• In the process of governance, which involves several set of activities to deliver effective services to people, civilservice plays a pivotal role in providing shape to policies that reflect people’s needs and put their suggestive, analytical and informative roles to implement the policies.
  • It is recognized that civil service plays a crucial role in allsocieties whether developed or developing.
  • In the modern administrative state, public administration has becomeso significant that our development, upliftment and progress depend mainly upon the efficient functioning of publicadministration.
  • Civil Services are the bedrock of public administration. Civil services have assumed more importantrole in democracy to ensure good governance, both in developing and developed countries.
  • Bureaucracy or civil services is an administrative body of officials whose roles are determined by written rules.

Characteristics of bureaucracy

  • Officers are organized in a clearly defined hierarchy of offices.
  • Candidates are selected on the basis of technical qualifications.
  • They are remunerated by fixed salaries in money.
  • It constitutes a career. There is a system of &promotion’ according to seniority or to achievement or both.
  • The official works entirely separated from ownership of the means of administration and without appropriation of his positions.
  • Each office has a defined sphere of competence.
  • The officials are personally free and subject to authority only with respect to their impersonal official obligations.

Civil Services in India

  • The Civil Services of India runs the entire administration of the country. The elected ministers of India lay down the policies required to properly run the administrative machinery, which is then carried out by the civil servants in various central government agencies.
  • These civil servants are selected through the Civil Services Examination (CSE), the toughest nationwide competitive examination in India with a success rate of 0.1-0.3 percent– the least in the entire world.
  • The CSE is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment to the various civil services in the Government of India. The most prominent of these civil services include the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Forest Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Revenue Service (IRS) among others.

A) All India Civil Services

  • The All India Civil Services comprises the following services:
    A) Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
    B) Indian Forest Service (IFS)
    C) Indian Police Service (IPS)
  • The officers in these offices are recruited by the Centre, but place under various State cadres after being trained by the Centre. They have a liability to serve both the Centre and the State.
    Since 2012, the first tier of both the Civil Services Examination and the Indian Forest Service Examination are combined.

Indian Administrative Service (IAS)

  • Cadre controlling authority: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
  • Recruitment through: UPSC Civil Services Examination
  • Responsibilities:
  • IAS officers handle government affairs. They frame policies pertaining to a certain area like finance or commerce, modify the policies if needed and implement them through touring and thorough supervision of fund allocation etc.
  • An IAS officer may have to represent the government in another country or in international forums, and if he/she is a Deputy Secretary, even sign agreements on behalf of the government.
  • Ranks:
  • An officer selected into the Indian Administrative Service gets exposure in very diverse roles like the collector, commissioner, head of public sector units, chief secretary, cabinet secretary etc.
  • The Cabinet Secretary is the top official who is involved in policy making, followed by Secretary/Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary, Director, Under Secretary and Junior Scale Officers in that order.
  • IAS officers may get prestigious posts such as Finance Secretary, Development Commissioners and Home Secretary.

Indian Forest Service (IFS)

  • Cadre controlling authority: Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
  • Recruitment through: UPSC Indian Forest Service Examination
  • Responsibilities:
  • The IFS officers sustain the environment and the ecological balance through strict implementation of the National Forest Policy.
  • They work to conserve, protect and develop forests and wildlife.Moreover, they also look towards developing the livelihood of forest-dependent communities in rural and tribal areas.
  • IFS officers work in various forest and wildlife related national organisations such as the Wildlife Institute of India, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Forest Survey of India, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) etc.

Indian Police Service (IPS)

  • Cadre controlling authority: Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Recruitment through: UPSC Civil Services Examination
  • Responsibilities:
  • IPS officers look after public safety and security, which includes prevention of crime and its detection, accident prevention, traffic control and management etc.
  • The IPS is not a law enforcement agency, but all senior level police officers belong to IPS, irrespective of their agency of work. To promote greater efficacy in work, the police service has certain subdivisions– Crime Branch, Traffic Bureau, Home Guards and Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
  • An IPS officer can serve in security and intelligence based national organisations such as the Central Reserve Police Force, Central Bureau of Investigation, Border Security Force, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau etc. They can also get placed in several PSUs and CAPFs.
  • IPS officers can be a Director General of Police, thus looking after the law in the entire state, a Superintendent of Police looking after law on a district level, a Deputy Commissioner taking care of metropolitan cities, or a Commissioner of Police looking after a city.
  • A Commissioner of Police possesses magisterial powers.

