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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Sardar’s views on the issue of All India Services

Introduction – Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel (31 October 1875 – 15 December 1950), popularly known as Sardar Patel, was an Indian politician. He served as the first Deputy Prime Minister of India. His commitment to national integration in the newly independent country was total and uncompromising, earning him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”. By August 15, 1947, all except Hyderabad, Junagarh, and Kashmir acceded to India. Patel thereafter carried the three-fold process of assimilation, centralization, and unification of states. The states were amalgamated to form a union and that union was merged with the Union of India.

Sardar Patel also known as “patron saint of India’s civil servants” – He is also remembered as the “patron saint of India’s civil servants” for having established the modern all-India services system.

The institution of All India Services – The institution of All India Services is one of the oldest and most wonderful institutions, the British Government has bequeathed to India.  It has a long historical background and is a product of centuries.  It has prospered, slowly but steadily, under three successive regimes—The East India Company, the Crown and the Indian Republic.

Golden Period for All India Services from 1858-1919 – Under Crown, from 1858-1919  was the golden period of All Indian Services.  During this period, the civil services were institutionalized.  From 1858 to 1919, the All India Services, specially the ICS, attracted the best talent of British Society, who graduated from Oxford or Cambridge.

The civil services were classified into Convenanted (Higher-Imperial and Provincial) and Uncovenanted (Subordinate), on the basis of the nature of work, appointing authority and pay-scales.  Imperial services, occupying the higher rungs of civil services and controlled by the Secretary of State, was further divided into All India Services and Central Services. 

On the eve of the Government of India Act, the following nine All India Services (Report of the Royal Commission on Superior Services in India, Government of India Press, 1924, p.4.). According to Report of the Indian Statutory Commission, Vol. I, the strength of personnel of each service was as follows: 

Sl. No.                     Name                      Popular Name                   Strength

1.       Indian Civil Service            ICS                         1,350

2.       Indian Police Service                    IPS                         732

3.       Indian Forest Service                   IFS                         417

4.       Indian Service of Engineers          ISE                         728

5.       Indian Medical Service (Civil)                                      420

6.       Indian Education Service                                  421

7.       Indian Civil Veterinary Service                                     53

8.       Indian Forest Engineering Service                               –

9.       Indian Agriculture Service                                 157

  The oldest and the most important among the All India Services was the ICS, which owes its Origin to Lord Macaulay Report submitted in 1854.  The last to be added to the list of All India Services was the Indian Agriculture Service in 1906.  All these services were grouped into Security All India Services (ICS and IP) and Other All India Services.  Appointment and control of these services rested with the Secretary of State as it was thought  necessary to hold British control over the country. 

During this period, the civil services not only became rigid in its class structure, but also became bureaucratic in methods and procedure of work.  Unlike the decentralized administration during the East India Company, the growth of rapid means of communication made centralization of administration possible.  The whole system, from top to bottom, became well-knit, highly centralized and behaved like an unbreakable steel frame with all the characteristics of a full-fledged Autocracy. (M.V. Pylee, Constitutional History of India, 1600-1950, Bombay, Asia, 1967, p.28) 

Centralization tightened the regulatory functions of the officials to supervise and control the subordinate officials and made the office procedure elaborate and cumbersome.   Sir William Hunter commented, “He governed most, who wrote most”.  Thus cam into being multiplication of reports, returns and correspondence and obsession for office work. 

Under Dyarchy (1919-35)Dyarchy, also spelled dyarchy, system of double government introduced by the Government of India Act (1919) for e provinces of British India. The principle of dyarchy was a division of the executive branch of each provincial government into authoritarian and popularly responsible sections.

As the movement for Indianisation gained momentum, Indian public and leaders became allergic to All India 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, growing demand for Indianization of higher civil services and introduction of Dyarchy (which promised progressive realization of responsible and self-government in India) in the post 1919 period brought about many changes in All India Services. 

Dampening effect on attraction to join all India services – Criticism of the individual members of the services by questions in the provincial and Central legislatures, the `ignominy’ of working under Indian Ministers in provinces, the non-cooperation movement of 1920-22, the 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.

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.  These changes affected the “The Espirit de Corps” of these services.

National leaders against the system of All India Services – 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). 

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.

Even Pt. Nehru was against the Bureaucracy – After Independence, many national leaders wanted to abolish the bureaucracy after Independence. Despite the strong arguments put forward by Sardar Patel, it was not an easy job to gain provincial acceptance for the proposed All India Services. Some important national leaders like Nehru, G.B. Pant, etc., and a few states like Punjab, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir were very critical of it.  They preferred to have their own `Superior Services’.  However, All India Services were pushed down their reluctant throats by Vallabhbhai Patel. (The Hindu, October 25, 1946, p. 4.)

Even Pt Nehru against continuance of All India Services – Nehru is on record to have said: “But of one thing I am quite sure that no new order can e built up in India, so long as the spirit of ICS (Indian Civil Service) pervades our Administrative Public Service.  That spirit of authoritarianism is the ally of imperialism and it cannot coexist with freedom.  It will either succeed in crushing freedom or will be swept away by itself.  Only with one type of State, it is likely to fit in and that is the Fascist type.  Therefore, it seems quite essential that the ICS and similar services must disappear completely, much before we can start real work on a new order.” (Jawarlal Nehru, An Autobiography, London, the Bodley Head, 1953, p.443.)

