By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, March 30, 2021: After fulmination of Prime Minister on the members of the Indian Administrative Service expressed on the floor of the Parliament and subsequent response from Shri Jaswant Sinha, a distinguished civil servant of yesteryears and an eminent political leader holding position as Cabinet Minister under two Prime Ministers,namely Chandrasekhar and Vajpayee, some thoughts need to be expressed as to how the country can be served better.

It is well recognized thata modern State must have a professional civil service. If the state is founded on the principle of constitutional democracy, bureaucracy must be politically neutral just as judiciary should be independent of executive and legislature based on the doctrine of separation of power, media should be free as Edmund Burke famously called it Fourth Estate ,constitutional bodies like Election Commission, Comptroller and Auditor General and Public Service Commission must be autonomous as envisaged during debates of the Constituent Assembly and the civil society including academia must remain eternally vigilant to use the language of John Stuart Mill and should be occasionally vibrant.

Further it has been well established that recruitment to the civil service in a democracy mustbe based on merit and done by an independent constitutional body like Public Service Commission.
When we talk of civil service it includes all-India services (like IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service),central services (like IAAS and IRS),technical services like doctors,engineers, and scientists etc.,and most certainly the services at the State level and local bodies like municipalities and Zilla Parishad etc. and cooperative societies created under the constitution and statutes.

Mere recruitment with competitive examination like written examination and viva voce will not suffice unless the aptitude and psychological tests are conducted and syllabus on which examination is conducted is not only reviewed periodically but must be examined as to its relevance to the nature of work, job, and duty of civil servants.Although generally bright young people are chosen with adequate talent and academic knowledge,professional training is a must in the service academies like National Academy of Administration and the Police Academy etc.Those who impart training must be equally qualified and competent and must be serious in their work.Sometimes disgruntled and unwanted people are sent to training institutes.

After the training of civil servants is completed when they get posted to duty positions proper supervision is crucial.This is the formative period of professional career. Supervisors must be people with proven leadership quality and of immaculate integrity and high professional knowledge most importantly free of bias and prejudice on gender, religious, linguistic, caste and racial grounds. This is significant particularly in a country like India with polychromatic society. Prejudice can leave a permanent scar on the newly recruited civil servants who have joined the service with high hopes and enthusiasm to serve the society and the country.

Whole career path of a public servant from the recruitment till retirement needs to be under intense focus yet with human touch. It should be under the guardianship of a permanent governmental institution.

When a young civil servant gets married there is change in personality as there is influence of the spouse on the person.Supervisors must be cognisant of this.They should provide proper guidance if they notice change in attitude and approach to work.When the children arrive, there is bound to be somemore changeaffecting even priorities in life. Their care, education and needs influence civil servants.

When one gets into middle age, indifferent health and marital disharmony affecttheir work.When they approach age of superannuation,there can be distinct and demonstrative change in attitude and inclination towards work.Counselling and medical advice from a senior will be like parental balm.As time in career elapses, there is every likelihood of obsolescence overtaking a civil servant, more so now, particularly due to rapidity with which technology is changing. Therefore, civil servants must go through periodic refresher’s courses and advanced training. Unless they pass the tests after every training career prospect like higher grade and promotion should not be available.

At this stage one must also find exit route for civil servants who are non-performers.Review to get rid of deadwood and dishonest must begin from the age of forty-five.This is beneficial for both government and civil servant.While government can make itself leaner and more efficient, civil servant can find an alternative career. Integrity should have a wide meaning to include gender, caste, communal, linguistic, and ethnic bias.

Over a period of thirty to thirty-five years the performance of civil servants should be supervised and monitored if the optimum efficiency must be obtained, and maximum productivity extracted. In terms of financial resources, it must be reminded that significant part of the public funds is expended on human resources deployed by the government.

Now the question arises does the government have a permanent live mechanism to monitor and supervise the personnel from the time of recruitment till retirement. Theoretically one may say it has through the Department of Personnel or General Administration. Whether it plays any significant role in career development and monitoring is open to debate and doubt.

In keeping the civil service efficient and honest not only they themselves and their peers and supervisors have a key role, even the politicians have a part to play in it. If Ministers, Chief Ministers or Prime Minister do not create a climate and environment for civil servants to have courage to be frank and free in giving their advice and suggestions, the civil servants will hesitate to be bold and blunt. There are exceptions among civil servants who swearing by the constitution will be guided by the dictum Satyameva Jayate of Upanishad and Yoga, Karmasu and Kausalam from Bhagavad Geeta.In other words, no matter how powerful the political dispensation is, he will not hesitate to call a spade a spade.

This takes us to an interesting subject can civil service alone uphold law and constitutionand most significantly ethical values without the assistance of political system. Why political forces should be allowed to remain indifferent,callous,and wayward to the basic values? Why there should not be a code of conduct of members of political parties who ultimately hold public offices.

Is there a need of a watchdog for political parties? During election, the Election Commission functions as a watchdog but what about other times?For every profession and each category of public servant there exists written or unwritten code of ethics.Then why not for politicians?

When serving thecountry better is being debated it cannot exclude judicial service and public servants performing their duties in constitutional, legislative bodies, quasi-judicial tribunals, regulatory bodies like CAG, UPSC, EC, RBI, SEBI etc.

Here one would rush to add that non-elective positions of constitutional and statutory institutions must be chosen in a transparent manner based on merit and integrity and not treated as patronage.There isplenty of guidance given by the Administrative Reforms Commissions and Apex Court of India.

Serving the country better cannot be possible if one does not consider multitude of public sector institutions like PSBs and government corporates like SAIL, NALCO, IOL, ONGC etc. One should ask this question, are these institutions free from external influence of extra-legal and extra-constitutional individuals.Is the recruitment done to these institutions by independent bodies?
Time has certainly arrived for the people in each walk of life to think and ponderwhether oneis discharging duties honestly, diligently, and competently in the station of life to which one is attached which Plato had called “Justice” almost two and half millennium ago.

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