Central Civil Services (CCS)

  • The Central Civil Services (CCS) is directly concerned with the administration and permanent bureaucracy of the Government of India. The specialised civil services fields in India mostly belong to the central services.
  • The CCS are classified into Group A gazette officers, who are appointed by the President of India himself, and Group B gazette officers, who are appointed by President-ordered authorities (except for officers for the Central Secretariat Service, who are selected by the President).
  • Recruitment process:
    The recruitment of the CCS is made through the Civil Services Examination, the Engineering Services Examination of UPSC and the Combined Graduate Level Examination of Staff Selection Commission (SSC).

State Civil Services

  • The State Civil Services, also called the Provincial Civil Services deal with state related issues, including education, land revenue, forests, agriculture etc.
  • Recruitment process:
    The State Public Service Commissions conduct the recruitments for these offices.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Civil Services in India

  • In terms of Articles 53 and 154, the executive power of the Union and the States vests in the President or Governor directly or through officers subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil service and are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution (Services under the Union and States (Article 308-323)).
  • Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules: Work is allocated among Ministers as per the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules.
  • Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules: The manner in which the officers are required to help the President or Governor to exercise his/her executive functions is governed by the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules.
  • Article 308– Definition of state.
  • Article 310– Tenure of office of persons serving the Union or a State.
  • Article 311– Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.
  • Article 312– All India Services.
  • Article 313– Transitional Provisions.

Role of civil services in governance

Civil services perform the following important functions

  • Basis of government:No government can exist without administrative machinery. All nations, irrespective of their system of government, require some sort of administrative machinery for implementing policies.
  • An instrument for implementing Laws and Policies:
    • Civil services are responsible for implementing the laws and policies of government. By carrying out laws, it regulates the behaviour of the people in society.
    • By implementing public policies and programmes, it delivers the promised goods and services to the intended beneficiaries. The ideals and objectives of government may be very popular, the plans for national development may be extremely progressive and the resources of the country may be abundant, but without civil services nothing can be achieved.
    • An efficient civil service can avoid waste, correct errors; limit the consequences of incompetence or irresponsibility while implementing laws and public policies.
  • Participation in policy formulation:
    • In modern world, civil service is the chief policy maker in government. It is a source of facts; experience; ideas and solution.
    • Public administration participates in policy making by giving advice to ministers and providing them the necessary information.
    • The administrative tasks of public bureaucracy include formulation of policies and plans, executing and monitoring programmes, laying down laws, rules and regulations, which affect human actions in almost all walks of life.
  • A great stabilizing force: Civil services acts as a stabilizing force in society. It settles social tensions and conflicts and thus creates social unity and harmony.
  • Provides continuity:Civil servants carry the role of governance even when government changes after elections. Ramsay Muir has remarked that while governments may come and go, ministers may rise and fall, the administration of a country goes on forever. It is needless to say that civil services form the backbone of administration.
  • An instrument of social change and economic development:
    • The developing nations are mostly traditional and poor agricultural societies without adequate basic amenities of good life. These nations are struggling to achieve modernisation of society and economic development and realize welfare goals.
    • The state is called upon to achieve these goals. These objectives have placed challenging tasks on public administration such as formulation of economic plans and their successful implementation to economic growth and social change. The accomplishment of these goals requires honest and competent civil servants.
  • Provides a wide variety of services in the public interest:Public administration run by civil servants provides a large number of services to the people such as:
    • Protective Functions:
      • They protect the life and property of the people by maintaining law and order. The survival and progress of human beings depend on the proper enforcement of laws against lawbreakers.
      • In recent times, protection of the environment is added to the protective functions of the government.
      • As a result of rapid industrialisation, there is the problem of environmental pollution which threatens our lives and environmental pollution. Now almost all the governments are making efforts at the enhancement of environmental quality.
    • Facilitative services: They provide facilitative services such as transportation, communications, and supply of power and so on.
    • Management of public enterprises:Civil servants are managing public enterprises and public utilities in the interest of socio-economic justice. Public utilities are either publicly owned or strictly regulated in most countries. Government also imposes controls over private economic and business activities in the public interest.
    • Welfare services:The welfare services provided for the people include social security, old age pensions, welfare of the weaker sections, poverty alleviation etc.
    • Developmental functions:They perform a vital function of promoting agriculture, industry, internal and international trade, banking, insurance etc.
  • In addition to above, some other functions performed by civil service are as under:
    • Assisting ministers in fulfilling their responsibilities towards the parliament and its committees.
    • Handling financial operations of the state.
    • Reforming and improving administration through O and M (i.e. organization and methods)
    • Administrative adjudication:This is a quasi- judicial function performed by the civil service. The civil servants settle disputes between the citizens and the state. For this purpose, the Administrative Tribunals, with civil servants as judges are established. For example: The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

