Attributes of Public Service

  • Moral and legal Obligation – A constitutional state is both morally (due to social contract) and legally (due to the constitution) bound to provide public service. If state fails to fulfil this obligation then it’s the moral responsibility of the existing government to resign, in addition, it’s also the moral and political duty of the citizens to overthrow the government through democratic means.
  • Sovereign duty – Social contract mandates the state to provide some of the critical services such as such as law and order, defence etc. exclusively and without any prejudice and discrimination. For example, Police stations and courts should have presence based on the population of the area rather than nature of the inhabitants. (Deploying more police force in posh residential areas and neglecting slum inhabitants should be avoided)
  • Monopoly of the State – Public services are largely and centrally provided by the state particularly in socialistic setup. For example, DPSPs of the Indian Constitution directs the state to provide range of public service to the citizens.
  • Individual and Constitutional Morality – Public servants who are the basic instruments to deliver public service are driven by both the individual and constitutional moral obligations. For example, a civil servant taking action against the practice of untouchability in a certain are (Constitutional obligation under Art17) but he might also be driven by individual value of compassion, empathy etc.
  • Public-Centric – Public service implies that services are provided as per the public’s needs, demands, interests, rights and convenience. In order to ensure public centricity in public service delivery, several measures such as Right to Information, Citizen Charters have been initiated.
  • Ensuring collective and individual rights – Mandate of Constitutionalism directs the state to secure both individual rights such as Right to freedom of expression (Art19) and collective rights as Right to clean environment (Art 21). Modern states through various mechanism and timely intervention ensure that these rights get due protection and any infringement from outside to be severely dealt with.
  • Maxim of equity – Most of the welfare states prefer equity over equality in providing public service since it has been more or less established that without ensuring equity, the quest of equality is unachievable. For instance, Under NFSA, subsidized food are provided mostly to the economically vulnerable sections of the society.
  • Lending hand – Public service also works as the enabling factor for people as they use the service as the means to achieve other ends. For example, free education and health service provided by the government helps in building quality human capital which in turn contributes in national development.