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Mains Answer Writing

8-March-2024

Q1) The role of civil services as an enabler of development and an agent of change is undermined by a lack of political neutrality. Critically examine.

(150 Words/10 Marks)

ANSWER

Political neutrality is the quality of serving the government of the day without any personal political bias. In recent times, inability to function with political neutrality has been identified as a biggest weakness civil service:

  1. The questions of political neutrality raised from the functioning of constitutional bodies.

E.g., allegations of opposition party leaders regarding bipartisan functioning of the ECI; SC has mandated a collegium system for the appointment of election commissioners.

  1. The illicit nexus between politicians and civil servants has brought to the fore a desire for integrity and political neutrality in the civil service.

E.g., Ex-commissioner of Mumbai alleged that he was asked to collect 100 cr. per month by the Home Minister of state.

  1. As per critics, the use of investigative agencies like CBI, ED etc., is done for political exigencies to stifle dissent. The misuse of permanent executive by the ruling dispensation is unbecoming in a parliamentary democracy.
  2. According to some experts, the prevalence of spoils system has bred favoritism in appointments of bureaucrats to key positions.

E.g., questions raised over employing the ordinance route to extend the tenure of CBI and ED chief (CVC Ordinance 2021; DSPE Ordinance, 2021).

Despite such weaknesses, there are numerous ways in which the civil services have stood like a steel frame:

  1. Members of the civil services have distinguished themselves by ushering in reforms to strengthen the parliamentary democracy.

E.g., role of T N Sheshan, former CEC, in reforming electoral system in a non-partisan manner.

  1. The principles of integrity in civil servants have ensured their stellar role in development of social and physical infrastructure of the country irrespective of the ruling dispensation.

E.g., development of Delhi Metro by E. Sreedharan.

  1. The constitutional principles and ideas of a welfare state are implemented on the grounds by the civil servants.

E.g., rendering welfare (health, education etc.) services in inaccessible and inhospitable areas.

  1. Since independence, civil services have played a commendable role in upholding the unity and integrity of the country, putting it on a stable path of growth.

E.g., uniformity in governance across the length and breadth of the country.

  1. In the era of social media, the gap between the bureaucrats and citizens is narrowing. Direct scrutiny by the community has disincentivized civil servants to act in vested political interests.

The role of the civil services in taking the country on an equitable/sustainable growth path has been unprecedented; however, there is an urgent imperative to make holistic reforms in order to make the civil services more focused on outcomes.

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