Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

“Catch them young” for government services & give them job-oriented training

“For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation”  Shri C. Rajagopalachari

“Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge.”  Anne Bradstreet

The saddest part of life right now is that science gather knowledge faster than society gains wisdom”.  Isaac Asmov

Introduction – Bureaucracy is the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests. Weakening of this pillar may spell disaster [ii] More the challenges and problems to be tackled, the more pressure there on the civil services or bureaucracy, as it is responsible for implementation of plans and policies of the government. Therefore as Shri C. Rajagopalachari suggests, “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, a nation needs to place right type of men, at right places and on right time. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation”

Right type of Men at right places – The quality and success of day today governance depend on the nature, behavior, systems and working style of the government services. Civil servants, not only dig expert knowledge from the raw material, but give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Due to exclusive and specialized nature of work and the need for more expert knowledge in governance to improve quality of service, the responsibility of political chiefs becomes exceedingly formal in matter of governance. Political representatives/Ministers are forced to listen the advice of the bureaucrats.

On recruitment policy rests good governance – Implementation of   policies and plans purposefully and achievement of targeted goals within time and cost parameters depends on the recruitment policy of government. The report of Inquiry on Public Service Personnel, appointed by Social Science Research Council of USA in 1935 says, “No element of career service is more important than the recruitment policy.” Gladden also points out that on recruitment rests, “The nature and degree of the usefulness of administrative machinery, to the service of which the human elements are dedicated” [iv] Any laxity in initial recruitment of Government Services jeopardizes the objective and pushes the developmental goals behind. No amount of training or coaching, pre or post, can convert the inherent weaknesses into strength within a short period. Today’s faulty selection could create tomorrow’s organizational problem.

Study of Job requirements a must for recruitments at every level – Before working on recruitment policy, a thorough study needs to be done on job requirements, in the context of present and future roles.  The candidates should be selected on the basis of their capabilities, attitudes, aptitude and adaptability to meet the position profile.  The focus should not be only on job skills, but on attitude and behavior as well.

‘Merit concept’ for recruitment in career services -The need for a sound recruitment policy was first realized by China, centuries ago, which started the adoption of merit principle based on competitive examination.  Prussia was the first country, in modern times, to evolve a sound recruitment system.  Later on, the principle of merit was adopted by India in 1853, Britain in 1857 and U.S.A. in 1883 (through Civil Service Act of 1883).  Now almost all the nations accept that a good selection in positive term provide the Government with the right type of officials to implement its plans, policies and programs in a systematic and purposeful manner.

System of selection of civil servants in India

The recruitment and education and training system of bureaucrats in India has been evolved after a very long experience. It has been developed under the rule of –

  1.  East India Company’s Rule
  2. British Imperial rule &
  3. Independent India

System of selection & training of new recruits under East India Company

During East India Company’s rule (a trading and profit- making concern), the foundation of the present administrative structure were laid under the regimes of Warren Hasting and Lord Cornwallis. It was done when there was a change in role of civil servants, from merchants to statesman, from traders to Governors, Judges & Magistrates.

Lord Cornwallis (1786) drew the attention of the Directors of the Company towards the necessity of creating proper system of the selection and training of its officials.

  • Method of selection – There had been different opinions on the matter of selecting the administrators. Some preferred military men and thought them to be best qualified for the job of administration, while others thought that administrative posts should be exclusively filled by civilians. It was argued that noblemen, carrying with them the impression of high rank and birth, having served the Company for some time and possessing local knowledge and acquaintance with the affairs and people of India, should alone be appointed. However the rulers preferred to employ the most loyal persons for its administrative work. It gave rise to spoil system/patronage system of recruitment.

Started with Spoil/Patronage system of recruitment –  Ultimately the system of selection started with Spoil system. During the period of 1805-1855, individual Directors of the East India Company nominated in to its Covenanted Services in India, sons of the members of the Indian Civil and Military Services and those belonging to Aristocratic families in U.K.  . Usually they were educated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities – then considered to be an ICS nursery. The pre-entry education, thereafter, was followed by a training course at Haileybury College. This period has, therefore, rightly been called a period of “spoil system” ii.

However this system was not found satisfactory. Therefore, Spoil/Nomination system was abolished in 1855 by the Parliament in England. it was decided that the induction would be through competitive examinations of all British subjects, without distinction of race. The direct recruitment by competitive examination was envisaged with the idea that very brilliant person can be shaped into efficient officials suitable for holding senior positions.

  • System of formal and on-job training after selection Lord Wellesley (1798-1805) felt the need of a systematic program of training to develop personality and administrative capacity of its civil servants. He pointed out that civil servants were coming to India at an immature age of eighteen years or so, without being given any regular training in administration. He put into effect his plan by opening a college at Fort Williams on 24th April, 1800, for this purpose without even waiting for the sanction of the Directors. It trained the  young recruits to the civil services in Indian Affairs – the systems of government, social conditions, languages and prevalent traditions. 

Though the Directors of the Company disapproved his action, they nevertheless gave it a consideration, as a result of which hey established their own training institution known as “East Indian College” at Haileybury in England on 12th May, 1805. It gave training to Covenanted (higher) Civil Servants, India.  This college was given a statutory status by a charter in 1813 and was maintained by a Board of Control.  The new recruits required to spend two years in England, in order to strengthen their general education and to have their first acquaintance with Indian languages, laws and history.  According to Charter of 1813, the candidates were appointed only after attending four terms at Haileybury College and getting a certificate from its Principal that their conducts were satisfactory. 

The special feature of this period was a rigid and complete exclusion of Indians from the higher civil services.  It was clearly laid down officially, in 1793, that all higher posts in administration, worth more than £ 500 a year, in salary, were to be held by Englishmen.

