PRIME Minister Narendra Modi admires Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for his foresightedness in reposing faith and continuing with the Westminster Model of governance after attaining Independence in 1947. In a speech to the Constituent Assembly in 1949, then home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel highlighted the IAS’ role in encouraging centre-state harmony, claiming that “you will not have a united India, if you have [not] a good all-India service which has independence to speak out its mind.” The ICS that first came into existence through the Government of India Act of 1858 has passed through many upheavals. The British came to rule the Indians but India got Independence to serve the masses. So the perception of the ICS as a “steel frame” as once referred to British Prime Minister David Lloyd George in 1922 has changed. The moot point today is does India needs civil servants to rule, serve or administer.
In May 2014, Narendra Modi summoned all 77 secretaries of central departments and ministries to his official residence for a closed-door meeting. The meeting, the first in a decade, was to understand the civil servants of India. After ruling India for three years, it appears Modi is not enthused about the measured working style of civil servants and appears to be experimenting with domain experts to administer some of the core ministries in a better way. gfiles has analysed in detail the induction of domain experts from outside the government. Former Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar writes, “The problems of governance are much larger; first we need to address the question whether the idea of generalist administrator has actually failed its purpose before seeking a solution. Secondly, even if the idea is accepted in principle, its implementation would present enormous problems; one of the main problems being how to avoid discretion and favouritism; thirdly, the meagre salary structures in government without perks may not be enough to attract really capable specialists from the private sector.”
MG Devasahayam further asks further asks, “But they need to answer one moot question–in the Indian context what is the needed ‘domain expertise’ for those who run the government? Is it corporate-pandering and pushing predatory ‘development’ models thrust by rich ‘movers and shakers’? Or is it basic governance delivered through effective and just governments that could uplift the miserable millions and keep the country united. If it is the former, the IAS is certainly dispensable. Not so, if it is the latter.”
This issue also reports on MP Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan’s threat to hang MP’s civil servants. Our Senior Editor Rakesh Dixit explains, “In fact, the digitisation of land records — hailed by the Centre as a ‘game changer’ for farmers — could turn out to be just another can of worms in MP, where scammers have allegedly converted government land into private by hacking the security code of the land record management software, minting hundreds of crores.” The issue of alleged land record fabrication will have a multiplier impact on the ongoing debate on privacy of an individual. Our Contributing Editor Alam Srinivas in his story ‘My right or state’s”, writes that “privacy is the individual’s right to make a choice. In theory, and in an ideal situation, it should encompass every choice, be it related to family, gender identity, and surveillance. This is why the nine-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court asked in “what areas” will this choice extend to. Hence, a definition of this right, and its specifics, become crucial. The idea about such a right is so “amorphous” that we need to know “its content”, “its contours”, and the obligations that the State has to protect them.”
VOL. 11 | ISSUE 5 | AUGUST 2017