- To take over the training tasks initiated by foundational training and to fill in the gaps inherent in the informal process of on-the-job training, in-service training comes into the picture. In-service training is a development of a very recent origin as against foundation training, which has been around for a longer time. In government, training has come to be greatly valued in recent years because of the growing awareness that developing countries need to improve their administrative capability in order to achieve their national developmental objectives.
Difference between foundation and in-service training – Though both kinds of training aim, broadly, to achieve improvements in the quality of working, the difference between them are striking. Foundation training aims to introduce the new entrant in the profession about the working environment of their occupation and prepares them for responsibilities, they are to shoulder in the coming years. The aim of in-service training is to give to the persons already in world of jobs exposure to new developments in relevant fields, so that they are able to cope with the changes in the world of work. Basic subjects and fundamentals of work are the main course content of the foundation training, whereas it becomes more specialized in in-service training, as participants have acquired work experience.
In today’s environment, the pace of change has accelerated tremendously. Knowledge acquired through training at the starting point in career would be inadequate to deal with the present situation, which is constantly in a state of flux. Also, Foundation training occurs only once at the beginning of the career. In-service training may occur at several points during one’s career. It may not even occur at all in one’s career. It has been felt that training can-not remain a one shot affair. One need exposure to training at several points during one’s career.
In-service training to fill the `gap’ between the “required” – In=service training programs are essentially designed to fill the `gap’ between the “required” and the “available” performance levels in terms of knowledge, skills, attitudes and habits. It either enables the civil servants to perform their “existing” duties and functions effectively or prepares them to assure responsibilities on promotions to higher positions competently. It becomes necessary for the new job responsibilities to be created in response to the organizational functional or technological changes.
Role of in-service training – In-service training provides one way, in which the organization can assist the individual employee to develop his abilities. The need for training after entering into job-market service is particularly apparent in the present scenario. New skills and orientations needs to be constantly acquired by the employees for the rapid introduction of new programs, the utilization of new technology and changing the environment, where they work for better future. The importance of training programs goes even beyond the need for specialized skills or information on new policies. Through training employees develop awareness about the expectations of the people, government or their respective organization from them.
Difference between the methods of foundation and in-service training – The teaching methods of foundation training are same as those in use in universities, colleges with minor modifications (attachments, visits etc.). Methods used for in-service training are participative, inviting more involvement of the trainees in the learning process through discussions etc. Participation is obligatory in the case of foundation training, whereas in the case of in-service training participants have a choice. Groups of large number are fairly common on foundation training, whereas it is limited purposely in in-service training.
Shorter duration of in-service training – The duration of foundation course is usually long. In the case of in-service training it is necessarily of a shorter duration.
In-service training is concept-based or technique-based – In-service training is an opportunity for formal training provided at appropriate time intervals in appropriate areas, either concept based or technique based. It provides the basic input for raising levels of performance and efficiency in administration and for improving its health and culture. It is a systematic process, designed to help the participants to develop professional knowledge, job-oriented skills and the desired attitudes to enable them to function efficiently and effectively thereby fulfilling the organization’s goals and objectives.
A tough job – The main objective of the in-service training is to replace old unproductive habits by productive ones. The risk of training already on job people is much more complex difficult than that of training new entrants. New entrants are not conversant with the situation and do not possess any experience with regard to the functioning of government. Hence whatever instructions are given to them are taken for granted. It is a kind of intrusion into an existing pattern of behaviour or belief. This creates resistance to change. With a view to making in-service training effective, it is essential to “unlearn” old habits, which are to be replaced by new ones. This is only possible, if trainees are exposed to new learning in such a way that it does not create much ambivalence between previous habits and the new ones desired.
Post-entry training: Post entry training is not directly related to the work of the trainee, but it ultimately helps the organization. Continuing education and training is a phenomenon recently emerging worldwide. Organizations are encouraging their executives to take study leave to enable them to keep themselves abreast of new or emerging trends in management/administration. The aim of executive learning programs broadens the mental horizons of the top executives and managers and equip them with realistic, practical public policies and leadership education that is relevant to their professional and personal educational goals. It creates a smarter workforce with high rate of technology absorption. It gives them greater scope for growth.
Pre-requisites for making training programs successful – Following are the pre-requisites to make training programs successful –
• Identification of training needs:- Effectiveness of training largely depends on right diagnosis of training needs – a task which calls for patience, objectivity, time and management support. Since the training need are, in the first place, organizational need – an in depth study of organization would be a necessary starting point for solid and sound identification.
