Role of Civil Services in a Democracy – UPSC Notes

Democracy refers to a system of government where people have the authority to choose their legislation. In a democratic system, power lies with the people of the nation. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth“. There are three typical branches of modern democracy: Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary.

India, the world’s largest democracy, has a parliamentary democratic system. In Parliamentary democracy, the executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and action, while the legislature is responsible to the public. The ministers, which are political executives, are elected for a temporary period. On the other hand, the Civil Servants are the permanent part of the executive.

Civil Services form a part of Bureaucracy, which helps both political policymakers and political executives. Civil servants are essential in a democratic system to ensure good governance. In a democracy, they have to be accountable to the political executives (Ministers). An impartial civil service is also responsible to the Constitution to which they have taken an oath of loyalty.

Importance of Civil Services

Civil service is the main component of the Indian Administrative System, which has a huge responsibility to achieve the development objectives and welfare of the State. The importance of the civil services develops from the following factors:

  • Civil Services offers non-partisan advice to the political policymakers, even in the midst of political instability in the country.
  • It plays a vital role in providing the shape to the policies and implementing these policies.
  • Civil service is present throughout the country, having strong binding character.
  • It provides effective coordination between various governance institutions, different departments, bodies, etc.
  • It offers leadership at different levels of administration.
  • Civil service is necessary to implement policies efficiently and morally, keeping in mind the security and sensitivity of the people.
  • It acts as a connecting bridge between the state and society.

Several other factors contributed to the increasing importance of civil services in modern-day democracy. Some of these factors are:

  • Welfare state: For a welfare state, the government has to perform major tasks like providing essential commodities, managing industrial and banking services, and controlling the private enterprise, which naturally increases the importance of civil services.
  • Economic Planning: Proper planning is required to achieve the country’s economic development objectives. This new responsibility relating to the planning activities, such as plan formulation and its implementation, has widened the scope of public administration.
  • Natural Calamities: To prevent the loss of life and property during the occurrence of natural calamities, such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods, the public administrations have to act quickly to undertake the rescue operation. Thus, it naturally enhanced the importance of civil services.
  • Population: The rapid growth of the population has further complicated the problems of providing food, education, shelter, health, and sanitation to the people. Thus, the responsibility to tackle these problems enhanced the importance of civil services.

Functions of Civil Services

The core function of civil servants is to implement the policies of the duly elected government. The objectives and plans of the government may be progressive, or the country may have abundant resources, but nothing can be accomplished without civil services.

  • Basis of Government: There can be no government without an administrative system. Almost all nations, irrespective of their system of government, have a piece of administrative machinery.
  • Participation in Policy formation: Civil services also assists the political executives in policy formulation. It participates in policymaking and advises the ministers by providing them the necessary information.
  • Instrument of Social and economic development: Another important function of civil servants is to set the right developmental goals and priorities. Any scheme made by the government can be successful when the promised goods and services reached the intended beneficiaries. This task of actualizing the schemes falls with the civil servants.
  • Development functions: Civil services have to perform development functions, such as mobilization of natural, human, and financial resources for their proper utilization. For agriculture development, they have to manage community resources such as land, forest, water resources, and wetlands.
  • A great Stabilizing force: when there is political instability, civil services act as a stabilizing force. While government changes after the election, civil services carry its role of governance. Thus, it provides administrative stability and continuity.
  • Protective functions: Another function of the civil servants is to maintain law and order, to protect the life and property of the people. Protection of the environment also comes under the protective function.
  • Administrative function: Civil service also performs quasi-judicial functions. For example, the administrative tribunal is set up to settle the dispute between the citizens and state.

Classification of Civil services in India

The Civil Services in India are classified into three categories: All India Services, Central Services, and State Services.

All-India Services

All India Services are common to both the Central and State governments. The member of these services holds the top positions under both Centre and State. At present, three all-India Services are:

  1. Indian Administrative Services (IAS).
  2. Indian Police Services (IPS).
  3. Indian Forest Services (IFoS).

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel came to be regarded as the Father of all-India Services. He was the chief supporter of all-Indian Service in the Constituent Assembly. In 1947, the Indian Civil Service (ICS) became Indian Administrative Service (IAS). In 1966, the third all-Indian Service, the Indian Forest Service (IFoS), was formed.

Under the All India Service Act of 1951, the Central government, in consultation with the State government, makes the rules and regulations of the recruitment and service conditions of the member of all-India Services.

The Central and State governments jointly control the all-India Services. The members are recruited and trained by the Central government but assigned to different States for work. The ultimate control is vested in the Central government, while immediate control is in the State government. The Central government can take any disciplinary action against the officers of these services.

Central Services

The members of Central Services work under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Central government and holds specialized positions in the various department of the Central government. Central Services are classified into Group A, Group B, Group C, and Group D. Some of Group A Central Services are:

  • India Foreign Service.
  • Indian Revenue Service.
  • Central Engineering Service.
  • Central Informative Service.
  • Indian Meteorological Service.
  • Indian Postal Service.

State Services

The members of State Services work under the jurisdiction of the State government and hold different positions in the departments of State government. However, they hold lower positions than those held by members of all-India Services. The number of State Services in a state differs from state to state.

Constitutional Provisions related to Civil Services

As per Article 53 of the Indian Constitution, the executive power of the Union is vested in the President directly or through officers subordinates to him. Similarly, Article 154 provides the executive power of the State is vested in the Governor directly or through the officers subordinate to him. These officers constitute the permanent civil services.

Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules govern the methodology of how the officers are required to help the President or Governor to exercise their executive functions.

Article 308 to 323 in Part XIV of the Constitution deals with Civil services. According to Article 309, the Parliament and State legislation can regulate the recruitment and the conditions of service of the civil servant under the Centre and states, respectively. The Conditions of service of a civil servant include pay, allowances, tenure, transfer, termination of service, promotion, leave, various types of rights, disciplinary action, and retirement benefits like pension, and provident fund.

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