August 2021 Yojana Magazine: Public Administration
Yojana Magazine is an important source of material for the UPSC exam. The monthly magazine provides details of major government schemes and programmes in various domains. Moreover, coming from the government, it is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Yojana, exclusively for the IAS Exam.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Power and Responsibility
In the Indian context, in a society as vast and heterogeneous, equitable distribution of resources and services is the key to the prosperity of all.
|Gandhiji’s Talisman, ‘Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]’ gives the necessary direction to this discussion.|
- Public administration is a system to ensure that these steps are contemplated and implemented for the growth, well-being, and prosperity of all including that poorest face.
- It is the nerve centre of any government functionary that ensures that nothing goes wrong in the body, and if it does, timely intervention is done with the due process already in place.
Impartiality, the highest sense of responsibility, efficiency, productivity, and incorruptibility are a few traits of an able administrator. A selfless sense of service to the nation and its people has no other alternative for an able administrator.
The famous Peter Parker quote “with great power comes great responsibility”, is often quoted and yet never seizes to lose relevance when it comes to describing positions of power and privileges.
Chapter 2: Indian Bureaucracy
Bureaucracy is the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country which forms the permanent executive branch of the government. India, being the land of many ancient civilisations, developed the art and science of public administration early on. Public administration in India can be traced back to the manuscripts of Arthashastra written by Kautilya. In the next major phase, Bharat witnessed the rule of the Guptas also termed by many historians as the ‘Golden Age’.
History of the Civil Services in India:
- The original conception of the ‘civil service’ can be traced back to the Royal Charters which gave the East India Company, the powers to raise a cadre of troops – for both civilian and military purposes. Officers gradually transformed from trade officers to administrative officers who signed ‘covenants’ thereby, being part of the covenanted civil service.
- The covenanted and the ‘uncovenanted (subordinate service) marked an important distinction. While the former category of officers was recruited from England, the subordinated service largely comprised Indian officers in subordinate positions.
- This uncovenanted service was later called the Indian Civil Service (ICS) established to handle the affairs on behalf of the Queen.
- The civil services soon became the proverbial ‘steel frame’ to maintain control over the vast British Empire.
- The introduction of competitive exams in the mid-1800s was an important development that gave primacy to merit-based appointments as opposed to privilege-based.
- The Commissions that were set up in reforming the public services – from the Macaulay Committee to the Islington Committee to the Lee Commission, strongly suggested that the Statutory Public Service Commission be brought into force.
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was almost single-handedly responsible for setting up the Civil Services in Independent India and is, therefore, rightly called the Iron Man of India.
Early Indians in the Civil Service:
- The first Indian to clear the ICS exam was Satyendra Nath Tagore in the year 1864.
- Until 1922, post the Montagu Chelmsford Reforms, the exam was conducted only in London. However, there was a fair share of Indians who started clearing the exams. The notable names being Bihari Lal Gupta and Romesh Chandra Dutt, who later became the President of the Indian National Congress in 1899 and wrote the pioneering book ‘The Economic History of India’.
- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose did not join the Indian civil service even after clearing the exam; this sheds light on the strong ideological stance Bose took during the freedom struggle.
- Benegal Narasinga Rau was another eminent personality among the ICS who was appointed as the Constitutional Advisor on 1st July 1946 over a year before India became independent. Later, he became the first judge of the International Court of Justice from India.
- India saw some of the foremost civil servants rise to the occasion and create unshakable institutional values, methods, and processes to ensure that India remained a democracy in both form and spirit. Sukumar Sen, India’s first Chief Election Commissioner, who later went on to become Sudan’s first Chief Election Commissioner as well, was one such hero.
- Impartiality, incorruptibility, spirit of service are some of the virtues that are seen in civil servants.
- The esprit de corps and the camaraderie amongst the civil servant fraternity have been the single biggest strength of our Civil Service.
- Some traditions such as not letting down the subordinate officers, instilling faith in them, and creating a sense of intimacy between batches have been of tremendous help for the civil servants in the face of dealing with adversity.
- Civil servants have played a crucial role in many national activities such as the conduct of free and fair elections, disaster response, construction and maintenance of critical infrastructures such as highways and railways, and the preservation of national unity and integrity.
- Every year April 21 is celebrated as ‘Civil Services Day’.
Constitution and the Civil Services:
- Articles 310, 311, and 312 of the Indian Constitution pertain to Services under the Union and State.
- Article 310 enshrines that civil servants of the Union and All-India Services are appointed by the President of India and civil servants at the State level are appointed by the Governor of the State. They continue to hold office as per the pleasure of the President and Governor, respectively. Therefore, they have the security of tenure.
- 311 mentions the procedures and conditions for removal, dismissal from service, and reduction in rank, thus ensuring due process of law to ensure that civil servants are protected from political interference and undue harassment.
- Article 312 lays down the All-India Services of India.
- The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the State Public Service Commissions are constitutional bodies.
Civil Servants as a Role Model for the Youth:
- SR Sankaran, 1956 Batch ‘people’s IAS officer’ Sankaran is one of the very few civil servants in whose name a statue is erected and is a household name in Andhra Pradesh even today.
- His efforts in abolishing bonded labour and his pioneering work on welfare schemes to uplift the marginalised sections, especially with the Safai Karamchari Andolan won applause from every section in the society.
- BN Yugandhar was another such officer who had a mass following. Right from the Rs. 2-a-kg-rice scheme to the watershed development projects to mentoring young students at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, his name reverberates strongly in the corridors of powers even today.
- IPS Madhukar Shetty, apart from cracking down several high-profile cases in his stint at Lokayukta, along with another IAS officer Harsh Gupta, took on the rich planters who had encroached the land of poor villagers.
Challenges and Reforms in the Civil Service:
- Post-independence, India adopted the socialist-welfare model of development which increased the scope of government’s interference in all key sectors of the economy.
- Some of the fundamental tenets of a good bureaucracy are political neutrality, objectivity in decision-making, empathy, equity, etc.
- As an officer appointed to serve the public, one cannot take any political affiliation or alignment but do one’s work objectively and impartially. Constitutionalism matters because every civil servant must be guided by the letter and spirit of our Constitution.
- Ethics in public administration are important because civil servants are often holding offices that give them a lot of power and authority. Therefore, an officer’s moral compass is key for good governance.
Various committees over the years have suggested changes and improvements to the civil services regarding recruitment, mid-career training, capacity-building, the impetus for specialisation, efficiency, accountability, etc. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (headed by Veerappa Moily) discussed the shortcomings and suggests improvements regarding recruitment, performance, and result-oriented bureaucracy. In the last decade, several reforms have been undertaken.
- Legislations such as the Right to Information Act, 2005 lays down rules and procedures for a citizen’s right to information, thus creating more transparency and accountability in governance.
- The Citizen’s Charter in India, initiated by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in Government of India (DARPG), is to “include standards of service and time limits that the public can reasonably expect, avenues of grievance redress and a provision for independent scrutiny with the involvement of citizen and consumer groups.”
