The Gist of Yojana: June 2014

The Gist of Yojana: June 2014


Two important issues facing the nation today are how the economic growth can be accelerated and how benefits of growth and development can flow to the citizens in an efficient manner. Issues of governance have increasingly come to centre stage while working out strategies for the above. There is a strong view that corruption in civil service is endemic and funds provided' by government leak very badly.

The independence of civil service in giving advice in policy-making and in performing field responsibilities is an important issue which has affected the functioning of the civil service in recent years. In the Constituent Assembly of India, on 10th October, 1949, Sardar Vallabh Bai Patel said:

"If you want an efficient all-India service, I advise you to allow the service to open their mouth freely. If you are a Premier, it would be your duty to allow your Secretary, or Chief Secretary, or other services working under you, to express their opinion without fear or favour But I see a tendency today that in several provinces, the services are set upon and told, "No, you, are servicemen, you must carry out our orders." The Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you do not have a good all-India set-vice which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security that you will stand by your word and that after all, there is the Parliament, .of which we can be proud, where their rights and privileges are secure. If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution."

In the initial years of independence, in the 1950s and even the early 1960s, the relationship between political executive and civil service was of trust and non-partisan functioning of the civil service. This trust has gradually given way to segmentation of civil servants and their politicisation in many cases. Two different types of relationships have emerged. First covers those, who try to maintain a degree of integrity and upright behaviour. Second covers those senior civil servants, who cosy up to the political executive and go along with them, irrespective of the civil service norms, good conduct or ethical behaviour. Often, the second category is bifurcate when the political power is transferred from one political party to the other.

An important point, which is often overlooked in the above context, is the requirement of citizens for good governance.

The Civil Service provides an exciting opportunity full of challenges. There are very few services which provide such a vast range of challenges, a mix of field and policy making opportunity and opportunity to act as a key player in the national growth process. One has to be proud of one's work and dedication to get full satisfaction from these challenges.

Civil Service has to follow norms of professional conduct. These will not only bring good governance agenda" on centre stage, but also once again enhance the reputation of the All India Service as that of a steel frame which serves the country for growth and prosperity. It will also help in development of confidence of people in the civil services and earn them new respect.

First, maintain high personal integrity. The strength of civil service is people's faith in their absolute incorruptibility and honesty.

Second, be fair in administering law, policies and administrative decisions. The biggest strength of civil servants is people's faith in their impartial and fair actions and transparent functioning.

Third, people respect you for your knowledge and skills. Acquire thorough knowledge and develop an analytical ability to fully assess and understand issues which need to be addressed with adequate attention to details.
Fourth, field jobs, on which civil service often has to spend time, provide an opportunity for change in the system. Your motto should be to deliver results and work as an effective field officer.

Fifth, Good Governance is a Fundamental Right of the citizen. Identify gaps in public service delivery and implementation of schemes. Identify rules and regulations which are hampering progress and suggest changes to Government.

Sixth- the biggest disservice to the governance structure is to hesitate in taking decisions or deliberately avoiding it. Do not hesitate to take decisions.

Seventh, in civil service you may invariably be the leader of the pack. Assume full responsibility for achieving the targets and key performance parameters of the organization which you are heading. Learn to delegate authority but ensure effective leadership.

Eighth, be sensitive to the needs of poor, especially marginalised groups, women, SC/ST and minorities. These are the groups which need your support the most. By effective implementation of programmes for them and your empathy for their welfare, you can help build an egalitarian society.

Ninth, the political executive makes policies in consultation with civil servants for attaining certain objectives for the welfare of people. While advising Ministers and working as senior civil servants, analyse all the reasonable policy options which can be considered on the issue under examination.

While giving advice, do not anticipate what the Minister may like to hear. State what you consider the most appropriate course of action. You will be respected in the long run by peers, as well as the political executive.
Tenth, do not criticise Government policies in public discussions. As a civil servant, the responsibility on you is to provide support to the government to enable it to defend the policies. By criticising it, you are undermining government, as well as yourself.

Eleventh, develop inter-personal skills. In the modern world with wide range of organisations, private sector expansion and technological explosion, it is important that you have good relations with persons from different sectors to enable you to access them when needed.

Twelfth, adapt to IT use, new technologies and their use to ensure good governance. Information technology can help reduce delays, ensure efficient delivery of public services and cut down corruption. You must be, therefore, fully cognizant of its use and potential.

Thirteenth, prepare well in advance to ensure effective articulation of the view point of your Ministry. Put forward your point of view concisely and in a focused manner.

Fourteenth, develop the ability to listen to visitors and different points of view carefully and patiently. An enormous amount of feedback about problems in the field and different approaches can be had in this manner. This is the best learning method.

Fifteenth, develop the ability to integrate and form a consensus view point consistent with the policy objective planned. While doing so, you should be able to evaluate and assess the technical, social and political dimensions of the problem.

Sixteenth, make a well-informed judgement of ground realities and policies which will work. Have a feedback on the proposed policies from those working in different geographical area where the proposed policies or plans are supposed to be implemented. Ensure enough flexibility with ground realities in your plan.

Seventeenth, accept challenging assignments. Do not try to wriggle out of it. Often, these assignments involve tough decision taking and have risk of failure. Success can be assured if you have accepted the challenging job and are working diligently with all stakeholders as a team.

Eighteenth, in face of grave provocation, stand by your principles and convictions. Do not lose your cool. The administrative challenges are varied and involve wide varieties of people and organisations with vested interests.
Nineteenth, civil servants are accountable to Government. There is, however, public accountability also. Identify key target areas which you must achieve during your work based on Government policy and programmes. Identify people's felt needs and enmesh them in your programme too.

An interesting aspect, in the above context, is the relative responsibility of political executive and the civil service in improving the governance system. It has to be emphasized that onus is on civil servants to strengthen public administration and good governance. However, while working as part of policy making or field responsibilities, it may be useful to understand the nature of relationship between the political executive and the civil service. It is also necessary to appreciate the enormous inconvenience and widespread corruption faced by ilk-people while availing public service. Following points, therefore, need special focus:

First, the corruption in governance system and delivery of public services is quite widespread. It has to be tackled initially by preventing possibility of corruption.

Second, it is useful to recall that the All India Services are creatures of the Constitution (Article 312). While the services have to follow the policies laid down by the Government headed by the political executive, they also have legal obligations under certain statutes, whenever they exercise those powers. Such exercise of power has to be done with an independent application of mind.

Third, it is important that Civil Servants clearly bring out their views in writing while doing an analysis of the issues concerned when engaged in the task of policy making.

Fourth, there may be complex situations in which Ministers and some civil servants try to push illegal orders on subordinates. This could be because of ulterior monetary interest or corruption. There could be Mafia. In all this foggy and unclear vision, the civil servants have to be clear on their course of action for handling these situation.

The political executive which is responsible to the legislature has to also reconsider bow the governance can be strengthened. The norms of conduct mentioned above will need a strong political consensus. They may need to discuss it across the country and their readiness to act on it as Sardar Patel had advised more than six decades back.

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