[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A civil servant should act like a (Wisdom Tree) working relentlessly for promoting resilience, and wellbeing throughout. And, This expectation emerges from seven cardinal principles desired from a civil servant. These are–selflessness, integrity, accountability, openness, leadership, objective, and honesty.

Cardinal Principle Meaning
Selflessness Selflessness refers to the feeling of serving others without thinking of oneself.
Integrity Integrity refers to the absence of any outside influence from the organization in decision making.
Accountability Accountability refers to answerability of the civil servant to the public.
Openness Openness refers to transparency in decision making and facilitating flow of information.
Leadership Leadership infers that a civil servant should lead by example by following all the principles.
Objectivity Objectivity refers to the principle of merit where selections would not be based on other considerations.
Honesty Honesty refers to the act of civil servant in such a way so as to avoid conflict of interest.

In addition to these fundamental principles an ideal civil servant should have empathy i.e. compassion for the people. He/She should be politically neutral and should have courage to withstand undue pressures. In addition, he/she should have temperance in order to be patient enough to take decisions. He/she should use public funds prudently and is the best of the interest of public.

Apart from such virtues, a civil servant must possess intellectual capability to take decisions. He/She acts as an interface between the people and government; needs to follow the decisions taken at the top and respect hierarchy; needs to work within the four walls of the law; and if conditions arise that there might be violation of law in carrying out any instructions from top then it should be clearly brought out to the notice of seniors.

If still insisted on to carry out such instructions, then it should be carried out only through written orders and not through mere oral orders. It should be mentioned that illegal orders which hinder one’s authority to exercise powers or is against any statute should be ignored. A civil servant only needs to act according to the law even if he/she finds it unfair or unjust. The best he/she can do is to put forth his/her reasons about its drawbacks.

In addition, a civil servant should never criticize government policies in public discussions. He/She is a part of the government and such act reduces the credibility of the government as well as his /her own merit. A civil servant should never hesitate to put forth his/her views even if it goes against the advice of ministers, and the views should be coupled with logical reasons and lucid presentations.

Similarly, a civil servant should be open to any new suggestions, open to accept new challenges at work, try to develop innovative approaches to implement orders, should not hesitate to take tough decisions and should try to make a note in writing of all his/her actions in order to be transparent.

One of the toughest jobs for a civil servant is to maintain balance in his/her personal and professional life. There are numerous challenges to a civil servant when there is pressure of family members and close friends. He/She should be able to maintain such space so as not to allow any influence which hinders improvement in governance and transparency. He/She should try to include civil society in decision making so as to make governance more participatory. A civil servant needs to take along with himself/herself private as well public institutions. He/She should maintain transparency in dealing with private sector and should avoid favouritism. A civil servant should not blindly follow any law but implement it considering all dimensions. The nature of today’s administration is more people centric approach. He/she should be able to judge repercussions of allowing more competition or giving space to private entities on poor sections. This should be clearly brought out at policy discussions. This needs more of assessing ground level realities which requires open public discussions and bottom up governance.

The globalised world of today makes the task of civil servant more difficult. The increasing role of private sector, decreasing social sector public investment, high competitiveness, increasing marginalization of lower sections of society, increased awareness of the citizenry, requirement of flexibility and broad knowledge network has made it necessary for a civil servant to come out from a narrow outlook and update himself/herself according to changing needs. He/She needs to be more communicative by developing good inter-personal skills in dealing with multinational companies. He/She should be well versed with the power of information technology and make its sufficient use to broaden his/her knowledge and improve service delivery.

The principle of utilitarianism suggests benefit of majority is superior to minority loss. However, this approach violates the principle of equal justice where each member of the society should be able to enjoy his/her rights. In such cases, rights based approach that follows non-violation of anyone’s universal rights needs to be followed. However, such ethical dilemma needs to be sorted out at the individual level according to one’s discretion. Clearly such decisions need critical analysis and in-depth knowledge in order to be able to take effective decisions which a civil servant should possess.

The high work pressure and expectations often stresses a civil servant. In such cases, careful handling of situations is required. A civil servant should be equipped with the ability to maintain his/her cool and calm façade and follow laid out rules and regulations for maximum effect. He/she should try to include all stakeholders in decision making and should stand up against illegal directions. It may hamper one’s career growth but in the longer run a civil servant is respected for his/her uprightness and strong commitment. His/Her attitude must be reflected in the behaviour which requires strong conscience. For this, he/she needs to have clear objectives, feedbacks from stakeholders, patient listening and articulation of right thoughts. He/she needs to ensure responsibility for his/her work and should be ready to accept accountability in case of failures.

Thus an efficient and upright civil servant ensures public service delivery to the best of his/her ability. It leads to a shift from responsive to proactive administration.

However, inspite of such importance, civil service today is not what an aspiring nation like India would want. It is marred with inefficiency, corruption, lack of accountability and transparency, apathy towards public. India has continuously been rated lower in international indexes such as corruption index, world competitiveness index, social index, education and health indexes, and ease of doing business index etc. However, it is not that government is not acquainted about such issues as it has taken numerous steps to make civil servants more accountable, and responsive initiatives such as e-governance, social audits, right to information and mandating citizen charter have also been instituted to make it more impactful.

Hence only a change in mindsets, where a civil servant should not think himself/herself as a ruler but a provider of government service, and where public acts as a customer of these services is the key. A shift to the approach where ‘Customer is king’ is echoed in public administration, is required. This needs proper sensitization of civil servants and effective training and skill enhancement initiatives. Every civil servant should remember Gandhiji’s Talisman before taking decision:-

“Whenever you are in doubt to take decisions follow this approach. Recall the face of the poorest man you have ever seen and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him/her. Will he/she gain anything?”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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