In laymen terms, we generally equate public servants with civil servants but technically this is not appropriate in context of public administration. It’s crucial to differentiate between these two to avoid further confusion. Some of the criteria that differentiate civil servants with public servants are as follows;
- Professionalism – Civil service are mandated to adhere to the norms of professionalism like specialization, objectivity, efficiency etc. which is not mandatory for other public servants. For example, civil servants while advocating for social policies such as family planning should be scientific temper in mind while religious groups are mostly guided by societal and religious norms prevailing in the society.
- Appointment– Civil servants are appointed through merit-based examination process such as UPSC conducts examination to select IAS/IFS/IPS officers in free and fair manner whereas other public servants such as politicians are mostly elected through electoral process.
- Career-oriented job profile – Civil servants enjoy assured career advancement and job security which is not available for other public servants such as politicians.
- Code of conduct – There is a prescribed code of conduct that civil servants must follow while discharging his duty which is not generally applicable to public servants. For example, civil servants should adhere to strict political neutrality whereas other public servants such as civil society organisations can take political sides.