Civil Services Reforms

[op-ed snap] Forging the steel frame


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Mussorie Academy - Civil Services


The 60-year-old Mussoorie Academy deserves some credit for producing officers who have contributed to nation-building.


  • The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration was simply called the Academy of Administration when it was set up in 1959 in Mussoorie. 
  • It signalled to systematically train members of the higher civil services in order to equip them to be the change agents of a resurgent India. 
  • The two All-India Services, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service attracted some of the finest minds from the university system. 
  • The IAS motto, ‘Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam (proficiency in action is yoga)’, and the Academy song, ‘Hao Dharomete Dheer, Hao Karomete Bir (Be firm in your faith, courageous in action)’, symbolised the nation’s expectation from them. 
  • The Academy introduced in 1960 a common Foundation Course (FC) in order to “instil a shared understanding of government and build camaraderie among the civil services”. 
  • It is the professional training institution for the IAS and continues to conduct an FC for various All-India and Central Services.

Changing with times

  • In the last six decades, there have been transformational changes in the country. 
  • The civil servants have also had to constantly upgrade themselves.
  • The Academy has been steered in critical junctures by administrators such as A.N. Jha, P.S. Appu, B.N. Yugandhar and N.C. Saxena. 
  • The content and methodology of training have changed to meet the demands of time.
  • The pattern introduced in 1969 — of district training being sandwiched between institutional exposures at the Academy — has remained broadly unaltered. 
  • On successful completion, IAS trainees are now awarded an M.A. degree in Public Management by the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
  • The Academy also conducts mid-career training programmes for officers, in keeping with their varying job requirements from policy implementation towards policy formulation. 
  • The Academy now houses five national research centres on rural studies, disaster management, gender, public systems management, and leadership development and competency assessment. 
  • Pursuant to the Kargil Review Committee recommendations, a joint civil-military programme on national security was introduced in 2001.

Challenges remain

  • How much of its effort gets reflected in the performance of officers remains a moot question. The correlation between the training imparted in Mussoorie and the quality of public services in the Indian polity should be established. 
  • There has been no serious attempt to record the experiences of the trainees/officers at the field/secretariat levels and publish them in scholarly journals, enabling others to benefit from such exposures. 
  • The Academy Journal, The Administrator, does not seem to have any discernible impact on the academic discourse on the various facets of our governance. 
  • What have been the outputs of the five national centres? How does such research inform the training curriculum? 
  • The Academy hasn’t yet realised its potential to emerge as the main think tank for civil service reforms.
  • The public sometimes resent the bureaucracy, often for valid reasons. Politicians criticise the bureaucracy as blocking the course of development. The reputation of officers is being unduly tarnished. The Academy should help build a national consensus on these contentious issues.
  • Civil servants should maintain their integrity and efficiency while serving in a system that deals with power play and corruption. 


  • In defending and expanding the constitutional values and in adhering to the spirit of various progressive legislation, the IAS and other Services have played a significant role in nation-building. 
  • If one looks at the trajectory of independent India and compares it with that of our immediate neighbours, our higher bureaucracy appears to be a defining difference. 
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