Historical review of civil services and its importance

India is a democratic country and in this system, power confers with the people. The power is exercised through its designated representatives who have the command to manage them for particular period.

The civil services by quality of its knowledge, experience and understanding of public affairs support the chosen representatives to device effectual policy and have great responsibility to implement these policies for the welfare of society and enhancement of nation.

Parliamentary democracies are generally pigeonholed by a permanent civil service which helps the political policymakers and political executives. India is a constitutional fairness and its operations are usually depends upon four supports that include Legislature, Executive, Judiciary, and Free Press.

Each one of these has been assigned its role in democratic establishment.

First pillar is associated with the governance of the State. Effective and efficient institutions form the strength of an efficacious development and governance process.

One of the basic components of Indian governance planning is the concept of an unbiased, honest, efficient and valiant civil service which is the core of the Executive whether it is All India Services or the other Civil Services. They form the stable structure and support of Indian Administration System.

Civil society of nation

The civil service is a subdivision of government which is usually grouped with the Executive, and without which governments cannot function. These are men and women who establish the permanent staff of the departments of governments. They are expert administrators. 

Some academicians refer jointly to these employees as public administration or the bureaucracy, or public service. Olaopa (2008) stated that civil service, although commonly used, is usually misinterpreted. According to Lawson, (1974), the civil service is the term used to designate servants of the state or the central government employed as civilians. It does not include ministers or cabinet members or the Judiciary. 

In some countries, it usually does not cover local government employees nor the staff of public enterprises. In this framework, the civil service will embrace civilian employees of state and federal governments only, excluding cabinet ministers and the judiciary.

Idode, (1986), explained civil service as the “array of administrative and professional staff employed, on permanent and pensionable basis to established posts, by the state, to advise on and execute its policies”.

Historical review of civil services

Civil service is described as the body of government officials who are recruited in civil administration that are neither political nor judicial. The public administration system in India has been established since ancient times.

Therefore, the notion of civil service was predominant in India from earlier period in history. In the past era, the civil servants performed the role of servants of the king. The Mauryan administration employed civil servants in the name of adhyakshas and rajukas.

The investigation for civil servants in those days too was very stringent as revealed by Kautilya’s Arthasastra. The expanse of the region and the need to hold it intact made it vital for the Mauryan administration to recruit civil servants based on excellence.

In the medieval period, civil servants became State Servants, who contributed their efforts in the development of land revenue system during the Moghul period.

The East India Company has a civil service to perform their commercial functions. Afterward, during the British rule they started as servants to the Crown, but slowly they started becoming ‘Public Servants’. The British Government established the civil services basically with the aim of strengthening the British administration in India.

In this period, the role of civil services was to promote the British interest and its role was totally regulatory. Later on, they assumed developmental roles also. After the coming into force of the Constitution of independent India, the civil services has modified considerably.

The modern history of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) began with the East India Company. In the period of 1800 AD, Lord Wellesley realised that the administrators of the Empire must be qualified, expertise, and character established the College of Fort William where every worker of the company was to be sent for a three-year course of education of the standards of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. 

Among other subjects taught were ethics and international law, and in addition, Indian history and oriental languages. The Directors, however, while accepting the proposal decided that the college should be in England. 

This is how that, for a whole half-century and more, all members of the Civil Service were qualified and specially trained at the East India College at Haileybury. The method of employment was by competitive examination but the method of entry was by the nomination of the Directors.

There is immense importance of the civil service system in the administrative system which acts as the most vital tool for governance of India. In post-independent, India civil service was re-organized. 

There are three tiers of administration that include Union/Central Government, State Government, and Local Government.

At the central level, the civil services include the All India Services, namely the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Forest Service (IFS), and Indian Police Service (IPS).

Besides these, there are other Central Services such as the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Railways Service, etc. at the central level. The State Governments have their own set of services like State Civil Service.

Gradually, with time, the role of civil services has transformed that depend on the schedule of the governance of that specific period.

During the British period, enforcement of law and order and collection of revenue was major issue of civil services officers. After the independence of India, when the Government has attained the role of Welfare State, civil services has an imperative role in implementing national and state policies of welfare and planned development.

Importance of the civil service to the Indian administrative system

  1. Service presence throughout the country and its strong binding character.
  2. Non-partisan advice to political leadership in the midst of political instability and uncertainties.
  3. Effective policy-making and regulation.
  4. Effective coordination between institutions of governance.
  5. Leadership at different levels of administration.
  6. Service delivery at the cutting edge level.
  7. Provide “continuity and change” to the administration.

It has been observed that civil services are considered as the main component of Indian administrative system that has the responsibility to accomplish the development objectives and welfare of the state. If these objectives have any failure or shortcomings, it has been thought that it is a failure of civil services.

It is thought that India’s vast administration is maintained at huge cost by the country’s taxpayer whose average income is among the lowest in the world. But public perceives for the members of the civil service, who are responsible for higher coordination and policymakers as `burdensome low-performers’ and corrupt and incompetent to govern the country.

By B2B

Revisiting the Basics

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