Just before the Crown took over the charge – On 12 April 1853 William Gladstone, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, commissioned a review of the Civil Service to be carried out by the Permanent Secretary at the Treasury, Charles Trevelyan, assisted by Sir Stafford Northcote, a former civil servant at the Board of Trade (who later was to serve as Chancellor of the Exchequer). Northcote and Trevelyan’s report was published in February 1854 and recommended a system of examination ahead of entry and promotion on merit through open competition. It was, as historian Lord Hennessy has stated, “the greatest single governing gift of the nineteenth to the twentieth century: a politically disinterested and permanent Civil Service with core values of integrity, propriety, objectivity and appointment on merit, able to transfer its loyalty and expertise from one elected government to the next”.[iii]

The suggestion was further strengthened and Macauley in his Report submitted in November 1854 worked out the details of the system. Macauley recommended for an open competitive examination, which should be conducted by an independent body. The procedures needed to be open, transparent and generally trouble free. Idea of direct recruitment through competitive examination was envisaged with the purpose that talented persons could be shaped into efficient officials suitable for holding crucial positions in the government. Consequently, In 1854, an Act was passed to stop admissions to Halsbury College from January, 1856.  In June 1858, the College was closed.

Board of Control made arrangements for competitive examination for three years – 1855 to 1857 – replacing the system of social and economic privilege as the basis for recruitment.  From 1858 onwards, the British Civil Service Commission was given the charge of the competitive examinations to select suitable officials for civil services. 

Creation of British Civil Service Commission –  In order to make the civil services in India efficient and well equipped, the British Civil Service Commission was created in 1855. It was given charge to select well-equipped and intellectually brilliant officials through competitive examination. every year.

From 1926 onwards, the newly formed public service commission was constituted for India and it began to conduct ICS examination on behalf of British Civil Service Commission.  This position continued till 1937, when the Public Service Commission (India) was replaced by Federal Service Commission under Government of India Act 1935.  After 1943, the recruitment to ICS was stopped.

System of selection under the rule of Crown

After taking over over the charge from East India Company in1858, the British Government felt that Favoritism, patronage or promotion of personal interests in recruitment was depriving the Government of the services of bright youth, who otherwise could have been selected. Civil Services were not the conglomeration of individuals or groups. It should comprise people with talent, integrity, dedication and apolitical and impartial approach. 

Also the Rulers felt, If a succession of men of great talent and virtues cannot be found, or if the operation of any influence or party feelings and principles prevents their being chosen, we (the British) must reconcile ourselves to the serious hazards of the early decline, if not the loss of the great power, we have founded in the east.[iv] Therefore  British Government desired to have a well-equipped and intellectually brilliant administrative framework.

Basic ingredients of the system of selectionDuring Imperial rule the recruiting and controlling authority of civil services in India was ‘Secretary of State’.  The basic ingredients of this system were:

  • Selection of really brilliant young people – the calibre of direct recruits was ensured by their success in an open competition.
  • An intensive training program for new recruits– An intensive training either formal or informal for two years; and
  • Stress on Field Duties – Actual field work for at least a period of five to seven years, during which officials were supposed to be fully moulded to suit the needs of the organization, they were serving.
  • Restrictions on Indians to join higher services Though Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of 1858 clearly stated, “It is our further will that so far as may be, our subjects of whatever race or creed, be freely impartially admitted to the offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability and integrity, duly to discharge.[v]

But as Lord Lytton, in his confidential document had said, We all know that these claims, expectations never can or will be fulfilled. We have had choose between prohibiting them (Indians) and cheating them, we have chosen the least straight forward course.[vi] Illbert Bill controversy proves that White bureaucrats were not at all prepared to share administrative powers with Indians, in spite of all the official declarations of 1833, 1858, 1861, 1892 and 1909.British deliberately kept Indians at bay. To do so, the competitive examination was held only in England up to 1922. It was difficult for Indians to bear the hazards and expenses of going abroad for examination, especially when there were extremely remote chances of succeeding in that examination..

In Home Department Resolution of May 1904, Lord Curzon’s Government justified the policy, they hazards were pursuing with regard to White-man’s superiority in Civil Service. The highest ranks of the civil employees in India, those in the Imperial Civil Service, the members of which are entrusted with the responsible task of carrying on the general administration of the country, though open to such Indians, who proceed to England and pass the requisite tests, must nevertheless, as a general rule be held by the Englishmen, for the reason that they possess partly by heredity, partly by upbringing and partly by education that knowledge of the principles of Government, the habits of the mind and vigor of character, which are essential for the task and the rule of India, being a British rule  and any other rule being  in the circumstances of the case impossible.  The tone and the standard should be set by those, who have created it and are responsible for it.[vii]

Competitive examinations center in India too – Post 1919 period witnessed the intensification of national movements, .  This had a dampening effect on the attraction for the higher services in India as a career service for the British youths.  All the attempts to attract them felt that and the number of British Officers began to decline. Along with it, the increasing demand of Indians for greater Indian participation in  administration, forced the British rulers to include India simultaneously with that of England, as one of the competitive examinations centers for civil services from 1922 onwards. It gave opportunities to more and more Indians to join  elite services like ICS/IP or Imperial Services.

Intensification of the nationalist movement also led the British rulers to abolish  many “All India  Services” (total 9 existing at that time), especially those dealing with service functions. Only ICS and IP, engaged in control functions, were allowed to continue. With it, they delegated the authority to Provincial governments to recruit personnel for their respective Provincial civil services, and organize the functioning of those activities.

Intensive training program to shape new recruits during British era In order to maintain the standard, dignity and honour of the services, the new entrants were given either formal training or on-the job training during probationary period. Since the functions of maintaining law and order situation intact and revenue collection were vital for British Government, they paid special attention to the training of ICS and IP Officers only. So far as recruits of other services were concerned, they were directly  posted on specific posts  for a varying probation period. It was considered sufficient for picking the threads and be shaped to their specific roles.

