General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance): Role of Civil Servants

Civil Servants

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Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2 (Indian Governance)


Discuss the Role of Civil Servants in Strengthening Democracy?



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. Sardar Patel called the bureaucracy the steel frame of India. This itself shows how important is bureaucracy for democratic countries like India. Democracy is the foundation ,Bureaucracy is the frame work that builds our country.

How does Bureaucracy strengthen Democracy?

It has been found that The Civil Servant has crucial role to ensure continuity and change in administration.  Bureaucrats strengthen the democracy in following ways.

  1. Facilitating Democracy: –
    • The civil servants play a vital role in maintaining the democratic ideals by assisting their political heads (Ministers) in policy making function and in implementing the policies made. 
    • Civil servants ensure that policies promote democratic ideals by not hampering human rights,
      •  For Example:  Transgender bill which affirmed that the fundamental rights granted under the Constitution of India.
  1. Equality and welfare of state: Civil servants are responsible for putting constitutional values and objectives into practice . Equality and welfare of states are implemented through non-discriminatory basis.
    • Recent example, where District magistrate of Maharashtra refused to attend a school event unless dalit students are allowed to sit in a hall.
  2. Rule of Law:

Constitutional mechanism in itself provides for the protection of the rule of law through the creation of monitoring agencies.

The role of the Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General in the exposure of several scams is remarkable.

 Ex: 2G spectrum scam one of the largest financial scams exposed.

4. Making Institutions Vibrant, Responsive and Accountable

Public administrations implement policies efficiently and are accountable and responsive to users, corruption and harassment are curbed, and the power of the state is used to redistribute resources for actions benefiting poor people.

    • Ex: Ashok Khemka is renowned example of civil servant holding democratic values dear to him. He is best known for cancelling the illegal Delhi land deals belonging to powerful people.
  1. Active Citizens’ Participation – Decentralization and Delegation
    • The most recent “collector bro” of Kerala, Prasanth Nair, is known for his citizen centric approach.
    • His innovative ideas — such as Operation Sulaimani, a decentralized participatory project to address hunger in urban areas; Tere Mere Beach Mein Were huge success, with active citizen participation.
  1. Transparency

Civil servants along with Government of India made some policies to provide a transparency in governance, more citizen centric, with reference to the strategies and processes, the tools and mechanisms, which can be usefully employed to make the administration citizen centric.

Example: Right to information act amendment;  e-Governance.

  1. Ethics in Governance

Civil servants uphold the ethics in governance activities, hence to keep up the democratic values and ideals.

  • Ex: Public service bill 2006, which enumerated fundamental values of public service, code of ethics with objective of developing public services as a professional, politically neutral merit based and accountable civil service.
    • K.C. Sivarama krishnan, a civil servant, was the architect of 73rd and 74th amendment acts. Local governance institutions created by these acts led to strengthening of democracy to new level.
  1. Civil Service Reform

Role of the civil servant is to initiate and actively participate in all the processes leading to the development of policy and ensure that the policy is agreed by government and it is faithfully and honestly executed. The civil service is the most important single institution affecting the lives of the citizens of a state. 

  1. Innovations in governance and constitutionalism

Innovations in public administration emphasizes on the role of public managers in providing high quality services that citizens value and advocates increasing managerial autonomy, particularly, by reducing central agency controls.

  • Restructuring of the Planning Commission in India and re-christening it as NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, particularly under the milieu of political economy of reform and innovations in public administration
  • Surendra Singh Solanki an IAS officer, was conferred with the PM’s award in the category of best innovation for his unique solar lamp project that was turning poor and lesser educated tribal women from the most backward blocks of the district into green entrepreneurs.


Major challenges of civil services.

  • Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building; especially in lower strata of services.
  • Inefficient incentive systems that do not appreciate upright and outstanding civil servants
  • Outmoded rules and procedures that restrict the civil servant from performing effectively
  • Lack of adequate transparency and accountability procedures – there is also no safety for whistle blowers
  • Arbitrary and whimsical transfers and promotions, insecurity in tenures impedes institutionalization.
  • Political interference and administrative acquiescence
  • Gradual erosion in values and ethics
  • Patrimonialism


Reforms needed

  • The development work needs some flexibility from a strict observance of rigid rules and regulations. Rigid rule bound bureaucracies should be changed into flexible and action oriented.
  • Reforms are required in the field of recruitment of civil servants so that right people could be recruited who can ensure smooth functioning of democracy.
  • Training of civil servants should be able to bring about behavioural and attitudinal changes.
  • Administrative procedures, rules and regulations need to be simplified so that red tapism could be minimized
  • Adoption of modern management techniques such as management by objectives to elimination of corruption so as to secure clean, honest, impartial and efficient administration creation of new work culture and encouraging creativity.



Civil services in India constitute a major support in governing rules and implementing policies. It has vital role in the Indian governance system. From the British rule in India, civil services had been modified and effective in its operations. The role of civil services has changed over the time. Civil servants have been trained to deal with upcoming challenges arising out of globalisation. They will have to shift their orientation from being controllers to facilitators and from being providers to enablers. They need to prepare themselves with the essential skills and capabilities to tackle these new challenges. They need to be proficient in new technologies and new styles of functioning for the growth of nation and to maintain democratic values.


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