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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Bureaucracy in India in 21st century

Introduction
For the forms of government, let fools contest.
That which is best administered is best.
And also,
But what is best must free man still decide,
Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.     Finer

” …… But with power comes responsibility”  Obama

The institution of Bureaucracy/civil services in India is the oldest and most wonderful institution the British Government had bequeathed to India. It was popularly known as ‘the Steel Frame’ of British administrative structure, Fortunately India, along with Pakistan, has inherited from the past, a unique administrative system, which knows, what these strategic posts are and who are the persons to hold them. British rule evolved the civil service as an efficient, professional and to a great degree incorruptible organization.
For the performance of its manifold activities, government employs thousand of workers into its administrative set-up (civil services/bureaucracy) from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Government makes all feasible administrative, organizational and working arrangements for its employees.
Effort to find Best talents
In order to employ best talents in the services, every year UPSC conducts a common civil services examination (CSE) for to select personnel for many services under government of India like Indian Administrative Service (IAS), as well as for other non-IAS services like IFS, IPS and other central services for different departments like Revenue, Railways, Audit and accounts etc. It is one of the toughest entrance examinations. There are three stages of this examination ‘Preliminary’, ‘main’ and ‘personality test’ (interview). UPSC conducts annually separate examinations for some technical/professional services.
Apart from selecting officers for Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and Indian Foreign Service, there are some Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ Central services, officers of which are selected through Combined All India Civil Services examination like Indian P & T Accounts & Finance Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian Customs and Central Excise Service, Indian Defense Accounts Service, Indian Revenue Service, Indian Ordnance Factories Service (Assistant Works Manager, non-technical), Indian Postal Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Traffic Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service, Indian Railway Personnel Service, Posts of Assistant Security Officer in Railway Protection Force (RPF), Indian Defense Estates Service and Indian Information Service.
Group ‘B’ Services includes Railway Board Secretariat Service (Section Officer’s Grade), Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Service (Section Officer’s Grade), Customs Appraisers’ Service, Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli Civil Service and Police Service, Pondicherry Civil Service.
IAS propped up as the Elite service
Earlier ICS, was propped up as an elite service. Its officers in their early twenties would arrive fresh from their ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. They were responsible for maintaining law and order and revenue collection. Now IAS officers have wide-ranging authority in districts as collectors and at centre as policy-makers. They –
Have easy accesses to levers of power.
Are symbol of power – dealing directly with Ministers at centre and provinces.
Have smoothest career-progressions. And
Occupy almost all senior-most posts at centre and States.
Issue
One wonders why the steel-frame of yesteryears has failed to do its job effectively and judiciously, despite having a constitutional status with enough powers to perform their duties freely and frankly. Inefficient and ineffective performance of Bureaucracy/civil services by and large has affected the lives of millions of people. Now sarcastically, people call bureaucracy as ‘babudom’ and bureaucrats as ‘Glorified clerks/Babus.
Why does not bureaucracy take a stand against the unjust dictates of political leaders or corrupt senior officers, who stops them from doing their jobs judiciously? Why and how civil services in India got derailed is a point to ponder. What were the reasons behind ineffective and inefficient performance needs to be analyzed.
Efficiency of ICS officers during British rule
‘Steel-frame of governance’ – It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely 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. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule, and, in a fascinating episode, when Subhas Chandra Bose, the leader of the rebel Indian National Army, flew to Berlin during the Second World War to solicit help from Hitler, the Fuehrer dismissed him, taking the view that Indians needed to be civilized by another hundred years of British rule.
How was the Indian Empire administered with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality? Even Indian nationalists were more likely than not to agree with such an assessment. One reason for this perception was that the ICS was manifestly neither venal nor corrupt in the way in which, for example, some officials and officers of the old East India Company had been. There are, however, other forms of corruption, including assumptions of racial superiority and the conviction that the ICS always knew best.
Gilmour comes to the sensible conclusion that the men of the ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments. A number of individuals were ?coming to the institution through stiff competition, not the other way round?. Often a District officer in his early twenties would arrive fresh from his ICS training at Oxford to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales. The wide-ranging responsibilities of the District Officers of the ICS were responsible for almost everything. The structure of the service started from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on. (From Rup Narain Das, titled ‘Marx and 1857’, published in TOI, P.22, 16.5.07, excerpts quoted from an article of Gilmour on Marx, June July 15, 1857 in New York Daily Tribune as a leading article)
ICS (Indian Civil Service) called ‘steel-frame of administration’
Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister in his historic ‘Steel-frame’ speech, said it very clearly 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.’
What made it so strong and efficient?
What made ICS was strong enough to rear and sustain British rule in India for such a long time was because –
‘Family background’ – Most of them belonged to British professional middle classes.
‘Educational background’ – They had made smooth progression from school to Oxford or Cambridge.
‘Sense of responsibility’ – The ICS, whatever its complexion might have been, had developed traditions of independence, integrity, and hard work. They had deep sense of responsibility. However, these qualities served mainly the British rulers and not so much the Indian masses. They had full freedom and opportunity to do something worthwhile.
‘Work atmosphere’ – So far as it did not jeopardized the Imperial interests, ICS officers thought it their duty and took it as a challenge to provide, Care, protection and guidance, ultimately liberty to the people, they ruled (Times of India, August 10, 1997, p2). Mr. Lines, an ex- ICS officer, said, “I suppose, we thought of a simple Indian villager. Here are simple people, who need leadership. Mr. Arthur, another ex ICS officer, said, Their attitude, certainly was paternalistic, which was necessary in a colonial administration.
‘Bright career prospects’ – Extremely generous salaries and quick promotions.
‘Slim and trim service’ – just over a thousand at any given time ? made for a strong sense of service loyalty.
‘ Esprit-de-corps’ – Philip Maser said that there was esprit de-corps’ amongst the officers. Lines pointed out, ‘It is the Esprit de’- corps’, which served to enforce a strong moral code. It did not need to be articulated. Every body knew it.
‘Honesty’ – Clive Dewey said that the historical evidence pointed out to only a minute handful of officers 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 (Dr. Clive Dewey, Anglo Indian attitudes, 1993).
Balance of Power
Illbert Bill controversy indicates 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.
When the demand for the participation of Indian nationals at higher levels of administration increased, the dominance of Brahmins in administration, though mainly at lower level, had cautioned the rulers. They regarded Brahmins as the main force behind the entire national movement, agitations and terrorist activities. Therefore, British rulers tried their best to balance the power in such a way, that no section of Indian society could become strong enough to pose a threat to its rule in India. They managed it by adopting the following measures –
‘Propped-up other sections of society against Upper’-castes – The British thought it necessary to keep a balance of power by propping up other sections of the society in order to stop the preponderance of Brahmins and forward castes in modern callings.