- This includes a Vision and Mission Statement and ensures that the needs and grievances of the user, that is, citizens, are met.
Generalist v/s Specialist debate:
- A more recent debate about the bureaucracy, especially the administrative service, is about ‘generalists’ versus ‘specialists’.
- The role of an administrator is to ensure fair, equitable, and efficient administration of her/his unit, right from the sub-division, district and up to various departments and ministries at the State and Central levels. Therefore, a broad understanding of the various issues, departments, roles and responsibilities is essential for effective redressal of public grievances.
- So an officer who can effectively handle all areas of administration and policy from health to agriculture to defence, and ensure that work is done at levels junior to oneself needs to be one with ‘general skills’, although some say that the ability to administer well is in itself a unique skill.
- However, specialisation may be considered higher up in the ladder based on the officer’s qualifications, interests and work experience depending upon the needs and exigencies at that time.
- As technology develops and the socio-economic changes transform India, we need to ensure that these changes do not outpace policy reform.
Over the last few decades, several civil servants have contributed tremendously to the growth of our country. Therefore, more and more young professionals from varied socio-economic and academic backgrounds need to enter the civil services to enrich it further and take part in nation-building.
Chapter 3: Dynamics of Civil Services
When Europe was enlightened in the eighteenth century, there the central focus was on rationality. Philosopher Immanuel Kant says the supreme principle of morality is a standard of rationality, hence to act rationally, by the universal moral law. Another famous scholar Rene Descartes talked of ‘I am because I think’, i.e., one’s existence depends on reason – thinking rationally and scientifically, not emotionally, subjectively, or in a biased manner. Max Weber (1864-1920) was the first sociologist who coined the term bureaucracy and explained it in detail.
Max Weber distinguished between three types of authority (legitimate power); traditional authority (based on succession, rituals, subjective desires, etc), charismatic authority (based on gifted quality e.g. Swami Vivekananda, Lord Rama, etc,); and rational-legal authority i.e. bureaucracy. Rational-legal authority was the most ideal type sought after because of its objectivity and rationality. He defined bureaucracy as a ‘formal organisation’ with the following characteristics:
- Formal selection and promotion based on well-defined norms and criteria, primarily merit and transparency.
- Written rules, regulations, processes, and procedures so that biases and personal likes/dislikes do not favour or disfavour anyone.
- Hierarchical structure – well defined senior, middle and junior levels so that the seniors may inspect, monitor, and give guidance to their juniors on the one hand, and may hear appeals/revisions arising against the orders of junior officers; further, feedback from below may result in changing rules/procedures/criteria/norms, etc.
- Specialisation and division of labour and responsibility – a clear balancing of tasks, sharing power (discretion or force against other’s wishes), and responsibility.
- Professionalism prevails over personal whims; and
- Career-orientation – To have stability and continuity, bureaucracy is by nature permanent – a long period of a career with different assignments to gain experience in diverse fields brings maturity for preparing a public policy.
Therefore, Max Weber preferred the rational-legal authority of bureaucracy as an ideal type to the other two types of authority in a democratic society.
How does bureaucracy function in India?
- At different levels, of Group A, B, and C, the candidates are selected based on competitive examinations – by UPSC, State PSCs, or State Staff Selection Boards.
- After imparting training they start working.
- In civil services, one has to serve for at least fourteen years to become a Director and to serve for at least eighteen years to become a Joint Secretary (Govt. of India) while it takes at least thirty-two years to become Secretary (Govt. of India).
- Regarding the compliance of rules and regulations, sometimes processes and procedures for ensuring uniformity and impartiality are not adhered to while the set of rules and regulations are made by the competent authority (i.e. rules by the cabinet and laws by the legislature).
- As far as hierarchical structure is concerned, it is useful for inspection and monitoring of and guidance to subordinates, but at times it is being eroded by favouring lower officers on the grounds of caste, region, language, etc.
- Regarding the division of labour, the principle of sharing both power and responsibility in a balanced way should prevail for obtaining the optimal outcomes, otherwise, power without responsibility leads to autocracy and corruption. On the other hand, ‘responsibility without power’ leads to activities without an outcome resulting in utter failure to achieve the goals, vision and mission.
- Professionalism is the keyword in civil services. It comprises four components in an integrated way: uniformity, neutrality, efficiency, and anonymity. Anonymity means working anonymously for the larger public good and avoiding undue publicity.
- Finally, the career orientation with stability and continuity of civil services brings societal equilibrium and farsightedness.
- All India Services (IAS, IPS, & IFS) provide an opportunity to have a holistic national vision of development of all and unity in diversity.
- However, this stability and continuity do not mean avoiding change as change is the law of nature, hence civil servants have to adapt to change for the well-being of the people and prosperity of the nation.
- Unfortunately, a large number of civil servants have indulged in corrupt practices. It is both top-down and bottom-up. Prompt action needs to be taken.
- Interestingly, the civil servants maintain the systemic status quo and, at the same time, act as change agents too.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel vehemently supported civil services in the Constituent Assembly on October 10, 1949.
Pathologies of the System:
- Various pathological syndromes are seen in the everyday behaviour of officers and the system Bureaucracy is often blamed for ‘red tapism’ (i.e. delay) and indecisiveness in many forms:
- Sometimes it is necessary to take the considered opinion of the Ministry of Law or Ministry of Finance for taking an appropriate decision but not always.
- Queries by the superiors are made in parts and frequently, not once by taking all aspects. This delays the decision-making process unnecessarily.
- Often a plea of ‘too much work’ is giving for delays; hence more decentralisation, better division of work, and separating ‘urgent’, ‘important’, and ‘routine tasks is highly required.
- Prevalence of the ‘transfer industry’ in most of the states, at different levels. The principle of three years’ tenure is hardly followed, and many officers are transferred within a year or even earlier without sufficient/genuine reasons. On the other hand, there are instances wherein some officers continue on the same post for nine or ten years because of political connection, backing, and favour shown to officers of a particular caste or religious community.
- Finally, there has been the triad of ‘liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation’ (LPG), hence policy decision is sometimes based on the hypothesis that public sector is bad, and private sector is good. Therefore, various entities’ shares are sold and even the entire enterprise is sold under the euphemism of ‘disinvestment’. Further, the over-reporting of development works and under-reporting of losses by the civil servants is unfortunate and it betrays the oath of the Constitution taken en masse at the training academies.
Importance of Bureaucracy:
- Bureaucracy is compatible with democracy wherein the people’s representatives are in the driver’s seat, hence they need to guide the civil servants whose independent advice and alternative views should not be considered as putting the cart before the horse.
- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of Independent India perceptively justified the permanent civil services, especially the All India Services for advancing free and frank opinion, based on matured experiences, on the one hand, and uniting various parts of India socially culturally, economically and administratively, on the other.
- SWOT analysis of civil services, strengths (selection on merit, acting as per rules, permanence) are more than its weaknesses (red-tapism, some black sheep); it has an opportunity to serve the nation through new ways, changes, reducing human interface, but threats are to be removed at the earliest for strengthening the administrators further.