  • Foundation Training program for ICS officers – The Foundation training period for ICS officers selected from UK centre was for two years. The new recruits were treated as probationers. In order to strengthen the general education, trainee officers were taught law, history (idea of the background of Indian political history and cultural evolution, the foundation and development of British Administration and the economic history of the country)  and the language of the state to which the officers were allotted. From 1937, it was reduced from two to one year.

Longer probation period for candidates selected from India centre – Three years of rigorous foundational training was arranged for the civil servants selected from the Indian centre (Delhi) after 1922. They were required to undergo one more years training in one of the four universities of UK- Oxford, Cambridge, London or Dublin. The purpose of longer probation period for Indians in Britain, was to bring Indian recruits in close touch with British way of life, give them an opportunity to broaden their outlook by being attached to a British University and to maintain uniformity, standard, dignity and honour of the services.

The real intention of the rulers was to train in such a way that they “should ….. be Anglicized in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainments”. Lord Macauley clearly said that, “we must at present do our best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” No doubt, the rigorous training system for them had broaden the outlook of Indian recruits, developed their sense of duty as administrators and loyalty to the Government.

The Indian officials had to appear in two examinations at end of their probation in U.K., while their British counterparts, selected from London center, appeared only in one examination.  In all other matters like emolument and privileges, the Indian ICS officials got equal treatment, as was given to their British counterpart. 

  • Stress on on-the-job training – British firmly believed that there are certain things, which could be learnt only by experience in the work place and not from books or training lectures. They considered that “if the recruitment is properly done, he should have the capacity to become a good bureaucrat. But what constitutes of being a good bureaucrat is something he has still to learn and it can only be learnt by experience, for it is a long of things, which never get into books”. 

Probationary period, while on job – British government had provided suitable atmosphere conducive to  effective learning for improving performance, while on-the job during probation period. During this period new appointees  were supposed to be fully molded to suit the needs of the organization, they were serving. The purpose of a probationary period was to allow a specific time period for the employee and employer to assess suitability of the role after having first-hand experience. On the other hand it gave the new employee the opportunity to see whether they liked their new job and surroundings.

Training in Districts – Therefore, immediately after their arrival in India, they reported to the administration of the province, to which they were assigned and in turn were attached to Districts for on-the-job training for 18 months. During one year of district training,  officers were advised to get thoroughly acquainted with villages, administrative compulsions and a working knowledge of their areas, the relationship between various branches of Government at district headquarters like police, agriculture, local bodies etc. Another six months were directed to more intensive revenue work in district under land settlement. It meant harder and more complicated work.  

Great stress on touring and camping out -They Great stress was laid on touring and camping out. It was made clear to senior district officers vide G.O. No. 738, published on 18th April, 1916, in ICS Manual, Madras, The great importance of paying attention to the training of young men, who were entrusted to their guidance and whose success in life and influence for good depends so greatly on the assistance, which they received at the outset of their career.

Paternalistic outlook of officers – It was made very clear to senior district officers, “the great importance of paying attention to the training of young men, who were entrusted to their guidance and whose success in life and influence for good depend so greatly on the assistance, which they received at the outset of their career. Senior officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, Care, protection and guidance to junior officers. Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.

The system was so enforced and watched that there was no escape whatever from acquiring a knowledge about the basics of administration, and to learn about the problems of each and every area of their jurisdiction or of village conditions and to learn as to how best to deal with them. All these efforts have helped ICS developing gradually into one of the most efficient/powerful services in the world.

Reputation of Civil services British Crown Rule – Nobody had ever doubted about the efficiency and effective governance during British Rule. It had even puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, Von Ribbentrop and many foreigner observers as to how was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality? How barely a thousand British ICS (Indian Civil Service) personnel managed to rule both British India and the princely states with a combined population of well over 300 million during the first part of the twentieth century. It became possible only because background of intake material at different levels of its bureaucracy – 

  • Selection of officers – British rulers were very particular about the  intake of the material into its administrative set-up at different levels – national, provincial or district level.
  • Background of the recruits British rulers gave importance to the social and educational background of the recruits .
    • Dictum of Whiteman superiority – The British, according to their aims and objectives, pursued the policy of ‘racial discrimination’ for recruiting officers in civil services.
    • They preferred the youth, who usually belonged to British professional middle classes, who were educated in public schools, who had broad knowledge of human culture and civilization and basic social sciences and who had degrees and diplomas from reputed educational institutions, like  Oxford or Cambridge.
    •  Merit based selection – The selection was done on the basis of merit. The calibre of direct recruits was ensured by their success in an open competition. And then selected persons were shaped into efficient officials, suitable for holding superior/managerial positions in the government.    
    • Caught them young – The competitive examination system put emphasis on selecting young students between the age-group of 21 to 24 years. Because at young  age, the mind of a person remained creative, flexible and energetic. It gave the rulers advantage to mold the new recruits into the shape, they wanted to through formal and field training.
    • The main attractions for such youth to join the Indian Civil Services, were extremely generous salaries, opportunity to do something worthwhile, quick promotions, and responsibilities with full freedom to work.
  • Esprit d’ corps amongst officersLines pointed out, It is the Esprit d’ corps, which served to enforce a strong moral code.  Philip Maser acknowledged  that there was esprit d’ corps amongst the officers. It did not need to be articulated artificially.  Everybody knew it.
  • Smallness of service – It maintained “The smallness of service”, just over a thousand at any given time which instilled amongst officers a strong sense of service loyalty.
  • Incorruptible Bureaucracy Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence points out to only a minute handful of officers of being corrupt. “It was partially their salaries, partly their background, partly their sense of duty and partly ivory tower, in which they lived, which made any rumors extremely uncomfortable.[viii]
  • Freedom to work atmosphereThe bureaucracy, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work, though these qualities served the British rulers and not the Indian masses.