Divided Indian population – Through censuses, the rulers divided the Indian population into different groups, i.e. upper castes, backward castes, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities.
Start of quota system – To counter Brahmin’s dominance in administration, the British designed Reservation Policy. They fixed up quotas in government jobs for different sections on the basis of caste, community, occupation, religion etc.
‘Separate representation and preferences to non-Brahmins’ -Through the Acts of 1909, 1919 and1932 the rulers provided separate representation to different communities in Legislative Councils and Assemblies. The rulers bestowed special benefits and preferences in education and jobs for different upcoming groups.
ICS remained untouched from preferential treatment till end – Though the British Government gave preferential treatment to upcoming groups in government jobs, British rulers kept the ICS untouched from the quota system till the last. They firmly and clearly said to the upcoming groups that they wouldn’t weaken their Steel frame at any cost for any body, as on it depended, efficient governance of the country.
It was told the upcoming groups in clear terms, ‘With its utmost desire to do so, the best for these classes, the Government will be and is powerless to help them, unless they qualify themselves to the same extent as others of their countrymen for duties of administration and public’ (Times of India Archives, May3, 1918).
‘Breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India
With the intensification of national movement and introduction of Diarchy, the downfall in the quality of work began to fade. Pannikar says, ?The Lee Commission (1923) was the first evidence of the breakdown of the spirit of the civil services in India, for after that there was no claim, that the British Civil Service in India, competent though they continued to be to the end, was anything more than a group of officers doing their work for purely material considerations. The idealism of the past had vanished? (Pannikar KM, The Development of Administration in India, Bulletin of Public Administration, Patna, Patna University?s Institution of Public Administration, vols. 2 and 3, p14.)
The Rawland Committee remarked, ?The present position, in our judgment, is thoroughly unsatisfactory both from the point of view of the district officer himself, as well as, from the point of view of the efficiency of the governmental machine and welfare of the people in the district?. He is expected to see that nothing goes wrong in his district, but he has little power outside. The Magistrates and Collectors failed to see that things go right. He is supposed to compose differences between other officers, but he has no power to impose his will upon the recalcitrant. He can cajole and persuade, he can not compel? In our view, the situation, if left to itself, can only deteriorate further, because activities of the Government in the mofussil will increase and practically every department is thinking in terms of Provincialized Service and makes little attempt to disguise its determination to go ahead with its own plans, without reference to any other part of the Government? (Report of the Bengal Administrative Enquiry Committee, 1944-45, p18).
Transfer of power
In 1935, with the intensification of the nationalist movement, supported by Indian National Congress Party and growing demand for greater Indian participation in Government and its administration at higher levels, the Colonial rulers delegated some authority to the provinces. They were aware of the consequences of delegation of authority to the provinces. Therefore, they transferred to the Provincial Governments only the authority to manage the services engaged in service-functions and kept ?control functions? i.e. maintaining law and order and revenue collection in their own hands. Ultimately in 1947, India got its freedom as an independent country.
After independence
Civil services after the Independence
With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration had undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic change. Bureaucracy was now expected to play a significant role in administrative and developmental work of the Government.
Fall in the standard of governance
Instead of it, there has been a gradual decline over the years in the quality, competence and commitment of the administrative officers. Once known as the ?Steel frame? of the ?Whole structure?, has started shaking under its own pressure. Undesirable political pressure on it increased continuously. With the result that bureaucracy in India has now appears to be unable to meet the challenges of the day and has become an ineffective and powerless institution. Offices in the government have become dens of corruption, mismanagement and mal-administration.
Dreams of constitution-framers
The forefathers of the Constitution realized the importance of civil services in order to ensure good governance to the country and providing the safety of the nation. Mr. MV Kamath said, ?With the independence of our country, the responsibilities of the 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 can not 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).
Mr. Subharajan said during Constituent Assemble debates, ?Without an efficient civil service, it would be impossible for the Government to carry on and continuity to be kept. The importance of the Governmental administration has been in the fact that there is continuity and unless this continuity, there is chaos? (Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. IX, p952).
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 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? (Patel Vallabh Bhai in a letter to Mr. Nehru).
After Nehru?s midnight hour speech between 14th and 15th August 1947, Dr. Radhakrishnan warned the nation, ‘Our opportunities are great, but let me warn you that when power outstrips ability, we will fall on evil days. We should develop competence and ability, which would help us to utilize the opportunities, which are now open to us. A free India will be judged by the way, in which it will serve the interests of the common man in the matter of food, clothing, shelter and social services.’
Civil services in Independent India
Independent India required that the civil administration at every level must be equipped with officers having the capacity to meet various challenges of the modern India. The success of government’s welfare and developmental plans would depend largely upon the efficiency of its administrative cadres.
Government employs thousands of workers into a governmental organisation from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Its administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks.
Jobs in the Government have always remained an attraction for the youth. Entry into IAS and central services are the most sought-after jobs for students as it provides the highest entry point in bureaucracy. Its recruits have to pass through a well-planned entry competitive examination and rigorous professional training.
After joining the services, the civil servants are engaged at different levels of administration and play an important role in policy-making and decision-making processes and their implementation work.
IAS (Indian Administrative Service) the successor of ICS after Independence
After independence, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) was created as the successor of ICS, which was till now a reputed, efficient and powerful service. IAS is now an elite service meant predominantly to be engaged in control functions of Indian provinces. IAS officers, like their predecessor ICS, deliberate directly at the highest level of policy formulation and decision making. 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.
Right from its inception, IAS has attracted 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 IAS, as it was with the ICS in pre-independence days. Like ICS, the Government offers to IAS best career prospects, 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. Along with it, there are many other services at central, provincial and local levels in the bureaucratic set-up of the nation.
Functions of the civil services
The civil administration, whether in Centre or in State, can be divided into two groups:
? Working in the Secretariats ? Policy making body;
? Working in field organisations ? for implementation of policies and plans.
Working at Secretariat level -Working in the Secretariat exposes the officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. The IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.
Following are important functions at the level of Secretariat: –
?Obtaining decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
?Overall planning and finance,
?Legislative business,
?Personnel management policies,
?Legal advice,
?Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
?Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
?Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.

