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Insights Daily Answer Writing Challenge Day – 18

QUESTIONS ASKED DAY-18 (06/08/2013)

1)Explain the major criticisms of civil services and evaluate its changing role in the Indian democracy since independence.

2)“Agenda 21 is aimed at integrating environmental imperatives with developmental aspirations”. Elaborate



  1. Aravind Devanathan
    2 Votes


    Q :Explain the major criticisms of civil services and evaluate its changing role in the Indian democracy since independence.

    The Indian Civil services is the permanent executive arm of the government, whose mandate is to implement the executive decisions of the government and help the Indian citizenry in realising the goods and benefits it duly deserves. Civil servants, thus are involved in all important areas of governance. This demands the highest standard of professionalism, integrity and genuine concern of the welfare of the citizens.

    The various roles donned by the civil servants requires them to have a sound understanding of all aspects of administration, forethought on the consequences of their action, and above all, a clean public image that reposes faith in the country’s administration.

    Sadly, there has been mounting criticism on their functioning owing to inefficient administration, lack of leadership at many levels, low standards of service delivery , huge corruption and politician – bureaucrat nexus. Also , there has been demand for lateral entry of technocrats and experts from other fields into the civil services. This calls for unguent reforms in the functioning of civil services and a larger debate on the need for technocrats in bureaucracy .

    The role of civil services has expanded enormously because of greater decentralisation and social activism. In the wake of globalisation, the scope of economic development has become rapid and the civil service now has an additional role to play – increased concern about environmental and human security, deeper understanding of various dimensions of poverty and embracing cutting edge technology to provide services to the citizens. When the role of civil services are evaluated in these aspects, we see a huge gap in the demands and the deliverance. Therefore, a complete reorientation is needed for a more efficient functioning.

    • Amudhan
      2 Votes


      Hey Aravind
      paragraphs one and two will not fetch you any marks since it does not answer the question directly rather it defines and describes the civil service.
      Lateral entry of techocrats to increase dynamism and subject-specific competence is an excellent point. :)

      • Aravind Devanathan
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        Thanks for the feedback. :) para 1 and 2 was to define the traditional role without which i wudnt be able to explain their changing roles.

  2. 2 Votes


    1) Explain the major criticisms of civil services and evaluate its changing role in the Indian democracy since independence.
    Civil service is the only institution that survived the test of the time. It was brought in to existence by Lord Cornwallis. It has shown tremendous amount of resilience and strength of character to adopt and adapt to continuity and change.
    Civil service or bureaucracy is regarded as steel frame and legacy of British imperialism. Various criticism have developed regarding it. It is advocated that bureaucracy is closed to outsiders and open to itself and is a system of inefficiency and guided by elements of favouritism. It is neither public nor accountable and is riddled with red tapeism. It is self opinionated and lacks the diplomatic and bargaining power both at international, national and local level.
    The dysfunctions of bureaucracy are pointed out by state governments who consider it against the federal spirit and is used by centre to dominate over state. Other critics include lack of ethics, morality and humanity on the part of civil service.
    With the independence and indianisation of bureaucracy, there is a paradigm shift in its functioning. The local self government reform was marked by a change in the shift from top down to bottom up policy making. It brought bureaucracy closer to people and changed its character from administrative to managerial. It has constantly strived to maintain balance between international obligation and national aspiration, political direction and constitutional obligation. The changing role of bureaucracy can be gauged from the emergence of new challenges in the form of environmental concerns, socio-economic problems with the advent of globalization, ensuring accountability and transparency while preserving national security, intellectual property right, facing protest from different quarters of population.
    Hence it can be said that civil service continues to play significant role in administration and evolved as a system of bridging the gap between political executive and common man.

    • ashish
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      Hello sahil…
      As you mentioned in your answer; can you explain how civil services violate federalism.. and how central govt can dominate states using civil services as a mean..