Developed as the “Steel Frame” of its administrative structure – Above were the factors, which made it possible, to attract the best talents of the British society towards Indian Civil Services during 1858 to 1919. And the civil service came to be known as the “Steel Frame” of its administrative structure, which reared and sustained British rule in India.

Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic Steel-frame speech, said on Aug.2, 1922 in the House of Commons that British civil servants were the very basis of the Empire in India and so he could not imagine any period, when they could dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of the British civil servants. He said, I do not care, what you build on it. If you take that Steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse.  There is only one institution, we will not cripple, there is one institution, and we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges and that is that institution, which build up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India.

System of selection and training after Independence in 1947

Status of civil services in the Government after independece in 1947 – There are three main organs of the government in India. Legislature/Parliament is there to make laws, Executive to implement laws, plans & policies of the government and judiciary to act as a watch dog. Among these three, executive is the most powerful wing. Executive, comprises of elected representatives and permanent civil servants. Because of exclusive and specialized nature of work and the need for more expert knowledge in each and every area of governance, political chiefs have to depend on civil services all the time.

Constitution-framers on the role of civil service – Forefathers of the Indian Constitution knew well the importance of civil services in order to ensure good governance. The President of the Constituent Assembly, Rajendra Prasad (the first President of Independent India) had warned, while moving for the adoption of the constitution in 1949, “Whatever the Constitution may or may not provide, the welfare of the country will depend upon the men who administer it. If the people who are selected are capable and men of character and integrity, they will be able to make the best even of a defective Constitution…If they are lacking in these the Constitution cannot help the country. After all Constitution, like a machine is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control and operate it. And India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them”.

Mr. MV Kamath said, “With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the (civil) services have become onerous. It may make or mar the efficiency of the machinery of administration, machinery so vital for the peace and progress of the country. A country without any efficient Government service cannot make progress in spite of the earnestness of the people at the helm of affairs of the country. Whatever democratic institutions exist, experience has shown, that it is essential to protect public services as far as possible from political and personal influence and to give it that position of stability and security, which is vital in its successful working, as an impartial and efficient instrument, by which Government of whatever political complexion may give effect to their policies” (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p585).

Therefore, as Shri C. Rajagopalachari had commented, “For any administration to be good and efficient, as a whole, we want right type of men. The quality of men placed in position is more important than laying down of rules and methods of operation”

India needs more efficient and effective civil services – After Independence, more than earlier, India needs to select energetic officers with drive, initiative, unquestionable integrity and positive outlook for smooth, efficient and effective governance, especially in its managerial cadres. Because –

  • Economic & social regeneration, effective implementation of welfare & development  plans need integrated planning, programming, and coordination of activities demand officers having administrative ability and practical sagacity.
  • Knowledge in this space age, has been growing faster than human ability to handle it. There are continuous changes in the strategy, structure and management techniques.
  • Specialization – Due to exclusive and specialized nature of work, governance of the country need for more expert knowledge in all the areas of governance for improving the quality of service.
  • Need for sense of service – The officers, manning the executive, must not only be good administrators, but should be imbibed with the sense of service. They need to possess quality of leadership of a high order and be able to play the role of a guide and friend of the people.

Responsibilities of the civil services – Along with the traditional task of the maintenance of law and order, revenue collection, developmental works like integrated planning, implementation of programs, coordinate programs for economic and social regeneration and construction of new modern India, have been added to the responsibilities of the civil services. Successful operation of its welfare and developmental activities, India needs officers in its executive, “Who must not only be good administrators, but should be imbibed with the service, possess leadership of a high order and be able to play the role of a guide and friend of the people.” [ix] At present the Civil service is responsible for –

  1. To aid and advice political leadership to take right decisions at right time.
  2. To improve quality of service,
  3. To take tough decisions. Usually elected representatives hesitates taking tough or unpopular decisions, as they have to please the voters. There never is a good time for politicians to take tough decisions. 
  4. Responsibility of Decision-making falls on the shoulders of permanent bureaucrats, whose position is constitutionally safeguarded. 
  5. Formulate plans and policies, design strategies, initiate actions to execute policies and translate plans into action.
  6. Continuously monitor the progress and then taking required remedial actions
  7. Running smoothly day-to-day administration at all levels, be it in the Secretariat or in the Fields at all levels, Local, State and Central,  
  8. Facilitating common men to live a peaceful, safe and secure life and taste the fruits of development. Its working affects daily life of the people the most.  
  9. Being the government of welfare and developmental state, launching a massive attack on five major evils of society – want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness; and
  10. Constructing infra-structure for sustainable development of the nation are assigned to the executive.

All these responsibilities tends to give tremendous administrative powers to the government services. Government needs to be very careful about right selection of personnel as “Authority without wisdom becomes like a heavy axe without an edge” (Anne Bradstreet)

Need of proper system of selection and training Of civil servants – It is one of the prime functions of the Government to make all the feasible arrangements to recruit, retain, train and retrain the best talent of the nation for its administrative work at every level, so that they can shoulder the heavy responsibilities of governance judiciously.

No drastic change in system after Independence –  Many national leaders desired that ICS and similar services must disappear completely. Since the basic task of administration had changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic change. They wanted the Civil Services of independent India to be constituted on a new basis, to fit in with the new system of Welfare State.  and form the civil services of India on a new basis to fit in with the new philosophy, role, aims and objectives of a Welfare state. Sardar Patel  advised all to continue the existing Institution of Civil Services.

Visionary Sardar Patel, then the Home Minister of India, had realized that at the dawn of independence, circumstances were such that no drastic change was possible in the then existing administrative system. Many British officers took premature retirement. A large number of Muslim officers opted for Pakistan. Besides, the nation was facing other critical problems like cumbersome task of unification of states, partition of the country in 1947 and bleeding economic situations etc.

