(Event) Civil Services Day, 2010

Civil Services Day, 2010

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, inaugurated the Civil Services Day, 2010 in New Delhi today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:

“It gives me great pleasure to participate in these celebrations of the fifth Civil Services Day. I compliment the Cabinet Secretary, Shri K.M. Chandrasekhar and his colleagues for organizing this function. I also congratulate all those who have received awards for excellence today. They have set an example for other civil servants to follow. I am sure their work will serve as an inspiration to others to strive for higher achievement in the service to the people of our country.

This annual function has now a special place in our administrative calendar. It gives a unique opportunity to officers belonging to various services, and to various states, to come together to share experience and exchange views on important issues of national concern. I hope that the deliberations of this conference will be held in a spirit of learning from each other and learning by doing and will result not only in better implementation of our policies but also in improved policy formulation itself.

In the past 60 years or so since Independence, our civil services have played a critical role in establishing a secular and democratic form of government, in maintaining communal peace and harmony, in transforming our economy and in fighting disease, poverty, ignorance and inequalities of opportunities. The founding fathers of our Republic had conceived of a permanent, apolitical and representative civil service, which could work hand in hand with successive governments to face the challenges of nation building. On the whole, it would not be an exaggeration to say that our civil services have lived up to this expectation.

There is of course scope for improvement as there always will be. There are also areas in which the civil services should have and could have performed better. I hope that the future will see a removal or at least a reduction in the deficiencies in the performance of our civil servants.

The problems and challenges that we face today are not only very different from those which we encountered soon after Independence but are also increasingly complex. Our population has grown manifold, as has the size of our economy. Our country is getting increasingly urbanized.

Higher levels of education, income and awareness have raised the aspirations and expectations of our people. We face many new threats to the integrity of our country, both from within and from without. Terrorism and left-wing extremism seek to challenge the very foundations of our democratic and secular polity. Climate change and degradation of our environment threaten not only the quality of our lives but that of future generations as well. An efficient and equitable management of the country’s water resources presents new challenges.

Globalization and a more inter-connected and inter-dependent world in which we live in bring both new opportunities and new challenges. The civil services have a major role to play in helping government fashion a suitable and adequate response to all these issues. The civil servant of today should not only be alive and sensitive to the problems at hand but should also be well equipped to tackle them. This calls for continuous updation and improved training. And since we live in an environment where developments at one place affect what happens elsewhere, civil servants today also need to work with greater coordination with each other.

As you all know, the last year or so was particularly difficult for our country. We faced a global financial crisis, probably the worst in the post-war period. There was hardly any country in the world which was not affected by it, in some measure or the other. We were no exception, though our quick but calibrated response ensured that the adverse effect of the slow-down was much less on us than on other countries. Our country was able to post a respectable growth of 6.7% in 2008-09. The growth rate for 2009-10 is now estimated at 7.2 percent and the forecast for 2010-11 is 8.25 percent.

Our medium term target is to return the economy to an annual growth rate of 9-10 percent. Our civil services have a major role to play in reaching this goal by facilitating the right enabling environment in which enterprise and innovations are encouraged.

We faced a severe drought in the last kharif season. The impact of the drought on agricultural output was mitigated to a large extent by the resilience shown by our farmers and by the timely measures taken by the Government at the Centre and the State governments. But now we need to do some hard work to accelerate the pace of agricultural growth.

I would urge the civil services to pay particular attention to this area of national endeavour. Special efforts must be made to increase the productivity of dry land, rainfed farming. I have said this earlier and I repeat it today again that the agriculture departments in the states need to be manned by our very best officers. I hope the Chief Secretaries of States will attempt to ensure this.

As we look ahead, some specific problems stand out. As I have mentioned time and again, left-wing extremism is, perhaps, the gravest internal security threat that we face. Recent events have underscored the need for urgent and considered action to root out this problem. No quarter can be given to those who have taken upon themselves to challenge the authority of the Indian state and the fabric of our democratic polity. But we cannot overlook the fact that many of areas in which such extremism flourishes are under-developed and many of the people, mainly poor tribals, who live in these areas have not shared equitably in the fruits of development. It is incumbent upon us to ensure that no area of our country is denied the benefits of our ambitious developmental programmes.

Civil servants have a pivotal role in ensuring that the benefits of our programmes percolate to the farthest and remotest villages of our country. It is a daunting task that will test the endurance and mettle of our civil servants, especially that of the All-India Services.

Inclusive growth is the centerpiece of our developmental agenda. Fast economic growth provides us with the resources and the wherewithal to address the problems of poverty, ignorance and disease. Rapid growth will have little meaning, however, unless social and economic inequalities, which still afflict our society, are not eliminated quickly and effectively.

We have thus a large array of programmes for employment and income generation, for education and health, for building infrastructure, for improving connectivity, for providing essential services and for improving food security through an efficient public distribution system. Civil servants, particularly those of the All-India Services serving in the States, have a key role in the implementation of all these programmes. There is a wide-spread feeling that we have not been completely successful in ensuring that the benefits of our development programmes reach out to the people as intended. This is a massive challenge.

It is up to you to devise innovative ways and means, to harness the tools of information technology and to involve the intended beneficiaries in implementation so that complaints of leakages, complaints of corruption and complaints of lack of transparency get addressed. Indeed, this applies to all programmes and schemes for delivery of services. Every effort must be made to make full use of the potentialities of the Panchayati Raj System for effective decentralized and socially just development.

We are at the beginning of a new decade, which has already been declared a decade of innovation. I am happy to learn that the theme of the Civil Services Day, 2010 is "Innovations in Government". I hope this conference will live up to its theme and contribute to innovative solutions to vexing problems in governance. I wish you all the best in your deliberations today and in your work in the days and times ahead.”

Courtesy: PIB