Importance of Civil Services in modern day democracy

A number of factors have contributed the increasing importance of civil service in modern day society:

  • The scientific and technological development: They have led to revolutionary changes in transportation and communication system. The invention of telephone, telegraph, railways & airways has made big government and large scale administration possible.
  • Industrial revolution: It brought about certain changes in society. It led to the growth of large scale industries and factory production, overcrowded industrial towns and urban slums. The factory system also resulted in certain evils such as growth of capitalism, large scale unemployment, exploitation of labor etc. In the interest of socio economic justice, governments in developed and developing countries have to assume new responsibilities to set right the bad effects of the above evils.
  • Calamities and crisis: Natural calamities such as earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclone have also enhanced the importance of civil services. In the event of occurrence of such natural calamities, the public administrators have to act quickly and undertake rescue operation in order to prevent loss of life and property of the affected people. This crisis management is important function of public administration.
  • Population and problems of metropolitan cities:
    • The rapid growth of population in almost all the countries of the world, especially in developing countries, has complicated the problems of providing food, shelter, education, health and sanitation etc. to the people.
    • Also, the growth of metropolitan cities has created certain problems which include congestion, growth of slums, housing scarcity, insufficient water supply etc. The responsibility of for tackling these acute social and economic problems has resulted in the increase in the sphere of the activity of civil service.

A) Conflict Areas between civil services and democracy

  • The areas of potential conflict in the relationship between the political executive and the permanent civil service can be identified as follows:
    • The concept of neutrality
    • Advisory role of civil servants in policy making
    • Statutory role of the civil servants
    • Discharge of delegated functions
    • Appointments/Recruitment to the civil services
    • Transfers and postings of civil servants