Consequently, save minor changes here and there, the administrative machinery set up during the Raj moved into the post-Independent era except for minor changes here and there. of the civil services and Basic ingredients of structure, recruitment and training system of civil services remained almost the same. Like –

  • Selection of appointees annually through open competitive examination.
  • Intensive foundation training for new recruits to nurture them to acquire necessary skills.
  • Like British rulers, Independent India also acknowledges the value of actual field experience for initial four-five years.

Structure of civil services at national level After Independence the government of India has formed some new civil services in various disciplines – functional, technical and specialist as well as managerial and generalist cadres. Civil Services in India can be divided into –

  • Managerial services (All India services and Central Services) –  All India Services like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Forest Service (IFS). Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service are incorporated in Article 312(2) of the Constitution. All India Services are meant basically for providing personnel for state administration and to man policy level posts under the Union. They basically perform the control functions of the government.
  • Officers of All India Services play a crucial role in day today working of the government, in policy formulation, decision making, execution of plans and policies and keeping  law and order within nation.  They are in direct contact with the council of ministers and virtually control all the levers of the governance of the country. Right from its inception, these services  attract the maximum attention of the government and the politicians. Also for an educated youth, it is a matter of pride to be a part of these services.
  • Non-technical/Professional Civil Services –There are some non-technical/professional Central Services. A few civil services, in this categories are Indian Foreign Service, Indian Railway services, Indian Audit & Accounts Service, Indian Revenue Service etc. Appointment in professional services does not require any professional qualification or experience at the time of entry. Their functional areas are mentioned in Central List of Subjects under the Constitution.
  • Technical Civil services – Engineering services, Health services etc., come in this category. For getting entry in to these services, knowledge and experience in a defined field, a professional degree, diploma and/or experience beforehand are necessary.

These services are basically responsible especially for development of infra-structure for the nation or for implementing welfare programs of the government such as in sphere of public health. The Government of India has the power to create more technical and specialized government services as and when nation require them for having Central Control, guidance, uniformity in technical fields, such as in the area of water resources management, power generation etc. More Technical Services have been created later, like Mechanical Engineers (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics), Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Engineering Branch); Indian Statistical Service; Indian Economic Service; Indian Railway Services of Engineers (of Electrical Engineers; Signal Engineers; or health services like CGHS, CHS etc.

Creation of Public Service Commission –  To recruit, retain, train and retrain the best talent of the nation for its administrative work at every level is one of the prime the responsibility of the government. Government has entrusted the responsibility of selecting responsible, well-equipped and intellectually brilliant youth for administrative frame-work to an independent/autonomous body called Public Service Commission. Union Public Service Commission has been created to select personnel for central government civil services and Provincial Public Service Commissions for selecting officials for provincial civil services.

Public Service Commission conducts annually open competitive examinations to assess the capability of the aspirant candidates for different technical or non-technical government services. Then selects suitable persons for different departments  civil service, who can implement properly the policies and programs of the government in a more positive, systematic and purposeful manner. The process of examination roughly takes one year from the notification of the pre examination to declaration of the final results. Civil Services Examination (CSE), a nationwide competitive examination in India, conducted by UPSC is one of the toughest examination in India, with more than 900,000 applicants having one of the lowest in the world success rate of 0.1%­0.3%.

Qualifications for entering into Competitive examination –  Qualifications for entering into Competitive examination of CSE services are –

  • Citizens from all-over India can appear in this examination.
  • Educational qualification – Any citizen of India holding a graduate degree (from a recognized university incorporated by an Act of Central or State Legislature in India or other educational institution established by Parliament Act  announced to be deemed university under section-3 of the UGCA, 1956 or have an equivalent degree) can appear in the competition of CSE. It does not require any professional qualification or experience.
  • Age Limit – Age limits as laid down in the relevant Recruitment Rules are, by and large, based on the general orders issued by the Government of India from time to time vide [MHA OM No. 2/41/59-RPS dated 3-12-59; Deptt. of Personnel OM No. 130/70-PP(IV) dated 11-4-72 and OM No. 4/7/70-Estt(D) dated 13-3-72]. According to official notice 2016 (If there is change we will update)

After Independence, the upper age limit was 24 years. In early 70’s, it was raised to 26. On Kothari Commission recommendations, it was again raised to 26 or 28 years after 1979 by the government. At present it is 32 years for General category and only6 attempts, for SC/ST it is 37 years with no bar on attempts, and for OBC, 35 years with 9 attempts. 

Kothari Commission Recommendation – In 1975, under Dr. D.S. Kothari, a Committee was set up to review the system of recruitment to the non-technical central government civil services.  It recommended unified competitive examination consisting of – a preliminary screening examination to test skill, speed and accuracy for non-technical civil services, an objective type to facilitate identification of those, who have the requisite range of knowledge, main examination in four compulsory and four optional papers to test the depth of knowledge.  

  • Preliminary examination (MCQ type) –  Preliminary screening examination is to test skill, speed and accuracy for non-technical civil services. It is an objective type to facilitate quick identification of those, who have the requisite range of IQ. No preliminary screening has been considered necessary as technical graduates have already undergone a rigorous curriculum in their respective fields of study. They directly appear in the competitive examination for technical services.
  • Mains examination (descriptive type) – The qualified candidates of preliminary examination are called for Mains examination followed by personal interview for final selection. Main examination to tests the depth of knowledge in four compulsory and four optional subjects of candidates’ choice. Optional papers judge intellectual ability and scholastic attainment, and Compulsory papers the general mental culture and interests of the candidates;
  • Personal Interview – For final selection, there is an interview to see personal qualities including some intellectual qualities, which a written examination cannot discover. It examines the communication skills, public speaking skills, leadership qualities, ability to exchange meaningful ideas and attitude.

This scheme came into practice from 1979. For Technical and Specialist services, UPSC conducts separate examinations.

