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Civil Services in India


Civil service is critical to the operation of government. Since colonial times, the civil service has been regarded as the "steel frame" of administration in India. In this rapidly changing era of globalisation, the colonial legacy of civil service is still alive and well.

The term "civil service" refers to the body of government employees who work in civil occupations that are not political or judicial in nature. From ancient times, the concept of civil service was widespread in India. The Mauryan administration used civil servants called adhyakshas and rajukas. According to Kautilya's Arthasastra, the examination for civil officers was also very stringent in those days. Because of the vastness of the region and the need to keep it together, the Mauryan government was required to appoint civil servants on merit. The concept of civil service was revived when the British, in quest of a framework to hold India's territories, established the coveted 'Indian Civil Services' or ICS.

The following factors contribute to the relevance of the Civil Service in governance:

  • All India character,that enables integration and cohesiveness.

  • Administrative and managerial capacity of the services

  • Effective policy-making and implementation.

  • Effective coordination among governance institutions.

  • Administrative leadership at various levels.

  • Provide cutting-edge service delivery.

  • Provide administration with "continuity and change"

The ailments afflicting Indian civil services are as follows:

  • Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building

  • Inefficient incentive systems that do not appreciate upright and outstanding civil servants but reward the corrupt and incompetent

  • Outmoded rules and procedures that prevent civil servants from performing effectively

  • Systemic inconsistencies in promotion and empanelment

  • Rigidity-Redtapism, Rulebook bureaucracy hampers the ability.

  • The political nexus, The political representative impacts the functioning of administrative personnel in order to meet populist demands. As a result, an administrative officer would obey the wishes of the political leader. This meddling can result in concerns such as corruption and arbitrary transfers of honest civil personnel. This has also resulted in significant inefficiencies, with critical positions not being filled by the best officers, which can eventually lead to institutional deterioration.

  • Generalist officers aren't sufficient, they must be complemented by a specialist. Civil servants are designed primarily to carry out the essential functions of the state, such as maintaining law and order and enforcing government directives. However, as a result of shifting needs brought about by globalization and economic reforms, the role of the state has shifted. As a result of technological advancement, there are new obstacles (for example cyber security). As a result, there is a greater demand (from specialist officers) for subject knowledge at the policy level.

Need for Reforms and Objective

Globally, change has been hastened in recent years as a result of technical advancements, more decentralization, and social activism. The ramifications of these changes are being felt by the government in the form of increasing expectations for better governance through effective service delivery, transparency, accountability, and rule of law. In order to achieve the people's ambitions, the civil service, as the principal arm of government, must adapt to changing circumstances. The goal of reform is to realign the Civil Services into a dynamic, efficient, and accountable machinery for delivering public services based on the ethos and principles of integrity, impartiality, and neutrality. The goal of the reform is to improve the quality of public services provided to citizens while also increasing the capacity to carry out fundamental government duties, resulting in long-term development.

Reform needed

  • Specialist inclusion for greater expertise, this can be done via lateral entry at higher level.

  • Promotion on basis of meritocracy.

  • Early Retirement of those who are inefficient.

  • Greater transparency, protection of whistle blowers.

  • Rationalisation and harmonisation of services for greater eddy, currently there is overlapping across different areas that promote chaos and inefficiency.

  • Training of civil servants must keep up with the changing times and technological advances to ensure they are able and capable.

  • Ethics is very important, it must be included in training.


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