B) Political class and Civil services

  • Changes in governments particularly at the state level often lead to wholesale transfer of civil servants. Political neutrality is no longer the accepted norm with many civil servants getting identified, rightly or wrongly, with a particular political dispensation. There is a perception that officers have to cultivate and seek patronage from politicians for obtaining suitable positions even in the Union Government. As a result, the civil services in public perception are often seen as increasingly-politicized.
  • Overall, despite a few hiccups, the culture that respected the average civil servant flourished. A clear distinction between the policymaking role of the Minister and of the implementation function of the civil servant had come to be established.
  • By and large, the latter could argue against a Minister’s decision without the peril of being humiliated or penalised. Once the Minister made up his mind after a discussion, he had the last word, and the Secretary had no alternative but to implement the decision. There was therefore everything in the system that promoted candour and honesty.
  • The watershed in the infamous history of the Indian administration thereafter was possibly the Emergency, declared in 1975 on specious grounds. The arbitrariness that ensued led to the dilution, if not the annihilation, of many traditional institutions. The civil service just caved in without protest. Since then, the floodgates have remained open, and there has been no stopping the process of tinkering with the civil service.
  • Barring a few, Ministers both at the Centre and in the States have steamrolled the bureaucracy so much that a fear psychosis now envelops the whole civil service. The judiciary has generally been remiss in undoing the damage. This is because of the stand that it cannot step in where routine administrative matters (such as transfers and suspensions) are involved, and that an act of injustice done to a civil servant does not constitute any infringement of the fundamental rights embodied in the Constitution.
  • The Administrative Tribunals have occasionally offered some redress but have not done enough to remove the fear that grips a majority of public servants. This explains the rot.
  • It is not as if the blame rests squarely with the politicians. Overzealous and greedy civil servants have contributed equally to the dilution of standards. Many of them have looked the other way when Ministers were found indulging in malpractices.
  • Worse is the case of those who have themselves functioned as conduits for money passing to Ministers. A third category comprises those who are themselves guilty of corruption and cannot blame their Ministers of unethical behavior.

Observations of 2nd ARC regarding Civil Services in India

It is widely recognised that the civil services have contributed to stability in terms of maintenance of peace, the conduct of fair elections, managing disasters and the preservation of the unity of the nation, providing stability and maintaining order in a vast country prone to various conflicts – ethnic, communal, regional etc. Nonetheless there are certain concerns about the performance of the civil service in the context of realizing a results-oriented government. Some of them are:

  • It has been pointed out that the Civil Service in India is more concerned with the internal processes than with results.
  • The systemic rigidities, needless complexities and over-centralization in the policy and management structures within which the civil service functions are too complex and often too constraining.
  • The structures are based on hierarchies and there are a large number of veto points to be negotiated for a decision to eventually emerge.
  • To compound it, the size and the number of ministries and departments have both overloaded the decision-making system and diminished the capacities of the individual civil servants to fulfill their operational responsibilities.
  • Rapid and fundamental changes are taking place in the country in terms of rapid economic growth, urbanization, environmental degradation, technological change and increased local awareness and identity. The response time to adapt to these changes is much shorter than it used to be. As instruments of public service, civil servants have to be ready to manage such change.
  • On the other hand, the perception is that they resist change as they are wedded to their privileges and prospects and thereby have become ends in themselves.
  • The 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution have brought about a major change. Rural and urban local governments have to be enabled to become institutions of self government. To bring this about, the existing system of administration at the district level has to undergo fundamental changes. Though sixteen years have passed, the progress remains very slow and local governments are ‘local’ only in ‘form’ but are ‘central and state in content’.
  • With the passage of time, the role of civil society organisations, in governance, has increased with demands for better governance. The same can be said of the private sector, which is increasingly providing services in several areas, which hitherto were the exclusive preserve of the public sector. Consequently, civil servants should view civil society organisations and the private sector as partners in the process of the country’s governance.
  • There is need to shift from pre-eminence of governance to effective governance with a focus on decentralization and citizen-centricity.

Problems Affecting Civil Services Today

  • Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building.
  • Ineffective incentive system that does not reward the meritorious and upright civil servants.
  • Rigid and outmoded rules and procedures that do not allow civil servants to exercise individual judgement and perform efficiently.
  • Lack of accountability and transparency procedure, with no adequate protection for whistle-blowers.
  • Political interference causing arbitrary transfers, and insecurity in tenures.
  • An erosion in ethics and values, which has caused rampant corruption and nepotism.
  • Patrimonialism (a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader).
  • Resistance to change from the civil servants themselves.

