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Role of Civil Services in a Democracy

Role of Civil Services in a Democracy
In a democracy, power vests with the people. This power is exercised through its elected representatives who have the mandate to govern them for a specific period. The civil services by virtue of its knowledge, experience and understanding of public aff airs assist the elected representatives in formulating policy and are responsible for implementing these policies. Parliamentary democracies are usually characterized by a permanent civil service which assists the political executive. 
Under the Presidential form of government (like in the US), the higher echelons of the civil services are, in contrast, appointed by the government of the day (spoils system). India has adopted the British model. 
Some advantages of having an independent, permanent and impartial civil service are as follows: 
i. The spoils system has the propensity to degenerate into a system of patronage, nepotism and corruption. Having a credible recruitment process through an impartial agency provides a defence against such abuse.
 ii. Public policy today has become a complex exercise requiring in-depth knowledge and expertise in public affairs. A permanent civil service provides continuity and develops expertise as well as institutional memory for effective policy making. 
iii. A permanent and impartial civil service is more likely to assess the long-term social payoffs of any policy whereas the political executive may have a tendency to look for short term political gain. 
iv. A permanent civil service helps to ensure uniformity in public administration and also acts as a unifying force particularly in vast and culturally diverse nations. 
v. A permanent civil service like any other reputable profession is likely to evolve over time an ethical basis for its functioning. A healthy working relationship between Ministers and civil servants is critical for good governance. 
While the principles governing the roles and responsibilities of Ministers and civil servants are well defined in political theory, in the actual working of this relationship this division of responsibility becomes blurred with both sides often encroaching upon the other’s sphere of responsibility. In any democracy, Ministers are responsible to the people through Parliament and therefore the civil servants have to be accountable to the Minister. However, an impartial civil service is responsible not only to the government of the day but to the Constitution of the land to which they have taken an oath of loyalty. 

2. Importance of Civil Services in modern day democracy
The modern civil service, irrespective of the country to which it belongs, is being vested with more and more powers of administration, subordinate legislation and adjudication. His colorless role as executor of the will of the political heads has been replaced by a more positive role in the government. 
This provides him with an excellent chance to stamp his individuality in the molding of policy by means of advice he tenders to the minister; and by other subtle means of persuasion, suggestion and even criticism. This is made possible by the permanent character of the civil service. The expertise at the disposal of the civil service is of immense value to the ministers to avoid pitfalls by defining the limits within which a successful government policy can be sustained. 
It is a matter of common knowledge that numerous programmes that are embodied in acts of legislature owe their origin to the initiative of persons who occupy senior positions in the civil service. This unostentatious part played by the civil servant will never come to light, but many a political head of the executive will readily concede that the detached criticisms offered by his permanent civil servants have saved him from blunders and the resultant political wilderness.
 In such a context it is inevitable that there must be a close intimacy and mutual regard between the political chiefs and their senior officials. However, this privileged partnership in policy-making is restricted to a narrow range of persons occupying the senior posts. The extreme example of a handful of civil servants acting as powerful policymaking instruments was provided by the Indian Civil Service of the pre-independent period Delegated legislation and administrative justice are the other reasons for the enormous increase of powers wielded by the civil service. 
The legislatures while enacting acts, arc delegating rulemaking powers to the executive government, with the consequent necessity for the setting up of administrative courts for the determination of disputes arising under these legislations. Statutes vest wide discretionary powers with the civil servants. 
The position of power is equally a great attraction for men of intelligence and ability and this certainly may also be an important factor in retaining able civil servants. Perhaps more important than remuneration in attracting and retaining efficient permanent officials is the security of tenure held out. The permanency of state employment makes the civil service a ‘sheltered’ occupation. The fact that there is no fear of discharge except on charges of inefficiency or misconduct has its own attraction. 
In India even though the civil servant holds the post at the pleasure of the Executive Head following the English doctrine of pleasure, there are constitutional safeguards for the civil servant against arbitrary dismissal, removal or reduction in rank. The Supreme Court of India has also dwelt at length on the necessity to impart a sense of security to civil servants.
Innumerable administrative reform commissions have produced no appreciable impact on the quality of governance. The emphasis now is on facilitating external pressure from citizens on the system to improve through the Right to Information Act, Consumer Protection Act, Citizens Charters, Whistleblower protection, e-governance, Report Cards, Democratic Decentralisation, Public Interest Litigation, etc.
Civil society’s functional contribution to good governance could be:
* Watchdog — against violation of human rights and governing deficiencies.
* Advocate — of the weaker sections’ point of view.
* Agitator — on behalf of aggrieved citizens.
* Educator — of citizens on their rights, entitlements and responsibilities and the government about the pulse of the people.
* Service provider — to areas and people not reached by official efforts or as government’s agent.
* Mobiliser — of public opinion for or against a programme or policy.
Civil society acts through ‘social capital’— the capacity of people to act together willingly in their common long-term interest. Social capital is strong in a homogeneous, egalitarian society. Civil society as a whole is, therefore, unable to play its full potential role in enforcing good governance in India except when extraordinary leadership overcomes narrow loyalties, or when an issue is of common, major concern to all sections (like natural calamities). Smaller units of governance and decentralisation of governance are, therefore, indispensable in India.
Individuals cannot take on the huge political-bureaucratic machine that the government is, nor can the entire civil society act on behalf of every citizen. Civil society, therefore, has to operate through compact, focused organisations based on strong social capital.

