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To get a deeper understanding and feedback on the issues pertaining to the civil services, the key principles of civil services reform which need to be particularly emphasized are mentioned below:

Setting right the asymmetry of power:

  • It is noted that there is an imbalance in the exercise of power in governance. Often systemic rigidities, needless complexities and over-centralization make public servants ineffective and helpless in achieving positive outcomes.
  • On the other hand, negative power of abuse of authority through flagrant violation of law, petty tyranny and nuisance value is virtually unchecked.
  • This situation is further aggravated by the asymmetry of power in our society.
  • The `privileged’ government position gives even the lower government functionaries, enormous power over most of the citizens given the abject poverty, illiteracy and a lingering feudal culture. This needs to be set right in any effort towards public services reforms.

Insulating civil servants from undue political interference:

  • In a democracy, the civil service has to be answerable to the elected government. There is criticism, however, that increasingly partisan intervention and cronyism are undermining the Rule of Law, distorting incentives and condoning corruption.                 KEY PRINCIPLES OF CIVIL SERVICES REFORM
  • This is adversely affecting the morale of public servants.
  • The relationship between the political executive and the civil services needs to be transformed on the basis of mutual understanding, respect and recognition of each other’s distinct roles and responsibilities.

Professionalisation with stability of tenure and competition:

  • There is need to recognize the complex challenges of modern administration in various spheres of activities.
  • Meeting such challenges require domain expertise and long experience in the sectors concerned. There is also need to foster excellence in the public system.
  • Existing procedures and practices do not adequately help in developing domain expertise, nor do they help in utilizing the available domain expertise.

Citizen-centric administration:

  • The fact that the functioning of the civil services has an impact on the quality of governance and thus on the well being of the citizen and the welfare of the community as a whole is often forgotten.
  • The perception of the civil services today is of a vast impersonal organization without commitment to human needs and values.                   KEY PRINCIPLES OF CIVIL SERVICES REFORM
  • It is necessary to redress the situation particularly in this era of participative democracy by making the governance apparatus an instrument of service to the people.


  • There is a general feeling that existing mechanisms of accountability are inadequate.
  • On the one hand, there are alibis for non­performance and on the other, competence and integrity are not adequately recognized or rewarded.
  • Therefore, innovative and effective mechanisms need to be put in place to protect public money, guarantee intended outcomes and enforce accountability.

Outcome orientation:

  • Monitoring in government is primarily through measurement of expenditure against outlays and at best through defined outputs.           KEY PRINCIPLES OF CIVIL SERVICES REFORM
  • Clearly, there is need to move towards measurement of outcomes. A change in this direction has already started with the initial outcome budgeting exercises
  • . In order to engineer this shift to outcomes, major changes in attitudes, monitoring and evaluation systems, incentives and accountability measures are necessary.

Promoting public service values and ethics:

  • Apart from the traditional civil service values of efficiency, integrity, accountability and patriotism, it is necessary for civil servants to inculcate and adopt ethical and moral values including probity in public life, respect for human rights and compassion for the downtrodden and commitment to their welfare.



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