Civil Services of India
The Civil Services refer to the career bureaucrats who are the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India. The civil service system is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country.
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In India's parliamentary democracy, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the people's elected representatives—cabinet ministers. But a handful of ministers cannot be expected to deal personally with the manifold problems of modern administration. Thus the ministers lay down the policy and it is for the civil servants, who serve at the pleasure of the President of India, to carry it out. However, Article 311 of the constitution protects them from politically motivated or vindictive action.
Civil servants are employees of the Government of India or of the states, but not all employees of the Government are civil servants. As of 2010, there were 6.4 million government employees in India but fewer than 50,000 civil servants to administer them.
Civil servants in a personal capacity are paid from the Civil List. Senior civil servants may be called to account by Parliament. The civil service system in India is rank-based and does not follow the tenets of the position-based civil services.
|“||If a responsible government is to be established in India, there will be a far greater need than is even dreamt of at present for persons to take part in public affairs in the legislative assemblies and elsewhere and for this reason the more Indians we can employ in the public service the better. Moreover, it would lessen the burden of Imperial responsibilities if a body of capable Indian administrators could be produced.||”|
|— Regarding the importance of Indianising Civil Services, Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms|
The present civil services of India are mainly based on the pattern of the former Indian Civil Service of British India. Warren Hastings laid the foundation of civil service and Charles Cornwallis reformed, modernised, and rationalised it. Hence, Charles Cornwallis is known as 'the father of civil service in India'.
Cornwallis introduced two divisions of the Indian Civil service—covenanted and uncovenanted. The covenanted civil service consisted of only Europeans (i.e., British personnel) occupying the higher posts in the government. The uncovenanted civil service was solely introduced to facilitate the entry of Indians at the lower rung of the administration.
The All India and Central Services (Group A) were designated as Central Superior Services as early as 1924. From 1924 to 1934, the administration of India consisted of 10 All India Services and 5 central departments, all under the control of the Secretary of State for India, and 3 central departments under joint Provincial and Imperial Control.
The present modern civil service was formed after the partition of India in 1947. It was Sardar Patel's vision that the civil service should strengthen cohesion and national unity. The values of integrity, impartiality, and merit remain the guiding principles of the Indian civil services.
By the early 21st century, especially in Indian media, Indian civil servants were regularly colloquially called 'babus' (as in 'the rule of babus'), while Indian bureaucracy is called 'babudom'.
The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, located in New Delhi, is unofficially the 'Ministry of Civil Services'. The Ministry is responsible for training, reforms, and pensions for the civil service system in India.
Constitutional provision for All India Services
The constitution under Article 312 gives authority to the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of Parliament) to set up new branches of the All India Services with a two-thirds majority vote. The Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and Indian Forest Service have been established under this constitutional provision.
Power, purpose, and responsibilities
The responsibility of the civil services is to run the administration of India. The country is managed through a number of central government agencies in accordance with policy directions from the ministries.
Among the members of the civil services are administrators in the central government and state government; emissaries in the foreign missions/embassies; tax collectors and revenue commissioners; civil service commissioned police officers; permanent representative(s) and employees in the United Nations and its agencies; and chairmen, managing directors, and full-time functional directors and members of the board of various public-sector undertakings, enterprises, corporations, banks, and financial institutions. Civil servants are employed to various agencies of India and can also be appointed as advisors, special duty officers, or private secretaries to ministers of the Union and the State Government.
All appointments in the rank of Joint Secretary to Government of India and above, other major appointments, empanelment, and extension of tenure are done by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. Lower appointments are handled by the Civil Services Board.
Civil servants are the actual makers of Indian law and policy. They work on behalf of the elected government and cannot publicly show their disinterest or disapproval for it. It is mandatory for them to form certain rules and policies according to the government's views and interests. However, they cannot be removed by any state or central government, but can only be retired.
Head of the Civil Services
The highest ranking civil servant is the Cabinet Secretary. He is ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board; the chief of the Indian Administrative Service and head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India. He also holds the 11th position in the Order of Precedence of India.
The position holder is accountable for ensuring that the Civil Service is equipped with the skills and capability to meet the everyday challenges it faces and that civil servants work in a fair and decent environment.