Role of civil services in governance
In modern times, of all acts of civilized society, perhaps, governance is one of the most difficult tasks, as it deals with issues – political, economic or social, that directly affect public life of living human beings, who are full of psychological and sociological complexes and prone to unpredictable behavior. Good governance is the foundation stone to build a forward- looking society.
Earlier in the nineteenth Century the main tasks of an administration were universally the maintenance of law and order and revenue collection. But in the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, which required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development. The emphasis in administration has shifted to the welfare plans, national reconstruction and development.
In a welfare state the government assumes and aims at improving the quality of life of its masses and the responsibility of its citizens from `womb to tomb’. It tries to bring about `social, political and economic justice’. The main aim of initiating and nurturing this concept is to bring about betterment to the lots of weaker section of society by building up a rapidly expanding and technologically progressive economy. It aims to uplift the marginalized sections of society. 
Provision of basic necessities to all irrespective of their caste or creed, the voluntary abdication of riches and power – that these riches brings and establishment of a productive, vigorous and creative political and social life are the aims of a national government.
Maintenance of law and order all over the country is still very important. Then only, desired objectives for the sustainable development of the nation could be achieved. Those engaged in the task of governance could yield maximum results with minimum labor and resources within time and cost parameters and provide convenience to public at large. 
In the post war period in general, development consciousness and development efforts, emerged in the new nations of Asia, Africa, Latin America and parts of Europe, required a civil service of integrity, equipped with administrative ability and practical sagacity for development.

Requirements for efficient governance:
 Following are the requirements needed for the civil servants engaged in development administration –
1. Mental framework – it should never be conservative. It should have a scientific outlook and should be progressive, innovative, reformist and even revolutionary in mental attitudes and approaches.
2. Knowledge – it should have knowledge of science, technology and social sciences.
3. Skills – it requires conceptual skills (ability for innovative problem – analysis), planning skills, technical skills, managerial skills and human skills.
4. Vision – A development bureaucrat requires the vision of a statesman and not that of either narrow-minded politicians or a rule-minded bureaucrat.
5. Structures – it requires less hierarchical and more team-like structures such as Commissions, Boards, and Corporations etc.
6. Behavior – The behavioral pattern should consist of (a) action and achievement orientation (b) responsiveness (c) responsibility (d) all round smooth relations inside with juniors and seniors and outside with clientele and the public (e) commitment to development ideologies and goals.        
 