March 7, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | , , , | 1 Comment

What is bureaucracy or ‘Civil Services’?

 

“For the form of Government let the fools contest

Whatever is the best administered is best” And

“But what is best, must freeman still decide

Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.”

 Introduction

Civil services/bureaucracy plays a very vital role in the governance of India. Civil services in India can, without doubt, be regarded as the most remarkable of al the institutions, which Britain has bequeathed to India. Fortunately India has inherited from the past, a unique administrative-system, which knows, what posts are strategic and who are the persons to hold them.

What civil services are?

In short, it can be said that civil service is a “professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled.”2 According to Max Weber2, the main characteristics of a civil service are as following:

  • Well-structured set-up – For the performance of various, government both at centre or provinces needs into its administrative set-up, in all the spheres a team of mature, dynamic, visionary and responsible officers at all the levels of administration, from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. Civil service requires all its officials to have alert minds, high level of intelligence, broad vision and relevant knowledge about their respective subjects.
  • Division of labour – defined rights and duties prescribed in written regulations;
  • Hierarchy – (a) Systematically ordered authority relationship;
  • (b) Promotions regulated by merit and seniority;
  • Merit based selection and training – technical competence as a formal condition of employment;
  • Full time career-based service with fixed monetary salaries;
  • Impersonality – strict separation of office and incumbent in the sense that employee does not own the means of administration and cannot take the advantage of their position for promoting self-interest.
  • A system of rules and files – its operations are government by a consistent system of abstract rules.
  • Loyalty to impersonal authority like the State.

Organizational set-up of bureaucracy

For the performance of its manifold activities, government employs thousands of workers into its administrative set-up from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. As an employer, Government’s primary duty is to make all feasible administrative, organisational and working arrangements for its employees. 

Structure of civil services/bureaucracy set-up

Whole administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks. The way administrative set-up is organized, plays an important role in performance of tasks and in harmony and cooperation of members inter-se.

A proper job evaluation leads to position-classification and forms the basis of personnel management.

Position classification

Position classification is a systematic division of different posts in several classes in accordance with the functions to be performed, responsibilities to be shouldered and other conditions. It is “the systematic sorting and ranking of position in a hierarchical sequence according to comparative difficulty and responsibility”. Usually positions, supervision and authority to be exercised downward, other responsibilities, simple or complicated type of work, qualifications required for the post etc., are the factors, which operate in the determination of classification.

Type of work

The manifold activities of a government can be put into the following categories –

  •  Control functions;
  •  Service functions; and
  •  Development functions.

