India needs a strong and Impartial Civil Service

Before the county’s independence, Indian civil service (ICS) was the senior most amongst the services of British Crown in India. After independence the government of free India also felt the need for the All India Service for maintaining the unity, integrity and stability of the nation.

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Accordingly a provision was made in Article 312 of the Constitution for creation of one or more of the All India Services common to the Union and the States, Indian Administrative service and Indian Police were, therefore constituted in terms of Article 312 of the Constitution.

What is the job of a civil servant? Under Articles 53 and 154 of the Constitution, the civil services help the President or Governor to exercise the executive powers of the state. Because the President or Governor is required to exercise such power only on the aid and advice of his council of ministers under Article 74 and 163 of the Constitution, in effect the civil services are there to exercise executive power as directed by the ministers. About this there is no doubt in anyone’s mind. Trouble arises when the ministers starts considering civil servants as their own servants, rather than the servant of state. The ministers will naturally exercise their powers in a partisan manner because they have a political constituency which they have to please. Democratic government under a system of laws, however, requires that laws and rules are administered without prejudice and without showing undue favour to anyone. There can be no partisan application of laws, rules of policy. That is why we have strong civil services which are, theoretically, accountable to the law for its application and to the ministers for their conduct and their impartial functioning. However, as things have now developed, the civil services are being decreasingly rendered ineffective and politicians have begun to whimsically apply policy and to implement it in a highly partisan manner.


Under normal circumstances, such a situation leads to a regime of favouritism and disfavour. Unless a citizen falls in line with the political requirements of the politicians temporarily in power, he cannot expect a fair deal from the state. Therefore, in order to curry favour he bends over backward to please the politicians. Since nothing pleases the politicians more than a hefty bribe, the next phase is the introduction of a regime of corruption in addition to a regime of favouritism.

A regime of corruption, in which the bureaucrats are abused morning, noon and night as servants of red-tape, obstructers of development, bumbling, officious nincompoops, has totally demoralized the civil services. They have become partisan, ineffective and corrupt. The partisanship has even reduced their efficacy as a binding force of our nation. This has degraded the administration to such an extent that one wonders if there is any administration left at all.

The civil services must follow the rules and implement them. If the rules hinder development let the policy makers, i.e., the elected representatives, should change the rules. At the same time, the civil servants should bot be given the unlimited power. That opens the twin gates of inefficiency and corruption. India must insist on a restoration of the civil services of a type envisaged by Sardar Patel so that each government servant does his duty and there is never a repetition of Gujarat.

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