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Bureaucracy and State

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Role of Civil Services


Source: TH

 Context: The article addresses the challenges faced by the Indian bureaucratic state, emphasizing its paradoxical nature of being too large bureaucratically but too small in terms of personnel.


Status of Indian bureaucracy:

  • India has a vast and intricate bureaucracy, employing over 4 million people.
  • In the G-20 group, India has the smallest number of civil servants per capita (approx. half that of Indonesia and China, and about a third of that in the UK). In comparison to the US, the number of central government personnel is less than one-fourth.
  • Also, India has a number of vacancies, including 1,365 in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) 703 in the Indian Police Service (IPS), 1,042 vacancies exist in the Indian Forest Service (IFS) and 301 in Indian Revenue Service (IRS)


Major Bureaucratic Challenges:

Bureaucratic ChallengesImpact on the Indian State
Lack of professionalism and poor capacity building.Reduced efficiency, and lack of expertise in handling complex issues.
An ineffective incentive systemDiminished motivation and performance among civil servants.
Rigid and outmoded rules Hindered adaptability and innovation, bureaucratic red tape.
Lack of accountability and transparencyNo protection for whistleblowers, Increased corruption, and reluctance to report wrongdoing.
Political interference Disrupted stability, and compromised decision-making.
An erosion in ethics and valuesErosion of public trust, compromised integrity, nepotism.
Patrimonialism (a form of governance in which all power flows directly from the leader).Concentration of power, reduced checks and balances.
Resistance to change Hindered modernization, and reluctance to adopt efficient practices.
The Technocratic Gap: Skill Gap among OfficialsIneffective policies, poor execution, and implementation.
Concentration of power within departmentsSlow decision-making, lack of flexibility.


Suggested Solutions:

Separating policymaking and implementation: Experiences of countries such as Australia, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom show that separating policymaking and implementation responsibilities expedites execution and encourages innovations, making the programs better suited to local contexts.
India: The National Highways Authority of India, is tasked with executing national highway projects, while policy decisions are made at the ministry level. This arrangement has drastically reduced delays and cost overruns.
Delegating power to frontline functionaries: Restrictions on frontline personnel to decide on implementation-related issues foster a culture of mistrust and lack of accountability for poor implementation.
Filling the technocratic gap: An institutionalized and regular lateral entry at the mid and senior levels can help fill the civil services’ size and technocratic gap.
Qualified officers in non-IAS services (such as the Indian Revenue, Economic and Statistical Services) should get a fair shot at high-level positions
Subject-specific training under Mission Karmayogi (National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building).
Providing professional strength to SEBI & RBI SEBI has just about 800 professionals, whereas its counterpart in the U.S., the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, has more than 4,500 experts to govern the corporates. Similarly, the professional staff strength of the RBI, less than 7,000, is tiny when compared to the US Federal Reserve which is assisted by 22,000 odd professionals.
Need for motivated personnelReevaluate the incentive system, considering alternative approaches to motivate public sector employees, such as recognition and career development opportunities.
The public sector must attract intrinsically motivated individuals to contribute to the social good.
Cutting the breeding ground of corruptionImplement moderate pay raises, ensuring a balance between attracting talent and preventing corruption. Consider reducing the upper age limit for government jobs to promote a dynamic workforce.


Government Initiatives:

  1. Towards Capacity Building and Specialisation:
    • Mission Karmayogi: A National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB).
    • Lateral entry: Personnel from the private sector are selected for administrative posts in the government.
  2. Towards transparency and accountability:


A new ethic of civil servants:

  1. Selfless service and empathy.
  2. Duty-bound to drive India’s transition from Amrit Mahotsav to Amrit Kaal.
  3. The removal of a colonial mindset, sharing a sense of pride in the Indian roots, with a nation-first approach.
  4. A future-ready civil service, which is
    1. Proactive and polite
    2. Professional and progressive
  • Energetic and enabling
  1. Transparent and tech-enabled
  2. Creative and constructive
  3. Imaginative and innovative


Insta Links:


Mains Links:

Has the Cadre-based Civil Services Organization been the cause of slow development in India? Critically examine. (UPSC 2014)

“Institutional quality is a crucial driver of economic performance”. In this context suggest reforms in the Civil Service to strengthen democracy. (UPSC 2020)