Accordingly different civil services in the Government engaged in the above tasks may be classified into three broad categories function-wise:

  • Generalist Services;
  • Functional Services; and
  • Technical Services.

Usually services responsible for control functions remain on the controlling/giving-end therefore become more important and personnel engaged in service function or development function at asking end, always looking up at them for getting their job done.

Working of civil administration in India

The civil administration, whether in Centre or in State, can be divided into two groups –

Working in the Secretariats

Secretariats are at the Central level as well as at the state level. It is Policy making body. Usually IAS officers on deputation from different states occupy most of the senior posts in Central Secretariat. In the State Secretariats also, it is the IAS Officials, who are posted on the top posts in almost every department.

Working in the Secretariat exposes officers to policy perspective in diversified subjects like agriculture, horticulture, power, coal, transport etc. The work in Secretariat requires bright officers having experience and knowledge in relevant areas. Following are important functions of the Secretariat: –

  • Obtaining decisions on policy matters and enunciating policy decisions in clear language,
  • Overall planning and finance,
  • Legislative business,
  • Personnel management policies,
  • Legal advice,
  • Coordination and cross clearance among the administrative departments, in the Secretariat,
  • Communication with central institutions like the Planning Commission etc., and
  • Overall evaluation, supervision, control and coordination of the work being done by the field organizations.

Organizational set-up of bureaucracy

For the performance of its manifold activities, government employs thousand of workers into its administrative set-up (civil services/bureaucracy) from almost all vocations, occupations and professions. It is government’s primary duty to make all feasible administrative, organizational and working arrangements for its employees.

Structure of civil services/bureaucracy set-up

Whole administrative system is vertically and horizontally divided in order to meet the differing requirements and emerging developmental tasks. The way administrative set-up is organized, plays an important role in performance of tasks and in harmony and cooperation of members inter-se.

Prof. Applebly says, “The structure determines where responsibility lies; how and to what extent responsible and controllable delegation takes place; what emphasis should be given to various objectives. It poses and conceals issues of policy. It provides or relatively fails to provide a structure of progressive responsibilities for decision making and thus at each level screens out some decisions and relieves those in higher positions, so that they may give attention to decisions really important to their functions”.

Working in field organizations

For implementation of policies and plans, working in the field can be divided into:-

  • Working in field departments or head offices.
  • Working in the districts

The district occupies a key position in civil administration. The Collector continues to play a pivotal role in the District Administration. District is the most convenient geographical unit, where all the regulatory as well as developmental tasks of civil administration are performed.

It is at this level, that administrative personnel come into direct contact with people. 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.

Both kinds of work, work at Secretariat as well as in the field, have their distinctive challenges. For the efficient performance of work in both the areas, there is need for there is need for really bright and talented officers and flow of knowledge, experience and continuous consultation between the Secretariat and the field agencies.

Political set-up during pre and post Independence period

Pre-Independence period

In the nineteenth century and early 20th century, Laissez-faire was the basic principle of governance. Being so, the main concerns of the imperial Government was maintenance of law and order situation and collection of revenue. They were not much bothered about public welfare activities.

During Imperial rule, the bureaucracy under British government consisted of two parts:

• Government in London headed by the Secretary of State for India and curiously called the `Home Government’ of India.

• Government in New Delhi (in Calcutta before 1911), headed by Viceroy and Governor General of India, called the Government of India.

The two parts were closely related despite of the factor of long distance between England and India. Pylee has said “The whole system from top to bottom was well knit, highly centralized and behaved like an unbreakable steel frame with all the characters of a full fledged autocracy.”

Civil services in British India were classified as covenanted (higher) and uncovenanted (lower) services on the basis of the nature of work, pay-scales and appointing authority. In 1887, Aitchinson Commission recommended the reorganisation of the services on a new pattern. It divided the services into three group – Imperial, Provincial and Subordinate. Field of work, nature or quality of supervision by superior were the factors, which were considered for classification of the Imperial Services. The recruiting and controlling authority of Imperial services was the `Secretary of State’. Initially, mostly Britishers were recruited for these services.

With the passing of the Indian Act 1919, the Imperial Services were split into two classes – All India Services and Central Services. There were Provincial Services as well. The appointing and controlling authority for these services was the respective provincial government, which framed rules for those services with the approval of the government of India. There were then, subordinate services for minor and ministerial jobs. Diagrammatically the classification can be represented as under :

Diagrammatic presentation of pre-Independence

________I______________________

      I                                        I

Covenanted                Uncovenanted Subordinate

                I                             Service (Class II & IV)

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­                               I­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________________________

         (According to Aitchinson Commission 1887) 

                                  I                                                                                                I

           Imperial                                    Provincial

                 I                                        (Class I & II)

     ________I___________

          (India Act, 1919)

                            I                                                                     I

       All IndiaServices      Central Services

             (9 in all)

On the eve of the Government of India Act 1919, there were nine All India Services were in existence. Some of the important Central Services were Indian Railways Service, Indian Custom Service, Indian Accounts Service etc. From 1930 onwards, the classification of services came to be governed by Civil Service Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930. According to it the various services were divided into four categories : Class I, Class II, Subordinate and Inferior.

