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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Role of Civil (government) Services in ‘Good Governance’

 

“For the forms of government, let fools contest. That which is best administered is best.”        Finer

 Governance of a nation, the most difficult task –Perhaps, of all acts of the government, governance of a nation-state  and its society is one of the most difficult task. Because it has to deal with different kinds of issues – political, economic or social, which affect directly, day to day life of its people. Usually human beings are full of psychological and sociological complexes and prone to unpredictable behaviour. That makes the task of governance difficult.

 Before going into details of good governance, it is necessary to know what does  ‘a Nation State’ and ‘Government’ and ‘Government Civil Services’ mean? 

Concept of ‘Nation State?’ –The idea of a ‘nation state’ is not very old. For medieval scholars, present concept of nation was different. For them, government ruled by the consent of the people rather than by Holy mandate was perhaps unthinkable.  

The concept  of ‘Nation state’ in its present sense is more or less a nineteenth century concept. At present, the notion of a ‘nation state’ is different from the earlier idea of ‘city state’, ‘multi-national state’, ‘empire’, ‘confederation’ or other state forms. Today idea of ‘nation state’ is associated with the rise of modern sovereign state, where its own government administers within its specific territorial area. It works for the unity and social, economic, political and cultural development of all its people living in that area. The ultimate aim of government is to help common men live a peaceful, safe and secure life. Today, however, this simple and powerful truth is too often forgotten.

Emergence of the concept of Welfare and Developmental administration ties – Earlier, till nineteenth Century, the main tasks of the government used to be maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, or Industrial Revolution had changed the scenario. It had a great impact on contemporary developments,especially in widening the scope of State activities. Poverty and misery, which were earlier accepted as the lot of masses, are no longer regarded as inevitable. In the post Second World war period, almost all the newly emerged nations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, added Welfare and Developmental activities in their agenda.

For the proper implementation of their welfare plans, national reconstruction and developmental schemes, all developing and under-developed nations felt the need of an efficient Civil Service. They know well that the responsibility of good governance as well as laying the foundations of building a forward- looking strong nation can be taken over by its government officials. Bureaucracy of a nation requires as many as possible, officials of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity.

What is Government and why bureaucracy becomes so important for good governance ? – In a democratic country, a Government roughly falls into two general processes

1.      The process of politics, which consists of the activities of elected representatives of the people and

2.      The process of administration to assist politically elected ministers, which consists of the activities of permanent bureaucrats/civil servants.

Theoretically, Civil Services,  the administrative machinery is subordinate to the elective body i.e. the Council of Ministers. But in practice, it plays a different role. Owing to other preoccupations of political leadership and its lack of technical know-how, the role of bureaucracy in policy making (which in theory, is advisory) has become a determining factor. Converting policy into directive plans, programs and projects is an inevitable function of an action-oriented administration.

Therefore, the responsibility of political chiefs becomes formal in practice,. They are bound to listen to the advice of the civil servants, which can dig and present data in a matter as they consider fit. The service role in relation to the minister is that of influence and not of power. It is this administrative apparatus that runs the government.

Administrative apparatus, known as Government Services/Civil Services or  bureaucracy – Whether in the past or in present, the institution, whether in a nation state or city state or an empire, Civil Services are closely connected with the task of governance, and exercises of state authority. It has always been a very potent and vital element of any government.It is an indispensable part of each and every political system, be it communism or socialism or capitalism. It can exist in a type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic society. Due to its exclusive and specialized nature of work and growing need for more expert knowledge in administration for improving the quality of life, the importance of civil services is increasing day-by-day.

Permanent bureaucrats/civil servants belong to a Professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled.(Finer. Theory and Practice of Modern Government, p709, 1950). They are professionally recruited and trained in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as police force to maintain law and order, a diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc. Its main characteristics are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature, its impartial nature and speedy working. 

Bureaucracy works from behind the scene – In a democracy, civil servants always live behind the scene. Bureaucrats/Civil Servants, not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment.

Elected political wing of the government comes for a short period and go after some time. Bureaucrats are appointed on a long-term basis. They provide continuity  to the government. Therefore, to run the governance/administration of a country properly, a band of officials of integrity, equipped with administrative ability, practical sagacity.  efficient, prompt, just and sympathetic,  are professionally recruited and then well trained for their respective work, in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist such as police force to maintain law and order, a diplomatic service for external affairs, technical services for Public Works Department or Electricity Departments, Railways and Customs etc.