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        Hi ashish,
        Civil servants are appointed by President of India on the recommendation of UPSC and they remain in office as long as they enjoy the pleasure of president. Thus, in practice they are accountable to Union Government. States have no say in their appointment and complain about the partisan character of services.
        civil service in a federal country like US is appointed by states and not by centre.

    • Rate This Response!


      good answer. But in last para you wrote “with independence and indianisation” , this sort of conveys that all the points before it refer to pre independence period.

  3. 4 Votes


    2) “Agenda 21 is aimed at integrating environmental imperatives with developmental aspirations”. Elaborate
    Agenda 21 is a voluntary, non obligatory road map perceived by different nations in 1992 au UN environment and development conference in Rio-de-Janerio, to be followed in 21st century for a sustainable, inclusive, efficient development and growth. It calls upon the nations to leverage the resources in such a way that it does not harm ecological balance, increase equality and provide better access to education and health through research and development.
    With two centuries of industrialization which was marked by exploitation of resources for acceleration of wealth, there has been an increase in global temperature. The same thing is now happening is second and third world countries. Due to absence of better technologies and lack of funds and human resource in the poorer nations, there has been an increase in green house emissions and deforestation, unplanned growth leading extinction of biodiversity and low human development index. In order to bring down global temperature and protect environment without hurting growth, it proposes an integrative, comprehensive agenda which will reduce wasteful consumption and encourage investment in sustainable, global best practices.
    It seeks to promote environmental sustainability through preservation of atmosphere, conservation of biodiversity, combating deforestation and desertification, controlling pollution etc. Further it reiterate the developmental activities in social and economic sphere by better investment in education, health, science, transfer of technology and international institutional support.
    The conference and agenda calls upon an end of economic and social polarization in world and proposes to establish an international platform for bringing in consensus for better progress and prosperity of humans which is environmentally safe and growth oriented.

  4. Jack
    3 Votes


    Date- 06/08/13, 1)Explain the major criticisms of civil services and evaluate its changing role in the Indian democracy since independence.
    Ans- Civil services are rightly been said to be the “steel frame” of India. Ranging from execution of policies to making of policies are being performed by civil servants in different positions. But there are certain criticisms that are continually being raised about it-
    Firstly, Nexus with politicians. Civil servants are expected to be party neutral & perform their duty without any political influence, but this is not the case actually. Many IAS,IPS officers have “‘good relations” with politicians. It acts as a win-win situation for them in the form of desired place of postings & non-interference in illegal activities but is a lose-lose situation for nation & its people. This can be stopped only through insulation between the two. Politicians should be ripped of the power of suspension/transfer of officers.
    The recent incident of suspension of IAS officer, Durga Shakti Nagpal by UP Govt has created a lot of controversy. This is not the first case. Earlier many such cases have come into attention of media concerning clashes between civil servant & politician-mafia nexus.
    Secondly, they are burdened with too much of work which reduces their efficiency. Not only this, it devolves enormous power into the hand of civil servant which can be misused by him/her. The power need to be more decntralised by distributing the responsibilties on more officers.
    Since Independence, India has seen a lot of changes & hence the way it should be governd need to change. First, it needs to be proactive in actions, if development has to take place. Only corrective actions will lead us to nowhere, we have to take preventive steps too. Second, with the advent of ICT, civil services should mould itself accordingly since it poses new challenges along with the oppurtunities. Thirdly, Climate change & pollution is a hot topic today which was not so when our nation became independent. Since CS are closest to the people, they can help in making & executing the policies for it accordingly. Lastly, preferences of people have changed. From “roti,kapda aur makaan”(food, clothing & shelter), it has gone to “pani, bizlee aur sadak” (water, electricity &road). Policies formulation & execution on these lines will lead India to a bright future.