• Analyze purpose of training – Pressures for change from within or outside in any organization, may need expansion, adopting new technologies, developing new functions and re-organising existing functions and through a variety of other possible ways. Pressures for change organizational changes, in turn obviously, becomes, in turn the pressure on individuals to change of their mindset and working style. To deal effectively with the impending new jobs and situations, individuals find that they need new knowledge, understanding and skills, which perhaps can be acquired through training alone.
• How to identify training needs? :- The analysis of training needs can be done organization/occupation-wise, individual-wise, category-wise, level-wise or function-wise. The two techniques commonly used in job-analysis are –
– Job-observation and
For proper identification of training needs one has to study the organization in terms of its objectives, policies, functions and method of work and to look into the cases and causes of delays, errors, mistakes, the method and channels of communication, to analyze the behaviour of personnel within the organization; to look into plans for expansion or reorganization or changes contemplated for future.
In doing so, due attention demands to analyze the `felt’ needs, the `perceived’ needs and even the `induced’ needs. The performance gaps, at different levels of workers/personnel have to be clearly identified. It is also essential to determine the critical stages `when’, `how’, `how long’ and `where’ the training should be given. These are not easy questions to answer, as due attention has to be paid to requirements of `personal excellence’ as well as `organizational effectiveness’.
• Identification of learning objectives: For making training successful, it is necessary to establish proper learning objectives in respect of each category or level of officials to be trained. A proper identification of training needs makes the task easy. The learning objectives should be specific, measurable and testable, to be purposeful. For this purpose, one must be very clear about the nature, the form and the extent of change intended to be stimulated, induced or effected in the individual behaviour, the work systems and the organizational effectiveness. There are four possibilities open for a training institution to match its training goals with the organizational needs:
o The institution can publicize its training goals and the training strategies it prefers and its competence to use, to enable organizations and individuals to take advantage of such training facilities.
o To design tailor made training programs by meeting senior persons of the organizations intended to be served. It shows clearly the institutions’ interest in working closely with the organizations, whose need it expects to meet.
o Training institutions can acquire detailed information about the changes in the jobs for which the organization wishes to prepare itself through training. If the requirements are general and call for a series of programs, it can help the organization to work out a comprehensive training plan ahead of time.
o There is final advanced relationship, in which the institution and the organization are in full collaboration, full-fledged, played-in partners in an enterprise of importance to both of them.
Once the training needs are established and the objectives of the program becomes clear, the actual phase of as how to conduct the program starts. This calls for various activities, such as management of training itself and management of human and financial resources. In designing a training program, stress needs to be on experimental and practical forms of learning, rather than on theoretical academic or routine learning.
A well-designed course will be able to cater to such groups within the limitations of time, and also be able to expose them to all that is relevant in their fields. For the success of training of workers, it requires the use of experimental training techniques and high degree of involvement in the process of learning. The methodology of training should emphasize sharing of experience and trainers should provide the frame-work for meaningful discussion of practical issues and problems.
• Support of seniors: Top level support for training is necessary for the success of the training efforts. The training efforts should adequately be appreciated and supported at senior levels. The support of top-level management is needed at various steps such as while identifying training needs or while designed course content, or while nominating the trainees etc. Without top-level support, training becomes unable to produce the desired results.
• Selection of trainees:- Effectiveness of any training program would largely depend upon the selection of right type of personnel for right type of program. The selection of trainees should be based upon the potential, accomplishments and performance of a person. Priority should be given to those officers, who have demonstrated initiative, enthusiasm and creative effort.
• Evaluation:- Evaluation is a necessary feed-back tool for making successive training program effective. Through evaluation, the results achieved can be compared with objectives laid down by the sponsoring authorities, by the training institutions and by the trainees themselves, and the areas of shortcomings, pitfalls, bottlenecks can be isolated for remedial measures.
It can be concluded that‘Education and Training’ play a very important role in skill development of youth, which together impart knowledge, shape attitudes, cultivate skills, build work-habits, and thus enable people to meet the challenges of modern times.Sound education and training can do much to improve the capability of youth and thus lead to faster economic growth and social change. Education and training of an official is not entirely a responsibility of the Government. Every person by himself should try to seek the opportunities to advance his knowledge and educational qualifications. At the same time government should be liberal in providing enough/proper opportunities to educate and train all its youth.
