Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar recently addressed civil servants at the 16th Civil Services Day inauguration ceremony. He expressed concern over some bureaucrats at the state level wielding more power than politicians and called for introspection and counselling to ensure that civil servants adhere to the values and beliefs of the civil service. Dhankhar emphasized that the emasculation of the "steel frame of India" is taking place in some parts of the country due to ingratiation with political masters, straining the federal structure, and undermining transparency and accountability in governance.
Harmonious Functioning Between the Centre & States is Constitutional Imperative
Dhankhar highlighted the importance of harmonious functioning between the Centre and states as a Constitutional imperative. He emphasized that the civil service plays a pivotal role in ensuring this harmony by exhibiting scrupulous adherence to conduct and the legal regime. Dhankhar stressed the need for resolution beyond surface-level measures and urged civil servants to strictly adhere to the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968 and related legal provisions, including seeking written confirmation of oral directions from official superiors as mandated.
Governance by Oral Fiats Should End, Counselling and Guidance Needed
Dhankhar expressed concern that governance by oral fiats has become an acceptable form of governance in some parts of the country, and called for counselling and guidance from the civil service fraternity to put an end to this practice. He emphasized that governance based on oral directions undermines transparency, accountability, and the rule of law, and can have detrimental effects on the quality of governance and the reputation of the civil service.
Uniformity in Administration Across Union and States is Essential for Cooperative Federalism
Dhankhar emphasized the need for uniformity in administration across the Union and states to ensure that federalism blossoms into cooperative federalism as Prime Minister Narendra Modi envisioned. He expressed concern over the stance of some states on issues related to the All India Services, including the interchangeability of officers between the Union and states, and called for resolving these issues to ensure the efficacy and sublimity of the civil service are not compromised.
Doctrine of Separation of Powers Essential for Democracy
Dhankhar emphasized that the doctrine of separation of powers is essential for democracy to flourish and sustain. He urged civil servants to work collaboratively with the legislature, judiciary, and political executive, and avoid confrontation or complainant mode. He reiterated that the guiding principle for civil servants should always be "nation first" and urged them to reflect and revisit their thought process to ensure that their actions are in line with the values of nationalism.
Focus on Service Delivery and Use of Technology for Better Governance
Dhankhar lauded the civil service for their focus on service delivery to the common man and highlighted the role of technology in speeding up service delivery and eliminating middlemen. He acknowledged the impressive achievements of the civil service in bringing development to remote villages, humble families, and marginalized communities. He also cautioned civil servants about the pitfalls of media attention and urged them to avoid being swayed by the "media bug".
Recent Political Developments Have Improved Governance and Reputation of India
Dhankhar acknowledged that recent political developments in India, particularly in 2014 and 2019, have been watershed moments that have improved governance and the country's global reputation. He highlighted the sanitization of power corridors from undesirable elements and the eclipse of the power broker from my experiences that media attention, both positive and negative, can be overwhelming and distracting. It is important for civil servants to stay focused on their duties and responsibilities, serving the people and upholding the principles of the civil service, rather than seeking media limelight," he said.
Dhankhar also emphasized the need for continuous learning and skill development among civil servants to adapt to the changing needs of governance and public administration.
"Knowledge and skills are the backbone of effective governance. Civil servants must continuously upgrade their knowledge, hone their skills, and stay updated with the latest developments in their respective fields. This will enable them to better serve the people and contribute to the progress of the nation," he said.
He also stressed the importance of integrity and ethical conduct among civil servants, stating that honesty and transparency are crucial for maintaining public trust in the civil service.
"Integrity is the cornerstone of the civil service. Civil servants must adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, demonstrate transparency in their actions, and be accountable for their decisions. Upholding the principles of integrity and ethical governance is essential for building trust between the government and the people," Dhankhar said.