Current Public Administration Magazine (July - 2016) - Reforming India’s Higher Civil Services: Agenda For 21st Century Reforms

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

Polity, Constitution and Governance

Reforming India’s Higher Civil Services: Agenda For 21st Century Reforms

The IAS is a generalist service par excellence. It does not require any professional qualification as a prerequisite for entry, not even a nodding acquaintance with public administration although it is an administrative service. It has not succeeded developing collectively a common ethos of functioning. It does not observe any code of professional ethics. It was conceived as a meritocracy in which the best available talents of the country would be inducted by fair competition open to all in the country. The talents of the selected human material were to be honed and sharpened by induction training of necessary knowledge and skills for good governance. The Service members were to be screened as they go up the hierarchy from one grade to another to remove the unfit and the deadwood. Only the best were supposed to reach the top echelons where the interactions of policy formulation and its administration take place. That was the initial connection but meritocracy began to crack up soon after the passing away of the founder of the Service. It has also been found empirically that “there is no relationship between the career path of the IAS officer and the nature of the training programmes for which he is sent during his career.”

There is even reluctance to utilise the past specialised experience in future assignments. It is also reported that ‘the pattern of sponsorship of IAS officers shows that there is no relationship between the status – role of the officers and the training for which they are sponsored. In these circumstances, training has to be focussed on ‘management of policy formulation, programme development and programme implementation; sensitisation to the implications of policy formulation as well as management of human and technical resources. A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose, giving a series of directions while disposing of a public interest writ petition filed by 83 retired civil servants and others said civil servants should not act on verbal orders given by politicians and suggested a fixed tenure for them. Writing the judgement, Justice Radhakrishnan said “the Civil Service Board (CSB), consisting of high ranking service officers, who are experts in their respective fields, with the Cabinet Secretary at the Centre and Chief Secretary at the State level, could be a better alternative (till the Parliament enacts a law), to guide and advise the State government on all service matters, especially on transfers, postings and disciplinary action, etc., though their views also could be overruled, by the political executive, but by recording reasons, which would ensure good governance, transparency and accountability in governmental functions.” The Bench said “We notice, at present the civil servants are not having stability of tenure, particularly in the State governments where transfers and postings are made frequently, at the whims and fancies of the executive head for political and other considerations and not in public interest.
The necessity of minimum tenure has been endorsed and implemented by the Union Government. In fact, we notice, almost 13 states have accepted the necessity of a minimum tenure for civil servants. Fixed minimum tenure would not only enable the civil servants to achieve their professional targets, but also help them to function as effective instruments of public policy”.18 Briefly, civil service reforms aim at strengthening administrative capability to perform core government functions. These reforms raise the quality of services to the citizens that are essential to the promotion of sustainable economic and social development.

(Source- KULDEEP FADIA @ IIPA Journal)

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