[Solved] Initially Civil Services in India were designed to achieve the goals of neutrality and effectiveness, which seems to be lacking in the present context. Do you agree with the view that drastic reforms are required in Civil Services. Comment ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)

[Solved]  Initially Civil Services in India were designed to achieve the goals of neutrality and effectiveness, which seems to be lacking in the present context. Do you agree with the view that drastic reforms are required in Civil Services. Comment  ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)

Civil services are the steel frame of the nation which help in maintaining law and order, provide stability and develop the nation.Of late, our civil services are marred with a number of challenges like corruption, redtapism, insensitivity, lack of technology, political interference etc. which decrease its neutrality and

 effectiveness.

 Drastic reforms are needed in these services, because:

 • Rising complexity of economy means specialists are needed with lateral entry as recommended by 2nd Administrative Committee Report.

 • Institutionalize goal setting and tracking for each department- Each Ministry and government agency should set outcome-based goals with a clear timeline. E.g.- Sarvodaya framework

 • More and more use of technology in governance. E.g.- MyGov application, Daksh application etc.

 • E-governance and paperless governance ranking for ministries at central and state levels on the basis of their move to the e-office system, reduction of paper use, and citizen engagement through the electronic  medium.

 • Outsource service delivery where possible- We should reduce dependence on government administrative machinery wherever possible by PPP models etc.

 • Citizen grievance redressal must be institutionalized and properly implemented. E.g.- PRAGATI platform

 • Code of Ethics should be prepared in every department to resolve the conflict of interest etc. and make  them ethical.

 • The recent initiative of awarding good civil servants for their exemplary work is also a good initiative.

 • Periodic training must be given to them so as to keep them updated and increase their efficiency.

 • Their relationship with political executives must be properly defined by code of conduct and other channels.

  • These reforms are more incremental in nature but their implementation leads to big bang reforms as told by the Economic Survey. They will lead to better delivery of goods and services.
  • IN the globalised world, it is of utmost importance that our civil services are SMART i.e. sensible, mobile, responsive, accountable and tech- savvy so as to lead us towards ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’.
  • There is a need for reforming the civil services as they have fallen short on the goals of neutrality and effectiveness due to the following reasons: Career-based civil services coupled with excessive job security have led to a sense of complacency and lack of accountability amongst civil servants.
  • Goal displacement due to emphasis on rules rather than results – with rules becoming an end in themselves.
  • The current system of training for the civil services does not adequately reflect changes in the socio-economic scenario and the emerging new challenges render conventional approaches and practices of administration obsolete and dysfunctional.
  • Ivory-tower approach of civil servants due to disconnect from ground realities is reflected in their ineffective policy making. There is a marked lack of citizen-centric approach which is essential to understand and redress problems of the poor and the weaker sections.
  • Lack of stability of tenure due to government’s inherent right to transfer a civil servant prevents the incumbent to learn on the job, develop his/her own capacity and then contribute in the best possible manner.
  • Political interference in the form of arbitrary and whimsical transfers to ensure administrative acquiescence prevents the civil servant from acting neutrally.
  • Promise of post-retirement appointments to statutory commissions, quasi-judicial tribunals, constitutional authorities or contesting election for a political office on the ticket of a political party prevent the civil servant from acting impartially.
  • Promotions hinge on several factors such as patronage versus merit.

 Reforms needed

  • Civil service is the backbone of the governance of the country so the number of officers should be increased to deliver flawless development processes.
  • A trend of merging several departments into one single unit has been noticed. It may stall the process of public service. More portfolio distribution is needed for more rationalization and harmonization of services.
  • Civil servants are recruited from various study background. A little relevance of subjects and duty will ensure proper utilization of the skill set.
  • Apart from the technical and knowledge-based training moral education is also needed in order to reduce corruption.
  • A Model Code of Governance should be framed to maintain the quality of governance.
  • Adoption of e-governance for making it more accessible, effective, and accountable.
  • Regular transfer of civil servants to keep them away from creating political nexus.
  • Grading the officer based on their duty would encourage civil servants who are highly motivated to deliver public service.