Chapter 4: Probity in Governance
Ethics is a set of standards that helps guide the behaviour, choices and actions of individuals. It is multidimensional as it is governed by the value system of the society including the concept of rights, obligations, fairness, virtues, etc. Ethics and probity form the cornerstone of the public administration system. In today’s world, when the governments are playing an active role in the socio-economic development of the country, the role of the government functionaries becomes more challenging as they are both the facilitators and enforcers of the law and rules.
Responsibility and accountability are integral to ethics. The character of laws and rules through which accountability is enforced is based on the moral ideas of society. Code of Conduct/Ethics for its Ministers, legislators and civil servants is prescribed in many countries. There is a Ministerial Code in the UK, a Code of Conduct in the US Senate and a ‘Guide for Ministers’ in Canada. Spain has a Code of Good Governance for Ministers and senior officers.
- The word ‘ethics’ is from the original Greek term ‘ethikos’ meaning ‘arising from habit’.
- Culture, values, character, the sense of right and wrong are quintessential determinants of ethics, the role of institutions and institutional frameworks to ensure ethical governance cannot be understated.
- Ethics in public is not limited to the expression of high moral values alone. It also refers to the framework for holding the public functionaries legally accountable for their acts of omission and commission.
|“The lack of moral earnestness, which has been a conspicuous feature of recent years, is perhaps the greatest single factor which hampers the growth of strong traditions of integrity and efficiency.”|
The Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1964) also known as the ‘Santhanam Committee’ had observed.
- The public confidence and respect which the functionaries enjoy is largely the result of collective efforts.
- Adherence to key principles of Integrity, Honesty, and Objectivity promotes trust and confidence among the stakeholders and enhances credibility.
- The conduct of Government functionaries should be beyond reproach in all circumstances, deficiency in their professional or personal conduct places their personal integrity and quality of work in an unfavourable light and raises doubts about their actions.
Ethics in Governance:
Ethics is concerned with human character and conduct. It condemns all types of falsehood.
|“Any framework of ethical behaviour must include the following elements:
1. Codifying ethical norms and practices.
2. Disclosing personal interest to avoid conflict between public interest and personal gain.
3. Creating a mechanism for enforcing the relevant codes.
4. Providing norms for qualifying and disqualifying a public functionary from office.”
- The Second Administrative Reforms Commission in its Second Report on Ethics suggested the principles for ethics in governance and stated that:
- Values serve as guiding stars showing the path to all the members of the society and everyone is expected to respect and follow them.
- As they are not codified and are subject to interpretation, situations of conflict do arise.
- At the same time, a sense of right and wrong is deeply ingrained in culture and civilization.
- The ethos of the society is designed by the behaviour patterns of its citizens building an environment of trust and confidence.
- Integrity has to be seen as a holistic concept covering various aspects of conduct and not limited to financial honesty. Public office should be treated as a trust which imposes a lot of responsibility on the holders of the office and makes them accountable to society.
- The power of righteousness and the capability to uphold the truth have to come from within.
- Integrity requires the public functionaries to exercise due diligence while discharging their duties responsibly, make decisions with the public interest in mind and be honest in carrying out their work and handling government resources.
- Conflict of interest is to be avoided in all circumstances and at all times. Accordingly, under no circumstances the official position should be used for private purposes. Decisions should never be driven by gains for a select few or specific segments of society.
|United Nations Convention against Corruption||Nolan Committee||Code of Good Governance of Spain|
|It envisages that in order to fight corruption, each State Party shall,
a) Promote inter alia, integrity, honesty and responsibility among its public officials, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system.
b) Establish codes or standards of conduct for the correct, honourable and proper performance of public functions.
c) Establish measures and systems to facilitate the reporting by public officials of acts of corruption to appropriate authorities.
d) Establish measures and systems requiring public officials to make declarations regarding, their outside activities, employment, investments, assets and substantial gifts or benefits from which a conflict of interest may result with respect to their functions as public officials
e) Take disciplinary or other measures against public officials who violate the codes or standards established in accordance with this article.
|Seven Principles of Public Life
|Principles of ethics and good conduct developed in the Code:
h) Dedication to public service
j) Exemplary conduct
o) Promotion of the cultural and environmental environment, and
p) Equality between the sexes
The Government of India has prescribed a Code of Conduct, applicable to Ministers both in the Union Government and the State Governments.
- The Code of Conduct for the Civil Servants has evolved over time.
- In pursuance of the recommendations of the Santhanam Committee, the Conduct rules were revised and enlarged resulting in CCS Conduct Rules 1964 being followed today.
- These rules are a dynamic set of instructions for the Government servants as based on the introduction of new dimensions in the legal framework, the Conduct rules have been amended since the 1964 version.
- Some notable inclusions are the requirement of observing courtesy, prohibiting demanding and accepting dowry, prohibiting sexual harassment of women employees (in view of the Supreme Court Judgement in Vishakha case) and, recently, prohibition to employ children below 14 years of age as domestic help (in view of the amendment to the Prohibition of Child Labour Act).
- This continuing process is a reflection of the changing expectations of society from the Government Servants.
- The Conduct Rules prescribe some general behavioural norms like ‘maintaining the integrity and absolute devotion to duty’ and not indulging in ‘conduct unbecoming of a government servant’.
- It needs to be mentioned that there is no Code of Ethics prescribed for civil servants in India although such codes exist in other countries. However, we need to appreciate that our civil service system has a tradition of balanced attitudes and approaches.
While the Code of Conduct prescribed for Civil Servants is quite comprehensive and operates as a deterrent, there are cases of deviations from the expected behavioural norms. It may also be mentioned that deviations are observed through various mechanisms and there are strict penalty provisions as the framework provides for ensuring accountability and integrity of the Civil Servants. There are arguments that the entire process of awarding the penalties is rather tedious and time-consuming. Such procedural issues can be addressed by laying down the timelines for each stage of the process and more importantly by monitoring that the timelines so prescribed have been adhered to.
- The General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2003. Article 8 of the Resolution refers to “Codes of Conduct for public officials”.
- The Committee on Standards in Public Life in the United Kingdom, popularly known as the Nolan Committee outlined the seven principles of public life.
- Code of Good Governance of Spain envisages that the Members of the Government and the senior officers of the General State Administration shall carry out their activities in accordance with the Constitution and the rest of the legal system, following the prescribed principles.
- A careful reading of the CCS Code of Conduct (1964), as amended from time to time clearly brings out that most of the principles enunciated in the UN declaration or the Committee on Standards in Public Life in the United Kingdom or Code of Good Governance of Spain are explicitly or implicitly enshrined therein.
- However, it also needs to be emphasized that the norms of ‘right conduct’ cannot be enforced through the rigid enforcement of laws and rules alone. Changes in attitudes are the key.