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      Good answer. The role of RTI in administration – how civil servants are responding to it; challenges to civil servants because of internal security threats in many areas of the country; growing awareness among the masses because of education and dissemination of information which are throwing up new challenges in the form of protests and demands; coping with decentralization process; and ever increasing corruption and criminalization of politics and its effect on the functioning of civil servants.. should have been mentioned (how these factors are changing the role of civil servants)

  5. Asha Goud
    3 Votes


    Q “Agenda 21 is aimed at integrating environmental imperatives with developmental aspirations”. Elaborate

    A: All countries of the world met in 1992 at the UN Conference of Environment and Development. The conference recognized the challenges of maintaining healthy balance between development and preservation of environment. The conference did not negate development; rather it aspired for development for all along with conservation of environment.

    In the present situation climate change has become a major global issue. The developed countries are reluctant to take responsibility of reducing green house gases, instead want under developed countries to share responsibility equally which would have adverse effect on the development needs of these countries. In such situation Agenda 21 puts forward a very inclusive approach.

    Agenda 21 is a document that identifies the need to develop and adopt such strategies and technology aimed at achieving sustainable development. It is not a legally binding agreement and was voluntarily adopted at UNCED. Agenda 21 provides a framework for formulating strategies for sustainable development that are specific to the needs of the country. Also strategies can be developed at local and regional level with participation of all stakeholders.

    It supports development of sustainable cities with efficient transportation, energy efficient infrastructure, improved waste management, water conservation etc. In villages environment friendly agricultural practices to be adopted, increased participation of people in formulating development plans.

    Therefore Agenda 21 calls for conservation and management of natural resources and environment taking into consideration its social and economic implications in such a manner development is not lost.

    • Anjali Motghare
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      Asha have a look at agenda 21 document which available on net u ‘ll get much more points of integration of environment and development.

  6. Amudhan
    4 Votes


    Explain the Major criticism of the civil service and evaluate its changing role in the Indian Democracy since Independence?

    The Civil Service is seen as the Iron Cage of the nation. It is a continuation of our colonial past and still has remnants of its former modus operandi. Civil servants have traditionally not been available to the people. They perceive themselves and are seen by others as ‘Maibab’ with considerable discretionary powers. It is has also been described as alien to the aam admi and not being in tune with their legitimate aspirations. It is a top-heavy organization and formulates policy without knowledge of ground realities with regards to their success. E.g. distribution of tailoring machines, during Indira Gandhi’s time, to generate employment was a monumental failure. It lacks dynamisms and is slow to adapt to a changing world e.g. E-governance is still to be implemented fully in India and adoption has been slow.

    The role of the civil servant has undergone considerable change since independence. It has ‘on average’ (centralizing tendency of the Indira Gandhi period) shifted from being a driver of growth to a facilitator. Civil servants now actively engage NGO’s, the local community and other non-state actors in implementing programs. They are increasingly in tune with the people and meet their legitimate aspiration by augmenting the PRI institutions. Some roles however have not changed since independence. They are still a unifying force within the diversity of India. They have faithfully executed the policies of the elected representatives of the people. The Civil service is a significant part of the Indian polity and will continue to enjoy this pre-eminence.

    • 1 Vote


      Hello Amudhan. Nice answer, but I have few reservations regarding it-
      1. You have said “.. formulates policy without knowledge of ground realities with regards to their success…”. I don’t think so. Civil servants are people selected from the people itself. Before being a civil servant, we are in the society itself fully aware of the ground realities. Many meetings, seminars, sessions are organised for the purpose of getting the feel of ground realities. I don’t think we can blame civil services solely for failure of a policy. Moreover, the policies are framed by legislators mostly.

      2.Again ” ..They perceive themselves and are seen by others as ‘Mai-baap’ with considerable discretionary powers…”. No doubt the power provided to the CS are huge but considering oneself the king is a personality problem not that of the service. Not all civil servants think like that.Many are down to earth. Moreover, this case arises only with district admin. not all the post. Civil service is a versatile service with a lot of variations in posts & positions. Not all positions has this privilege.

