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Role of Civil Services in a Democracy

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  • Difficulty Level : Hard
  • Last Updated : 28 Feb, 2022

India is the largest democracy and the Indian people are its ultimate source of power. All the countries need some kind of administrative machinery for the implementation of their policies therefore, civil services are the basis of the governments. Lord Cornwallis reformed and organized the civil services and is known as the father of civil services in India. A civil service official in India is a servant of the Indian society and is chosen on the basis of merit in the Civil Service Examination organized by the Union Public Service Commission. Civil services are part of the bureaucracy and the role of civil servants is determined by written rules. The Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, Indian Police Service, and Indian Forest Service are some of the important civil service posts of India.

Evolution of the Civil Services in India:

Indian civil service system had its origin in the Mauryan period. Kautilya’s Arthashastra laid down the principles of selection and promotion of civil servants, their code of conduct, the conditions of loyalty for the appointment, and the methods to evaluate their performance.  

In Medieval India, the Mughal civil service system focused on the management of land revenue, looking after government factories, and the development of the patrimonial state. Britishers use civil services to strengthen the British administration in India. Servants promoted British interests and their role was regulatory. As a result, civil servants became State Servants during British rule. Later on, developmental roles were also given to them. Civil services in India changed considerably after the enforcement of the Constitution of independent India. Civil services acquired a prominent role in implementing National and State policies of welfare and planned development processes.

Provisions enumerated in the Constitution:

Part XIV of the Indian Constitution states the provisions of civil services-

  1. Article 309– It deals with the powers of the Parliament and State legislatures.
  2. Article 310– It is concerned with the Doctrine of Pleasure.
  3. Article 311– It stated dismissal, removal, or reduction in rank.
  4. Article 312– It enlisted the creation of a new All India service.
  5. Article 315 to Article 322– All these Articles deal with Public Service Commissions.
  6. Article 323A– It is concerned with Administrative tribunals.

Functions of the Civil Servants For the Protection of Democracy: 

Civil servants assist in identifying pivotal policy areas and their role in policymaking and implementation is of paramount importance to the development process.  

A. Policymaking and Implementation

Due to their administrative expertise, they are the “think tank” of the Government. They collect data and information related to core issues. They engage themselves in developing policy proposals keeping in mind its future prospects, its acceptability, etc. It is also the responsibility of the civil servants to check the feasibility of the proposals in relation to the Constitutional provisions. They also take up the task of implementing the laws and policies of the Government.

B. Providing Welfare and Protective Services to the People

Civil servants by maintaining law and order protect the life and liberty of the people. With increasing environmental pollution, the protection of the environment also acquired a front seat. All the governments are taking steps to control it. Similarly, the current pandemic COVID-19 situation has become the priority issue over which rules are being made from time to time. No stone is left unturned by the civil servants in performing their functions.

C. Administrative Adjudication

This quasi-judicial role is also performed by the civil servants. They act as judges in Administrative tribunals and settle the disputes between the State and the citizens. Example- the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

D. Connecting Bridge Between State and the Society

Since citizens are the main focus point of the administrative system, the civil servant has become a connecting bridge between the State and the society. Most of the Government programs are managed and run by the civil servants only and they try to solve the issues faced by the citizens at the earliest which ultimately results in a smooth and closer relationship between them and the citizens.

E. Developmental Goals, Priorities, and Programs

Formulation of appropriate developmental goals and programs in order to secure the support of the people and for the development of the nation is the responsibility of the civil servants.

For example, the Break the silence initiative– (Chuppi Todd campaign) was launched by an IPS officer, Arif Shaikh thereby a WhatsApp number is circulated where women can lodge complaints with the police regarding abuse at home amidst the COVID lockdown. Similarly, Electricity smart meters were installed by an IAS officer, Ritu Maheshwari in order to tackle electricity theft in Kanpur. Another developmental goal was the construction of over 16,000 ponds done by the District collector of Dewas, Umakant Umrao who helped the farmers of Madhya Pradesh to fight against the drought issue.

Loopholes in the working of Civil Services:

  1. The existence of various outdated rules and procedures hinders the civil servants from performing their roles successfully.
  2. There is insecurity of tenures. Besides this, arbitrary transfers are common.
  3. A lot of political interference hampers the functioning of the civil servants.
  4. Providing reward to the incompetent and corrupt servant and neglecting the loyal one is also one of the loopholes behind their low performance.
  5. Irregular promotion and empanelment erode their ethics, self-esteem, and public service values.
  6. There is a shortage of adequate transparency and accountability procedures.


Civil services have a prominent role in Indian governance. Since British rule in India, civil services had been modified and operative. Due to rapid economic growth, civil servants have been trained to deal with issues arising due to globalization therefore, their role needs to be shifted from being controllers to facilitators and from being providers to enablers. A civil servant must be required to implement the orders of the government with utmost honesty and without any bias, fear, or favor. Political neutrality should be an accepted norm.

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