Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Excellence in Public Service

Dear Friends ,

Came across this article from a scolar who taught civil servants and civil service aspirants in public administration. This article serves as a good beginning for those who want to be in public services especially for civil servants or public servants .I have highlighted the important stuff and putting in to your hands. Excellence in public service can be brought when everyone thinks - Yes I can but not when everyone thinks why me?


(Author - Prof. Joseph K. Alexander
Chairman. IIPA Kerala Regional Branch)

What is Public Service

One evening, a cousin and a student of the University College, called in for a chat. During that he mentioned that he joined a student wing of a political party. He continued, “My aim is to be an MLA or MP for at least one term. I will amass enough for the next 3 generations of me.” In real life over the last 20 years, he made himself a political leader of sorts.

Man is essentially selfish. He is also inherently religious. God is in him. Man from his birth conceive and develop a god in his mind. It may be a stone, an idol, a bird, an animal, or finally a god in his own image. The evolution of creating god may or may not stop at that.

Man live in society with other men and the flora and fauna of the environment. All idealistic systems: religious, political, social and economic, try to liberate man from his selfishness to godliness in him, to love all others around and to live in such a way as to preserve his environment for the sustenance of the human life and Universe. The aim of excellence in PS is also the emergence of this ideal society of the greatest happiness of the greatest number and a good quality of life for all. It must provide him the basic minimum needs of life such as shelter, potable water, health, education, decent employment and participatory infrastructure and role in civic life. Now a days this is hindered by the increase in functions and functionaries of the government, and lack of Will of public servants and politicization of administration and corruption. This corruption is as old as public administration. It is the greatest hindrance to excellence in public service. In quantity-constrained regimes like India corruption has permeated to all sectors and aspects of life of the citizen. Political will to cajole, persuade and compel the administration is the remedy to excellence in public service.

Who renders Public Service?

One kind of public service is to be a politician. Being a bureaucrat of the government is another kind of public service (PS).

What Mother Theresa, Florence Nightingale or Mahatma Gandhi did is still another type of individual public service. Paulose Mar Gregorios Award 2005 for Creative compassion was presented to Baba Amte at New Delhi. On that occasion A.P.J. Abdul Kalam President of India wrote in his message “ Baba Amte is a living legend and an example of the Gandhian spirit in his approach to solving social problems of our nation”. This is the public service we expect from public men

Pre-war Era

We shall confine our discussion to the Government’s public service rendered by politicians and bureaucrats. In the early days when the State was simplistic, its function was limited to preservation of law and order within and protection of the boundaries of the State from foreign invasion. So public service was merely political administration. In the classical age the goal of public service was the greatest good of the greatest number of the citizens.

“Praja sukhe sukham rajyaha praja namcha hitehitam
natma priyam hitam rajaha prajanam cha hitam priyam“

“ In the happiness of his subject lies the king’s happiness, in their welfare his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever pleases his subjects.” Kautilya’s Arthasasthra.

King Rama went to the other extreme of divorcing Sita to satisfy the rumormongers of the state. The style of functioning of the civil servants then was of impeccable integrity and honesty. Even in pre-independent India the ICS servants of the British Raj was famous for this style of work. Gandhiji also insisted that the public servants should be trustees. They should use the power for the benefit of the people and in a non-exploitative and uncorrupt manner.

Modern Governments of Developed Countries.

With the advent of division of labour and industrialization, wealth and income rose. The State functions evolved out to new areas of provision of public goods like roads, bridges, waterways, and services like education, hospitals, health facilities, transport systems etc.

The 2nd world war necessitated a large amount of planned movements of men and materials to the war front. Economic planning to win the war or reviving the economy or for greater economic growth became the principal function of the Government. The theoretical underpinning of the Keynesian technique of demand management came handy to revive the economy. Thus application of the Monetary and Fiscal policy techniques became a significant work of public servants.

As marginalisation of the weaker sections was increasing, equity and justice in the dispensation of public service became another equally important phase of PS.

With the increase in the functions and size of bureaucracy efficiency in PS deteriorated all over the World. Modern governments adopted new corporate management and marketing techniques and some New Public Management (NPM) system to induct efficiency in PS. Better emoluments and business orientation is prescribed for civil The State also tries now to become a facilitator than provider of services.

Developing Countries and corruption.

In developing countries like India generally resources are far less compared to the teeming millions of people. So these quantity constrained regimes find it difficult to have enough public servants, to cater to the needs of the people. The supply of goods and public services are far less than the people’s demand for them. The costly parliamentary elections add to the worry.

Most of the candidates personally and their political party leaders separately collect funds massively. Some of these collections are extortions. Thus corruption and criminalisation became the style of elections and government. Some of these candidates are goondas.

Corruption isn’t specific to India. It is all over the World. The lawmakers, their cabinet members and party bosses extort millions. Their civil servants bask on the crumbs that fall from the table to the floor.

Transparency International (TI) is the leading global non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption worldwide. WWW.Transparency International It examined corruption in 62 countries in 2004 to mark the UN International Anti-Corruption Day. Its report was published in Berlin on 9th December 2004. The report says, that in India legislatures and private sector business are the worst scoring 4.6 and 4.5 respectively, in the scale 1 to 5; 5 being cent percent corrupt.


Political parties 4.6 ;Parliament/ Legislature4.6; Legal system/ Judiciary 4.0;Police 4;Business/ private sector 4.5 ;Tax revenue2.9 ;Customs 3.4 ;Medi3.9a ;Medical services2.7 ;Education system 3.8; Registry and permit services 3.8; Utilities 3.7 ;Military 3.5 ;NGOs 1.9 ;Religious bodies 2.7

Controlling corruption.

Political will is the only remedy for corruption. If that can be mustered, many others can be added to enforce that “WILL” like Judicial activism, insisting on the accountability of the executive and civil services, simplifying the procedures of decision making and implementing them, insisting on transparency etc. In these days of declining standards hoping for such a “WILL” is at least now beyond imagination. It is the political parties and the parliamentarians that perpetrate corruption in developing countries. So what is wanted is a special training or orientation to the politicians. More NGO activity like “Parivartan” of Aravind Khejeriwal is also warranted.

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