Civil Services Activism

The Indian Civil Service is a service of State, primarily in public administration. Civil servants reinforce a directive policy and take robust action to strengthen a project or uphold some principles.

All these constitute an integral part of civil service activism, which this article thoroughly discusses.

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What Is Civil Service Activism?

It encompasses all or any essential proactive measures by civil servants to convert the system into more transparent, people-centric and efficient. Moreover, they ensure the administration abides by the constitutional values and established rules.

This activism includes a spectrum of activities such as-

  • Organising regular public meetings by civil servants,
  • Demanding public feedback,
  • Disseminating awareness of public rights,
  • Ensuring the standard of goods and services provided by the Government,
  • Vigilant functioning, monitoring and inspection, and
  • Taking rigorous stands against ministers, political chiefs, seniors or colleagues’ decisions or actions that contradict their constitutional duties and values.

Challenges of Civil Service Activism in India

There are various challenges that Indian Civil Services encounters. Below are some essential details about definite problems of civil service activism for UPSC and other exams.

  • Indian Bureaucracy Claims Status Quo

Being an instrument of Indian administration, civil servants must have acceptance of changes. Nevertheless, they oppose and defy changes in most cases as they are fused with their prospects and privileges.

For instance, the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments introduced some significant changes. It enabled rural and local urban governments to be institutions of self-government. However, the reluctance and timidity of bureaucrats in accepting the altered role, accountability and responsibility hindered the intended vision.

  • Ordinances of Bureaucracy

Rule book bureaucracy simply means following the ordinances and laws of the book without considering people’s actual needs. It causes the development of a bureaucratic attitude in many civil servants. Consequently, red-tapism, difficulty in procedures, and bureaucratic organisations’ inadequate responses to people’s needs occur.

  • Political Interferences

In many cases, civil servants have to coordinate with local political representatives to conduct regional level operations. Both of them must come together to serve the commoners with the help of development, wellbeing and welfare.

However, many times political representatives influence administrative functions to fulfill populist interests. Consequently, it compels the officials to cling to the political head’s will. Such interferences give rise to corruption, arbitrary transfers and substantial inefficiency due to a lack of capable and honest officers.

  • Structural Issues

Civil service activism has been encountering several structural issues due to the arrival of changes like globalisation and economic reforms. These also altered the core role of the State as well as administration significantly.

It does not only comply with maintaining law and order and implementing government rules anymore. Instead, technological evolution such as cyber security and others demands specialist officers with domain knowledge at a policy level.

Another issue in the administration is ensuring accountability and transparency along with representative and participatory decision-making. Lastly, lower employment opportunities in certain public services and recruitment corruption are significant structural issues.

Instances of Civil Service Activism

  • Vinod Rai, former CAG, bluffly spoke about the irresponsible process of coal block allocations.
  • A former Chief Election Commissioner, T. N. Seshan, led a tough contest against electoral malpractices. He left some significant contributions to make the Election Commission a transparent, efficient and influential body. Thus, India witnessed some unsullied elections by him after implementing the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) rigidly.
  • Kiran Bedi brought enlightenment and reform in jails by several innovative measures such as vocational courses, meditation, yoga etc.
  • Abhas Chatterjee, a Bihar Cadre IAS, resigned after exposing corruption in administration through a press conference.

Civil services are known to be the tool of bringing change to the system. Therefore, civil servant activists often go against some conduct rules to serve long-term democratic interests and the rule of law. Nevertheless, such activism acts as a silver lining to the ordinary people in India.

That is all for the details on civil service activism that can be helpful for the aspirants of civil services.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Civil Services Activism


Does a civil servant’s demand for public feedback come under civil service activism?

Indeed demand for public feedback by a civil servant comes under civil service activism.


What is civil service?

Civil service is a State’s paid service in public administration to establish law and order, ensure public service, and implement the Government’s mandate.


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