Probity in governance is absolutely essential for an efficient and effective system of governance. Ethics and probity cannot be seen in isolation. Both are intertwined and have to be seen as complementary to each other. The Consultation Paper on ‘Probity in Governance’ issued in 2001 by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution highlighted many legislative and institutional issues including:
- Need for enforcing Section 5 of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act,
- The necessity for a law providing for the confiscation of illegally acquired assets of public servants,
- Enactment of a Public Interest Disclosure Act,
- Enactment of a Freedom of Information Act,
- The necessity for enacting a Lok Pal Bill in addition to the Central Vigilance Commission Act and
- Strengthening of the Criminal Judicial System.
Good governance rests on trust and confidence. Probity in governance is expected to ensure accountability, transparency, and integrity in public life. In India, we have an extensive legislative and institutional framework to address the issues relating to probity as detailed below:
|Institutional and Legal Framework|
4. Lokpal & Lokayukta
1. Benami Transactions Prohibition Act
2. Prevention of Corruption Act
3. Right to Information Act
4. IPC & Cr. PC
Apart from the existing framework, accountability and transparency can be enhanced by:
(a) Minimizing the discretions in various functions
(b) More extensive use of information technology in all fields of governance
(c) Making Citizens’ charter more elaborate with clear timelines for delivery of services and related activities as well as identifying the officer responsible for that delivery; further a monthly report on compliance to Citizens’ charter can be placed on the website of the organization.
The Government functionaries are part of the society and to that extent are influenced by societal norms. At the same time being part of the governance structure, they have to be more responsible and seen to be above board all the time. There is a strong legal and institutional framework for ensuring probity. It needs to be strengthened and made more effective by nudging people to follow the laws of the land and making punishments for the delinquents very severe.
Chapter 5: Public Administration for Social Change
The Government of India established various endeavours to successfully implement the e-Governance initiative. Complexities exist due to the interoperability among central, state, district, and local governments. To overcome the challenges such as inter-operability, infrastructural challenges, digital divide and Covid-19 pandemic, etc., India is taking new initiatives to develop the overall effectiveness of service delivery mechanism from a citizen’s perspective and trying to bridge the gap between urban and rural e-governance structures.
- E-Governance became an inevitable evolution in successful governance in the modem era.
- As a coordinator and service provider, the Governments are required to embrace Information and Communication Technology to meet the demands of their citizens. ‘Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent (SMART) Governance became the order of the day to build effective and efficient governance.
- E-Governance aims to make the interaction between government and citizens (G2C), government and business enterprises (G2B), and inter-agency relationships (G2G) convenient, transparent, friendly, effective, and cost-effective.
‘Gartner e-Governance Maturity Model’:
- According to the ‘Gartner e-Governance Maturity Model’, there are four phases of e-governance, i.e., Phase I- Information; Phase II-Interaction; Phase III-Transaction; Phase IV-Transformation.
- E-governance helps a democratic country to stand according to the expectations of the public in the modem era. Further, the concept of the Gartner e-governance Maturity Model was enhanced by the UN e-Governance Survey 2008 by adding Phase V i.e., Connected Government.
E-Governance Development Index:
- According to the UN E-government Survey 2020 of the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs (UNDESA), India was placed 100th in the E-Governance Development Index. In the year 2016, India acquired 107th rank, in 2014, 118th and in the year 2018, 96th rank.
- Comparing the 2016 index with the 2018 index, India jumped 22 places to rank 96, but in the year 2020, India slipped 4 places to rank 100th and is behind Bolivia (97) and Iran (89).
- India fell in the online services index and telecommunication infrastructure index though maintained status quo in the human capital index.
- The Government of India introduced the National e-Governance Services Delivery Assessment (NeSDA) framework in August 2019 to assess the effectiveness of the e-Governance initiatives of the different government departments from the central to the local level.
- The Online Service Index (OSI) of NeSDA is based on the UNDESA e-Governance survey to develop the e-Governance structure of India to an international standard.
- The major core infrastructure components of e-governance initiatives of the Government of India are State Data Centers (SDCs), State Wide Area Networks (S.W.A.N), Common Services Centers (CSCs) and middleware gateways i.e., National e-Governance Service Delivery Gateway (NSDG), Government Procurement Government e-Marketplace (GeM), GI Cloud (MeghRaj), Service Delivery Gateway, State Data Center, eTaal, Archive, etc.
- The biometric Identification Scheme, ‘Aadhaar’ brought the digital revolution to e-governance.
Mission Mode Projects:
- National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) comprises 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMP) encompassing 11 central MMPs, 13 State MMPs, 7 integrated MMPs, and 8 components.
- MMPs focus on one aspect of governance with clearly defined objectives, scopes, implementation timelines, and milestones with measurable outcomes and service levels.
- The Digital India Initiative was launched in the year 2015 to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas by promoting investment in digital infrastructure, fostering digital literacy, and expanding online services provision. The vision of the Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy
- Digital India is designed as an umbrella programme that covers multiple Government Ministries and Departments.
- The overall coordination of the Digital India Programme is done by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology and it focuses on nine pillars of growth areas, Broadband Highways; Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity; Public Internet Access Programme; e-Governance: Reforming Government through Technology; e-Kranti Electronic Delivery of Services; Information for All; Electronics Manufacturing; IT for Jobs and Early Harvest Programmes.
- Each thrust area further has subcomponents and cuts across multiple Ministries and Departments.
- NeGD is conducting the Chief Information Officers (CIO): e-Governance Leadership programme targeting policy and programme-level officers involved in e-Governance projects/initiatives in Centre & State ministries and departments.
|Evolution of E-Governance in India|
|1970||Establishment of Department of Electronics by the Government of India|
|1977||Establishment of National Informatics Centre (NIC)|
|1987||Launching of NICNET, the national satellite-based computer network|
|1990||Process of extending NICNET via the State capitals to all district headquarters|
|1999||Ministry of Information Technology was created|
|2000||12-point minimum agenda for e-governance was prepared|
|2006||National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was launched which is comprised of 27 Mission Mode projects and 8 components|
|2009||National e-Governance Division was created by the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology as an independent Business Division under the Digital India Corporation|
|2011||4 Projects – Health, Education, PDS, and Posts were introduced to make the list of 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) to 31|
|2015||Digital India Programme|
National e-Governance Services Delivery Assessment (NeSDA):
- NeSDA was launched to promote the participation of various departments and ministries at State and Central levels to adopt the e-Government framework in day-to-day functioning, to encourage e-participation of citizens and businesses in policymaking, to help India in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to provide efficient public service delivery to all levels of population in the country by reducing the digital divide, to develop innovative and improved public service delivery by developing ICT infrastructure, capacity building and to develop a simple single entry point for all e-services at every level of governance i.e., from central to local self-governance.
E-Governance & Covid-19 Pandemic:
- During the current pandemic, e-governance stepped into the central role as a necessary element of communication, leadership, and coordination between policymakers, administration, and society.
- Jan Dhan Aadhaar Mobile (JAM) delivery system became the main vehicle for the distribution of cash payments, rations of food supplies through the public distribution system, and the distribution of the relief package under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan (PMGK) scheme supported the people in the pandemic.