Allocation of services – Allocation in different services i.e. IAS, IFS, IPS, or the Central Services, is on the basis of merit and choice. Normally, the top rankers opt for either the IAS or the IFS. Selected candidates are posted in different technical and non-technical departments directly at the highest level of Policy-formulation and decision making. They are responsible for day-to-day governance and controlling law and order situation of the nation. They exercise state authority from day one and continue to do it till their retirement.  Along with the council of Ministers, they control, virtually, all the levers of the governance of the country. The Government offers them best career opportunities, more power, higher responsibilities, higher salaries, better perquisites, and superior status than any other service at the center or in the states and a place of pride in socio-political circle.

Training/Nurturing of selected candidates  –Education and Training of new entrants is necessary not only for knowing more but for behaving differently. They need to be told clearly about their role in administration, their responsibilities, key challenges in their work areas, its solutions and impact of their work on general public and the whole society.

Governments at the centre and states plan for the formal and informal training (on–the-job) to nurture of selected candidates to acquire the skills necessary for performing responsibilities of their jobs. The purpose of training after appointment is first to impart required knowledge related to their work area, shape attitudes, cultivate skills and build work-habits needed by the organization, of which they are a part. Secondly it helps personnel to apply acquired knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes, while doing their jobs.

Establishment of ‘Training Division’ in the Ministry of Home Affairs – A bold step was taken by Government of India by creating a cell in 1968. It is known as ‘Training Division’ in the Ministry of Home Affairs for general coordination and for stimulating in-service and refresher training courses run by various Training Institutions, which can be grouped in three categories –

(1) Institutes run by the Government of India,

(2) Institutes run by the State Governments,

 (3) Autonomous/Private Institutes.

These institutions impart foundation as well as in-service through plan and non-plan programs to senior officers of different departments at various stages and in various disciplines. Training in those areas, where adequate facilities are not available within the country, is given abroad under bilateral agreements and aid-programs.

Training – Training is not a one shot affair. Learning continues throughout the entire career span. It becomes necessary because new responsibilities are being added with times. Knowledge is advancing each day and there has been organizational functional or technological changes. The whole process of training is systematically designed to update the knowledge at appropriate time intervals and in appropriate areas, either concept based or technique based. It develops  desired job-oriented skills and attitudes. For achieving goals and objectives, it raises the levels of performance and efficiency in administration.

Training enables the civil servants to perform their “existing” duties and functions more efficiently and effectively. It also prepares civil servants, on promotion, to shoulder the  responsibilities of higher positions competently.  Training may be Formal or Informal. Training is done at following four stages and each is done for a different purpose –  

  1. Pre-entry training,
  2. Foundation training,
  3. In-service/on-job training and,
  4. Post entry training. 

Preentry training” is basic skills training in any profession, including that of civil services, for immediate entry into the working environment. Usually education imparted in schools and colleges or universities is treated as preentry training which qualifies aspirants for all sorts of jobs in the government. However concept of pre-training for any kind of job is not common except for those who want to join Indian Army.

Orientation or Foundation Training – Foundation training equips new recruits to Civil Services with understanding of political, social and economic infrastructure of the country’s administrative set-up and the basic concepts and requirements of their respective jobs. It also explains to new employee, the organizational landscape of his office with its lines of authority in order that he may know to whom he is to report, from whom he is to take directions and the limits of his responsibilities. It familiarizes new recruits quickly with some of the history and general objectives of his unit and its relation to the rest of the departments/Ministry. Immediately after their selection into various services, the successful candidates are sent to various training Institutions for their foundation training. Foundation training program may range in duration from a few weeks to a couple of years.

On the job Training – Like British rulers, Independent India also acknowledges the value of actual field experience for initial four-five years The purpose of on-job training is to learn from their mistakes, and acquire administrative skill through practice. It depends more or less upon self-inspired motivation, sincerity and experiences. He learns something continuously, when he interacts with his colleagues in horizontal formation, or downwards or upwards in vertical formation.

In-service Training Programs – In-service training takes over the training tasks initiated by foundational training and fill in the gaps incurred during informal on-the-job training. The main objective of the in-service training is to replace old unproductive habits by productive ones. In India, there are arrangements for in-service training programs like  refresher courses, seminars, workshops, study-tours within country and abroad etc., at frequent intervals.

Critical Review

Result of the efforts done so far – In-spite all these efforts done so far to improve the system of recruitment, education and training have not improved or achieved the desired results. There is decline over the years in the quality and commitment of governing authorities. In-discipline, violence and lawlessness are increasing every day all-over the country.

Way back on December 9, 1946, Mr. V.N. Narayan had said, At best of times, India is ungovernable country of diversities, conflicts and problems. Mr. Nani Palkiwala, a leading lawyer also expressed the same feeling. After so many years of self-rule has given India empty coffers, unfulfilled promises, political instability, fractured society and perpetual divide among different groups along caste and community lines.  He said, Our legal systems have made life too easy for criminals and too difficult for law abiding citizens.[x] A touch here, a push there may make India ungovernable.

Mr. VN Narayan has described the present  scenario/climate as “We have a political problem (scams and scandals), but we have no political solution, we have a religious problem (Ayodhya), but no religious solution. There is an economic problem (poverty), but there is no economic solution (Liberalization). There is a social problem (Sectarian conflicts), but there is no societal remedy (Secularism and Mandalisation). There is a socio-medical disease (cancer of corruption), but there is no socio-medical cure (ministerial resignations and reshuffles)”

Why the administrative system weakened? – People often wonder why the steel-frame of yesteryears is shaking and failing to do its job effectively and judiciously despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to deal with unwanted situations? Is ‘the steel frame of governance’, itself responsible for its deterioration, and is shaking under its own pressures? Is it failing to do its job effectively and judiciously despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to deal with unwanted situations? Why there is decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the civil services? Why are in-discipline, violence and lawlessness increasing continuously all-over the country?