“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.”
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.
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 an effort to est talents 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.
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.
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 – 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, May3, 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.
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 change. 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.
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)
1966 2575 2216
1971 3203 2754 (Includes 88 ICS)
1976 3237 3237
1981 4599 3883
1987 5260 4633
1991 5334 4881
1994 4910 4910
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
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.
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.
During British rule – Personal knowledge of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Generalist Administrators and technocrat Engineers in government of India
“The Engineers’ (specialists) work is out in 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 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 people 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 other peoples’ money to pay for it.”
Thousands of personnel in government services – For the performance of its manifold activities, government employs thousands of employees – generalist administrators, engineers, technical personnel and professionals – into its administrative set-up (i.e. civil services or bureaucracy) at various levels from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. In the government, all of them are always connected with the exercise of authority. Bureaucracy is always connected with the exercise of authority as its officials belong to the class of power elites. They have to deal with common men – human beings with many complexes, psychological and sociological. Its dealings extend to society as a whole.
Both, generalist administrators and engineers (technocrats) play a crucial role – Both, generalist administrators and engineers (technocrats) play a crucial role in the governance and all-round development of the nation. Together they play the role of knowledge managers in the government. Both being the pillars governance and developmental activities, are responsible to work for the public good. The basic qualities, needed in its officials for achieving its goals are – efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature and speedy working.
Main functions of administrators and technocrats – Their main functions are to formulate/frame and implement the plans and policies in different areas, taking care of the interest of the nation as a whole. For policy making, planning, programs and monitoring and re-evaluating the projects, both dig the information, collect relevant data, give the collected material a shape and present in the form of government’s projects, plans and policies.
Both recruited through an open competitive examination and professionally trained – Officials for higher level are recruited through an open competitive examination and professionally trained in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as intelligence services to maintain law and order, diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc.
Till today, generalist administrators, belonging to IAS and IPS, receive the greatest possible attention of the Ministers and elective representatives of the people. The government in India has yet to learn to give due regards and free space to work in its administrative system.
Tense relationship between bureaucrats and technocrats – Engineers, in government services are by and large, a demoralized lot finding it difficult to uphold the values of integrity and devotion. They are unable to feel the professional pride. The reasons are –
- Personnel policies of the government not in tune – The systems/personnel policies of the government are not in tune with the requirements of developmental Administration.
- The reason of dissatisfaction amongst engineers is that in the government sector, an administrator, especially belonging to IAS, moves up the ladder much faster than a specialist (engineer) as a result of assured career prospects. In the process the posts which are the legitimately belong to specialists and other professional are usurped by IAS personnel.
- Administrators always remain at the controlling/giving-end. Personnel belonging to specialist services in the government engaged in development functions always remain at asking end. They look up at generalist administrators for passing their plans and get their permission for getting the jobs done.
- Government’s failure to accord due place to the engineers, professionals and specialists in its administrative set-up has caused a conflict of professional jurisdiction, counter-motivation and a sense of frustration amongst the engineers, specialists and professionals. Such a discarded value system has led to inter-service tensions and rivalries, indifferent attitude of officials to work and perform their duties sincerely.
Liberalization and globalization has given ample of opportunities to hard-working first rate engineers and specialists to join private sector or go abroad. There they get job-satisfaction and fatter salaries. Today technical departments in government are finding it difficult employ and retain talented, upright and sincere persons as they do not want to join the government.
Structure of administrative machinery
The structure of the whole administrative machinery plays an important role in performance of tasks. It is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging tasks – concerning governance or developments, so that government can function in harmony and cooperation of all officials. Government divides different posts systematically into several classes in accordance with the nature of functions to be performed, responsibilities to be shouldered and other conditions.
Nature of government functions – The manifold activities of a government broadly fall into the following groups –
- Control functions,
- Service functions, and
- Development functions
Control functions – Control functions deals with maintenance of law and order. It is performed at higher/decision-making level by officials belonging to IAS, IFS; intelligence services -IPS, IB, CBI etc. and revenue services looking after financial activities of the government.
Service functions – To provide services to public at large, there are some non-technical professional as well as technical services like various Railways, Post and Telegraph etc which provide services to the public at large. And
Development functions – The responsibility of building up permanent infra-structure for the sustainable development of the nation falls on the shoulders of technocrats belonging to superior technical services.
