[Yojana August Summary] Reforms in the Civil Services – Explained, pointwise

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The Civil services are the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country. The ministers decide the policy, and it is for the civil servants, who serve at the pleasure of the President, to implement it.

Evolution of Civil services in India

During Ancient India: According to the Kautilya’s Arthasastra, the higher bureaucracy consisted of the Mantrins and the Amatyas. While the Mantrins are the highest advisors to the King, the amatyas were the civil servants.

During Medieval India: During the Mughal era, the bureaucracy was based on the Mansabdari System. The Mansabdari system was essentially a pool of civil servants available for civil or military deployment.

During British India: The big changes in the civil services in British India came with the implementation of Macaulay’s report. The Macaulay report recommended that only the best and brightest would do for the Indian Civil Service to serve the interest of the British Empire.

Post Independence: The modern Indian Administrative system was created under Article 312(2) in part XIV of the Constitution and All India Services Act, 1951.

However, India retained some elements of the British Structure like a unified administrative system, an open-entry system based on academic achievements, permanency of nature, etc.

Classification of Civil Services

Part XIV of the Constitution provides for different types or classes of services for India. The name of the chapter is Services under Union and the States. The Constitution has not elaborated on the types and categories of services.

In accordance with the Constitution, we can divide these services as All India Services (AIS), Central Services, State Services, the Local and Municipal Services.

There are four groups of Central Services, namely Group A, B, C and D..

The highest personnel cadre among the entire civil services in India is with the Central Secretariat Service and the Indian Revenue Service.

Civil servants are the employees of the government of India or of the States. But not all government employees are civil servants. As of 2010, there were 6.4 million government employees in India, but less than 50,000 civil servants to administer them.

Read more: [Yojana August Summary] Indian Bureaucracy – Explained, pointwise
Why do we need the Civil service reforms?

In recent times, technological advances, decentralisation and social activism force the government to increase the expectations on government service delivery, transparency, accountability and rule of law. The civil service, as the primary arm of government, must keep pace with the changing times in order to meet the aspirations of people.

The purpose of reform is to reorient the civil services into a dynamic, efficient and accountable apparatus of public service delivery.

The reform is to raise the quality of public services delivered to the citizens and enhance the capacity to carry out core government functions.

Read more[Yojana August Summary] Probity in Governance – Explained, pointwise
What are the problems associated with civil services in India?

There are few problems associated with the functioning of civil services. These include,

Red Tapism (Delay) and indecisiveness: This exists in many forms with the civil services. For example,

Queries by the superiors are made in parts and frequently, not once by taking all aspects. Poor capacity building of civil servants.

Sometimes it is necessary to take the opinion of the Ministry of Law or Ministry of Finance for taking an appropriate decision.

All this delays the decision-making process unnecessarily.

‘Too busy’ syndrome: Civil servants do not attend phone calls or give personal hearing to the aggrieved persons’ citing they are busy. This leads to further delay and also increases the corrupt practices by the subordinates or middlemen. Further, it leads to inefficiency in decision-making due to not attending to the feedback and also creates a bad image about the office/officer concerned.

Prevalence of the ‘transfer industry’: In most of the states, the principle of three years’ tenure is hardly followed, and many officers are transferred within a year or even earlier without sufficient, genuine reasons.

Political interference and administrative acquiescence: On the other hand, there are instances wherein some officers continue on the same post for nine or ten years because of political connection, backing, and favour to officers of a particular caste or religious community.

This deprives other competent officers to have an experience on that post as every post has its peculiarities in terms of problems, challenges, and opportunities, and the beneficiary officer develops arrogance, egoism, and connivance on the other hand.

Inefficient incentive system: In general, upright and outstanding civil servants have to be promoted. But, in practice, the corrupt and the incompetent are getting promoted.

Uneven utilisation of talent: There is a dominance of few elite services in promotions, work allocations and assignments. Most of the coveted positions in the government are taken over by the elite services, which result in uneven utilisation of talent and adversely affect the morale of other services.

For instance, specialist services like Indian Revenue Services, Indian Economic Services, etc do not get adequate opportunities and representation in the work.

Read more: Corporate Management isn’t What Civil Service Needs
What are the recent Civil service reforms carried out by the government?

Mission KarmaYogi: It is a National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB). The initiative will target 4.6 million Central Government employees, and it is based on 3 pillars (governance, performance and accountability). The mission shifts capacity building from rule-based training to role-based training. Thus, it laid the ground for behavioural change.

The fundamental focus of the reform is the creation of citizen-centric civil services capable of delivering services conducive to economic growth and public welfare.

Read more: Mission Karmayogi

Introduction of new services: The government approved the formation of the Indian Skill Development Service in 2015 and the Indian Enterprise Development Service in 2016.

Structural reforms: Further, the Cabinet approved the merger of all civil services under Indian Railways into a single Indian Railways Management Service as a part of structural reforms in that sector in 2019.

The Union Cabinet has also approved this year the corporatization of the Ordnance Factory Board. It is the coordinating body of 41 ordnance factories production arm of the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.

Read more: Major Administrative Reforms by the govt
What are the required reforms in Civil Services?

The future of the country cannot be progressive without a reformed bureaucracy. The need of the hour is rationalization and harmonization of services.

Creation of Central Talent Pool: The government can create a Central Talent Pool. The Recruited candidates can be placed in the Talent pool first. The government can then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and job description.

Make postings Cadre Neutral: The over-emphasis on one-time examination, cadre allocation and lifelong privileges have to be done away with. The existing civil servants can be allotted duties in tandem with their academic expertise and practical experience gained at the workplace.

Further, the government can make the posts cadre-neutral. Or we can at least make multiple services with relevant experience eligible for the posts. This will lead to widening the talent pool available for the cadre post.

Read more: Practice of reserving cadre posts for certain services is exclusionary, must be reconsidered

In conclusion, the Civil Service reforms should realign the outdated structure and culture of servants and forgo colonial ambitions. The reforms should raise the quality and sensitivity of services to the citizens that are essential for the sustainable economic and social development of India.

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