What Is the Role of Civil Servants in Independent India?

Narendra Modi presenting the award for Excellence in Implementation of Priority Programme Start-Up India under other states category, to Gujarat state, the Industries Commissioner, Ms. Mamta Verma receiving the award, at the 11th Civil Services Day function, in New Delhi on April 21, 2017
Narendra Modi presenting the award for Excellence in Implementation of Priority Programme Start-Up India under other states category, to Gujarat state, the Industries Commissioner, Ms. Mamta Verma receiving the award, at the 11th Civil Services Day function, in New Delhi on April 21, 2017

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, today presented awards and addressed civil servants on the occasion of the eleventh Civil Services Day.

Describing this day as one of “rededication,” the Prime Minister said that civil servants are well aware of their strengths and capabilities, challenges and responsibilities.

He said conditions prevailing today are quite different from about two decades ago, and would evolve much further over the next few years. Elaborating on this, the Prime Minister said that earlier, government was almost the sole provider of goods and services, which left a lot of scope for ignoring one’s shortcomings.


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However, now, very often, people perceive that the private sector offers better services than government. The Prime Minister said that with alternatives now being available in several areas, the responsibilities of government officers have increased. He added that this increase is not in terms of scope of work, but in terms of the challenge.

Modi emphasized the importance of competition, which brings qualitative change. He said that the sooner the attitude of government can change from regulator to enabler, the faster this challenge of competition will become an opportunity.

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The Prime Minister said that while the absence of government in a sphere of activity should be perceptible, its presence in a sphere of activity should not become a burden. He asked civil servants to strive towards such arrangements.

Noting the quantum jump in the applications for Civil Service Day awards, from less than 100 last year to over 500 this year, the Prime Minister said that the focus should now be on improving quality, and making excellence a habit.

The Prime Minister urged senior officers to ensure that experience does not become a burden that stifles innovation of younger officers.

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Narendra Modi said that anonymity is one of the greatest strengths of the civil services. He cautioned officers that the use of social media should not lead to a decline in this strength, even as social media and mobile governance are leveraged for connecting people to benefits and government schemes.

Speaking in the context of “reform, perform and transform,” the Prime Minister said that political will is needed for reform, but the “perform” part of this formulation must come from civil servants, while transformation is enabled by people’s participation.

The Prime Minister said that civil servants must ensure that every decision is taken keeping national interest in mind, and this should be their touchstone for taking a decision.

Recalling that the year 2022 would mark 75 years of independence, he urged civil servants to play the role of catalytic agents in fulfilling the dreams of freedom fighters.

Photo courtesy: Press Information Bureau

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Rakesh Raman