Besides, there should be: 
1. A working partnership between the civil servants and the people.
2. A sense of service, a spirit of dedication, a feeling of involvement and a will to sacrifice for the public welfare.
3. A pragmatic application of the basic democratic principles. Higher civil servants should provide the required leadership to the lower levels of administration.
4. Constant field inspection by senior officials.  
        i.    to provide the government with the ability to be in constant contact with the people; and
        ii.   to make the people conscious that the government is alive to their problem; 

Civil Services in India
The Civil Services of India runs the entire administration of the country. The elected ministers of India lay down the policies required to properly run the administrative machinery, which is then carried out by the civil servants in various central government agencies.
These civil servants are selected through the Civil Services Examination (CSE), the toughest nationwide competitive examination in India with a success rate of 0.1-0.3 percent– the least in the entire world.
The CSE is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for recruitment to the various civil services in the Government of India. The most prominent of these civil services include the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Forest Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Revenue Service (IRS) among others.
There are three categories of civil services
1. All India Civil Services
The All India Civil Services comprises the following services:
1. Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
2. Indian Forest Service (IFS)
3. Indian Police Service (IPS)
The officers in these offices are recruited by the Centre, but placed under various State cadres after being trained by the Centre. They have a liability to serve both the Centre and the State.
Since 2012, the first tier of both the Civil Services Examination and the Indian Forest Service Examination are combined.

2. Central Civil Services (CCS)
The Central Civil Services (CCS) is directly concerned with the administration and permanent bureaucracy of the Government of India. The specialised civil services fields in India mostly belong to the central services.
The CCS are classified into Group A gazette officers, who are appointed by the President of India himself, and Group B gazette officers, who are appointed by President-ordered authorities (except for officers for the Central Secretariat Service, who are selected by the President).
Recruitment process:
The recruitment of the CCS is made through the Civil Services Examination, the Engineering Services Examination of UPSC and the Combined Graduate Level Examination of Staff Selection Commission (SSC).

3. State Civil Services
The State Civil Services, also called the Provincial Civil Services deal with state related issues, including education, land revenue, forests, agriculture etc.
Recruitment process:
The State Public Service Commissions conduct the recruitments for these offices.

Indian Administrative Service (IAS)
1. Cadre controlling authority: Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions
2. Recruitment through: UPSC Civil Services Examination
3. Responsibilities:
IAS officers handle government affairs. They frame policies pertaining to a certain area like finance or commerce, modify the policies if needed and implement them through touring and thorough supervision of fund allocation etc. An IAS officer may have to represent the government in another country or in international forums, and if he/she is a Deputy Secretary, even sign agreements on behalf of the government.

Ranks:
An officer selected into the Indian Administrative Service gets exposure in very diverse roles like the collector, commissioner, head of public sector units, chief secretary, cabinet secretary etc.
The Cabinet Secretary is the top official who is involved in policy making, followed by Secretary/Additional Secretary, Joint Secretary, Director, Under Secretary and Junior Scale Officers in that order. The top ranking civil servant in the State is the Chief Secretary, who may be assisted by Additional Chief Secretaries; at the district level, it is the Deputy Commissioner or District Magistrate, while the Divisional Commissioner is the top official in charge of his division at the divisional level. IAS officers may get prestigious posts such as Finance Secretary, Development Commissioners and Home Secretary.  

Indian Forest Service (IFS)
1. Cadre controlling authority: Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
2. Recruitment through: UPSC Indian Forest Service Examination
3. Responsibilities:
The IFS officers sustain the environment and the ecological balance through strict implementation of the National Forest Policy. They work to conserve, protect and develop forests and wildlife.
Moreover, they also look towards developing the livelihood of forest-dependent communities in rural and tribal areas. IFS officers work in various forest and wildlife related national organisations such as the Wildlife Institute of India, Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy (IGNFA), Forest Survey of India, Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) etc.
IFS officers have the following ranks– Assistant Conservator of Forests – Probationary Officer, Divisional Forest Officer (DFOs), Deputy Conservator of Forests, Conservator of Forests (CFs), Chief Conservator of Forests (CCFs), Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Addl. PCCFs), Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (HoFF) (highest post in a State), Director General of Forests (India) (highest post at Centre).

