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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Bureaucracy under Provincial Autonomy (Post 1935 Period)


During post 1935 period, Indian Nationalists were not satisfied with the changes brought about by the Act of 1919 in regards to the All India Services. Three points of view emerged. These were:

    i. One section was in favour of retaining status quo in the matter of All India Services, such as to Muslims of the Provinces, where they were in a minority, the British element in all India Services offered protection against domination by the Hindus.

    ii. Another group desired to retain the ICS and IP but wanted the Government of India to recruit and control the members of these services.

    Iii. Yet another section of the Indian public opinion was averse to the retention of All India Services and insisted on its provincialisation.

Chetty, a member of the Central Legislative Assembly, said that the control of the Secretary of State authorised its officers: “To escape effective control either by Provincial Executive or by the Provincial Legislature. An All India Service, with the extraordinary privileges, is an anachronism in any system of provincial responsible government and we would add, is a violation in the spirit of the Government of India Act, 1919”

In 1928, the Committee under the Chairmanship of Moti Lal Nehru, appointed the All Parties Conference, recommended discontinuance of all the All India Services and pressed for their provincialisation. Similar were the views of the Committee appointed by the United Provinces Legislative Council, which asserted: “We hold that retention of these services (i.e. All India Services) in a system of full provincial autonomy would unnecessarily complicate matters” (Report of the Committee Appointed by the United Provinces Legislative Council to cooperate with the Indian Statutory commission, Allahabad, Government Press, 1929, pp. 104-5). Shiva Rao said: “I do not think it would be satisfactory to work these services on an All India basis and at the same time ensure a proper relationship between the Services and the Ministry.” (B. Shiva Rao, Indian Round Table Conference: Proceedings of the Sub-Committee, Vol. VIII, Calcutta, Central Publication Branch, 1931, p. 54). Bheemarao Ambedkar also said: “No Province can be deemed to have provincial autonomy, if it has not the right to regulate the civil services that is going to work in its area”(Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Indian Round Table Conference: Proceedings of the Sub-Committee, Vol. VIII, opp. Cit., p.55).

In 1933-34, in the Joint Committee on Indian Constitution Reforms, some leaders again urged the provincialisation of All India Services, but it did not accept it, because it regarded the need for a regular supply of officers, both Indian and British, of the highest quality as vital to the stability of the proposed Constitution itself. “It is of the first importance that in the early days of `New Order’ and indeed until the course of events in the future can be more clearly foreseen, the new Constitution should not be exposed to risk and hazard by radical changes in the system which has for so many generations produced men of the calibre (Report of the Joint Committee on Indian Constitution Reforms, Vol. I, Part I, 1934, para 286).

During the post-1935 period, the officials learnt to tolerate the elected representatives and ministers. Those, who were still thinking in terms of their previous status and authority, took premature retirement. Others surrendered themselves to the new circumstances. The process of rapid Indianisation also made, to some extent, the harmony between the two possible. Still this period witnessed frequent clashes between the Indian Ministers and British officials and former’s helplessness in regard to All India Services as is evident from Sardar Patel’s Statement: “I tried to get the District Magistrate of Gurgaon transferred. I could not succeed…I tried hard. I wrote to the then Government of Punjab: I pleaded with the Viceroy, but I found it difficult to remove him”(Indian Constituent Assembly Debates, October 10, 1949). Pt. Nehru was under the impression that “Not only the Viceroy, but the British Members of his Council, the Governor’s and even the smaller fry who functioned as Secretaries of Departments or Magistrate speak from a noble and attainable height, secure not only in the conviction that what they say or do is right, but that it will have to be accepted as right, whatever lesser mortals may imagine, for theirs is the power and glory (Indian Constituent Assembly Debates, October 10, 1949).

The net effect of all this turmoil was that India Act of 1935 allowed the continuance of only three All India Services, namely, Indian Civil Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Medical Service (Civil). Other services were not abolished abruptly or altogether. Only fresh recruitment into these services was discontinued, thus enabling its painless extinction through the natural process of retirement, resignation and causalities of its members.

With the advent of provincial autonomy, ICS, the main amongst the All India Services, underwent a change in its role. The Governor’s Executive Council was replaced by a Council of Ministers. The officials of All India Services ceased to be the members of Legislature or to have any share in the determination of policy of the government except in advisory capacity. The ICS officials undertook diverse type of rural developmental activities and had to function more and more through Village Panchayats, District Boards and Cooperative Societies. During the war time, they looked after supplies, regulation and promotion of trade and industry, etc. In all these spheres, the officials proved their metal and competence.

During this period, the ICS officials had lost much of its past authority and showed a noticeable fall in standards. The Rowland Committee remarked: “ The present position, in our judgement, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself as well as from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district…He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrate and Collector failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he cannot compel…In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further because activities of the government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of a “Provincialised service” and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the government ( Report of the Bengal Administration Enquiry Committee,1944-45, p. 18) 



February 19, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | 2 Comments

Effect of National movement on government services (1919-1935)


Introduction of Dyarchy, which promised progressive realization of responsible and self-government in India in the post 1919 period brought about many changes in the nature and role of of government services. As the movement for Indianisation gained momentum, Indian public and leaders became allergic to India Civil Services, not on the basis of their actual performance, but because they were controlled by the Secretary of State and were a living symbol of foreign rule. Intensification of national movement and growing demand for Indianization of higher civil services left dampening effect on the bureaucratic set-up.

In 1923, the Lee Commission recommended abolition of certain All India Services, particularly, those dealing with subjects that had been transferred to Indian hands, namely, Indian Education Service, Indian Agriculture Service, Indian Veterinary Service and the roads and Building branch of the Indian Service of Engineers. It, however, recommended retention of Indian Civil Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Forest Service, Indian Medical Service and the Irrigation branch of Indian Service of Engineers. It also recommended increasing Indianisation of these services as also that any British Official belonging to the services of transferred subjects would be free to take voluntary retirement on a proportionate pension at any time. Effect was given to these recommendations.

`Ignominy’ of working under Indian Ministers in provinces, non-cooperation movement of 1920-22, criticism of the individual members of the services by questions in the provincial and Central legislatures,  insufficiency of salaries due to high price-rise in the wake of the World War I, etc., left a dampening effect on the attraction of All India Services as a career service for British Youth. All efforts to attract them fell flat and the number of British Officers began to decline.

With gradual Indianisation of Services, the class consciousness of these services became dim. The Indian element was imbued with a national spirit, which looked forward to a day when Indian would be independent. It had nothing in common with the British element in the service, which, having lost its old sense of mission, was feeling frustrated. It adversely effected the solidarity and “Espirit de Corps” of the services.

With the introduction of Dyarchy, the spirit of mild paternalism in them also began to fade. In the words of K.M. Pannikar: “Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India, for after that there was no claim that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished.16

16 K.M. Pannikar, “The Development of Administration in India”, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University’s Institute of Public Administration, Vol. II, Nos. 2 and 3, p.14.

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | 3 Comments


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