During British period, there was another classification of the Civil Services into gazetted and non-gazetted. All positions, the names of whose occupants were published in the Government Gazette in connection with their postings, transfers, promotions and privileges in respect of disciplinary action, right to appeal and retirement etc. were called `Gazetted’ posts. Class I and II Officers generally enjoyed the gazetted status. In contrast other positions, the names of whose occupant did not appear in government gazette were categorised as non-gazetted.

 This distinction continued to exist till 1974. Post independence classification of the services is governed by the Civil Services Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930, as amended from time to time.

 Amongst all of higher civil services, ICS and IP were the most important for the British rulers. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister said in the House of Commons in his historic `steel-frame speech’’ on August 2, 1922, that the ICS was the very basis of the Empire in India and he could not imagine of any period when `they can dispense with the guidance and assistance of a small nucleus of officers. He said, “I do not care what you build on to it. If you take that steel-frame out of the fabric, it will collapse. There is one institution we will not cripple, there is one institution we will not deprive of its functions or of its privileges; and that is hat institution, which built up the British Raj – the British Civil Service in India”1. The ICS was the `steel-frame of the whole structure’’ of governance of Imperial rule in India and were exclusively trained to suit to the special needs of the British Imperial Power. Sir Edmund Blunt had said, “The superior Indian Civil Servants were the practical owners of India, irresponsible and amenable to no authority, but that of their fellow members.” Dr. Fisher also confirmed “it is the government”.

It was a very influential institution during British rule, because it administered the entire Indian Empire with such apparent zeal, efficiency, high-mindedness and impartiality. Reasons were simple for this perception as Gilmour (‘The Ruling Caste, David Gilmour’, a biographer of both Kipling and Curzon) pointed out-

  1. ICS was manifestly neither venal nor corrupt in the way in which, for example, some officials and officers of the old East India Company had been. It had its own weaknesses like assumptions of racial superiority and the conviction that the ICS always knew best.
  2. ICS displayed a mixture of motives, skills and temperaments.
  3. They had sense of responsibility while working from the District Officers to the Magistrates, Residents, Political Agents, Deputy Collectors, Lieutenant Governors, and so on.
  4. ICS officers as District Officers had wide-ranging responsibilities for the overall governance of a district. Though he “did not run the railways or the telegraph or the Army…..er to call out troops in an emergency – but he was responsible for almost everything else”.
  5. Some of them were reactionaries, reformers and thinkers.
  6. ICS worked as District Officers in their early twenties, arrive fresh from training at Oxford.
  7. They had the confidence to rule single-handedly a district half as big as Wales.
  8. British Government was anxious to demonstrate to Indians that British rule was even-handed, several times intervened to ensure that culprits were properly punished for outrages.

ICS was popular not only in India, but allover the world,. “It always puzzled many bigwigs like Stalin, von Ribbentrop and many other foreign observers, namely 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. Very few statesmen, from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt, doubted the quality of British rule.

Post-Independence Period

The political system adopted by India is that of a federal parliamentary democracy. The federal structure consists of Union and State Administration. The Prime Minister/Chief ministers and their colleagues are real political heads of different government departments. Their executive power, in practice, is exercised by permanent civil service. Civil services mean all the streams of functional, technical and specialist cadres as well as managerial and generalist cadres. Civil services serve as a link – so essential to maintain continuity of policy and consistency of administration between successive ministers. It includes both officials at Central and Provinces. Good governance depends on the mutual harmony and cooperation of both the wings.

No alternative but to leave the things on time

During the last days of British Rule many problems such as communal tension had come to a breaking point. Lawlessness existed everywhere. The armed forces had mutinied in several places. There had been railway and postal strikes. Goods were in short supply and there was a danger of another famine in near future. These problems forced the British Government to advance the date of Independence to India. (CP Ramachandran, Partition Legend, Hindustan Times, Sept. 1, 1980, P.9)

The above factors in combination with departure of British and Muslim officers from the civil services, partition of the country, Pakistan’s incursion into Kashmir and annexation of widely distributed conglomeration of provinces and princely states in the union of India made the situation worse at the dawn of independence. Events, inevitably unplanned, were moving so fast that there was no question of even attempting to supervise their course.

The country had no alternative but to leave the things to time, opportunity and initiative of local officers and organizations. It is for these reasons, save minor changes here and there, that the pre-independence political and administrative set up moved into the post-Independence era and continues even today, still having the mindset of Imperial rulers.

In the role of Development administration

 After Independence the basic task of the administrative machinery, i.e. civil services/bureaucracy has been changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of promoting a rapid socio-economic development of the nation. Adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goal demanded a qualitative change in the attitude of administrative officers.

Independent India requires a radical change in the attitude of higher civil servants. Their new responsibilities demand that they should come closer to the masses and feel the agony of the millions of underfed, under-read and under-clothed citizens.

The earlier mind-set of the foreign ruler dominating the natives should have given way to the concept of a civil servant, `servant’ in the real sense – in the service of its masters, i.e. the people at large. Unfortunately, it is not so. The services engaged in implementing developmental plans and policies and welfare activities needs to be given more importance than been given in the past.