Reforms required

  • The development work needs some flexibility from a strict observance of rigid rules and regulations. Rigid rule bound bureaucracies should be changed into flexible and action-oriented.
  • Reforms are required in the field of recruitment of civil servants so that right people could be recruited who can ensure smooth functioning of democracy.
  • Training of civil servants should be able to bring about behavioural and attitudinal changes.
  • Administrative procedures, rules and regulations need to be simplified so that red tapism could be minimized; decentralization of authority and collegiate decision making; de-emphasis of hierarchy in the administrative structure
  • Adoption of modern management techniques such as management by objectives; elimination of corruption so as to secure clean, honest, impartial and efficient administration; creation of new work culture and encouraging creativity.

Recommendations: 2nd ARC’s 10th Report

  • A National Institutes of Public Administration should be established to run Bachelor’s Degree courses in public administration/ governance/management. Selected Central and other Universities should also be assisted to offer graduate level programmes in these courses which will produce graduates to further expand the pool of eligible applicants to the civil services. These graduates would be eligible for appearing in the Civil Services Examinations. Further, graduates in other disciplines would also be eligible to appear in the Civil Services Examination provided they complete a ‘Bridge Course’ in the core subjects mentioned above.
  • Structure of Examination:Either of the following two models may be adopted for compressing the examination cycle.
    • The Preliminary and Main Examinations for the Civil Services Examination would be conducted together on two to three consecutive days.
    • Evaluation of papers for the Main Examination should be done in case of only those candidates who have secured a threshold level of marks in the Preliminary Examination. The personality test would follow thereafter.
    • Based on the results of the Preliminary Examination, candidates eligible for taking the main examination and the personality test would be short listed in accordance with their rankings.
    • Only these short-listed candidates would be eligible for appearing in the Main Examination, which would be conducted within two months of the Preliminary Examination.
    • The short list would be limited to about two to three times of the number of vacancies available. Thus it would be possible to start the Personality Test and the Main Examination almost simultaneously.
  • The induction of officers of the State Civil Services into the IAS should be done by the UPSC on the basis of a common examination.
  • In the case of disciplinary proceedings, consultation with the UPSC should be mandatory only in cases involving likely dismissal or removal of a government servant.

A) Capacity Building 

  • Every government servant should undergo a mandatory training at the induction stage and also periodically during his/her career. Successful completion of these trainings should be a minimum necessary condition for confirmation in service and subsequent promotions.
  • A monitoring mechanism should be set up for overseeing the implementation of the National Training Policy (1996).
  • The objective of mid-career training should be to develop domain knowledge and competence required
  • Public servants should be encouraged to obtain higher academic qualifications and to write papers for reputed and authoritative journals.
  • The composition of governing bodies of the national training institutions such as the LBSNAA, SVPNPA, IGNFA and also the State Administrative Training Institutes should be broadened by inducting eminent experts.
  • A National Institute of good governance may be set up by upgrading one of the existing national/state institutes. This institute would identify, document, and disseminate best practices and also conduct training programmes.

Recommendations of recent committees

A) On Recruitment

  • The Civil Services Examination Review Committee, 2001 (chaired by Professor Yoginder K. Alagh) favored testing the candidates in a common subject rather than on optional subjects.
  • The Committee on Civil Service Reforms (Hota Committee Report, 2004) recommended that aptitude and leadership tests may be introduced for selection, and that probationers may be allowed one month’s time after commencement of training to exercise their option for Services.

B) On Training

  • The Committee to Review In-Service Training of IAS officers, (Yugandhar Committee, 2003) recommended the need for three mid-career training programmes in the 12th, 20th and 28th years of service. Trainings at these 3 stages was suggested as there is a “major shift” in the nature of work of the officer, at these stages of their career.