Other yardsticks of position classification – Usually 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.
The factors, which are usually taken into account for assessing the status, salary-structure, importance and career prospects of various services in government are:-
- Degree of skill,
- Strain of work
- Experience involved
- Training acquired,
- Responsibility undertaken
- Mental and physical requirements
- Disagreeableness of task
- Hazard attendant of the work and fatigue involved
An old battle – The battle between administrators and technocrats for access to the administrative posts at the policy-making and equality in salary dates back to 1957 and now the controversy between them has emerged as the knottiest internal problem facing the government. Partly this problem has been inherited from the colonial past, and partly, it is political leaders’ own making.
Why more importance to Generalist Administrators?
Deep in their hearts, National leaders are very well aware of the importance of various technical and professional services in the emerging development context. They are convinced also that the demands of engineers and other specialists are just and genuine.
- Intelligence: It is well known that technocrats have brighter and more talented than many IAS officers. Mrs. Indira Gandhi accepted that brightest students choose engineering and medicine. She said, “it is odd that the greatest doctors and engineers in the country, who would be rated as the leaders of the profession and who save lives or add permanent assets to the nation can rarely hope to receive the pay or status of Secretaries of Ministers”. The truth gets confirmed seeing that specialists are securing higher ranks even in the competitive examination for non-technical civil services.
- Academic qualifications before Recruitment: As far as basic minimum academic qualifications at the recruitment stage is concerned, engineers and doctors have an edge over the generalists, because they have to go through a far more rigorous curriculum in professional institutes before competing for Class I Central Services. The Academic requirements for the government’s most prestigious jobs in the civil service (IAS) and the Foreign Service are lower (only a graduate degree) than the standards set down by other services such as Indian Economic and Statistical Service, which requires a Masters Degree, but still receives lesser importance, so far as the pay scales and career prospects are concerned.
- Differential in pay structure: One of the arguments propagated for maintaining differential in pay structure is that the quality of a service could be measured in terms of number of written papers set in the recruitment examination for different services. Higher the number of papers, higher the pay scales. This argument is not valid.
- Higher Responsibility: If shouldering higher responsibility is the major criteria for determining the pay structure, differentials in emoluments, then the Prime Minister, the Cabinet ministers and Parliamentarians should have been highest paid persons in the country as they formulate the national policies and carry the nation with them.
- No accurate methodology to evaluate responsibilities - No methodology exists to evaluate accurately the responsibilities borne by various services. The Third Pay Commission is on record and has admitted as under “…it is difficult to make inter-service comparison of duties and responsibilities attaching to different posts and results may not be free from controversy” (Third Pay Commission’s Report Vol. I P.113, 1973) and “… we have not found an arithmetical equation between the engineering and Indian Administrative Service practicable….” (Ibid P.137)
- Hazards of the job: While an IAS officer works from his air-conditioned room in summers and still receives special pay, the specialists have to attend site duties in a remote, difficult and deserted place at accelerated pace at accelerated pace under hot sun to achieve the target before monsoon. The technocrats have to work hard continuously for carrying out the developmental and promotional functions of the government.
- Permanent assets to the nation – Technocrats give permanent assets to the nation and thus play a crucial role in the modernization process of the country. Do not society and the government acknowledge their valuable contributions? If not more, then at-least pay them equally for their hard work and valuable services?
- Ignoring the claims of technocrats - The government of India, ever since Independence, has been ignoring the claims of technocrats. It says that they have been employed for doing those jobs, why should they be given special pay or extra facilities. But when it comes to an IAS officer, when he/she is deputed to secretariat, he is offered a special pay for doing that job. In fact now he gets special pay for even holding district charge, for which he is basically recruited.
- Increased work-load: The Government recommends higher emoluments for personnel of the IAS on the grounds of increased work-load. According to it, Collector’s job has acquired new dimensions with the growth of democratic institutions and now Collectors have to spend a considerable time in consulting and guiding non-official bodies for enlisting public cooperation and participation in schemes sponsored by the Government. Therefore, IAS deserves an edge over other Services. A closer look at the district posting itself, however, reveals the following facts:
- It is true that the work load of a Collector is multifarious, but at the same time, it is also a fact that the governments in all the states have gone in a big way to reduce the geographical and functional jurisdiction of collectors. Not only the size of districts have been reduced, but posts like District Planning Officers, District Development Officers and Revenue Officers have been created to relieve the Collector of those important functional duties. Consequently adequate neutralization to the increase in workload has been provided through limiting the geographical and functional jurisdiction.
