Extract ARCII, Report 10, "Refurbishing of Personnel Administration", Preface
Rapid and fundamental changes are taking place in the political, economic and technological fields. These call for major changes in the civil service.
- Far-reaching changes in the global economy have made it necessary to build a competent, well-functioning civil service.
- As a result of recent changes induced by globalisation, countries are competing internationally not only in the market place but also on the quality of their governance structures.
- The changed policy of deregulation, liberalisation and competition has suggested a new role for the civil service, emphasising the strategic management of the economy in less prescriptive and more market-driven approaches.
- The changes in the economic structure raise new demands related to control and accountability of the civil service as well as new definitions of professional obligations.
- In addition, the role and importance of civil society organisation and of the private sector in the Indian economy and the society in general have increased substantially over the years. As a result, it is important for the civil servants to see the private sector and civil society organisations as partners in the process of economic and social development of the country.
Reasons for resistance to change on part of civil servants:
1. Civil Servants resist changes as they are wedded to their privileges and prospects and thereby, have become ends in themselves.
In the political field, the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution have brought about major changes. Rural and urban local governments have been enabled to become institutions of self government. In order to make it meaningful, the existing system of administration of departments and the District Collectorate has to undergo fundamental changes. This has not happened to the extent envisioned. One of the principal reasons is the
2. Marked reluctance on the part of the civil service to accept the changes in control and accountability as well as the altered roles and responsibilities. This is because of the fact that most of the civil servants have been socialised to act in a manner that accentuates command and control methods rather than respond to people’s needs and aspirations.
3. Despite these momentous changes, the attitude of civil servants does not seem to have changed at all. This is because the civil servants still believe in the Hegelian prescription that they represent the universal interest of the society.
"Hegel argued that the most important institution in the state was the bureaucracy which represented “the absolutely universal interests of the state proper”. To Hegel, the bureaucracy was a transcendent entity, a mind above individual minds. He regarded the bureaucracy as the universal class, synthesizing the particularism of the civil society with the general interests of the state. For Hegel, the exercise of power by the bureaucracy was a mission sanctioned by God.It will not be an exaggeration to say that the civil service in India has continued to be faithful to the Hegelian dictum. It believes that its authority and legitimacy is derived not from the mandate of the people but from an immutable corpus of rules that it has prescribed for itself, without any correspondence to the needs and aspirations of the people it serves and the democratic ethos. That is why the functioning of the civil service is characterised by a great deal of negativity, lack of responsiveness to what the people want and the dictates of democracy".It is sad but true that the civil service in India evokes the metaphors of what Michel Crozier calls ‘bureaucratic behaviour’: the slowness, the ponderousness, the routine, the complication of procedures, and the maladapted responses of ‘bureaucratic’ organisations to the needs which they should satisfy, and the frustrations which their members, clients, or subjects consequently endure”.
That is why the civil service has to change. But not in the incrementalist manner that barely touches the basic structure. It has to be a total change, a thorough transformation, a metamorphosis.