Structure of services

Both Government of India at central level and State Governments at provincial level have their own administrative set-up. They have their own generalist, functional, technical and specialist cadres.

The framework of civil services in Independent India has remained almost the same, except that a few technical services which earlier were All India have been put in the category of Central Services.

Post independence classification of the services is governed by the Civil Services Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1930, as was amended from time to time. Now the different services are designated as All India Services, Central Services and State Services. These are classified into class I, II, III and IV. Varadachariar Commission substituted the terms `subordinate’ and `inferior’ by class III and class IV services after independence. Since July, 1974, the classification of civil servants under class I,II,III & IV has been changed into groups `A’,`B’,`C’`D’. Civil services belonging to Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ are fabricated in the constitutional fabric of the nation for managerial work of the nation’s administration, whether in Secretariat or in field.

Categorization of services under Government of India –The present categorization is as under:

  • All India Services
  • Central Services –

All India service

Fine instrument to provide efficient administration – In the light of historical facts, development and achievements of last 150 years, it could be said without doubt that the All India Services were a fine instrument forged by the British Government to provide an efficient and effective planning in different areas, proper maintenance of law and order situation and governance of the country. It brought about not only stability and tranquillity, but also all round and varied development.

It is a well established fact that in every country, there are certain posts in its administrative set up which might be called strategic from the point of view of maintaining high standard of administration. Fortunately for India, it has inherited from the past a system of administration, which is common to whole of the country and it knows what these strategic posts are. All India Services are meant basically for providing personnel for those strategic posts in state administration as well as at policy making level at Centre and Provinces.

All India services under the Constitution – The Constitution framers provided that, “without depriving the states of their right to form their own civil services, there shall be All India Services recruited on an All India basis with common qualifications, with uniform scale of pay and members of which alone could be appointed to those strategic posts throughout the Union”. (Constituent Assembly Debates P. 37) All India Services are governed by Article 312 of the Indian Constitution. At present, there are only three All India Services:

  • · Indian Administrative Service;
  • ·Indian Police Service; and
  • ·Indian Forest Service

Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service are incorporated in Article 312(2) of the Constitution. Indian forest service, Indian Service of Engineers, Indian Medical Service and Indian Education Services etc were supposed to come into existence after 1965, but only Indian Forest Service could see the light of the day.

Central services

This category covers both technical as well as non-technical services meant for implementing the policies of the Union in areas which fall directly under Central Government’s list or in Concurrent List (for which Central control or guidance for uniformity becomes necessary in the national interest) such as Railways, Posts and Telegraphs, Excise and Customs etc.

There are some services dealing with those subjects mentioned in Concurrent List, for which it was considered expedient to have a Central control or guidance for uniformity in national interest. It includes both technical (including scientific) and non-technical services, such as water resources management, power generation. There are also some services, which are required for conducting the business of the Central Government such as Audit and Accounts Services. There are many other functional, specialized and technical services meant for implementing the policies of the Union and for performing various functions, for which Central Government is responsible, come in this category.

Criticism

Unlimited Authority without ResponsibilityIt is said, Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The concept of Welfare state and Development administration has bestowed immense authority in the hands of Government, which is mainly exercised by the executive, meaning the ministers and the bureaucrats. But this authority is without responsibility. Whatever may go wrong, either at the field level or at the secretariat level, bureaucrats are never held responsible.

Suggestion

The should form a Unified civil service at the center as well as in every state by merging all its civil services – technical as well as non-technical – into one with an integrated pay structure, ensuring complete parity in pay scales. At the same time, the government should ensure same promotional avenues, same time-frame for getting promoted into next grade.

As suggested by Administrative Reforms Commission in mid Sixties, it can still be said that change in the role of government and the great diversification of its functions called for variety of skills in the higher administration. The new tasks call at higher level for competence, which cannot be acquired overnight, but can only be imbibed through special training grafted on the basic functional skills or academic qualification. Each new area of administration – be it economic, social, industrial, technological, scientific or agriculture has its own body of academic requirements, knowledge and techniques. The effective administration of each demands an intimate knowledge of its underlying principles and awareness of its problems. This knowledge can only come through the study and practice of administration of the relevant area over a long period of time, in some cases at least, long enough in fact to amount to a commitment – a professional commitment”.

January 3, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | 9 Comments

Can Modern India do without bureaucracy?

The famous quote describes the crucial role played by a bureaucratic set-up as –

For the forms of government, let fools contest.

That which is best administered is best.”

 And also

“But what is best must free man still decide,

Lest leaders gull them and officials ride.”

 Theoretically the administrative machinery, known as ‘Bureaucracy’ is subordinate to the political arm of a government, but in practice, it plays a potent and vital role in the governance of any country, anywhere in the world. It exists in any type of society, be it a dictatorial or a democratic, and is an indispensable part of each and every political system, be it communism or socialism or capitalism. It deals with human beings with many complexes – psychological and sociological and its dealings extend to society as a whole.

In a democracy, the responsibility of political chiefs is supposed to be formal. Though decision making power rests with political masters, they are compelled to listen the advice given by the civil servants, who dig the expert knowledge from raw material, give it a shape with a sense of commitment. Therefore, civil service’s role in relation to the politicians is that of influence and not of power.