- Aarogya Setu App and Co-WIN App are the main e-governance tools that supported the citizens and government to trace the Covid patients and manage the vaccination. Know more about the Arogya Setu App in the link.
- E-Doctor tele-video consultation facilities have been launched as an alternative to reduce hospital visits. Smart City infrastructure was used for rapid response for real-time movement, crisis predictions, etc.
Challenges and Way Forward:
- The scope of the e-governance projects expanded at an unexpected speed during Covid-19, by adding many new features and innovative e-infrastructure.
- In the post-Covid scenario, the government is required to develop effective e-governance through:
- Interoperability of e-governance infrastructure between intra-governmental departments and agencies
- Developing inclusive e-governance structure to make sure that there is no one left out
- Legislating effective data protection law and administrative regulations
- Enhancing data security levels to avoid data leakage, misuse, etc.
- Mandatory sector-specific service focus to attain SDG goals
- Embracing New Age Technologies (NAT) for improved service delivery and focusing on integrated service delivery.
Chapter 6: IFS: The Continuing Salience
On 13 September 1783, the Board of Directors of the East India Company passed a resolution at Fort William, to create a department that would help relieve the pressure on the Warren Hastings administration in conducting its secret and political business. Those were difficult times for the East India Company, having just barely saved face against the Maratha Empire in the First Anglo-Maratha War, and losing to Hyder Ali in the South. The British Parliament was about to pass the Pitts India Act, 1784, which would further limit the independent powers of the East India Company. This department expanded its outreach to diplomacy, to finally become the IFS. Know more about the history of the Indian Foreign Service in the linked article.
The Indian Foreign Service (IFS):
- By September 1946, India had come close to independence.
- There was a need for a different name and a different structure for a newly formed country.
- The Indian Foreign Service was created for India’s diplomatic, consular and commercial representation overseas.
- The IFS, being one of the most competitive civil services in the world, and also one of the most exclusive, has carved a niche for itself in diplomatic spheres globally.
- It has managed India’s external relations with other nations through a host of methods: the service is responsible for representing India in international platforms and negotiating on its behalf, maintaining friendly relations and protecting India’s national interests, and gathering important information abroad and reporting back to the nation on the same.
- Foreign Service entails the wing of the government that is responsible for representing a country’s interests abroad and also garnering and disseminating pertinent information that forms the core of foreign policy decisions.
- Foreign Service officers constitute the backbone of this wing and aim to promote peace and prosperity while advancing their nation’s interests in other countries. They perform a vast array of duties ranging from defending their home nation’s foreign policy in high-stakes political conversations to helping their citizens travelling overseas or vice-versa.
- In an increasingly globalized world, the importance of an effective foreign service cannot be underestimated.
- This is especially relevant, for an emerging power like India, which has harboured intentions of becoming a leading power in global politics and has been actively pursuing this goal.
- India’s diplomatic corps, under the Indian Foreign Services, have acted as an effective catalyst in India’s transformation into a global power.
- Established on October 9, 1946, the Indian Foreign Service has been in existence for 74 years and has witnessed India gradually transform into a modem nation-state with global relevance.
- In essence, an Indian Foreign Service Officer represents India in Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates and permanent missions to multilateral organizations like the UN, protects India’s national interests in the country of their posting, promotes friendly relations with the receiving states as well as their people that include NRIs/PIOs, reports accurately on the developments in the country of posting which influences the drafting of India’s policies, negotiates various agreements on various issues with the authorities of the receiving states and also extends consular facilities to foreigners and Indian nationals abroad.
- In this emerging new world, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) must no longer maintain its Cold War-era institutional architecture and several changes have indeed been ushered in recent times.
- However, the IFS is greatly limited by its disproportionately small cadre, its inability to shift to a more holistic recruitment process, and its unwillingness to allow experts from other public and private organizations, laterally or otherwise.
- One of the biggest impediments to the growth of the IFS since its conception has been the narrow and limited application criteria, that do not match up to the needs of the service.
- If the IFS is to excel as an institution on its own, it must have a different application process only for those interested in joining the service, rather than being grouped with other civil services.
- Additionally, since the skill-set required to conduct matters of foreign policy is different from those required to manage issues of internal significance, the IFS needs to broaden the criteria on which its recruitment process is based.
- Attempts to reform the IFS must focus on streamlining the recruitment process in a manner that can effectively handle the large number of applicants that apply each year without compromising on the quality of the application process.
- Opening up the IFS to allow entry of outside actors must be done in a phased and structured manner to ensure an adequate balance between different levels/ranks of officials.
- The IFS must also keep up with the changes in the diplomatic world, as different forms of diplomacy, like public and digital diplomacy, gain more relevance; in recent years, India has attempted to project itself as a digital power and a regional counterbalance to China, and so the IFS must match up to this vision.
- And lastly, reforming the IFS would require starting at the very grassroots level to reform the institutions that produce applicants for this service; Indian schools and universities need to be better equipped to produce a more capable generation of students in the fields required to be successful in the IFS.
Recent Achievements of the IFS:
- Irrespective of the criticisms, India has been boxing above its weight in the international arena for decades now. To note some recent achievements of the IFS,
- India managed to get elected to the United Nations Security Council for 2021-2022 with one of the largest positive vote counts ever.
- The foreign service was at the frontline of the Vande Bharat Mission that helped stranded Indians abroad and carried out an enormous evacuation operation.
- The IFS officers and their teams have been working relentlessly with other government agencies and the private sector to provide medicines and Covid-19 protective equipment to more than 150 countries by overcoming daunting logistical challenges, etc.
An effective foreign service is of utmost importance to India’s interests because even the most developed nations have interdependencies on other nations to fulfil their interests and so does India. Since no nation can remain isolated, formulation of foreign policy is an indispensable feature of the modern state, so that the states can establish economic, cultural, social, diplomatic, educational, and other relations with other states, international organizations, and non-governmental actors in the international sphere. Therefore, the Indian Foreign Service will continue to play a critical role in ensuring a secure and prosperous existence for India within the international sphere.
Chapter 7: Reforms in Civil Services
Civil Service is essential for the functioning of the government. The civil service has long been regarded as the ‘steel frame’ of administration in India from colonial days. The colonial legacy of civil service is continuing in this fast-changing era of globalization. It is in this context that civil service reform forms a quintessential part of good governance. A rethinking and a reorientation are needed in the civil service for effective service delivery.
- Civil servants are the permanent executive branch of the Republic of India.
- The civil services are the backbone of the administrative machinery of the country.
- In India’s parliamentary democracy, the ultimate responsibility for running the administration rests with the people’s elected representatives – cabinet ministers and members of the parliament.
- The ministers decide the policy and it is for the civil servants, who serve at the pleasure of the President of India, to implement.
- However, Article 311 of the Constitution protects Civil Servants from politically motivated vindictive action.
Evolution of Civil Services in India:
- Kautilya’s Arthashastra stipulates seven basic elements – Swamin (the ruler), Amatya (the bureaucracy), Janapada (territory), Durga (the fortified capital), Kosa (the treasury), Danda (the army), and Mitra (the ally) – of the administrative apparatus.