      • Amudhan
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        Hey Itsmesagar
        i had a few reservations, myself, writing those two point regarding its sweeping generalizations.
        ty :)

  7. Keerthi Narayan
    3 Votes


    1. The civil services is the permanent executive machinery of the Indian state. It can be broadly grouped into All India Services, Central Services and the State Services. The role of civil services has been changing since Independence, From the initial days of Nehruvian socialist, welfare state to the post liberalisation state. At the same time, it is subjected to many criticisms as well. They are:

    1.Red Tapism: The government machinery is notorious for the slow pace of work. The bureaucracy is often criticized by the people for sticking to rules adamantly which leads to unnecessary delays. India ranks poorly in “Ease of doing businness” report by the world bank because of the no. of clearances required to start a business.

    2. Bribery and Corruption: Paying ‘greasing money’ for getting the work done has become so common in the government offices. Infact, the public service jobs have become so attractive because of the ‘under the table income’ that people are ready to pay huge amounts to get even simple posts.

    3.Insensitive to the common man: Though a lot of initiatives like Citizens Charters have come up, a majority of the govt. rules and procedures are difficult for the common man to comprehend. And the officers do not care to explain the purpose behind the rule.

    Changing role:
    The civil services of the 50′s and 60′s are different from that of what it is now. During the Nehruvian era, the civil services were primarily the machinery of the welfare state. It used to plan and execute welfare schemes for the betterment of the socio economic condition of the people. Nowadays, the civil services role has broadened to various aspects, though its primary work remains the same. The civil services now has grown to meet the growing demands of the modern state. The way of recruitment, the training, the technology with which it is endowed with, the accountability and the transparency has all improved thanks to civil service reforms.

    2. Agenda 21 is an action plan of the United Nations members regarding sustainable development. Since, developmental activities of the past have been at the cost of detriment of environment, Agenda 21 aims to integrate environment and development.

    Sustainable development means use of the resources for the development of the society in such a way that they are available in abundance for the future generations too. One of the objectives of Agenda 21 is to explore ways of integrating environment and such development.

    One way of achieving this objective is to integrate the two conflicting areas of environmental conservation and development at the decision or policy making level. This means that the policy makers, planners for development should also be made responsible for the planning and policy making of environmental conservation. For example, the ministry of environment and the ministries of commerce & industry and urban development can be guided by the same think tank.

    At the implementation level, such integration mechanisms and institutions should be placed at all levels of the hierarchy, central, state ans local body level. This will not only make the decision makers responsible for environmental conservation but also sensitivise those who so far had no exposure to such areas.

  8. simran
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    The civil service of India refers to the civil services and the permanent bureancracy of the govt of India. The civil service system is the backbone of the administration of the country.
    The present civil service of India is mainly based on the pattern of the IMPERIAL CIVIL SERVICE of the british India. It was formed after the Independence of India in 1947. It was Sardar Patel’s vision that the civil services should strenghten cohesiin and national unity. The values of integrity imparticularly and merits remain the guiding principle of INDIAN CIVIL SERVICES.
    Civil services of India classified into 2 types ….i.e. ALL INDIA CIVIL SERVICE & CENTRAL CIVIL SERVICES.
    The recruits are university graduates selected through a rigorous system of examination called the civil services exam conducted by UPSC.
    AIS ( All India Civil Service) apponted are made by the president of India where as CCS ( Central Civil Services) are concernd with the administration of union govt.
    The most imp time for change in the civil services occured after 1988 with the so called Next Steps Reforms. These reforms were issued after the publication of a major issues that he felt shoild be add i.e service lacked innovation; too lare to be efficient with too many jobs diplication and some deep overlaping what oyhers did; service was not providing a quality service for the country both the advice it gave and its policy implementation were poor.
    There is no doubt at 60s time civil service are diff from that of what its now.
    Nowdays civil service role has broaded to various as pets throught it primerly work remains the same. The civil service now grown to meet the growing demands of the moderate state. The way of the recuirtment, technology with which it endowed woyh, the accountability and transperacy has all improved.