 The reasons for the flaw in the current setup of civil services:

  • Career-based civil services coupled with excessive job security have led to a sense of complacency and lack of accountability amongst civil servants.
  • Goal displacement due to emphasis on rules rather than results – with rules becoming an end in themselves.
  • The current system of training for civil services does not adequately reflect changes in the socio-economic scenario and the emerging new challenges render conventional approaches and practices of administration obsolete and dysfunctional.
  • Ivory-tower approach of civil servants due to disconnect from ground realities is reflected in their ineffective policymaking. There is a marked lack of citizen-centric approach which is essential to understand and redress problems of the poor and the weaker sections.
  • Political interference in the form of arbitrary and whimsical transfers to ensure administrative acquiescence prevents civil servants from acting neutrally.
  • Promise of post-retirement appointments to statutory commissions, quasi-judicial tribunals, constitutional authorities or contesting election for a political office on the ticket of a political party prevents the civil servant from acting impartially.

 Some of the reforms needed for the smooth functioning of the government machinery are:

 Recruitment:

  • Improve the teeth to tail ratio: Promote an officer oriented culture and focus on expanding the number of officers.
  • Rationalization and harmonization of services: Reducing the existing 60 plus separate services at the central and state levels. Recruits shall be placed in a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post. (NITI Aayog Strategy for New India@75) Nurture specialization:
  • Internally officers may be encouraged to gain expertise in domain-specific areas in the early stages of careers like Agriculture and Rural Development, Natural Resources Management, Industry and Trade, etc. (Surinder Nath Committee 2003) Current system of rapid rotation of officers across ministries may be replaced by a system of longer postings to gain specialization.

 Training:

  • With economic gravity shifting towards cities, training should be reoriented to focus relatively more on managing urban areas.
  • Three mid-career training modules should be introduced for all services in the 12th, 20th and 28th years of service. (Yugandhar Committee, 2003) Accountability:
  • Each department should lay down and benchmark services to be delivered, methods of grievance redressal and public evaluation of performance.
  • A Model Code of Governance should be drawn up benchmarking the standards of governance to be made available to citizens. (Hota Committee 2004) Performance budgeting should be introduced for departments which are in direct charge of development programmes. (1st ARC) Efficiency:
  • E-Governance should be emphasized upon, by the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to transform government, making it more accessible, effective and accountable. (Hota Committee, 2004) Each government department and agency should be ranked on the basis of their move to the e-office system, reduction of paper use, and citizen engagement through the electronic medium. (Niti Aayog 3 yr agenda) Governance
  • Citizen-Centric framework: Public access to information should be increased through the use of ICT and RTI. RTI’s management information system portal needs to be expanded to cover more public authorities, especially subordinate offices of ministries and public sector units.
  • Capability and knowledge base of public authorities like CPIOs, appellate authorities, information commissions need to be upgraded on a continuous basis.
  • Reforms are a continuous process and several initiatives have been taken in recent years by the present government. These include lateral entry at higher levels of government, the introduction of a multi-stakeholder feedback (MSF) performance evaluation, introduction of online mechanisms for appraisals and filing of various returns by employees, and strengthening training and merit-based postings.
  • The purpose of ‘reform’ is to reorient the civil services into a dynamic, efficient and accountable apparatus for public service delivery built on the ethos and values of impartiality, neutrality and effectiveness.
  • Also, there is a need to shift from pre-eminence of governance to effective governance with a focus on decentralization and citizen-centricity. The civil servants, civil society organizations, and the private sector should act in coherence and as partners in the process of the country’s governance.

 Further reading…

  • Civil services are premier services in our country, they are drawn from highly talented pool of the country and given rigorous training and revolves around each and every department.
  • Their pay conditions, authority, powers, security of tenure are in such a way to maintain integrity, neutrality, efficient in their duty.
  • As the time progress, the model of development is also changing, privatization started, complexity of problem increasing. Unless these civil servents cope up with at competition and find the best solutions, transform accordingly their relevance will vanish.
  • Interference of politicians is one of the major concern, that allow the civil servent not to take an impartial decision.
  • It is not an exaggeration to say that some of the civil servents are working on communal and casteist lines. Increasing corruption levels also aggravating the problem.
  • When it comes to their effectiveness increasing performance of private sector, increasing the role of specialists in administration, the performance of the state level officers and even present day politicians are also improving their knowledge levels is posing challenges to civil servents.

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