[Solved] What do you understand by the term public servant? Reflect on the expected role of a public servant ( UPSC GS-4 Mains 2019)

[Solved] What do you understand by the term public servant? Reflect on the expected role of a public servant ( UPSC GS-4 Mains  2019)

Public servants and their guiding principles:

  • A public servant is a person employed in the public sector on behalf of a government department or agency. In other words, public servant is person who works for the government (Centre, State, and Local) such as a teacher, IAS officer, police officers, Judge Etc. to serve the interests of citizens. A public servant is someone who values public good over his/her personal interests in his official capacity.
  • They have to deal with the management of resources that are publicly owned in a way that enhances public interest. Further, the individuals carrying out the task are publicly accountable for their actions.
  • Public interest means allocation of resources in a way that furthers collective well-being and is consistent with ethical and constitutional norms, thereby helping individuals develop fully into citizens. A public servant while performing his role should exercise certain values like accountability, integrity, honestycommitment to public service, effective implementation of policy, leadership, empathy towards the vulnerable sections in their public dealings.
  • This needs to be qualified that the actions of a public servant must generate common good and general welfare and should not be motivated by sectional or particular interests. There should be a sense of trusteeship in holders of public office and breach of that trust of public should be seen as a crime.

 Expected Role of Public Servant:

  • The expected role of a public servant depends on the sector in which one is working. As a teacher of public school, one should try to impart best possible education to students without any discrimination.
  • As a doctor in government hospital, one must treat his patients well and in best of capacity. As a civil servant, one should try to see that whatever entitlements are people getting should actually reach them. As a political leader, one should understand and represent the voice of people in right forums and help make legislations that solve them.
  • If we compare with their counterparts in private sector, the only difference will be the motivating force and guiding principles. In public sector, one should not bring into considerations one’s own interests in calculations. One must only try to maximize people’s interest and that too people in general and not sectional interests. In public offices, enough incentives are given so that people can work without fear and favor if they can keep their in genuine desires under control.
  • We have had judges like J.S.Verma who worked till age of 80 to prepare report after Nirbhaya rape case. We had great leaders like E. Sreedharan who altered the public transport landscape of cities of India. M.S. Swami Nathan created Green revolution that made India a food surplus country.
  • When we count such big names, we must not forget the contribution of millions of public servants working in different capacities in different parts of the country that make the system run. Without the dedication and selflessness of people manning the public institutions at meagre wages compared to private sector, a large people like India cannot work
  • A public servant is generally a person who is employed directly or indirectly by the government, either through appointment or election. A public servant values public good over his/her personal interests. Taxpayers and public funds partially or fully fund their wages, which is why they are known as servants of the public. The duties of public servants are as diverse as the duties and responsibilities of the government.
  • There are many elements which a public servant can imbibe to bring about a more humane and ethical governance structure. A few of these are: Public Servants have an obligation to protect and promote our constitutional ideals enshrined in the preamble, to uphold the rule of law, dispense administrative justice and ensure administrative facilitation.
  • As an elite segment of society, public servants have an important role in informing and even formulating public opinion and perception on various issues.
  • The public servant should be emphatic as also advised by Mahatma Gandhi’s that if anyone was in doubt if an action was good or not was to put oneself in the situation of the poorest of the poor in the country and see how a particular policy and programme will impact him or her.
  • S/He should also be ‘efficient’ as administrators occupying positions of power and authority, it is their responsibility to translate policies into programmes, to implement schemes on the ground.
  • They need to be agile in their thoughts and actions. For eg. they should be able to access the latest information and knowledge and use them for improving service delivery.
  • They should be impartial and incorruptible as also observed by Sardar Patel and should work for an inclusive national development as mandated by the Constitution.
  • They should behave in a dignified manner and have the ability to patiently listen and take a balanced view. They must eschew arrogance and authoritarianism and be able to approach even the most intractable issues and irritants with a calm demeanour.
  • Kautilya in his Arthashastra emphasised on the importance of the common citizens: “It is the people who constitute a kingdom; like a barren cow, a kingdom without people yields nothing”. Thus the success of the administration depends upon the involvement, commitment, dedication and sacrifice with which the public servants put their efforts for the welfare of the teeming millions in the country.

 Characterstics of a public servant

  • Selflessness
  • The public servant is expected to keep welfare of public and society above his/her own.
  • Empathetic
  • The public servant must be able to understand the feelings and emotions of public for creating a maximum positive impact through his actions.
  • Moral integrity
  • The public servant should hold high morals and ethical beliefs while performing his role.
  • Expected role of Public servant
  • Official duties
  • Administration
  • The public servant has to provide govcernance to the public so as to ensure that welfare of society is maintained.
  • Protection
  • The public servant is required to protect rights of individuals and provide security to society from  threats.
  • Services
  • The public servant also provides various services to the society in creating and maintaining public property like roads, cleaning infrastructure etc.
  • Moral duties
  • Inspiration
  • The public servant must act as a role model who can inspire individuals in doing good for the society through their acts.
  • Mediation
  • A public servant can act as a perfect mediator in resolving disputes and fights in his personal capacity. He can be considered a neutral entity.

 Thus, public servant as a position is not restricted to a particular job or duty instead it is a wide ranging effort that ensures social welfare.

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