- Span of field duties - According to Pr. Das Gupta and Pr. Ray, the argument that field duties of IAS are becoming increasingly, complex and arduous – is not valid on the ground that field duties are not the exclusive feature of the IAS alone. As a matter of fact, the field duties are an integral part of other Central Services as well. While the IAS and IPS have the advantage of power and authority to deal with problems of field management, other services have to manage their work under stress and strain of democratic process like the union activities or social, economic and political pressures etc. It can not be argued that the field duties of an Engineer or technocrats are less arduous and hazardous than that of his counterpart in Indian Administrative Service.
- Does this short stay justify higher pay scales for the entire service? The span of field duties by technocrats is far longer. In 1979, a review was undertaken by DAPR and it was found that direct recruits IAS officer in some states were not getting adequate sub-divisional experience and district experience. “Of the officers with four to five years of service 45% of the Direct Recruits according to our 1979 review and 58 % of the direct recruits in the 1981 review had not been allowed to work as sub-divisional officers for two full years. They were short of two years. Similarly in eight state cadres, 70% or more of the officers have not done sub-divisional charge for two years” (77th Report of Estimates Committee presented to7th Lok Sabha on 17.4.1984, P. 76-77)
- An officer of the IAS stays in the post of a Collector for not more than three to four years in his entire service span of over 35 years. Does this short stay justify higher pay scales for the entire service? The span of field duties by officers of Class I Central Services is far longer.
Colonial heritage -For British rulers services engaged in control functions were more important than any other. They neither had much interest in public welfare schemes nor did they interfere unnecessarily in the interests of privileged sections of the society. India has inherited many things from their past. The colonial heritage – a carry-over of the colonial bureaucratic traditions – can be seen in elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies of its administrators.
Importance of control functionaries for Imperial rule – Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister said in the House of Commons in his historic `steel-frame speech’’ on August 2, 1922, that the British Civil Servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and he could not imagine of any period when `they can dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British Civil Servants … There is one institution we will not cripple, there is one institution we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges; and that is hat institution, which built up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India”1.
“Steel-frame of the whole structure’’ – ICS was the `steel-frame of the whole structure’’ of governance of Imperial rule in India and was exclusively trained to suit to the special needs of the British Imperial Power. Sir Edmund Blunt had said, “Superior Indian Civil Servants were the practical owners of India, irresponsible and amenable to no authority, but that of their fellow members.” Dr. Fisher also confirmed “it is the government”.
Popularity of British ICS allover the world - ICS was popular not only in India, but allover the world, “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely how barely a thousand of 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.
Ranking of various services -Main interest of the imperial Government was in maintenance of law and order situation and collection of revenue. British rulers neither took much interest in public welfare schemes nor did they interfere unnecessarily in the interests of privileged sections of the society. For them, controlling wing was more important rather than any of the organizations engaged in service/development functions. Therefore as suggested by Macauley and Ishington Commissions -
- Superior status to ICS & IP – The superior status accorded to IAS and IP was perfectly in accordance with the aims of foreign rulers. These services were predominantly meant for ‘White-people’ belonging to the elite and rich families of Britain. Their oligarchic socio-economic background had its shadow on them and forced them to form a separate class – a close aristocracy of talent, race and even of colour. They were in-charge of control functions i.e. maintenance of law and order, revenue collection – crucial to perpetuate British rule in India as far as possible.
- In the middle – In the middle were the Central (professional) services, especially engaged in revenue work, Education, Finance, Telegraph and Communications, Railways and Survey of India etc. occupied a place next to the paramount functions of law and order and revenue collection. These services were meant for implementing the policies of the Union in areas which were directly under Government of India. There was a mixture of European and native officers. Appointment did not require any professional qualification or experience.
- Least attention to technical services – Technical services were given the least importance. Technical services required knowledge and experience of a defined field, professional degree/ diploma and/or experience for entering into these services. By its nature of work, Scientific and technical services could not pose any serious danger to the Empire.
Nine All India services – Though British government in India was not much interested in nation-building activities or building up the infra-structure for the benefit of common-men, still on the eve of the Government of India Act 1919, there existed nine All India Services.