There are many reasons for reaching up-to the present deteriorated condition of law and order all over India and slow infrastructural development. Factors like Concentration of authority in few hands, no regards for meritocracy or expertise, protectionist and populist policies of the government to create vote-banks, lack of will-power of political leadership to take hard decisions, poor personnel policies of the Government, cumbersome office procedures, increased paper work are some of them. Over and above it, there is disincentive to hard work, talent, honesty and sincerity, lack of accountability, playing safe attitude of government servants, delays in taking decisions and actions; poor personnel policies of the Government; cumbersome office procedures; increased paper work etc.  Last but not the least alienation and tolerance of people is responsible for it, They to accept the sub-standard administration, giving very little challenge to the authorities to upgrade their performance.

Grave weaknesses of recruitment and training system in India – Selecting wrong persons for administrative work may inflict a permanent, cascading and damaging effect on the whole system. It could frustrate the effort of national reconstruction. Recruitment system has been suffering from the following grave weaknesses –

  • Recruitment system is degree-oriented instead of job-oriented. It is also academic and favours the examination minded candidates. Just assessment of different subjects poses difficult problems in evaluation of comparative merits.
  • Higher education unrelated to national needs – General pre-entry education system especially the higher education in India is increasingly becoming unrelated to national needs and aspirations, in-efficient, wasteful and dysfunctional.
  • Only 50% seats on merit basis – There are fixed quotas on caste basis. Only 50% seats in civil services are filled on merit basis. Other 50% seats at centre and more than 50% in provinces are filled on the basis of fixed quotas for different sections of society on caste basis. Nothing damages the administration more than faulty recruitment.

Policy of reservation in Government jobs  – Under the Reservation Policy of Government, in all government jobs, vacancies are reserved for different sections of society on caste basis. Quota has been fixed for weaker sections of society i.e. SC 15%, ST 7.5% and OBC (27%). Other concessions and facilities provided to SCT candidates are: –

  • Pre-examination coaching centres for training SCT established by the Home Ministry all over India.
  • The maximum age limit extended by for SCT is +5 and for OBC +3.
  • While three attempts are given to general candidate to appear in competitive examinations, there is no restriction on the numbers of attempts for SCT candidates.
  • They are exempted from payment of fees.
  • Separate interviews have been arranged for SCT through a separate sitting of the selection committee.[vii]
  • Relaxation of standards has been allowed through an instruction issued on 24th Sept., 1968. It mentions that, where requisite numbers of SCT candidates fulfilling even the relaxed standard are not available to fill the vacancies reserved for them, the best among the SCT candidates, who possess the minimum educational qualifications prescribed, should be selected.
  • Ministry of Home Affairs in OM No.1.1.70 Estt. (SCT) dt. 25.7.70, issued an order. It says that in direct recruitment, whether by examination or otherwise, if sufficient numbers of SCT candidates were not available on the basis of general standards to fill all the vacancies reserved for them, their candidates should be selected on relaxed standards, provided they were not unfit for such posts. [viii]
  • SCT candidates qualifying directly without relaxed standards not adjusted against reserve quota.
  • In case of non-availability of sufficient numbers of suitable SCT candidate, the shortfall not to be filled by general category candidates.
  • Indefinite carry forward of Reservation for SC in direct recruitment. These vacancies kept unfilled till SCT candidates become available.
  • Pre-examination coaching centers for training SCT established by the Home Ministry all over India.

Lower cut-offs for reserved seats – Any relaxation in the matter of recruitment standard, as the reservation policy suggests, could adversely affect the efficiency of whole administrative system. Hamstrung by lack of qualified candidates to fill up mandatory quota seats, the government of India has to lower the cut-offs for reserved category from time to time. OM No.1/1/70 Estt. (SCT) dated 25.7.70, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, stipulates that in direct recruitment, whether by examination or otherwise, if sufficient numbers of SCT candidates are not available, on the basis of the general standard, to fill all the vacancies reserved for them, the SCT candidates should be selected on relaxed standards provided they are not unfit for such posts.

Concern for underprivileged section of society  – It is a humanitarian obligation of a civilized society to uplift and empower the weaker sections of its society. But it should not be done at the cost of efficiency in administration. Many people say that –

  • Favouritism and concessions are bestowed through reservation policy for political reasons.
  • Protective measures negates merit, competitiveness and development. Merit oriented approach in principle opposes reservation of any kind, that gives preferences to a person over a more talented person. Any relaxation in the matter of recruitment standard, as the reservation policy suggests, could adversely affect the efficiency of whole administrative system.
  • Reservation creates greed and abuse of power, increases casteism and  communalism,
  • It hampers the growth of national unity and solidarity.[ix]
  • Recruitment on quota basis creates a distance between quota officers and non-quota officers, which affects the integrity of the services and its coordinated efforts for the development of the nation as a whole.
  • Mal-administration or ineffective and inefficient administration makes the life of common people more miserable.

Many castes have been declared as backwards in political circles. There is no dearth of merit in so-called underprivileged communities. There are many talented and meritorious persons amongst SC/ST/OBCs, who have competed with others on equal footing by the virtue of their capabilities, qualifications, experiences and skills. Also these communities have world class leaders like APJ Abdul Kalam or Ambedkar, who are respected by all, irrespective of class, caste, or creed.

Women and Sikhs are exemplary examples, who have demonstrated how with sincere efforts, self-confidence and inner strength, success can be achieved, even against odds, pressures, restrictions and disabilities or without any relaxation or concession. Sikhs have focused their attention and energies on modern opportunities and today they are prospering not only in India, but in advanced countries like USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

Women comprising about 50% of the total population of India They were not even allowed to appear in  CSE till 1965. They have fought their battle in an uneven terrain and paved their way to success without any shelter under protectionism policies of the Government.