Values and codes
A member of the civil service in discharge of his/her functions is to be guided by maintaining absolute integrity, allegiance to the constitution and the law of the nation, patriotism, national pride, devotion to duty, honesty, impartiality and transparency.
- To discharge official duty with responsibility, honesty, accountability and without discrimination.
- To ensure effective management, leadership development and personal growth.
- To avoid misuse of official position or information.
- To serve as instruments of good governance and foster social economic development.
The Higher Civil Services of India can be classified into two types - the All India Services and the Central Civil Services (Group A). The recruits are university graduates (or above) selected through a rigorous system of examinations: Civil Services Examination, Engineering Services Examination, Combined Geo-Scientist and Geologist Examination, I.E.S./I.S.S. Examination, Combined Medical Services Examination, Central Armed Police Forces of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for Group A posts.
All India Services
Central Services (Group A)
(a) Selection Grade (b) Grade I.
(a) Customs Branch (Indian Customs Service, Group 'A') (b) Central Excise Branch (Central Excise Service, Group 'A') (c) Income Tax Branch (Income Tax Service, Group 'A')
(a) Railways, Group 'A'
(a) Grade I (b) Grade II
(a) General Cadre, Grade I (b) General Cadre, Grade II
(a) Selection Grade (b) Senior Administrative Grade (c) Junior Administrative Grade (d) Grade I (e) Grade II
Central Services (Group B)
For Group B posts, the Combined Graduate Level Examination (CGLE) is conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC). All appointments to Group B are made by the authorities specified by a general or special order of the President.
- Armed Forces Headquarters Civil Services
- Botanical Survey of India, Group 'B'
- Central Electrical Engineering Service, Group 'B'
- Central Engineering Service, Group 'B'
- Central Excise Service, Group ‘B’
- Central Health Service, Group ‘B’
- Central Power Engineering Service, Group ‘B’
- Central Secretariat Official Language Service, Group ‘B’
- Central Secretariat Service, Group 'B' (Section and Assistant Section Grade officers only)
- Central Secretariat Stenographers’ Service, (Grade I, Grade II and Selection Grade officers only)
- Customs Appraisers Service, Group ‘B’- (Principal Appraisers and Head Appraisers)
- Customs Preventive Service, Group ‘B’ – (Chief Inspectors)
- Defence Secretariat Service
- DANICS, Grade II
- DANIPS, Grade II
- Geological Survey of India, Group 'B'
- Indian Foreign Service, Group ‘B’ - (General Cadre, Grade I and General Cadre, Grade II only)
- Indian Posts and Telegraphs Accounts and Finance Service, Group ‘B’ Telecommunication Wing.
- Indian Posts & Telegraphs Accounts & Finance Service, Postal Wing, Group ‘B’
- Income Tax Service, Group ‘B’
- Indian Salt Service, Group ‘B’
- India Meteorological Service, Group ‘B'
- Survey of India, Group 'B'
- Postal Superintendents’ Service, Group ‘B’
- Postmasters’ Service, Group ‘B’
- Railway Board Secretariat Service, Group ‘B’
- Telecommunication Engineering Service, Group ‘B’
- Telegraphs Traffic Service, Group ‘B
- Zoological Survey of India, Group 'B'
State Services (Group A)
The State Civil Services examinations and recruitment are conducted by the individual states public service commissions in India. These services are feeder services of All India Services. All appointments to State Services (Group A) are made by the Governors of States.
All State Judicial Services are completely group A service & as par with All India Services i.e., IAS. Their appointment made by Governor of respective states after the consultation / approval of the respective states High Courts.
- Higher Judicial Service (HJS)
- Provincial Civil Service-Judicial Branch (PCS-J)
All State Civil and Administrative Services in India above the rank of Deputy Collector are group A service. The officers of following services are later promoted to IAS.
All State Police Services above the rank of Deputy SP are group A service. The officers of following services are later promoted to IPS.
State Services (Group B)
The state civil services (Group B) deal with subjects such as land revenue, agriculture, forests, education etc. The officers are recruited by different States through the respective State Public Service Commissions, and appointed by the Governor of that state.
- Deputy Collector
- Deputy S.P.