The salient features of a bureaucracy are its efficiency, predictability, impersonal nature and speedy working. It is always connected with the exercise of authority as members of a class of power elites. Due to exclusive and specialised nature of work and the need for more and more expert knowledge in administration for improving the quality of service, the importance of the civil service has increased tremendously in modern times.

India, still, is a transient society moving from traditionalism to modernism. Earlier the main tasks of this huge administrative apparatus was maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. However, after the Second World War and its independence, its emphasis has shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development.

Since 1971, especially during and after the era of Emergency, when the concept of committed bureaucracy developed in political circles, the Indian bureaucracy has started losing rapidly its past reputation. It has lost its courage to give free and frank advice to its political bosses and has already become spineless.

Its long tradition of authoritarianism and institutionalism has made it more self-serving rather than development oriented. It gives more emphasis now to personal expediency, status-orientation on ascriptive grounds rather than to the interests of common men and that of a nation as a whole.

At higher level, Bureaucracy suffers due to disagreements with political bosses, more stress on seniority and patronage than qualifications in recruitment, postings and promotions, and fear of losing power and plum positions in power echelons. At middle level, its constraints are conflict with higher bureaucracy and local politicians, corruption and low commitment to development. At lower level, its suffers from  loss of initiative, corruption, arbitrary/blatant use of authority, while on field duty and dealing directly with common men, liaison with anti-social elements, crippling subservience to seniors and local politicians.

In addition to it, carry-over of the colonial heritage/bureaucratic traditions like elitism, authoritarianism, aloofness, red-tapism and paternalistic tendencies has led to its downfall. People got so fed up that contemptuously, they along with media call bureaucrats ‘Babus’ and bureaucracy ‘Babudom’.

Some people think that with liberalization and globalization, India can do better without its huge bureaucratic set up, but practically it is impossible to carry on the tasks of governance & maintain continuity in governance without it. Service functions can be handed over to private sector and public sector, but control functions – meaning maintenance of law and order and revenue work – requires presence of an efficient and crisp bureaucracy. Bureaucracy may be called the pillar, on which the entire structure of governance rests. It can make or mar the sustainable development of the nation as a whole. Weakening of this pillar could only spell disaster. A country can not make progress without an efficient bureaucracy inspite of the earnedness of all the people at the helm of affairs in the country.

 

January 3, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | 8 Comments

Origin and development of ‘Bureaucracy’/’Civil Services’ in India

 

The civil services in India can, without doubt, be regarded as the most remarkable of all the institutions, Britain has bequeathed to India. The term `civil service’, which is now applied to the general body of persons employed on non-combatant work connected with the administration of states, was first used in the late eighteenth century to designate those employees (known as ‘writers’) of East India Company, who were engaged in Mercantile work.

As the character of the company changed – its trading operations were first supplemented by territorial dominion and eventually replaced by the responsibilities of government – its civil servants were transformed from traders into administrators.

Roughly from 1606 to 1740, the civil servants were managing primarily trading operations, and incidentally administrative work which grew more and more in size as the East India Company acquired territorial possessions notably after the battle of Plassey. Precisely from 1741 to 1834, the civil servants were entrusted with purely administrative activities.

By 1858, when the transfer of power from East India Company to the British Crown became a reality, the foundation of the Indian Civil Services was formally implemented.

As soon as the `Rule of Company Bahadur’ was terminated and replaced by the `Rule of Crown’, a bureaucratic hierarchical structure came into existence in India. During that period, the Secretary of State for India, in Britain, was at the top the Viceroy and Governor General of India just below him; Provincial Governors/Lt. Governors/Chief Commissioners below Viceroy; and Collector/Magistrates or Deputy Commissioners and other civil servants etc. occupying the lowest rung of the four tier structure of the centralised white bureaucracy.

In India, the Viceroy and the Governor General (the supreme bureaucrat for the Government of India) was the Crown’s representative. His office was set up by the Regulating Act of 1773, while the Act of 1858 decorated its title as Viceroy and the Governor General of India. He had assumed much authority in his own hands on account of being the `man on the spot.’ All provincial and local administration was under his absolute control. Due to the policy of maintaining a uniform administrative system all over the country, his control was very extensive in the administrative field. Though the public services were recruited by the Secretary of State, it was the duty of the Government of India to lay down policies of reform and progress of the administrative system in the form of Resolutions.

The Act of 1919 and that of 1935 had relaxed Central control over the provincial administration, but Governor continued to act as the concrete embodiment of the bureaucratic administration under the absolute superintendence, direction and control of the Governor General.

The civil servants of different ranks, i.e. Commissioners/Deputy Commissioners/District Collectors and Magistrates etc., were entrusted with the responsibility of running the administration of their division, district or some such local area according to the dictates of the upper echelons of British Bureaucracy.

From 1805 to 1885, the higher civil servants were nominated by the individual Directors of the Company. From 1858 onwards, in order to make the civil services in India more efficient and well equipped, the British Civil Service Commission was created in 1855 and given the responsibility to select officials through competitive examination.