“Provincial Premiers Conference” – Sardar Patel, the then Home Minister, however, held an opposite view.  He foresaw the dire necessity of “All India Services” in independent India.  Therefore, he convened a “Provincial Premiers Conference” in October, 1946 to take a decision on All India Services. 

While presiding over the Conference, he said: “My own view as I have told you, is that it is not only advisable, but essential, if you want to have an efficient service, to have a Central Administrative Service, in which, we fix the strength as the Provinces would require them and we draw a certain number of officers at the Centre, as we are doing at present.  This will give experience to the personnel at the Centre leading to efficiency and administrative experience of the district, which will give them an opportunity to contact with the people.  They will thus keep themselves in touch with the situation in the country and their practical experience will be most useful to them.  Besides their coming to the Centre will give them a different experience and wider outlook in a larger sphere.  A combination of these two experiences will make the service more efficient.  They will also serve as liaison between the Provinces and the Government and introduce certain amount of freshness and vigor in the administration, both at the Centre and in the Provinces.  Therefore, my advice is that we should have an All India Service.” (Sardar Patel, Proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference, October, 1946).

Patel’s advice to National leaders – It was Sardar, who advised them at Bombay in October 1947. he said, We have only a small number of Civil Servants left. Many people say that they are working in their old way. But those, who have experience of administration, know under what circumstances and how much they are working. Outsiders can not appreciate their work. Many of them, loyal workers and patriots are working with us night and day. All that we have been able to achieve, whether it be in the sphere of states or in Kashmir or another theatre, has been possible only because of their loyalty and whole-hearted support.” 

Patel’s warning – Again speaking in the Constituent Assembly, he warned: “There is no alternative to this administrative system…The Union will go, you will not have a united India, if you have not a good All India Service, which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security that you will stand by your work..   If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution.  Substitute  something else…This Constitution is meant to be worked by a ring of service, which will keep the country intact.  There are many impediments in this constitution, which will hamper us.  But in spite of that, we have in our collective wisdom come to a decision that we shall have this model, which in the ring of a service will be such that will keep, the country intact.. these people are the instrument.  Remove them and I see nothing, but a picture of chaos all round the country.” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. X, No.3, October 10, 1946.)

Sardar Patel’s step proved to be a step in the right direction – The vision of Sardar Patel in continuing this institution proved to be a step in the right direction even after 70 years of independence. Administrative Reform Commission’s Report of the Study Team on Centre-State Relationship, (Chairman: M.C. Setalvad, Government of India) had justified it in 1967.

The ARC also observed, ”Not only do the original considerations for which the All India Services was set up in the beginning hold good even today, but they apply with greater force today and make it necessary that a service structure like the IAS should continue for foreseeable future.” (ARC, Report on Personnel Administration, August 1967, p.61)

Report of the Study Team on Centre-State Relationship – The Setalvad team said, “The Indian scene has changed in many ways since then. But in this respect, the change that occurred over the years serves only to confirm all that Sardar Patel said with prophetic insight many years ago. It should be needless to affirm the continued validity of all the objectives underlying the All India Services and yet in a country, in which the Constitutional parts are possessed with preemptive desire to assert their separations, such an affirmation is solely needed. The value of a system considered necessary for the administrative unity of the country despite the ubiquity of congress Party rule and found indispensable for securing fair-play and competence in administration, despite the acute awareness of their need in the most potent political figures at a time, when their power was untrammeled and their right ran through the length and breadth of the land, can in the less favourable conditions of today be ignored only at the cost of perilous consequences. Continuity also demands a system which can maintain links in administrative behaviour throughout the country, while political changes visit different States and the Centre.” (ARC,Report of the Study Team on Centre-State Relationship, (Chairman: M.C. Setalvad), Government of India, 1967.)

B.B. Misra felt concerned at the abolition of other All India Services. He said, “It was the ICS and IP that remained unaffected and continued to act as unifying force. Most of the other All India Services were abolished. Considerations of national unity, the positive need of India’s all round development and the attainment of a minimum uniform standard in administration were allowed to go by default.”

Experiences of last 70 years of Independent India proves that Sardar Patel’s step was a step in the right direction, The vision of Sardar Patel in continuing this institution proved to be necessary for for good governance of the whole of the nation. a step in the right direction even after 70 years of independence.

Thoughts of Misra read with the analysis brought out under sub-title, “The Need for Additional All India Services” leads to the conclusion that the country has erred in not allowing continuation of All India Services in other areas of national interest. However, as the saying goes “It is better to be late than never”, it is time that a beginning is made to set up All India Services for Health, Water, Power, Education and Judiciary, immediately. This should not be a difficult task as the Rajya Sabha has already passed a resolution to that effect, at least for Health, Water and Power, and it can always pass a bill for other two remaining subjects, viz., education and Judiciary.” (B.B. Misra, Administrative History of India, 1834-1947: General Administration, London, Oxford University Press, 1970, p.143.)

On the eve of Independence, when the entire administration exhibited the signs of wear and tear, Sardar Patel had warned the nation, India is passing through the most critical and troubled days of her long and checkered history and strong, efficient, experienced broad minded administrators were badly required at that hour to save the nation from the impending crisis . Today, 70 years after the independence, position is the same, because of vote-bank policy, caste-based reservations and politics of vendetta. Nation again shows the signs of wear and tear. It is good to remember today Sardar Patel’s views on important issues and contributions to the nation and pay attention to what he had said 70 years ago.

May 30, 2020 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | 1 Comment

   

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