Indian Police Service (IPS)
1. Cadre controlling authority: Ministry of Home Affairs
2. Recruitment through: UPSC Civil Services Examination
3. Responsibilities:
IPS officers look after public safety and security, which includes prevention of crime and its detection, accident prevention, traffic control and management etc. The IPS is not a law enforcement agency, but all senior level police officers belong to IPS, irrespective of their agency of work. To promote greater efficacy in work, the police service has certain subdivisions– Crime Branch, Traffic Bureau, Home Guards and Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
An IPS officer can serve in security and intelligence based national organisations such as the Central Reserve Police Force, Central Bureau of Investigation, Border Security Force, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau etc. They can also get placed in several PSUs and CAPFs. They also get opportunities to work with international organisations such as the United Nations, International Cricket Council, Interpol, various embassies around the world etc.
IPS officers can be a Director General of Police, thus looking after the law in the entire state, a Superintendent of Police looking after law on a district level, a Deputy Commissioner taking care of metropolitan cities, or a Commissioner of Police looking after a city. A Commissioner of Police possesses magisterial powers.

Observations by 10th ARC on Civil Service
Under the Presidential form of government (like in the US), the higher echelons of the civil services are, in contrast, appointed by the government of the day (spoils system). India has adopted the British model.  
Some advantages of having an independent, permanent and impartial civil service are as follows: 
i. The spoils system has the propensity to degenerate into a system of patronage, nepotism and corruption. Having a credible recruitment process through an impartial agency provides a defence against such abuse. 
ii. Public policy today has become a complex exercise requiring in-depth knowledge and expertise in public affairs. A permanent civil service provides continuity and develops expertise as well as institutional memory for effective policy making. 
iii. A permanent and impartial civil service is more likely to assess the long-term social payoff s of any policy whereas the political executive may have a tendency to look for short term political gain.
iv. A permanent civil service helps to ensure uniformity in public administration and also acts as a unifying force particularly in vast and culturally diverse nations. 
v. A permanent civil service like any other reputable profession is likely to evolve over time an ethical basis for its functioning. 

Conflicts between civil services and democracy
The areas of potential conflict in the relationship between the political executive and the permanent civil service can be identified as follows: 
a. The concept of neutrality
b. Advisory role of civil servants in policy making 
c. Statutory role of the civil servants 
d. Discharge of delegated functions 
e. Appointments/Recruitment to the civil services
f. Transfers and postings of civil servants

Changes in governments particularly at the state level often lead to wholesale transfer of civil servants. Political neutrality is no longer the accepted norm with many civil servants getting identified, rightly or wrongly, with a particular political dispensation. There is a perception that officers have to cultivate and seek patronage from politicians for obtaining suitable positions even in the Union Government. As a result, the civil services in public perception are often seen as increasingly politicized.
Overall, despite a few hiccups, the culture that respected the average civil servant flourished. A clear distinction between the policymaking role of the Minister and of the implementation function of the civil servant had come to be established. By and large, the latter could argue against a Minister’s decision without the peril of being humiliated or penalised. Once the Minister made up his mind after a discussion, he had the last word, and the Secretary had no alternative but to implement the decision. There was therefore everything in the system that promoted candour and honesty.
The watershed in the infamous history of the Indian administration thereafter was possibly the Emergency, declared in 1975 on specious grounds. The arbitrariness that ensued led to the dilution, if not the annihilation, of many traditional institutions. The civil service just caved in without protest. Since then, the floodgates have remained open, and there has been no stopping the process of tinkering with the civil service. 
Barring a few, Ministers both at the Centre and in the States have steamrolled the bureaucracy so much that a fear psychosis now envelops the whole civil service. The judiciary has generally been remiss in undoing the damage. This is because of the stand that it cannot step in where routine administrative matters (such as transfers and suspensions) are involved, and that an act of injustice done to a civil servant does not constitute any infringement of the fundamental rights embodied in the Constitution. The Administrative Tribunals have occasionally offered some redress but have not done enough to remove the fear that grips a majority of public servants. This explains the rot.
It is not as if the blame rests squarely with the politicians. Overzealous and greedy civil servants have contributed equally to the dilution of standards. Many of them have looked the other way when Ministers were found indulging in malpractices. Worse is the case of those who have themselves functioned as conduits for money passing to Ministers. A third category comprises those who are themselves guilty of corruption and cannot blame their Ministers of unethical behavior.

