Value Added Article: What Kind of Reforms Do the Civil Services Really Need? | Category – Governance | Source – EPW

Relevance: GS Paper II (Governance)


Economic and Political Weekly

Why has this article surfaced?

Recently, there has been talk of reforming the administrative services and especially, the process of recruitment.

The Reforms


    • Earlier this year the government decided to allow the recruitment of 10 experts to the joint-secretary level from outside the services.
    • This move has raised serious questions about the political inclinations that the appointed experts might have, and how the ruling party might use it to their benefit.
    • There are risks of corrupting the service with this reform, but one must hope that the process of selection is impartial.
    • The government should ensure stable tenures so that there is incentive for officers to acquire expertise in their chosen sectors.
    • Many have condemned the bypassing of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as an attempt to facilitate the backdoor entry of people committed to the present government’s ideology, or recruit employees working for those industrialists who are close to the ruling party.


    • It is not that reform in the services is not welcome. There are several structural problems that have crept up in the administrative services, such as disproportionate representation.
    • The trend in 1970s shows that ‘sarkari’ schools produced the majority of our civil servants. This trend has now changed which is undemocratic. Students appearing in the English medium now dominate the scene, though students can appear in all the languages recognised by the state.
    • The students appearing in Hindi are able to compete somehow but other linguistic groups are in a disadvantaged position.
    • Though the Indian civil service is turning into a representative organisation from caste and community point of view, at the same time it is getting confined to a small section of the society.
    • The percentage share of Muslim officers recruited by the services did not correspond with the percentage share of Muslims with regard to the total population.


    • It has been claimed that bureaucratic machinery is no longer serving its purpose because of a severe lapse in discipline and ethics.
    • Checks and balances and accountability have reduced.
    • It has been suggested that the very constitutional provision on which the civil services are based needs to be urgently reformed to make room for “a new code of ethics based on self-regulation, accountability and transparency.”
    • Under the Central Civil Services (CCS) (Conduct) Rules, 1964, fundamental rights available to citizens of country are sometimes denied to officers serving in the cadre.
    • Nearly 70 years after independence, civil servants in this country no longer want to be treated as unruly kids ignorant of their roles and responsibilities. The house of cards in which they have been made to live for so long needs to be dismantled once and for all. The dated CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964, must be consigned to the dustbin of history and replaced by a new code of ethics based on self-regulation, accountability and transparency.