Some of the non-ICS services of generalist nature were as popular as ICS. ICS (Judicial) was popular amongst Indian ICS officers as there was not much pressure of Imperial Government on their working. Indian Custom Service was also very popular as its officials were usually posted in big towns.
Abolition of other All India services except for ICS & IP – As the movement for Indianization gained momentum, most of the technical services and services engaged in service functions were either abolished or provincialized.
Indian public opinion allergic to All India Services – Indian public opinion and the attitude of national leaders became allergic to All India Services. It was 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.
National interest allowed to go by default - As BB Misra says “It was the ICS and IP that remained unaffected and continued to act as unifying force. 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.”
After the independence
Independent India committed to ‘Welfare State’ and ‘Development administration’ – After the independence in 1947, India is committed to the principles of ‘Welfare State’ and ‘Development administration’ The change from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic based on the principles of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals demands drastic changes in its administrative set-up.
Sweeping changes in knowledge based modern society – In recent past, emergence of a knowledge based society has brought drastic changes, especially after Information technology revolution of 1970s has brought in many changes. The liberalization of the economy in early 1990’s and globalization of the market forces have triggered off sweeping changes too. It is redefining the work-culture of the day.
Importance and responsibility of technocrats increased – The role of engineers/technocrats becomes crucial as they are directly involved in building up the infra-structure for carrying out the developmental and promotional functions of the government. They derive their strength from their increasingly crucial role in the modernization process of the country. Their importance has increased tremendously from their ever-increasing number in service sector of the government; and the work they are supposed to perform for improving the quality of service to the masses.
Needs of Knowledge based modern society - More than just replacing laborious and slow processes with smooth and speedier ones, the organizations, whether big or small, needs to redefine jobs, responsibilities, objectives and broad organizational cultures. The objective is to enable individuals to empower their own environment, make their own decisions and focus on quality and responsiveness to peoples needs within the parameters of organizational policy.
Changed work-culture – The advances in computers, telecommunications or networking technologies and rapid commercialization of the world- wide computer web of network have changed the work-culture of the day. The changes brought in by Information technology Revolution ensures: -
- Better management controls and decision-making.
- Improved customer service and speedier response to inquiries.
- Improved techniques of decision, accuracy of information.
- On line information.
- It has made it very easy to get and share needed information, any time and anywhere, for controlling the environment.
- Today a single computer works in different modes of environment and organization and broadens a person’s acquaintance with EMS, IMS, DSS and DPS (Electronic Message System, Information management system, and decision support system Documentation Preparation system.)
- Having a centralized system with different departments or industries, connected by a network, supporting management functions i.e. decision making, organizing, planning controlling and initiating would make the future office a paperless office, ensuring direct line, from one computer system to the computers of all concerned.
No more reliance on ‘Jack of all, but master of none’ theory – Now when knowledge-based-society has already taken over the charge, the Jacksonian theory, that ‘Jack of all, but master of none’ does the job better at higher decision-making levels, does not work effectively. It is an age of specialization. There are very few jobs, which can be done efficiently without some measure of specialization through education, knowledge or continuous experience in a specific discipline. All personnel working in organizations and institutions involved in development process need not only the quality of minds, but also the subject-matter contents in their minds.
Bureaucrats in the role of knowledge managers – In the increasingly knowledge-based modern society, bureaucrats play the role of knowledge managers. They are expected to find out knowledge based solutions for different challenges and problems of modern world. For performing their roles effectively, they are required to develop through “Management” courses and “Training” programs -
- Observation skills, alertness and awareness of their surroundings;
- Intelligence or basic applicative skill to create solutions;
- Capacity to collect relevant data;
- Ability to understand pros and cons of a problem and suggest alternatives;
- Mental alertness to deliver results within time and cost parameters.
Rapid advances in Information Technology – The advances in computers, telecommunications or networking technologies and commercialization of the world- wide computer web of network have changed the work-culture of the day. The changes brought in by Information technology Revolution ensures: -
- Better management controls and decision-making.
- Improved customer service and speedier response to inquiries.
- Improved techniques of decision, accuracy of information.
- On line information.
- It has made it very easy to get and share needed information, any time and anywhere, for controlling the environment.