  9. simran
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    Agenda21 is a non binding , voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regards to Sustain Development. It is a product of the United Nation conference Enviroment and Deelopment (UNCED) held in Brazil in 1992. It is an action agenda for the Unite Nation , other multilateral organisation and individual govt around the world that can be executed at local , national and global levels.
    21 in Agenda21 refers to the 21 st century. Its clear that Agenda21 is designed to replace the economic and social structure of US. Yhe 1st version of the decalaration of independence used the phrase life, liberty and properly and was changed to pursuit of happiness.
    According to UN objectives of sustainable develop is to integrate economics, social and enviromental policies in order to achive reduced consumption , social equity and preaervatiin and restoratiin of biodiversity.
    Agenda21 have been grouped in 4 dection i.e.
    I … social and ecomic dimensioms…. this secyion is directed towards combating poverty,especiallly in developing countries, changing consumptiin patterns, promoting health, achieving a consumption patterns, promoting health , achieving a more sustainable population and sustainable settlement in decision making.
    II … conservation and management of resoures of development …. includes atmospheric protection, combating deforestayion, conservation of biodiversity control of pollution and management biotechnology and radio active wastes.
    III … strengthening the role of major coorpration ,,.. ininclude the roles of child and youth, men , women, MGOs, local authority, business amd workers and strengthing the rule of indigeneous people their community and farmers.
    IV… implementation… implementation include the science, technology transfer, education,international institutions and financial mechanisms.
    Agenda 21 is nothing less an anti human activites. Major point on America is though the educational system and caputre of children mind and bend them into global action.
    Agenda21 is an octopus with millionsoftentacles squeezing the very life of the declaration of independence amd limited status constituion from our god given unalianble rights.

  10. Ananya Basu
    1 Vote


    1)Explain the major criticisms of civil services and evaluate its changing role in the Indian democracy since independence.
    -Civil services is the pith and core of the administrative machinery of government of India. The history of the civil service dates back to the days of Lord Cornwallis when India was ruled by the British. The members of the British government were appointed by the Government of India act 1935.Initially all the 1000 officers were British .By 1905 5% were from Bengal. By 1947 there were 322 Indians and 688 British officers in the ICS. All the officers, Indians or otherwise belonged to the so called aristocratic families and lacked sensitivity the general people. The hangover of various imperialistic tendencies can be seen even today, for example-
    1) The ivory tower appearance- It maintains an air about itself which segregates the public from it’s servants.
    2 )Red tapism- Unnecessary delay in it’s functioning leading to corruption, inconvenience of the citizens.
    3)High handedness in dealing with others- Often a problem of superiority complex ,arrogance is seen of the bureaucrats in dealing with the public which hampers line of effective communication.
    4) Corruption- The veil of secrecy which is maintained in administrative functioning leads to unaccounted, rampant corruption.
    5) Political affiliations- Very often, if not always bureaucrats get influenced by politicians who have vested interests and pressurize an officer to act in their favour.
    6) Lack of transparency and accountability-Though e-governance is trying to usher in transparency and accountability it is not well infiltrated in rural and computer illiterate areas.
    7) No real protection-It is mandatory under A 311(2) to make inquiry before dismissal,removal or reduction in rank of a civil servant.In that case a civil servant has to be informed of the charges against him/her and given a reasonable opportunity of being heard. But recent occurings suggest otherwise. cases of Ashok Khemka ,Durga Shakti Nagpal, Thulasi Maddineni are a living testimony to it.
    8) Lack of proper grievance redressal mechanisms-Fast , efficient and effective redressal mechanisms are necessary to remove the lacunae in the functioning of the government.
    66 years post- independence we have evolved as a democracy. India is no more a fragmented country ruled by a foreign ruler. Our sovereign, secular country is a testimony to the world that diversity can exist peacefully. If India is to survive as a Democracy,it is important to imbibe best practices in the functioning of it’s administration like accountability, transparency, stringent laws against corruption and protective laws for the whistle-blowers ,a genuine concern for the welfare of the people, integrity, commitment to serve the people .The essence of “Public Service” should be instilled in every new recruit so that civil service becomes the “ steel frame” on which our democracy rests.