Summary of 10th ARC Report
There is a clear democratic line of accountability which runs from the electorate through MPs to the Government which commands the confidence of a majority of those MPs in Parliament. The duly constituted government – whatever its political complexion – is assisted by the Civil Service which is permanent and politically impartial. Hence, Ministers are accountable to Parliament; civil servants are accountable to Ministers. That is the system we have in our country.
Some advantages of having an independent, permanent and impartial civil service are as follows:
i. The spoils system has the propensity to degenerate into a system of patronage, nepotism and corruption. Having a credible recruitment process through an impartial agency provides a defence against such abuse. 
ii. Public policy today has become a complex exercise requiring in-depth knowledge and expertise in public affairs. A permanent civil service provides continuity and develops expertise as well as institutional memory for effective policy making. 
iii. A permanent and impartial civil service is more likely to assess the long-term social payoffs of any policy whereas the political executive may have a tendency to look for short term political gain. 
iv. A permanent civil service helps to ensure uniformity in public administration and also acts as a unifying force particularly in vast and culturally diverse nations. 
v. A permanent civil service like any other reputable profession is likely to evolve over time an ethical basis for its functioning. 
A healthy working relationship between Ministers and civil servants is critical for good governance. While the principles governing the roles and responsibilities of Ministers and civil servants are well defined in political theory, in the actual working of this relationship this division of responsibility becomes blurred with both sides often encroaching upon the other’s sphere of responsibility. In any democracy, Ministers are responsible to the people through Parliament and therefore the civil servants have to be accountable to the Minister. However, an impartial civil service is responsible not only to the government of the day but to the Constitution of the land to which they have taken an oath of loyalty. At the same time, implementing the policies of the duly elected government is a core function of civil servants. 
As observed by Paul Appleby, civil servants should not confuse ‘political neutrality’ with ‘programme neutrality’. At the stage of policy formulation, the role of civil servants is to render free and frank advice which should not be coloured by any political considerations. Once a policy or programme has been approved by the elected government, it is the duty of the civil servant to faithfully and enthusiastically see to its implementation. Not carrying out this task in the right spirit would amount to misconduct inviting appropriate sanctions.