- S.D.O. of various departments
- Assistant Registrar Cooperative Societies
- Block Development Officer
- District Employment Officer
- District Food and Supplies Controller/Officer
- District Treasury Officer
- District Welfare Officer
- Excise and Taxation Officer
- Tehsildar/Talukadar/Assistant Collector
- Forest Range Officer(FRO/RFO)
- Any other Class-I/Class-II service notified as per rules by the concerned State, i.e. officers, lecturers, assistants, associate professors, or principals of Government Degree Colleges, Class I
Concerns and Reforms
|“||The IAS is hamstrung by political interference, outdated personnel procedures, and a mixed record on policy implementation, and it is in need of urgent reform. The Indian government should reshape recruitment and promotion processes, improve performance-based assessment of individual officers, and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.||”|
|— The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace|
A study by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, released in 2012, ranked and rated Indian bureaucracy as the worst in Asia with a 9.21 rating out of 10. According to the study, India's inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy was responsible for most of the complaints that business executive have about the country. A paper prepared in 2012 by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions states that corruption is prevalent at all levels in civil services and it is institutionalised. The bureaucracy, a self-serving elite clique of babus which works in silos and does not serve the national interest, focuses more on the process rather than the positive outcome, with a resistance to change mindset and an attitude of "elected politicians will be replaced after 5 years but we will continue to hold power for next 35 years", has become corrupt and inefficient where there are some deterences against the deliberate acts of corruption but there is no mechanism to punish the omission or deliberate inaptness.
On 28 November 2011, the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT) of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions created a proposal to retire and remove incompetent, inefficient and unproductive All India Service officers after 15 years of service, instead of tolerating them until their retirement. Former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian welcomed this move with caution, saying, "Periodical weeding out is very good. But the process to determine who needs to be prematurely retired should be fair and transparent. There is a possibility that even good officers may be targeted because of political reasons,". Former UPSC chairman PC Hota echoed his sentiments remarking that, "We need drastic remedies. The situation has become terrible. The other day an officer in Delhi was arrested for disproportionate assets of Rs.31.5 million. She is just a 2000-batch IAS officer with 11 years of service. But at the same time, the officers' service records should be analysed before a decision against him was taken". The proposal has been accepted and rule 16(3) of the All India Services (death-cum-retirement benefits) Rules of 1958 was amended on 31 January 2012.
In October 2013, the Supreme Court of India, in the case of TSR Subramanian & Ors vs Union of India & Ors ordered both Government of India and State governments to ensure fixed tenure to civil servants. The court asked senior bureaucrats to write down the oral instructions from politicians so that a record would be kept of all the decisions. This judgement was seen on the similar lines of the Supreme Court's 2006 judgement in Prakash Singh case on police reforms. The judgement was welcomed by various bureaucrats and the media who hoped that it will help in giving freedom and independence to the functioning of bureaucracy.
In 2016, the Ministry of Finance for the first time, dismissed 72 and prematurely retired another 33 Indian Revenue Service officers for non-performance and on disciplinary grounds. In 2016, it was reported that Government of India has decided to empower common man to seek prosecution of corrupt IAS officers. Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (DOPT) has accepted to receive requests from private persons seeking sanction for prosecution in respect of IAS officers without any proper proposal and supporting documents. In 2019, Government of India dismissed 12 (IRS IT) and 15 (IRS Customs and Central Excise) officers for corruption and bribery charges. In 2019, Department of Personnel and Training in Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions listed 284 Central Secretariat Service officers for performance audit by review panel headed by Cabinet Secretary of India. From 2020-21, government will conduct common foundation course for all Group A services to counter the attitude of elite clique operating in silos.
Civil Services Day
The Civil Service Day is celebrated on 21 April every year. The purpose for this day is to rededicate and recommit themselves to the cause of the people. It is observed by all Civil Services. This day gives civil servants the opportunity for introspection and thinking about future strategies to deal with the challenges being posed by the changing times.
On this occasion, all officers of Central and State Governments are honoured for excellence in public administration by the Prime Minister of India. The 'Prime Minister Award for Excellence in Public Administration' is presented in three categories. Under this scheme of awards instituted in 2006, all the officers individually or as group or as organisation are eligible. The award includes a medal, scroll and a cash amount of ₹100,000 (US$1,400). In case of a group, the total award money is ₹500,000 (US$7,200) subject to a maximum of ₹100,000 (US$1,400) per person. For an organisation the cash amount is limited to ₹500,000 (US$7,200).
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Bureaucracy knows no bounds...
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