- Today a single computer works in different modes of environment and organization and broadens a person’s acquaintance with EMS, IMS, DSS and DPS (Electronic Message System, Information management system, and decision support system Documentation Preparation system.)
- Having a centralized system with different departments or industries, connected by a network, supporting management functions i.e. decision making, organizing, planning controlling and initiating would make the future office a paperless office, ensuring direct line, from one computer system to the computers of all concerned.
Due regards to technocrats – Immediately after the Independence, in India, where science and technology had yet to make their full impact, technical/specialist services needed to be given due place in the government, as they are directly involved in building up the infra-structure and for carrying out the developmental and promotional functions of the government. Technocrats derive their strength from their increasingly crucial role in the modernization process of the country, their ever-increasing number in service sector of the government and for improving the quality of service to the masses. However, their status has remained almost the same even in twenty first century. Indian Administrative Service is still the elitist service.
The great economic Depression - The great economic depression of 2008 has shaken the global world. Almost all the nations have suffered great losses due to recession and Euro-economic crisis. It has adversely affected the economy of the whole world. To recover from damages done in the recent past, both generalists and technical government services require the personnel of integrity, intelligence, ability and relevant knowledge in their specific areas.
A balanced and harmonious relationship between bureaucrats and technocrats - Good and effective governance and meaningful results of desired goals requires a balanced and harmonious relationship between generalist administrators and technocrats/engineers. Weakening of any part of this pillar could only spell disaster. Therefore, government has to make feasible administrative, organizational and working arrangements rationally and systematically.
National leaders in India are very well aware of the importance of various technical and professional services in the emerging development context. Deep in their hearts, they are convinced also that the demands of engineers and other specialists are just and genuine. But political expediency and motivations stops from taking any concrete step.
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
” …… But with power comes responsibility” Obama
The institution of Bureaucracy/civil services in India is the oldest and most wonderful institution the British Government had bequeathed to India. 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. British rule evolved the civil service as an efficient, professional and to a great degree incorruptible organization.
For the performance of its manifold activities, government employs thousand of workers into its administrative set-up (civil services/bureaucracy) from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Government makes all feasible administrative, organizational and working arrangements for its employees.
Effort to find Best talents
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 etc. It is one of the toughest entrance examinations. There are three stages of this examination ‘Preliminary’, ‘main’ and ‘personality test’ (interview). UPSC conducts annually separate examinations for some technical/professional services.
Apart from selecting officers for Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Foreign Service, there are some Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ Central services, officers of which are selected through Combined All India Civil Services examination like Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian Customs and Central Excise Service, Indian Defense Accounts Service, Indian Revenue Service, Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, non-technical), Indian Postal Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Traffic Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service, Indian Railway Personnel Service, Posts of Assistant Security Officer in Railway Protection Force (RPF), Indian Defense Estates Service and Indian Information Service.
Group ‘B’ Services includes Railway Board Secretariat Service (Section Officer’s Grade), Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade), Customs Appraisers’ Service, Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service and Police Service, Pondicherry Civil Service.
IAS propped up as the Elite service
Earlier ICS, was propped up as an elite service. Its officers in their early twenties would arrive fresh from their ICS training at 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 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.
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 clerks/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 analyzed.
Efficiency of ICS officers during British rule
‘Steel-frame of governance’ – 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? 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.
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. 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)
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 it so strong and efficient?
What made ICS was strong enough to rear and sustain British rule in India for such a long time 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. They 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.
Divided Indian population – Through censuses, the rulers divided the Indian population 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, May3, 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.
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 change. Bureaucracy was now expected to play a significant role in administrative and developmental work of the Government.
Fall in the standard of governance
Instead of it, there has been a gradual decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. Once known as the ?Steel frame? of the ?Whole structure?, 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. Offices in the government have become dens of corruption, mismanagement and mal-administration.
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.?
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.
Government employs thousands of workers into a governmental organisation from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Its administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks.
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. Its recruits have to pass through a well-planned entry competitive examination and rigorous professional training.
After joining the services, the civil servants are engaged at different levels of administration and play an important role in policy-making and decision-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. IAS officers, like their predecessor ICS, 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. Along with the council of Ministers, they control, virtually, all the levers of the governance of the country.
Right from its inception, IAS has attracted the maximum attention of the government and the politicians. 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. 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. Along with it, there are many other services at central, provincial and local levels in the bureaucratic set-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,
?Personnel management policies,
?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.
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