- According to Arthashastra, the higher bureaucracy consisted of the mantrins and the amatyas. While the mantrins were the highest advisors to the King, the amatyas were the civil servants.
- Medieval India: During the Mughal era, the bureaucracy was based on the mansabdari system. The mansabdari system was essentially a pool of civil servants available for civil or military deployment.
- British India: The big changes in the civil services in British India came with the implementation of Macaulay’s Report 1835. The Macaulay Report recommended that only the best and brightest would do for the Indian Civil Service to serve the interest of the British Empire.
- Post-independence: After independence, the Indian civil services system retained the elements of the British structure like a unified administrative system such as an open-entry system based on academic achievements, permanency of tenure.
- When India was partitioned following the departure of the British in 1947, the Indian Civil Service was divided between the new dominions of India and Pakistan. The Indian remnant of the ICS was named the Indian Administrative Service.
- The modern Indian Administrative Service was created under Article 312(2) in Part XIV of the Constitution of India, and the All India Services Act, 1951.
- The origin of civil service lies in the implementation of the Northcote-Trevelyan reform of 1854.
- During the East India Company period, the civil services were classified into three – covenanted, uncovenanted and special civil services.
- The covenanted civil service, or the Honorable East India Company’s Civil Service (HEICCS), as it was called, largely comprised civil servants occupying the senior posts in the government.
- The uncovenanted civil service was introduced solely to facilitate the entry of Indians onto the lower rung of the administration.
- The special service comprised of specialized departments, such as the Indian Forest Service, the Imperial Police, and the Indian Political Service, whose ranks were drawn from either the covenanted civil service or the Indian Army.
- The Imperial Police included many Indian Army officers among its members, although after 1893 an annual exam was used to select its officers.
- In 1858, the HEICCS was replaced by the Indian Civil Service (ICS), which became the highest civil service in India between 1858 and 1947.
- The last appointments to the ICS were made in 1942.
- With the passing of the Government of India Act 1919 by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Indian civil services -under the general oversight of the Secretary of State for India – were split into two arms, the All-India Services and the Central Services.
- In 1946, at the Premier’s Conference, the Central Cabinet decided to form the Indian Administrative Service, based on the Indian Civil Service; and the Indian Police Service, based on the Imperial Police.
Classification of Services:
- Part XIV of the Indian Constitution provides for different types or classes or services for India. The name of the chapter is Services under Union and the States. The Constitution has not elaborated on the types and categories of services. In accordance with the Constitution, we divide the services into the followings categories – All India Services (AIS), State Services, and Local and Municipal Services. There are four groups of central services, Central Services Group A, B, C & D.
- In Group A of central services, there are 34 types. Some of them are Indian Foreign Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Service, Indian Statistical Service, Indian Economic Service, Indian Information Service, Indian Railway Service, etc. In the Group B Services, the following categories are included – Central Secretariat Service, Geographical Survey of India, Zoological Survey of India, Central Secretariat Stenographers Service. The highest personnel cadre strength among the entire civil services system in India is with the Central Secretariat Service and the Indian Revenue Service (LT and C&CE).
- The Government of India approved the formation of the Indian Skill Development Service in 2015, Indian Enterprise Development Service in 2016. Further, the Cabinet of India approved merging all civil services under Indian Railways into a single Indian Railways Management Service as part of structural reform in the sector in 2019.
- Civil Service Reform is a deliberate change effort by the government to improve its capacity to effectively and efficiently execute policies. In recent times, there has been accelerated change globally brought about by technological advances, greater decentralization, and social activism. The ramifications of these changes are being felt by the government in the form of increasing expectations for better governance through effective service delivery, transparency, accountability, and rule of law. The civil service, as the primary arm of government, must keep pace with the changing times in order to meet the aspirations of the people. The purpose of reform is to reorient the Civil Services into a dynamic, efficient, and accountable apparatus, for public service delivery built on the ethos and values of integrity, impartiality and neutrality.
- The reform is to raise the quality of public services delivered to the citizens and enhance the capacity to carry out core government functions, thereby, leading to sustainable development.
- The ailments afflicting Indian civil services are:
- Poor capacity building
- Inefficient incentive systems that do not appreciate upright and outstanding civil servants but reward the corrupt and the incompetent
- Outmoded rules and procedures that restrict the civil servant from performing effectively
- Systemic inconsistencies in promotion and empanelment
- Lack of adequate transparency and accountability procedures – there is also no safety for whistleblowers
- Arbitrary and whimsical transfers – insecurity in tenures impedes institutionalization
- Political interference and administrative acquiescence
- Dominance of a few elite services in promotions, work allocations, and assignments
- Generalist officers Vs Specialist Officers: Civil Services are conceived primarily to deliver the core functions of the state such as the implementation of government schemes and programs, maintenance of law and order, and implement government orders. However, the role of the state has changed with the changing needs owing to the advent of globalization, and economic reforms. Therefore, there are new challenges due to technological evolution and complex business, trade, legal aspects which the Government needs to navigate. Thus, there is a higher demand for domain knowledge at the policy level.
- Also, there is a growing feeling within the services that existing specialist services like Indian Revenue Service, Indian Economic Service, Indian Statistical Service, etc. do not get adequate representation nor opportunities to do the work they have been trained to do. Most of the coveted positions in the Government of India are taken over by the elite services which result in the uneven utilization of talent and adversely affects the morale of other services.
Recent Reforms: Mission Karmayogi:
- The Government has announced a new comprehensive Civil Services reforms programme aimed at better services delivery to the public.
- The government’s policy think tank, NITI Aayog has a chapter dedicated to the issue in a landmark 2018 report.
- The Strategy For New India @75 report stresses the need to put in place a reformed system of recruitment, training and performance evaluation of the civil service to ensure more effective and efficient delivery of public services to achieve the development goals envisaged in New India 2022.
- The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also approved the new National Architecture for Civil Services Capacity Building called “Mission Karmayogi” that aims to transform the capacity building apparatus at the individual, institutional, and process levels at the Government of India.
- The initiative that targets 4.6 million central government employees will be based on the three pillars of “governance, performance, and accountability”.
- It promises a shift from rules to roles, silos to coordination, interdisciplinary movements, and a continuous capacity building exercise.
- The fundamental focus of the reform is the creation of citizen-centric civil services capable of creating and delivering services conducive to economic growth and public welfare. Accordingly, Mission Karmayogi shifts the focus from “Rule-based training to Role-based training”. Greater thrust has been laid on behavioural change.
- The National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building has been so designed that it remains entrenched in Indian culture and sensibilities while drawing learning resources from the best institutions and practices from across the world. The Programme will be delivered by setting up an Integrated Government Online Training- iGOT Karmayogi Platform.
- A Public Human Resources Council under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister, with Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, eminent HR practitioners, national and international experts would oversee the entire capacity building exercise.
- An expert body called Capacity Building Commission will be set up to harmonize training standards, create shared faculty and resources, and have a supervisory role over all Central Training institutions.
