When the nation is in a jubilant mood at the 75th anniversary of its independence, the Indian Civil Service has to do a soul search. ‘Are you civil to the people?’, ‘Are you in service of the common man?’ India expects every civil servant to do his duty. People want action, not an alibi for inaction.
India wants its civil service to hold hands with the less privileged who have fallen on the way. India needs Karmayogis who will be friends in need for the common man. The Mission Karmayogi, announced by the Prime Minister, is the proverbial stitch in time for the Indian bureaucracy. Taking in its fold 46 lakhs of government employees, this imaginative exercise has come at a time when people look forward to good governance as the key to the progress of India, particularly in the post-covid world. The well thought-out, people-oriented programs of the government should not be lost on the way but should reach the end user, the common man.
What are the salient features of the Mission Karmayogi? This Rs. 510 crore project, which is sought to be implemented in the country under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister himself, seeks to overhaul the bureaucratic machinery and make it well-oiled and fighting fit. Its main features are:
- It will cover 46 lakhs of government employees
- It will keep the bureaucracy updated in domain knowledge, behavioural propriety and result-oriented outlook.
- Periodic training will be monitored concurrently and the bureaucracy evaluated on the basis of their performance.
- Promotions will not be mechanical and automatic but dependent on merit assessment.
- Civil servants will get an opportunity to improve their skills and upgrade their faculties through online courses of world class standards, mentored by prestigious universities.
- Officers will be transformed from the ruled-based to role-based in their approach.
- Indian bureaucracy will be equipped to be one among the best in the world through continuing education and attitudinal corrections.
What are the deliverables of Mission Karmayogi?
- Domain training: Apart from improving the domain knowledge of the officers, the project will also include modules for their behavioural, functional and specific competencies.
- Rule-based to role-based: The basis of the program is the transition of Indian bureaucracy from rule-based to role-based approach. The training standards across the country will be synergised, upscaled and its uniformity maintained.
- New India: The mission proposes to build a civil service with the right attitudes, approaches, skills and knowledge in tune with the vision of new India.
- On-sight learning: This provides an opportunity for the officers to improve their faculties through on-sight learning
- Global best practices: The scheme will lead to the understanding and adoption of the global best practices for the benefit of the Indian bureaucracy. The economist Keynes has said " The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.” The resistance to change is perhaps the greatest impediment which foments the status quo attitude characteristic of Indian bureaucracy. Exposure to global practices will help promote lateral thinking.
Sardar Patel wanted India to be led by the best of the lot in the nation. Somewhere on the way the shortcomings and inadequacies of the nuts and bolts of the government started showing off so much so that the common man was apprehensive whether the ill-fated mammoth called bureaucracy would buckle under its own weight.
The Mission Karmayogi is a step in the right direction, a step taken at the right time. From a police state to the largest democracy in the world, India has transformed itself to a welfare state. It is imperative for the government to ensure that its development and welfare policies reach the targeted group in the field. Last mile connectivity is extremely important. It is to ensure that the gap or hiatus between the government and the governed is narrowed so that this momentous mission has been launched.
Let us go to a scene at the Seattle Special Olympics. Nine children with special ability are on the track for the 100 yard dash. As the whistle goes, they all start off. One young boy tumbled and fell on the ground. Two of the children who ran ahead turned around and began running towards the injured boy. The two helped the fallen boy to his feet. All three of them held hands together. They ran together. They finished together. Everyone cheered them, some with tears rolling down their faces.
This should serve as an eye-opener for civil servants. They are the privileged one who run ahead. Are they willing to come back and lift their brothers and sisters who has fallen on the way? That is what the nation expects of them. If they fail, there can be no excuses. The problem is: once they cross the gates of Mussoorie Academy, they believe that they are Gods. They stop reading. They stop listening because they know everything. Mission Karmayogi is meant to equip the Indian civil service to explore the sound of silence, the inner world of administrative acumen.
Indian civil services need to be restructured, revamped and reoriented on the principles of good governance prescribed by the United Nations .
Is the bureaucracy corrupt? The answer is distressing. The vast majority may be above board, but there is a shocking minority which sells their soul for filthy lucre. As Shakespeare said: ‘misery makes strange bed fellows’.
When he came to power, Prime Minister Modi said: “ I will not eat your money and I will not allow anybody else to eat your money”. Dozens of civil servants from various services were dismissed from service during the past seven years. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Enforcement Directorate (ED), and others have been directed by the government to identify corrupt civil servants.
Chanakya has said about bureaucracy, "Lack of knowledge and skills, laziness, gluttony, over-indulgence, lust, anger, fear, greed and misuse of knowledge, power and designation are the sources of corruption in the government employees." A prophetic description of the present status of India’s civil service?
A corruption free civil service may be the best birthday gift to Bharat Matha when she celebrates the 75th anniversary of her independence.