Accountability of Civil Services
It is widely recognized that governance in India today faces a serious crisis of accountability. The very fact that despite significant economic growth, and substantial increases in social sector expenditures, India continues to perform far worse than countries much poorer than her on key development parameters is an indicator of just how deep the problem of accountability is. Accountability failures have meant that absenteeism, incompetence, inefficiency and corruption characterize every core service that the state is obliged to deliver to its citizens
A diagnostic Accountability can broadly be defined as the obligation of those holding power to take responsibility and be held answerable for their behavior and actions. This obligation might stem out of a moral‐ethical need to account for one’s behavior, or out of a legal requirement. It is a relational concept, as it concerns the relationship between those that perform an action or deliver a service and those on whom the service has an effect. 
There are two elements to actualizing this notion of accountability. The first is the question of determining who should be accountable to whom and for what?  Second is that of developing institutional mechanisms and an incentive structure for sanctions and rewards on the basis of which accountability is realized. Accordingly, accountability has an answerability element‐ the need for justification of actions, and an enforcement element‐ the sanctions that can be imposed if actions or justifications are judged unsatisfactory. Public accountability‐ the need for the institutions of the state to be accountable for its actions ‐ stems out of a social contract that citizen’s share with the state. 
There are institutional provisions to ensure that the state respects this contract. On the one hand, there are mechanisms for external accountability or accountability directly to citizens. In democracies, elections are the chief institutional mechanism through which this is achieved. There are also mechanisms for internal accountability – institutional checks and balances and internal oversight. 
The constitutional separation of powers into the judiciary, executive and the legislature, internal performance monitoring and official oversight including bodies like the auditor general and ombudsmen are some examples of internal accountability.    Public accountability is realized through a ‘long route’ where external and internal accountability ‐ the two arms of the long route‐ operate in tandem.3 First, citizens must be able to draw on external accountability mechanisms to express their preferences and hold the state‐  politicians and senior levels of the administrative bureaucracy‐ to account for the fulfillment of these preferences. 
The state in turn, acting as an agent for its citizens, must be able to activate internal accountability mechanisms to transmit these demands to the actual provider of services (line agencies, departments, public sector bodies) and hold them accountable for service provided. Accountability is ensured when the incentives to service providers are aligned to the ultimate preference of citizens and providers are made directly accountable to people.   
The long route of accountability fails when on the one hand, external accountability is weak and the state does not succeed in taking cognizance of its citizenry’s needs and demands and on the other, the state is unable to create incentives for providers to satisfy citizen’s wishes and be accountable to them. 

Performance Appraisal
Parliamentary panels have suggested making partial disclosure to civil services officers of their performance appraisal report on the lines of the process followed by the Army.
The committees have noted the concerns raised by various stakeholders that the empanelment under the Central Staffing Scheme is not providing a level playing field to all participating services, especially the non-IAS services.

All the institutions or bodies involved in the empanelment and appointment process of joint secretary and above level posts under the Government of India, predominantly comprise officers of only one service, the IAS, the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.
This is perceived by non-IAS services to have tilted the balance in favour of the IAS in the empanelment and placement process.
The committees have felt there was a need to make the process broad-based by associating officers of other services in the empanelment and placement process for appointment to the posts of joint secretary and above and stressed that. They have favoured making the appraisal process consultative and transparent but also appreciated the difficulty for anyone to be truly objective “if his/her assessment is to be disclosed to the person reported upon”.

Domain Expertise
Arguably the biggest question confronting the IAS is its lack of specialisation. The IAS was modelled on the colonial era Indian Civil Service as a generalist service to deliver the core functions of the state — collect taxes and maintain law and order. The challenge of development in a large, populous and impoverished country was probably not on the radar screen when the IAS was designed. But it soon became apparent that this development task would become central to public administration, especially at the state level. The IAS adapted to these changing dynamics by retooling itself as a “development agent”, and on the whole acquitted itself quite creditably.
As economic reforms deepened and the state started yielding to the market, the nature of administration changed, demanding domain knowledge, especially at the policy level. This raised questions about the role and relevance of the IAS. Two views emerged.
The first is the argument that the best leadership is provided by generalists who have a breadth of understanding and experience. Specialists, no matter how competent, tend to have a tunnel vision and are not equipped to take a broader view. Sure, domain knowledge has to feed into policy-making, but that can be accomplished by domain experts advising the generalist leader in decision-making. In this worldview, a good IAS officer can head the Department of Agriculture as competently as she would the Department of Shipping.