- A Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV will be set up as a Not for Profit Company which will own and manage the iGOT Karmayogi platform.
- The SPV will own all Intellectual Property Rights on behalf of the Government of India.
- An appropriate monitoring and evaluation framework will also be put in place for performance evaluation of all users of the iGOT-Karmayogi platform so as to generate a dashboard view of Key Performance indicators.
- The iGOT model was tried successfully during the Covid situation for training health professionals.
- IGOT-Karmayogi platform is expected to evolve into a vibrant and world-class marketplace for content where carefully curated and vetted digital e-learning material will be made available. Besides capacity building, service matters like confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignment, and notification of vacancies, etc. would eventually be integrated with the proposed competency framework.
- Mission Karmayogi aims to prepare the Indian Civil Servant for the future by making them more creative, constructive, and citizen-friendly.
- Reforms are expected to lay the foundations for capacity building for Civil Servants so that they remain entrenched in Indian culture and sensibilities and remain connected, with their roots, while they learn from the best institutions and practices across the world.
- The Programme will be delivered by setting up an Integrated Government Online Training-iGOT Karmayogi Platform.
- It is also proposed to set up a Capacity Building Commission, ensuring a uniform approach in managing and regulating the capacity building ecosystem on a collaborative and co-sharing basis. The role of the Commission will be as under:
- To assist the PM Public Human Resources Council in approving the Annual Capacity Building Plans.
- To exercise functional supervision over all Central Training Institutions dealing with civil services capacity building.
- To create shared learning resources, including internal and external faculty and resource centres.
- To coordinate and supervise the implementation of the Capacity Building Plans with the stakeholder departments.
- To make recommendations on standardization of training and capacity building, pedagogy, and methodology.
- To set norms for common mid-career training programs across all civil services.
- To suggest policy interventions required in the areas of HR Management and Capacity Building to the Government.
The Union Cabinet has also approved the corporatization of the Ordnance Factory Board which is the coordinating body of the 41 Ordnance Factories, a production arm of the Department of Defense Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence. However, there will be no change in the service conditions of the OFB employees and, the government was committed to safeguarding their interests. All OFB employees (Group A, B, and C) from different production units will be transferred to the corporate entities on deemed deputation for an initial period of two years without changing their service conditions as government employees.
- Capacity augmentation of Civil Servants plays a vital role in rendering a wide variety of services, implementing welfare programs, and performing core governance functions.
- A transformational change in Civil Service Capacity is proposed to be affected by organically linking the transformation of work culture, strengthening public institutions, and adopting modern technology to build civil service capacity with the overall aim of ensuring efficient delivery of services to citizens.
- The future of the country cannot be progressive without a reformed bureaucracy.
- Rationalization and harmonization of service may be the need of the hour.
- Civil Service Reforms should realign the outdated structure and culture of the services and forgo its colonial hangover aiming to raise the quality and sensitivity of services to the citizens that are essential for sustainable economic and social development.
Chapter 8: Healthcare
India is known as the “World’s Pharmacy” as it is the largest producer of generic medicines accounting for 20 percent of global production and also manufactures more than 60 percent of all vaccines sold across the globe. India is the world’s second-largest exporter of Ayurvedic & Alternative Medicines with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22% during 2015-20 in the healthcare sector.
India’s role in Figting the COVID-19 Pandemic:
- India had launched the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination drive in January 2021 and has supplied millions of doses to various countries.
- India is at the forefront in fighting against Covid-19. Some of the steps taken by the country are:
- Ensured timely lockdown
- Creation of extensive support system through setting up of COVID-19 warriors’ network and a national taskforce
- Aatmanirbhar Bharat economic stimulus relief package of 20 lakh crore amounting to 10% of GDP
- 80 crore people being given free food grains under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana
- 20 crore women Jan Dhan holders being given Rs500 per month for three months
- MGNREGA wage rate was increased and is benefiting 13.62 crore families.
- Support to Indian vaccine manufacturing companies
Due to these measures, India has the world’s highest Covid-19 recovery rate of around 95% and there are signs of the Indian economy returning to pre-Covid levels.
Healthcare in India:
- Public healthcare facilities in India are being provided through Primary Health Centres. Community Health Centres, Sub-District/Divisional Hospitals, and District Hospitals.
- There are over 500 medical colleges in India with approximately 50,000 doctors graduating every year.
- The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) was launched by the PM on India’s 74th Independence Day in August 2020.
- It is being implemented by the National Health Authority (NHA) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI.
- The plan is to create a digital health ecosystem for India featuring health ID, personal health records, Digi Doctor, and health facility registry. E-pharmacy and telemedicine services are planned to be included later.
- NDHM syncs with Ayushman Bharat, a flagship scheme launched by PM in 2018 through the recommendation by the National Health Policy 2017, to achieve the vision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by covering 50 crore beneficiaries.
- Ayushman Bharat is the world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme.
- Today, technology-driven growth through the introduction of emerging technologies like Artificial intelligence (Al), Robotics, Augmented reality (AR), Virtual reality (VR), 3D printing, and 3D imaging can be seen in the healthcare sector in India. Many innovative health startups are doing exceptionally well in India.
- The government is lending full support to the startup ecosystem in India through schemes like Startup India and Stand-Up India.
- India’s Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rank according to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2020 is 63rd among 190 countries.
- This is a jump of 79 positions from 142nd in 2014 to 63rd in 2019.
- Also, currently 100 percent FDI for wellness is allowed in the construction of hospitals under automatic route and 100 percent in the AYUSH sector.
- According to a recent report by NITI Aayog, India’s healthcare industry is expected to reach USD 372 billion in 2022.
- This is a new phase of healthcare sector reforms in India through the passing of the National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020 in March 2021.
- The bill is aimed to regulate and maintain standards of education and services by allied and healthcare professionals in India.
- India offers affordable healthcare services for all and is a famous destination for medical tourism.
- Chennai city of Tamil Nadu state has famous multi- and super-specialty hospitals with the inflow of the greatest number of international patients.
- India offers a smooth process for the issue of medical visas and provides the best healthcare facilities, frontier technologies, finest doctors, and financial savings with the lowest waiting time.
- The Indian government had launched a single-window portal in 2017 to promote medical and wellness tourism in the country.
Chapter 9: The Power of Human Development
The human resource of a nation is one of the core pillars on which rests its future potential and journey. Its optimal performance creates better social outcomes such as higher standards of living, a better quality of life, equitable and inclusive access to resources, and low chances of intra-societal hostility.
- Economically, an efficient human capital leads to greater prosperity, higher innovation, and value-addition within the economy.
- This is also the guiding principle behind the government’s vision and approach towards India’s public administration – effective and efficient governance that enhances ease of living for its citizenry.
- The government has made its core agenda to reform and transform India’s public administration apparatus to match the needs and expectations of a rising global economic power.
- Be it reducing the number of compliances or announcing the formation of a national recruitment agency for conducting exams for government recruitment, this space is undergoing reform unlike any other.
