India's Sleeping Bureaucrats!!

While India’s Prime Minister was delivering a lecture on the need to make the Civil Servants more efficient and effective.. our bureaucratic babus were…. well.. sleeping through the speech!!! This most wonderfully exemplifies the Indian situation!!

Secrateries taking a nap during the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh Speech on the occassion of Civil Service Day Function at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday/ Tribune Photo/Mukesh Aggarwal

Asserting that the civil services has to reorient itself and be trained to deliver better services to the people, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today put several posers before the country’s civil servants, including whether the present method of recruitment was appropriate for inducting the right persons into government.

Addressing the first Civil Services Day function here, Dr Singh, credited with the country’s liberalisation process, also stated categorically that market signals could not have significance for millions of people living on the edge of subsistence with little in the form of assets or skills to be active participants in the evolving market economy.

“To make the government more efficient, we need a new public service orientation in the thinking of civil servants. You cannot view yourself as mere administrators. You are also managers. You have to manage change and manage efficient delivery of public services. This new orientation must begin at the very beginning,” he said.

“Are the civil services adequately equipped to address these emerging challenges? If not, what must we do to address these challenges? Is the present method of recruitment appropriate for inducting the right kind of persons into government? Are performance assessment and appraisal methods for preparing the civil services for the emerging demands on them and the government? How do we make the civil services an attractive career proposition for a talented young persons?,” Dr Singh asked.

Mr Singh said while there might not be immediate answers to these questions, the issues must be addressed “if the civil services have to be reinvented to meet the needs of the future”.

Maintaining that the modernisation of economy and society would require the governments to play new roles in an increasingly transparent manner, he said, “Our civil servants must learn to seek the right information and utilise it for public good.”

Referring to the explosion of civil service activities, the Prime Minister said governments need to constructively engage with civil society, actively seek answers to problems in a transparent manner and manage the interface with public opinion effectively.

“Effectiveness and efficiency of public service delivery is increasingly being demanded as a basic right of the citizen. The government is expected to be a service provider than a mere administrator of public service delivery system”, he said.

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