Expectations of the people for better deal – Increased consciousness of public compelled them to demand, with persisting insistence, better standard of living, better housing, better education and better medical facilities. The masses now wish themselves to be benefited as much as possible, from the resources of their nation. To fulfil the expectations of people and to  to build a forward- looking nation. The desire of public to go forward quickly and to establish a new economic order, in which common people could have better deal, gave rise to the concept of `Welfare State’ and Developmental Administration, the former being the objective and the later the machinery to achieve these objectives.

Task of governance in a Welfare State – In a welfare state the government, task of maintaining law and order position intact all-over the country is still an important. Where rule of law prevails, maximum results with minimum labour and resources, within time and cost parameters can be achieved for the sustainable development of the nation can be achieved. 

Main objective of government there is to launch a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. It  welfare concept of state has assumed the responsibility of improving the quality of life of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It tries to bring about `social, political and economic justice’, and to work for a better future. For this purpose it tries to build up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy.

Welfare plan has no utility in itself unless it is translated into action. The instrument deployed for achieving welfare goals – national reconstruction and development – is Civil Services. Civil servants are trained to comprehend what is attainable, what is practical and what can help the agencies in the community to formulate plans and policies, which can bring socio-economic and political development of all the citizens. 

In the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development.

Requirements for efficient governanceFor the efficient and effective governance of a welfare and development administration, decisions should not be taken on assumptions. It should be based on facts and figures. Therefore, Civil Servants engaged in decision-making process need to have the following qualifications =

  • Mental framework – it should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
  • Knowledge – it should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
  • Skills – it requires conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
  • Vision – A development bureaucrat requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat.
  • Structures – it requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, and Corporations etc.
  • Behaviour – The behavioural pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.

Besides, there should be –

  • A working partnership between the civil servants and the people.
  •  A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
  •  A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher civil servants should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
  •  Constant field inspection by senior officials.
  • to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people;
  • to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem;
  • Smooth relationship between generalist administrators and experts/specialists; and
  • Training from time to time to understand the success already achieved in the field of development administration and the efforts to be initiated in future.

For good governance, most important step to be taken is to keep bureaucrats from pressures, which is being put on them by political circles -Ministers, MPs, MLAs. To free the nation from sub-servient bureaucrats and provide them good atmosphere to function without undue interference from political circles, Civil Services should be allowed to advice elected wing of the government freely and frankly.

Winding up – It is said that today the backbone of administrative set up has been broken very badly. In order to save their skin, a large number of government servants hesitates to give honest opinion to their ministers and follow the dictates of party in power. To bring professionalism in administration, government must  –

  • In every administrative set up, there are certain positions or posts, which might be called strategic from the point of view of maintaining standards of administration. Placement according to the requirements of the posts, and strict eligibility criteria for manning the crucial posts should be maintained in the administration,
  • It is said that there is a general trend these days to toe the line of their political masters, because that is more convenient for them rather than standing up for principles and paying the price of giving their frank opinion. Instead of following the dictates of politicians bureaucrats should advise the political party in power freely and frankly.
  • In the increasingly knowledge-based society of twenty- first century administrators has acquired a role of a knowledge manager. They have to find out knowledge based solutions for different problems. The solution of such problems require –
    • Development of observation skills, alertness and awareness of their surroundings;
    • Intelligence or basic applicative skill to create solutions;
    • Ability to collect Relevant data;
    • Capability to view pros and cons and alternatives of 
    • Mental alertness to deliver results within time and cost parameters.
    • Administration at district  level, where it comes into direct contact with the people, occupies a key position. It is at this level, that bulk of people gets affected, favorably or adversely by the governmental policies, programs and its implementation.  It is here, that people judge the quality and efficiency of the governmental administration.

Vallabh Bhai Patel in his letter to the Prime Minister wrote, “I need hardly emphasize, that an efficient, disciplined and contended (civil) service, assured of its prospects as a result of diligent and honest work, is a “Sine quanan” of sound administration, under a democratic regime, even more than under an authoritarian rule.  The (civil) service must be above party=politics and we should ensure that political consideration, either in its recruitment or its discipline and control, are reduced to the minimum, if not eliminated altogether.

 

              

   

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March 18, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

   

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