No parrot like cry of socialismTrue prosperity calls for liberating the backward class people from orthodox, superstitious and conservative constraints. They need awakening and regenerating those dormant potentials, which are inherent in them. Aptitude, Attitude, and “Nurturing over nature” should be the base. Through sound system of education and training, they should be empowered, to discover their talents and develop their skills, so that they can emerge as confident, self-reliant and independent, individuals. When one gives a meal to a man, he feeds him for just a day. Once a man knows to earn his meals, he could be fed for a lifetime. Reservation is just like giving a meal to a man.

Sardar Patel has rightly said,  “By experience, I am convinced that what is necessary for us is to learn how to produce more wealth (created by one’s own labour) and thereafter think what to do with it.  What the country needs is not parrot like cry of socialism, but unity and strength Patel asked the people to think, why England took a long time to become socialistic and why America made no mention of it even now.

C Rajagopalachari had said, Short sighted favoritism and concessions, to produce contentment among classes and castes, will be short lived and will deteriorate into a constant pondering to intrigues and factions, if we do not look to real efficiency.

Mr. Appu has very rightly commented, “No reforms would work without improving the political atmosphere of the country”. It needs political  will-power to ensure that protective measures do not negate merit, competitiveness and development.  

Justice Gajendra Gadkar had also cautioned the policy-makers, “It must not be forgotten that efficiency in administration is of paramount importance, that it would be unwise and un-permissible to make any Reservation at the cost of efficiency in administration.

Mr. Kalelkar said that giving an additional weapon in weak hands was no remedy. The remedies, the commission suggested were worse than the evil, they were out to combat. In his letter forwarding the report, Kalelkar remarked I am definitely against Reservation in Government services for any community for the simple reason, that services are not meant for the servants, but they are meant for the service of society as a whole. 

 Protective measures should not negate merit, competitiveness and development. To prepare a capable and confident team from amongst the vast majority of SC, ST OBC people, is not an impossible task. It will be better if instead of politicizing the issue in the hope of creating a vote-bank, political leaders think of making their youth eligible enough first, so that they can compete confidently with general category candidates without any relaxing the standard of selection and then facilitate their entry into civil services of the nation. 

In this an age of specialization and continuous modernization process, Government service is not just another job. There is a growing demand for effective, efficient and goal-oriented governance. Quality of service also needs to be improved.

What needs to be done? – Something more is required to be done to improve system of recruitment and training, so that officials of calibre, character and leadership capabilities can be inducted into Government services. Building up of responsible and efficient civil servant does not start from the day, he joins the civil services, but right from the day he starts his education. The pre-entry education should be comprehensive in scope and sound in nature, so that it  could provide firm foundation for the continuing education of higher civil servants.

Catch them young and then mold them into required frame – Seeing the inherent weaknesses in Indian education system and recruitment  system, it would be better if selection to various government services is made immediately after higher secondary education at a raw age, when the minds of aspirants are still energetic, creative and are in a formative stage. Best time for recruitment in various Government Services is around 18-22. Many studies say that around this age-group human brains’ processing power and detail memory peaks up and lasts for 5 more years. Afterwards it is a downhill pattern.

Role models, Defense and Railway’s Mechanical Engineering Service  – The idea of such an Education and Training is not new to India and has proved to be successful in Defense and Railways. Selection could be done through an open competitive examination as is already being done for civil services, Defense Services or Jamalpur pass-out mechanical engineers of Indian Railways. 

Catching them young would facilitates the Government enough time to arrange for their continuing education according to the requirements of their specific jobs. Intensive and comprehensive training can be done at various administrative colleges and training institutions.  It would not only make it possible to have the intellectual knowledge and qualities required for performing their specific jobs, but would also inculcate in them emotional qualities and capacities required for doing their jobs such as social purposefulness, ability to understand the administrative and political implications of a problem and resourcefulness in solving them, capacity for team work and flair for leadership, which are basic requirements of any welfare administrators.

Increasing of the upper age limit for entering in competitive examinations up to the age 33/36/38 does not seem to be rational or appropriate. Over the years, governments have ignored many panels’ recommendations to lower the upper age limit. But now the topic is now back in focus. Recently NITI Aayog has recommended lowering the age limit for general category civil service aspirants to 27 from the current 32.

To improve the existing Education, recruitment and Training System and  making administrative system more meaningful and effective, these steps could be taken –

  • It should be ensured that political considerations, either in recruitment or in discipline and control be reduced to the minimum.
  • Foundation training should be made compulsory for all higher services – whether technical or non-technical;
  • the government and training institutions should be strict, so that trainees could take their training seriously;
  • training should be service oriented;
  • since 70% of the Indian population lives in villages, the officials should be familiarized soundly and intimately with the conditions, organizations, needs and aspirations of village people;
  • the higher civil servants should be trained to lead a simple life;
  • the super structure of skill, knowledge and efficiency should be raised on the foundation of discipline;
  • Senior officers should pay adequate attention and time to the training task;
  • The government should create a working atmosphere in the offices so that qualities like receptivity, originality, initiative, courage and sympathetic attitude towards masses, could be developed fully, while working;
  • The three partners in training – the organization, the training institute and the participant – should interact out of knowledge and understanding;
  • The training needs should be assessed properly by conducting job-evaluation and research and onward studies;
  • Instead of depending upon foreign material, adequate training material should be prepared and developed locally;
  • Right methods and techniques should be chosen for various training programs;
  • Selection of trainees should be done with great care;
  • Enough motivation should be there for trainees, so that they can take their training seriously;
  • Top-level officers should give full cooperation to training activities;
  • Every training program should be evaluated properly;
  • There should be regular program review sessions;
  • The selection of the trainers should also be done with great care.

In conclusion, message of John F Kennedy, both for those in power echelons and general public, can be repeated  “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy’s concluding words of his concise, precise and impressive inaugural address).


October 17, 2020 - Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services |

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