Day 43 – Q 1. Can India afford to do away with the civil services? Share and substantiate your views. 

  • IASbaba
  • July 29, 2020
  • 0
Governance, GS 2, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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1. Can India afford to do away with the civil services? Share and substantiate your views. 

क्या भारत लोकसेवा के बगैर रह सकती है? अपने विचारों की पुष्टि करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects students to share their views on  whether India afford to do away with the civil services or not. It also expects to give relative examples while sharing the views.


The Civil Services refer to the career bureaucrats who are the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India. The civil service system is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country.


Virulent criticism has led to demands by some that civil services has outlasted its purpose and must be abolished. Over time many have felt that the service has failed to meet any of these objectives satisfactorily nor does it now draw the best talent and, therefore, appears to have become an anachronism.  This debate of doing away with civil services came in to picture due to following specific reasons:

  • In essence, Indian administration still functions very much the same way it functioned 165 years ago. Its resources have changed; its mind and spirit remain the same.
  • The sorry state of the country in terms of its economy, public healthcare, education, research and innovation even after 73 years of independence is well known.
  • The higher ranks of civil service claim a hand in formulating national policies too. This means that the blame for the many failed policies of the past 73 years must fall on the civil service too.
  • There is no logic for recruiting directly at the top: All over the world, people are recruited at the bottom of the ladder and from there, they earn their promotions depending on their merit, as proved through departmental examinations. 
  • For instance, The DGP of Kerala is a direct-recruit IPS officer with a minimum of 30 years of service. The present New York Police Department commissioner, had joined the police as a patrolman (that is, at the bottom of the ladder) in 1991.
  • The un-Indian, feudal soul of the civil service: Civil servants do not tire of referring to themselves as the ‘steel frame’. But it was the British administrations concept, they constituted civil services to strengthen their control on  India.
  • Corruption: It is a fact that many people are attracted towards civil services due to the tales of corruption. They know some officers or they have heard about some officers who have made millions. They join the civil services to make lot of money illegally thinking that it is easy to do so.

However, there are some proponents of continuity, the value of maintaining Indian Civil Service is premised on following underlying beliefs:

  • The civil service is present all over India and it thus has a strong binding character. Though Indian polity has federal character it is unitary in its spirit. Hence, a central service is essential to act as binding agent between Centre and the state.
  • It plays a vital role in effective policy-making and regulation. e.g. After 73 years of independence Indian economy. e.g. India has become the fifth-largest economy in 2019, overtaking the United Kingdom and France.
  • It offers non-partisan advice to the political leadership of the country, even in the midst of political instability. e.g. the period between 1985 to 1995 for Indian polity has saw a great upheaval still India maintained its growth trajectory due to the  advice and formulations of policies of ‘steel frame’.
  • The service gives effective coordination between the various institutions of governance, and also between different departments, bodies, etc.
  • It offers service delivery and leadership at different levels of administration. e.g. There are many examples of the civil servants who worked hard to provide benefits of welfare schemes  up to the last person on the ladder.
  • Developmental Functions: The services perform a variety of developmental functions like promoting modern techniques in agriculture, promoting industry, trade, banking functions, bridging the digital divide, etc.
  • For example, Sandeep Nanduri, IAS: Launched a cafe which is run exclusively by differently-abled persons.
  • Administrative Adjudication: The civil services also perform quasi-judicial services by settling disputes between the State and the citizens, in the form of tribunals, etc.
  • Instruments of Social Change & Economic Development: Successful policy implementation will lead to positive changes in the lives of ordinary people. It is only when the promised goods and services reach the intended beneficiaries, a government can call any scheme successful. The task of actualising schemes and policies fall with the officers of the civil services.
  • For example, IAS officer Raj Yadav  the District Magistrate (DM) in sikkim, kick-started the ‘District Administration’s Adopted Village’ or ‘DAAV’ initiative. A model where the district administration would adopt an underdeveloped village and take direct responsibility for its development. Such initiatives brought a positive transformation in more than 7,500 lives!


Though there are some lacunas and drawbacks of civil services which resulted in exposing some of the dark realities of the civil services; it doesn’t mean that the civil services have not contributed in the development of India. Altogether doing away with the civil services might result in collapse of the administration. Hence, a balanced approach of reforming civil service should be adopted so that the civil service can contribute more for the welfare of the people.

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