The civil service during British rule was characterized as hierarchy of officers neither chosen nor accountable to the Indian people. At the level of local administration, it meant `Raj’ to the masses of the country, as the rule of an officer “was based on fear and awe and mass obedience was extracted by repression and suppression of popular demands”. The higher civil servants were appointed and for that reason, accountable to those above them.

Post 1919 period witnessed the intensification of national movements, emergence of Gandhi and Congress and the acceptance of the methods of violence by some parties as a means to achieve independence. During this period the main task of the administration was to maintain law and order intact at any cost.

In 1947 came the Independence. With the attainment of Independence and adoption of socialist and egalitarian society as ultimate national goals, the demands on administration undergone a qualitative change. The basic task of administration changed from one of attending to routine regulatory function to that of development administration, promoting a rapid socio-economic change.

Since then, the pressure on administration has increased manifold, because of –

  • Quantitative expansion in the work load of modern governments;

  • Increasing complexity of the problems of modern governments;

  • The accelerative thrust of science & technology;

  • Demand for specialisation,

  • The rapidly rising tempo of political consciousness among masses;

  • The dependence of national stability upon the ability of government to satisfy at least a minimum of popular need and expectations;

  • An urgent need for radical change in the attitudes of the government employees

More the problems, more efficient and better equipped bureaucracy of the nation should be, its being an important instrument to solve nation’s problems, to face the challenges and meet new demands.

 

January 3, 2010 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | 9 Comments

Demoralized Bureaucracy of 1980’s in India

 

During post emergency period, compromises, delays in decision making and shielding unjust acts of political masters by subverting rule of law, flourished in full. Transfers, posting, accelerated promotions to trusted bureaucrats, suspension or denial of promotions to the rest had bent the civil service to a great extent during this period. 

After the emergency of 1975, for the first time Government officials were made to depose before the Shah Commission for their alleged commissions and omissions during the emergency. The blames for failure of system were put on the bureaucracy. It demoralized the bureaucracy to a great extent.

In post emergency period, with every change in the Government, there started the practice of shuffling the bureaucrats. Morarji replaced many officers at senior level with a different set of bureaucrats. Again after the collapse of Janata Government, Mrs. Gandhi brought back her trusted officers to important positions. It bred an unhealthy trend of bureaucrat politicians nexus. 

While coping with the changes of 1970’s, there erupted a new problem of law and order during 1980’s. Terrorism raised its head. The escalated communal problems and economic developments gave rise to economic crimes. BOFORS became a big issue. In his book BOFORS- The Ambassador Evidence (1997), BM Oza tells about 50 million $ Bofors corruption scandal of 1986 – One of the leading features of the BOFORS bribery scandal was the deep involvement of a core group of civil servants in the crisis management and cover up operations undertaken, quite unsuccessfully by Rajiv Gandhi dispensation over our extended period. Drawn from the Indian Administrative service and Indian Foreign Service, as well as from the investigative agencies, all supposed to abide by, if not enforce, the law. These officers took instructions from Rajiv Gandhi, or from those, who spoke for him, to the profound detriment of public duty and clean values in official and public life.

Apart from being accomplices in politician’s corrupt practices, there was a rise in inter-service rivalries during 1970s and 1980s. Dissatisfaction grew amongst bright technical, scientific and professional personnel in bureaucracy due to Governments failure to give them due place in the system, in view of rapid industrialization and technical progress of the country. A large number of youth trained in specialized disciplines joined IAS in the hope of smoother career prospects, fatter salaries and better access to highest level posts. It has been seen that candidates with professional background do much better in entrance examinations than candidates with humanities background. It was because the cream of students qualify the tough tests for entering into professional courses and it trains them well to be hard working, target oriented in their approach and disciplined.

In 1979, Kothari Commission opened up the Vista for youths of diverse background by reducing the marks for interview from nearly one third of the total marks to one tenth. It also made English a compulsory paper of matriculation level, allowed Hindi and other languages as medium to answer questions and raised the age limit from 24 to 26. It was hoped that people coming from widely varied background carrying with them diverse experiences would be better placed to appreciate the ground realties of the nation. The wider, the spread of recruitment net, the larger would be the talent base and richer would be the service. The rapid growth in education, liberal grant of scholarship and stipends, general improvement in the social standard and cultural values of rural people, rural development, economic and other concessions to weaker sections brought a gradual shift in the recruitment base from diverse background.

However, it belied the hope and made the service more vulnerable to political pressures and other extraneous influences. There was a fall in officer like qualities, which made the service object of reducible and contempt in the eyes of public. Mr. Tyagi said, “The old zeal and stamina for strenuous work is now missing. Similarly moral considerations play a less conspicuous role in the official life of a civil servant today than formerly. As the country is moving forward in the direction of industrialization, the values and the old moral standards of its civil servants are tending to diminish. The civil service is less disciplined and less united today than it was formerly. The adverse effect on the quality, work-culture and ethos of the service was not felt much earlier as in 1990’s. Group-ism in the service became evident and harmed the integrity of the service.

The more the influence and power of politicians grew, more the civil services became weaker and unable to give free and frank advice to their political masters.

 

June 24, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy/Civil Services | | Leave a comment

   

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