C) On Domain Expertise

  • The first ARC classified higher civil service posts into two categories: posts in the field, and (b) posts at headquarters.
  • The field posts were held by the members of the ‘functional’ services which included not only the various engineering services but also services such as accounts and income tax. The first ARC noted that the only service that was not functional but occupied most of the higher posts in the civil services was the IAS. The first ARC recommended that the IAS should be converted into a functional service.
  • Consistent with its philosophy of organizing the administrative machinery along functional lines and inducting talent from all sources, the ARC recommended eight broad areas of specialization:
    • Economic Administration;
    • Industrial Administration;
    • Agricultural and Rural Development Administration;
    • Social and Educational Administration;
    • Personnel Administration;
    • Financial Administration;
    • Defence Administration and
    • Internal Security Planning.
  • The Report of the Group constituted to Review the System of Performance Appraisal, Promotion, Empanelment and Placement for the All India Services and other Group ‘A’ Services (SurinderNath Committee Report, 2003) suggested the following 11 domains –
    • Agriculture and Rural Development; Social Sectors (Education, Health, Tribal Welfare, etc.);
    • Culture and Information;
    • Natural Resources Management including Environment (green side);
    • Energy and Environment (brown side);
    • Communication Systems and Connectivity Infrastructure;
    • Public Finance and Finance Management;
    • Industry and Trade;
    • Domestic Affairs and Defence;
    • Housing and Urban Affairs;
    • Personnel and General Administration.
    • The Committee suggested that officers may be assigned to a maximum of three domains out of the eleven listed.
  • The Hota Committee on Civil Services Reforms, 2004, had recommended that domain assignment should be introduced for civil servants to encourage acquisition of skills, professional excellence and career planning.

D) On Efficiency

There has been a succession of Committees that were asked to recommend measures for increasing the efficiency of the civil services.

  • The Appleby Report(1953) contained recommendations relating to the establishment of O&M machinery and an Institute of Public Administration. These two recommendations were implemented by Government.
  • The Fifth Central Pay Commission (2000) stressed upon the need to optimize the size of the government machinery.
  • The Expenditure Reforms Commission(2001) emphasized on a drastic downsizing of the government staff strength for securing modern and professional governance and also reducing the increasing salary bill of the Government of India.
  • The Committee on Civil Services Reforms (Hota Committee, 2004) emphasized the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to transform Government by making it more accessible, effective and accountable. It stressed on the need to recognize that e-governance is about discarding old procedures and transforming the process of decision making and that technology is merely a tool and a catalyst for such transformations.

E) On Accountability

  • The Committee on Prevention of Corruption (Santhanam Committee) made a range of recommendations to fight the menace of corruption. It recommended the constitution of the Central Vigilance Commission, and administrative vigilance divisions in all Departments and major organizations of the Government. Changes were also suggested in Article 311 of the Constitution of India for conducting disciplinary proceedings against government servants. It was also recommended that offering of bribes should be made a substantive offence.
  • The first ARC recommended that the departments and organizations which were in direct charge of development programmes should introduce performance budgeting. The ARC also recommended the establishment of two special institutions, the Lok Pal to deal with complaints against the administrative acts of Ministers and Secretaries to the government at the Centre and the LokAyuktas to deal with such complaints in States.
  • The Hota Committee recommended that Sections 13 (1) (d) and 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure may be amended to protect honest civil servants from malicious prosecution and harassment.
    • It also recommended that a Code of Ethics should be drawn up for civil servants incorporating the core values of integrity, merit and excellence in public service.
    • Another recommendation of the Hota Committee was that each department should lay down and benchmark services to be delivered, methods of grievance redressal and public evaluation of performance.
    • It also recommended that a Model Code of Governance should be drawn up benchmarking the standards of governance to be made available to the citizens.
  • The Report of the Group constituted to review the system of Performance Appraisal, Promotion, Empanelment and Placement of the AIS and Other Services (SurinderNath Committee, 2003) recommended that – performance appraisal should be primarily used for the overall development of an officer and for his/her placement in an area where his/her abilities and potential can be best used.
  • Only those who can demonstrate a credible record of actual performance and possess the necessary knowledge and skills required for higher responsibilities should be promoted. There is no benefit in retaining officers who lack demonstrated competence, or who are unqualified, or of doubtful moral or financial integrity or who are in unacceptably poor health.
  • The Hota Committee on Civil Services Reforms, 2004, recommended replacing the ACR with a system of performance assessment in which greater emphasis is placed on objective assessment against agreed work plans.
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