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      In your introduction, I think dates and numbers are not needed – basically it should talk about something on criticism and role of civil services. You have ‘enumerated’ all the criticisms, but haven’t written much about its changing role in our democracy.

  11. Nirmal Singh
    3 Votes


    In spite of its merits and role in nation making, several criticisms have emerged over number of years. Considering the fact that civil servants are selected, not elected, the concentration of immense power at their disposal goes against democratic norms. Ironically it is the same which shape public policies though feedback not public. The delegated legislation is another area of concern. Moreover politicization, corruption, red tapism, inefficiency, unresponsiveness, lack of accountability and control under disguise of anonymity has eroded their credentials. It has created “empires within empires”. Further its resistance to change and maintenance of status quo act as friction towards progress. Another issue relates to the rising pyramid of bureaucracy which irrespective of workload is increasing its sheer size. Adherence to procedure instead to objective is another area of concern
    Being a welfare state and developing country with a large section of society remain under developed, bureaucracy has played an important role in development and delivery of service since independence. Over the number of years with the arrival of globalization, liberalisation and privatization its role has become that more of facilitator. Further devolution of power to people through decentralization in form of panchayati raj, people empowerment through RTI, Citizen Charters, increasing tendency towards limited government and call for transparency and control has minimized its area of influence. Still keeping the development needs of country and its ability to deliver essential services up to last mile has not minimized its importance and has been instrumental in ongoing process of nation building.

  12. RV
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    Explain the Major criticism of the civil service and evaluate its changing role in the Indian Democracy since Independence?
    Established by Cornwallis during colonial times and envisioned as a sturdy steel framework for the nation by Sardar Patel the Civil Services has failed to live up to the expectations of the people.
    Mired by red-tapism and elitism the civil services has been increasingly furthened from the people and the lack of ground contact has only increased the apathy. The desertion of many posts in far-off areas only further fuels the doubts of the people who have increasingly begun to see the bureaucracy as agents of the political class indifferent to the “service” of the people. The lack of vision , diplomacy and sensitization has often warranted the debate of favouring technocrats and privatising many institutions of the public services. The onus to prove Rajiv Gandhi’s statement of just 15 paise out of the allocated rupee reaching the intended beneficiary has aptly been shouldered by the civil services in nexus with their political bosses.
    Quite often honest civil servants are reduced to mendicancy by their superior officers/politicians and in due course of time in an environment where fawning and flattery is the currency of the realm these officers either leave the services or are suitably shunned into oblivion by repeated transfers/dismissals.
    In the present times where gloabalization poses new problems for the rising economies including environmental , economic and human security , where increasing bottom up approach is being followed the civil services has a chance to prove the faith entrusted to them by the constitution makers. If only flattery and apathy can give way to resilient honest ground work the rusted steel frame can redeem itself to be the shining armour for progress.

  13. Nirmal Singh
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    A brain child of Earth summit 1992 under frame work of UN,Agenda 21 aims at promote sustainable development.Considering the fact that sustainable development is global issue with local solutions,it rightly underlined needs for synchronizing the local and national development needs with that of global without compromising sustainability.To implement the same developing countries will be provided green technology,education,aid by international institutions and developed countries.The development is ensured by strengthening group roles like NGOs ,farmers and women,conservation of resources like biodiversity,and preventing deforestation,radioactive waste disposal,controlling pollution and further by socioeconomic development by reducing poverty,housing needs,health,controlling population.There is criticism of Agenda 21 labeling it as “communist plot” to strengthening state control and sizing civil liberties by depriving them of property and car rights.Such criticism is unwarranted considering the fact that it is not legally binding agreement and is purely a voluntary one.The recent failure Rio+20 meet to reach any consensus regarding funding is a retrogressive step and needs attention keeping the fact that without it the developing countries has less options and is against the basic principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. Nonetheless its has become a unique opportunity to leverage international attention and support towards one of the most pressing issues of our time.