- Prime Minister recently asserted in the Parliament that the government had no business to be in business – and stressed upon the need for a reduction in bureaucratic procedures where none are required.
- A major marker of government’s presence in the country is the state-owned enterprises commonly known as Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs), present in areas ranging from banks to telecom and from insurance to coal. Over the years, the highest echelons of government machinery including the PM, have called for a divestment of the government’s majority share in these enterprises and corporatizing them to achieve higher productivity and promote better business practices.
- Last year’s decision to merge ten PSU banks into four by the government also traces its roots in a bid to remove inefficiencies, bureaucratic indecisiveness and promote a transparent system of accountability in public bodies.
- Over the years, the government has garnered much attention for its encouraging moves on lateral entry into government service.
- There is a widespread national consensus on the need to reform or arguably, ‘transform’ the civil service examinations conducted by the UPSC.
- It is worth mentioning here that the creation of a national recruitment agency (NRA) to conduct examinations for the middle and lower rungs of government service is another example of streamlining public administration within the country and replacing the current web of agencies and examinations.
- The government’s aggressive push towards digitizing governance processes has been widely praised.
- Beginning with the umbrella campaign, ‘Digital India,’ the country has witnessed a massive surge in digital services, ranging from digital payments to JAM Trinity and DBT.
- With record low prices of data and record-high consumption of data, India has grown leaps and bounds in terms of digital infrastructure and access to a variety of available digital resources such as SWAYAM portal (online education), e-Aadhaar services, online PAN, Voter card, and Income Tax Return (ITR) services, online banking, and portals like MyGov, DigiLocker, Udyami, and e-visa services.
- The mammoth network of government presence in digital space is a testament to the importance given by the PM to putting e-governance at work for the common people and simplify governmental processes for them.
Chapter 10: TID-BITS
The Rebellions of Palayakkars
Historians have held three different versions of India’s War of Independence. One version is that it began with Puli Thevar and ended with the Marudhu brothers.
- In this context, three Palayakkar Rebellions ultimately paved the way for the South Indian Rebellion which started at Coimbatore.
- This South Indian Rebellion of 1799 to 1801 ultimately ended with the Vellore Mutiny of 1806. According to this version, the period from the First Palayakkar rebellion to the Vellore Mutiny was called the First and Early War of Independence. According to the second version, the First War of Independence began in 1857 when the sepoys of North India rose in rebellion against the alien rulers. This uprising began as a mutiny at Meerut, spread its tentacles in North India with the common people rallying to its fold. A third version is that the First War of Independence began in 1885 when the nationalists gave shape to the Indian National Congress which in subsequent years led to the war of liberation which culminated in 1947. In the Palayakkar rebellion, Marudhu Pandyan was the first to call the people of India to fight against the British authority. Further, the Palayakkar rebellion was entirely different from the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and the war initiated by the Indian National Congress was through different phases. The Palayakkars rebellions took place before the establishment of the British power in India. The Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and the struggle launched by the Congress were taken place after the British established their power in India.
- Native resistance to the authority of the British East India Company came from the Tamils; began first in the Tirunelveli region and then Ramanathapuram. The Southern Palayakkar region was the first to blow the trumpet of war against British imperialism.
- The rule of the Nayaks of Vijayanagara Governors had a strong base in the Tamil region, Madurai was its capital. The number of Palayams fluctuated to the need of the situation. The Palayakars of the Eastern Part of Tirunelveli belonged to the Naick community called ‘Kambalattars’. Their mother tongue was Telugu. They were settled in the wake of the expansion of the Vijayanagara Kingdom. The Marava Palayakkars were settled in the western part of Tirunelveli. Among the Palayakkars, the Palayakkars of the Nercattumseval Panjalamkurichi, Ettayapuram, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai were the most influential.
- The Palayakkars of Panjalamkurichi were given the supervising power over a few other Palayakkars. The Palayakkars were functioning as the intermediaries for collecting the taxes for the Nawabs. After the eclipse of the Nayak’s regime, the Palayams of this southern region came under the rule of the Nawab.
- On the appeal of the Nawab, the British Company conducted military expeditions in the southern Palayakkar region to suppress the rebellious Palayakkars. As the Nawab, Muhammad Ali of the Wallajah dynasty ascended the throne with the success in the Carnatic Wars with the military aid of the Company, he was indebted to the latter. The Nawab debt was immense and it was called ‘Carnatic Debts’. To mitigate the debts, the Nawab even authorised the Company with the right to collect taxes in the southern palayakkar region. When the British tried to collect taxes, the Palayakkars had to fight relentlessly.
Puli Thevar and First Palayakkar War
- Many of the Palayakkars on certain pretexts did not pay the kist (tribute) and peshcush (tax). The first British military expedition in the Palayakkar region was undertaken by Captain Cope in 1751. His force was defeated and driven away by the Kallars of Natham. Mahfuz Khan, the elder brother of Muhammad Ali and the Governor of Tirunelveli Province with the help of the British army under Col. Heron undertook a military expedition in March 1755. He even tried for an alliance with Haidar Ali of Mysore and the French against the British. Even though it was the First Palayakkar War, N. Rajaiah called him the ‘First Freedom Fighter’ and his struggle as the ‘First War of Independence.’
- As per the Carnatic Treaty of 1792, the Nawab of Arcot surrendered his right over the southern Palayakkar region to the British. The East India Company on the acquisition of superintending power tried to collect taxes from the southern Palayakkars by sending Captain Maxwell in 1792. Most of the Palayakkars received Maxwell respectfully and paid him tributes. All the Palayakkars also consented to pay tax regularly every year. The Palayakkar of Ettayapuram became a trustworthy Palayakkar of the British.
Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium
What is INSACOG?
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is a national multi-agency consortium of Genome Sequencing Laboratories (RGSLs) established by the Government of India in December 2020. There are 28 laboratories under this Consortium that monitor the genomic variations in SARS-CoV-2.
What is the objective of INSACOG?
To fully understand the spread and evolution of the SARS Co V-2 virus, its mutations, and resulting variants, the need for in-depth sequencing and analysis of the genomic data was felt. Against this backdrop, INSACOG was established to expand whole-genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus across the nation, aiding the understanding of how the virus spreads and evolves. Any changes to the genetic code or mutations in the virus can be observed based on the analysis and sequencing of samples done in the laboratories under INSACOG.
INSACOG has the following specific objectives:
- To ascertain the status of Variants of Interest (Vol) and Variants of Concern (VoC) in the country.
- To establish sentinel surveillance and surge surveillance mechanisms for early detection of genomic variants and assist in formulating effective public health response.
- To determine the presence of genomic variants in samples collected during super-spreader events and in areas reporting an increasing trend of cases/deaths, etc.
The initial focus of India was on restricting the spread of global variants of concern in the country – Alpha (B. 1.1.7), Beta (B. l.35 1), and Gamma (P.l), which had high transmissibility. The entry of these variants was carefully tracked by INSACOG. Subsequently, the Delta and Delta Plus variants were also identified based on Whole Genome Sequencing analysis conducted in the INSACOG laboratories.