The opposing view is that the IAS, as generalists, tend to over-weigh their experience of the process and form over understanding of policy content. Only someone who has learnt the subject from the trenches, as it were, can provide competent leadership in a functional area. Having the IAS head specialised areas is an inefficient arrangement.
This debate has frowned upon moderation. But there is no need to look for binary solutions. The complex and interconnected nature of policy-making demands that specialist expertise has to go with generalist experience. Notably, the Constitution Review Commission 2002 suggested the “need to specialise some of the generalists and generalise some of the specialists”. That seems to be a wise dictum for the way forward.
That raises the challenge of managing specialisation. When does an IAS officer start to specialise? How will the system be operationalised? 
The private sector’s example is instructive. There, young professionals are typically recruited in specialised areas and they rise to generalist leadership positions negotiating their way up the hierarchy. What we have, or should have, in the public sector is in fact its reverse. Young recruits join the IAS as generalists, acquire breadth and then go on to acquiring depth.
The first decade of an IAS’ career is typically spent in field postings with responsibility for policy execution which hones her administrative and people management skills, apart from imparting invaluable understanding of ground realities. From there an IAS graduates to policy formulating positions, at the centre and state levels. This transition provides the ideal marker for beginning to specialise — combining the soft skills they have learnt with the hard skills of a specialised domain.
Managing specialisation can be a complex challenge. How much specialisation should there be? How should officers be allocated among the specialisations? What should be the weightages for expressed preferences and revealed competencies? Once allocated a specialisation, how should an officer’s career be managed?
A starting point can be to categorise ministries broadly into three groups — welfare ministries, regulatory ministries and economic ministries since experience suggests that each of these categories demands broadly similar behavioural attributes and aptitudes. A couple of principles should inform the process.
First, allocating officers across specialisations cannot, and should not, be reduced to a formula. It is best to work the system flexibly, allowing specialisation to emerge gradually through a process of deliberate iteration at the mid-career level. This will facilitate officers in specialising as they move up the hierarchy based on their revealed aptitude and performance record. Because the system needs to be flexible, it places the onus on the government to make it predictable and transparent.

Capacity building and Performace Appraisal
The current closed performance appraisal system for government servants offers significant limitations. It has few, if any, quantified targets and conducts little evaluation against the achievement of those targets. The definition of a good performance, and the level of performance expected by civil servants remains in confusion, while the system can be influenced by unclear performance standards and bias on the part of superiors and politicians.
The current process only considers adverse grading (the full annual confidential report is not disclosed to the civil servant), leaving a civil servant unclear about their current performance standing. Our focus should shift from ratings and politically motivated evaluation, to performance planning, regular 360 degree reviews and a coaching system to induce motivation and higher performance.
The appraisal reports should be more consultative in nature and offer greater transparency. Detailed work plans and mid-year reviews of performance should become habitual.
The mechanisms for implementing government employee compensation increases are flawed. The Seventh Pay Commission, long delayed, has raised salaries by 23.5%. This increase, enacted effectively by demarche, will have a significant macroeconomic impact, estimated at Rs 2.5 lakh crore for FY17 (salaries 38%, allowance 29%, pensions 33%).
Such a significant increase can disrupt government finances by a few years – after the Sixth Pay Commission, pay, allowances and pension in central government finances rose to 2.3% of GDP by 2009-2010, from 1.9% of GDP in 2001-02. States can be hit particularly hard — while for the central government, the share of pay and allowances in revenue expenditure was 13% (14th Finance Commission), the ratio for states varied from 29% to 79% in 2012-13.
In addition, the potential expansion of the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) principle to all civilian employees could have a significant inflationary impact on pensions. A gradual salary increase process, as conducted in the private sector, would be amore stable option.
India cannot continue with a decadal pay commission. It could focus on facilitating lateral entry into the workforce, restructure our personnel deployment, while linking compensation directly to the private sector and productivity expectations.
India’s public services require more doctors, teachers, engineers, and fewer data entry clerks. Reforms advocated by the Administrative Reforms Commission should be our initial step. This is the time to build capacity for an efficient civil service that can meet today’s challenges – providing a corruption free welfare system, running a modern economy and providing increasingly better public goods.
To ensure productivity is unhampered, periodic audits of government departments need to be conducted on a regular basis, with a focus on timeliness, customer satisfaction and cost effectiveness. Improved public service delivery, through better compensation, should be our ethos.

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