Topic: GS2 – governance.
- The Union government clarified the use of the term “Rath Prabharis” for civil servants during the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, replacing it with “nodal officers.”
- The Congress raised objections, questioning the involvement of officials in pre-poll “political propaganda.”
Issues of Appointing Civil Servants for Political Purposes:
- Impartiality at Stake: When civil servants are deployed for political activities, their impartiality in serving the government of the day comes into question. This can undermine public trust in government institutions.
- Violation of Service Rules: Using civil servants for political tasks may violate service rules and codes of conduct that mandate their neutrality and commitment to serving the public interest.
- Ethical Dilemmas: Civil servants may face ethical dilemmas when asked to engage in political propaganda, potentially compromising their professional integrity.
- Partisan Activities: Involving civil servants in pre-poll activities blurs the lines between the bureaucracy and political parties, eroding the distinction between the two.
- Public Perception: Such appointments can create a perception that government resources are being misused for political gains, leading to public skepticism.
- Conflict of Interest: Civil servants are best placed to offer unbiased advice to the government. Engaging them in political roles may lead to conflicts of interest.
- Erosion of Administrative Efficiency: Shifting civil servants away from their core administrative functions can disrupt the efficient delivery of public services.
Measures to address these challenges:
- Clear Guidelines: Establish clear guidelines and codes of conduct that explicitly prohibit civil servants from engaging in political activities.
- Ethics Training: Provide ethics training to civil servants to ensure they understand the boundaries between their administrative roles and political involvement.
- Strict Enforcement: Enforce disciplinary actions for civil servants found engaging in partisan activities, demonstrating a commitment to upholding the rules.
- Independent Oversight: Introduce independent oversight bodies to monitor and report on potential violations of neutrality by civil servants.
- Transparency: Promote transparency in the appointment and deployment of civil servants, ensuring that such decisions are based on merit and not political affiliations.
Question: Examine the implications of utilizing civil servants for political tasks and its impact on the bureaucracy’s impartiality and ethical standards. Suggest measures to address these challenges for upholding the integrity of the civil services.