M A I N   N E W S

Time for reorientation of civil services: Manmohan Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 21
Asserting that the civil services has to reorient itself and be trained to deliver better services to the people, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today put several posers before the country’s civil servants, including whether the present method of recruitment was appropriate for inducting the right persons into government.

Addressing the first Civil Services Day function here, Dr Singh, credited with the country’s liberalisation process, also stated categorically that market signals could not have significance for millions of people living on the edge of subsistence with little in the form of assets or skills to be active participants in the evolving market economy.

“To make the government more efficient, we need a new public service orientation in the thinking of civil servants. You cannot view yourself as mere administrators. You are also managers. You have to manage change and manage efficient delivery of public services. This new orientation must begin at the very beginning,” he said.

“Are the civil services adequately equipped to address these emerging challenges? If not, what must we do to address these challenges? Is the present method of recruitment appropriate for inducting the right kind of persons into government? Are performance assessment and appraisal methods for preparing the civil services for the emerging demands on them and the government? How do we make the civil services an attractive career proposition for a talented young persons?,” Dr Singh asked.

Mr Singh said while there might not be immediate answers to these questions, the issues must be addressed “if the civil services have to be reinvented to meet the needs of the future”.

Maintaining that the modernisation of economy and society would require the governments to play new roles in an increasingly transparent manner, he said, “Our civil servants must learn to seek the right information and utilise it for public good.”

Referring to the explosion of civil service activities, the Prime Minister said governments need to constructively engage with civil society, actively seek answers to problems in a transparent manner and manage the interface with public opinion effectively.

“Effectiveness and efficiency of public service delivery is increasingly being demanded as a basic right of the citizen. The government is expected to be a service provider than a mere administrator of public service delivery system”, he said.

Sharing the dais with the Prime Minister were Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachouri, Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T K A Nair.

Cautioning against forgetting that markets served those who were its part, Dr Singh said, “While markets can facilitate higher growth, a government must ensure that the growth was equitable, inclusive and not unduly harsh on those not equipped to manage change. Ensuring and assuring equitable and sustainable growth was an important challenge before the government and its managers”.

Describing the Central Civil Services as the “backbone of the governance structure” of the country, the Prime Minister reminded the participants that they represented a national establishment with a national responsibility. “The governments may come and go, but the administration endures and must play its due role”, he said.

Dr Singh said the government had taken several measures to improve the functioning of civil services, including new procedures for evaluation and promotion, greater transparency to the process and steps to ensure security of tenure and depoliticisation of appointments and transfers.

In his address, Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi said there was a growing perception that the integrity, uprightness and apolitical conduct of the civil servants were getting eroded. “Many have fallen pray to the temptation of questionable conduct”, he said, adding there were also instances of exceptional work done by civil servants.

The Prime Minister also visited an exhibition on evolution of civil services organised on the sidelines.

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