[Solved] “Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance”. In this context, suggest reforms in Civil Service for Strengthening Democracy. (UPSC GS -2 Mains 2020)

Institutional quality in a majority rules system decides how effective the public authority hardware sticks to the standards of public help, law and order, and social equity. One such establishment is the Civil Services, which goes about as a connection between the Government and Citizenry and reinforces vote-based system.

  • Economic performance of any country primarily depends on the policies formulated by the government.
  • However, the growth performance not only depends on what the policy measures are but also on how those policies are implemented and executed and this is where the role of an efficient civil service or bureaucracy comes in. 
  • Civil service reforms aim at strengthening the administrative system to perform the core government functions.
  • These aren’t raise the quality of services to the citizens that are essential for sustainable economic and social development. 

Reforms needed in the civil service to enhance economic performance in the country are:

  • Rightsizing the bureaucracy so that optimum number of functionaries are available for effective service delivery without any spillage or leakage. 
  • Specialist recruitment- the growing economy has different sets of needs where a high degree of specialisation is required in every field and cannot be appointed in them every time.
  • Capacity building and human resources development to keep pace with the global development as by the forces of new technologies.
  • Strengthening meritocracy in promotion instead of seniority. 
  • Introduction of modern reforms like e- governance to reduce the pen and paper work and enhance the proficiency of service delivery. 
  • Civil service accountability– strengthening and streamlining reporting mechanisms, action on audit findings, implementation of Citizens Charter, etc.

Challenges Faced By Civil Services in India

  • Status Quoist: As instruments of public service, civil servants have to be ready for change. The common experience, however, is that they resist changes as they are wedded to their privileges and prospects and thereby, have become ends in themselves.

  • For example, the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution have envisaged democratic decentralization.
  • However, due to the reluctance on the part of the civil servants to accept the changes in control and accountability, the intended vision has not been achieved.
  • Rule-Book Bureaucracy: By the rule book bureaucracy, it meant mainly following the rules and laws of the book without taking care of the actual needs of the people.

  • Due to rule book bureaucracy, some civil servants have developed the attitude of‘ bureaucratic behavior’, which evokes issues like red-tapism, the complication of procedures, and the maladapted responses of ‘bureaucratic’ organizations to the needs of the people.
  • Political Interference: The political representative for the sake of fulfilling the populist demand, influences the functioning of administrative officials. Hence, an administrative official has to adhere to the will of the political master.

  • This interference sometimes leads to issues like corruption, arbitrary transfers of honest civil servants.
  • Also, this led to substantial inefficiency where the vital positions are not held by the best officers and ultimately this can lead to institutional decline.

Civil Services Reforms and Institutional quality

  • Prompt Delivery Of Services: Every department should seek to simplify their processes to cut administrative delays and ensure participatory feedback mechanisms for efficient service delivery.
  • Reducing Discretion & Enhancing Accountability Mechanism: There is an inherent need to set key responsibility/focus areas and progressively reduce discretionary aspects to evaluate civil servants.

  • Online Smart Performance Appraisal Report Recording Online Window (SPARROW) should be instituted in all central and state cadres.
  • Also, as suggested by many committees, there is a need to develop benchmarks to assess the performance of officers and compulsorily retire those deemed unable to meet the benchmarks.
  • Incorporation of Code of Ethics: As suggested by 2nd ARC, along with streamlining of code of conduct rules, there is a need to inculcate ethical underpinning in the civil servants by implementing Code of Ethics.

  • This will sensitize civil servants to problems of people and help in the resolution of ethical dilemmas, which tend to emerge frequently in the public sphere.

Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance. In this context, some suggestions related to reforms in Civil Service for strengthening democracy are:

Concerning this, the reforms should reason out an effective increase in GDP (nominal) per capita to continue the country’s development processes, which include Institutional quality

  • the economic development law on the principles of the budget
  • effective linkage of policymaking, fiscal management, revenue generation  and budgeting
  • enhancement of sources of tax not through coercion, but opportunities created by civil service administrators
  • addressing institutional dysfunction through developing quantitative performance benchmarks
  • public dissemination of anticorruption findings
  • mainstreaming institutional and thematic focus to help fine-tune and facilitate each sector with its deliverables
  • before contributing to the design and implementation of an equitable programme of social development, it is more important to generate funds for it, rather than looking forward to allocation of funds
  • developing codes to deal with  the political economy behind institutional underperformance
  • quantification of accountability is must
  • quantifiability and measurability of the way a thing turns out

Sardar Patel thought about the common help “the steel frame of government machinery”. Notwithstanding, without sufficient changes, this steel frame may begin to get erosion and may implode. Therefore, to manage present-day challenges and strengthen majority rules system, there is a need to do Civil administrations changes in a comprehensive manner.

The recent policy by the government Mission Karmayogi is a great step towards the civil service reforms to enhance the quality of civil services as an institution in the country which in future will help in achieving a higher economic growth.

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