This refers to the article “The Minister versus the civil servant” (Feb.11). Most civil servants clear an all-India service examination, after a tough and stringent recruiting process where honesty, integrity and morality are duly evaluated. After entering the service, many of their acts reflect that they have forgotten that the word ‘service' is part of what is ‘civil service.'
Many of them collude with the corrupt either out of fear or due to pecuniary motives. Such an atrocious mindset is dangerous to the system besides affecting the morale of other dedicated colleagues and countless aspirants who perceive this service as a pristine endeavour for being an agent of distributing welfare and justice to the common people and to make this land as one of opportunities for fellow beings. Civil servants should vow to be upright and conscientious in their duties and pledge to fight against the corrupt. There should be adequate measures to reinvigorate the old reputation of the civil service without the slightest taint.
Arjun R. Shankar,
It might be easy to blow the whistle from the gallery, but it takes grit and candour to play on the ground. There is no doubt that the act of silent submission, let alone of active participation, in illegal ventures of the political class by the intellectual elite, who are revered as the vanguard of the administration, is a disgrace to the institutional set-up. But equally valid is the argument that in at least a few cases, civil servants, who fear the wrath of politicians, refrain from an undiluted execution of their duties.
Right advice at the right time. The categories of people described by the author not only exist in the civil service but everywhere in India — in politics, the defence services, the judiciary, education, health, research, and the fourth estate. Indian society is being metastasised. We are not going to be a strong nation with these elements.
While it is heartening to note the advice given by the author, let us hope officers respond positively.
While more independence should be provided to civil servants, they must be granted security of their tenure. Let us not forget that there are honest civil servants. Who can forget H.M. Patel (former Principal Finance Secretary) who spoke out against then Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari in the Mundhra case of 1957?
This incident happened some time in 1958-59. The Minister (for Mines and Fuels) was Sardar Swaran Singh, and who was in Jawaharlal Nehru's Cabinet while the Secretary was S.S. Khera, ICS. There was something they both could not agree on, with Khera expressing in writing his reasons for disagreeing with the Minister. The Minister stuck to his decision and recorded the same. In those days, if a Secretary disagreed with the Minister, he had the right to take up the matter with the Prime Minister. Khera insisted on making use of this prerogative and had the file sent to Nehru, who, after carefully going through it, overruled the Minister. Later Khera was made Principal Defence Secretary, and still later Cabinet Secretary. Sardar Swaran Singh continued to be a very powerful Cabinet Minister. If political masters are clean, the civil servant-minister relationship can be very productive.
The article reflects the true state of affairs of the bureaucracy. Who is at fault? The civil service has lost its sheen as it has failed to adhere to basic values. Over the years, “the steel frame” has corroded.
While R.K. Raghavan has categorised civil servants as “one who looks the other way,” one who acts as a conduit” and “one who himself indulges in corruption,” what we lack is “one who exhibits righteous indignation whenever something is amiss.” The Labour Party's Richard Crossman succinctly summed it up when he said: “The civil service is profoundly differential — ‘Yes Minister! No Minister, If you wish it, Minister'!”