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Reforms in Indian Civil Services

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Role of Civil Services in a Democracy


Source: IE

 Context: Copying cutting-edge practices in hiring, specialisation and organisational structure from the Indian military will serve the Indian bureaucracy well.



  • The Indian Civil Service exists to end poverty.
  • The war on poverty is won by raising the productivity of five physical and conceptual places – states, cities, sectors, firms, and skills.
  • India’s strategy for reducing poverty:
    • Generating high-paying jobs through urbanisation, formalisation, industrialisation, financialisation and human capital.
    • To implement this India has new policy weapons like GST, IBC, MPC, UPI, DBT, FDI, PLI, NEP, EODB, privatisation, etc.


What sabotages the public service outcomes that reduce poverty?

  • The government had an execution deficit,
  • The private sector had a trust deficit,
  • Nonprofits had a scale deficit, and
  • A dysfunctional Human Resources (HR) regime for civil servants.
Reforms Needed in Indian civil services
Copying three HR practices from the Indian military Best practices of the Indian military to be adopted by the civil services
Hiring (fixed terms for successful candidates) Tenure: The courageous Agniveer revamp: Only 25% of the recruited soldiers stayed on after a fixed duty. It will gradually raise military capital expenditure.



The government must hire all new civil servants for a fixed 10-year tenure with rollover percentages decided by a hard-coded organisational structure.

Specialisation (compounding skills over decades) A democracy’s generalists are politicians, while civil servants are technocrats whose mandate changed from ruling to governing.



Young military recruits pick an area of expertise early, the Indian civil services must replicate this.

Structure (performance management forced via a frozen pyramid) Civil servant selection is highly meritocratic, but their careers are adversely influenced by outdated HR practices that don’t punish bad performers and therefore punish good performers.



The performance management system in the military (promotions with honest appraisals) has been more disciplined.


How will this transform Indian civil services?

  • Raise competition, accountability and uncertainty.
  • Raise moral courage: The ability to speak up irrespective of consequences for yourself.



  • The Indian Republic has greatly benefitted from civilian control of the military, but it’s time for the civil services to learn three cutting-edge HR practices from the military.
  • Better HR practices in civil services are needed because wars are fought with weapons but won by people.


Insta Links:

Parliamentary Committee: Reduce the civil services examination’s selection cycle


Mains Links:

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