IAS, IPS Officers Turning into Foot Soldiers of the Ruling Party?

In an open letter to President Droupadi Murmu, 82 retired civil servants belonging to the Constitution Conduct Group (CCG) have urged her to convey their concerns to the union government

Lal Bahadur Shashtri Academy, Mussoorie (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)
Lal Bahadur Shashtri Academy, Mussoorie (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)

NH Digital

Alleging that systematic attempts are being made to change the character of the civil services, particularly the IAS and the IPS, and destroy their All India rather than regional perspective, the former civil servants have urged President Droupadi Murmu to intervene.

The open letter mentions that

· Measures are being taken that threaten the unique federal design of the IAS and the IPS, which bind the country together and enable the services to maintain a balance between the interests of the Union and the interests of the States.

· Attempts are being made to pressurise officers to show ‘exclusive loyalty to the Union rather than to the ‘parent’ state cadre’ to which they are allotted. On occasion, arbitrary departmental actions have been taken against those who refuse to do so.

· Service Rules are sought to be amended to compel central deputations without the consent of either the officers concerned or their state governments, effectively Lundermining the authority and control of Chief Ministers over their officers.

· All this have disturbed the federal balance and left civil servants torn between conflicting loyalties, weakening their ability to be impartial.

· Opacity in the lateral recruitments at mid-levels have raised concerns that candidates are being chosen based on their ideological predilections.

The open letter cites three instances when the Prime Minister, the National Security Advisor and the Director of the Lal Bahadur Shashtri Academy at Mussoorie have given voice to encourage this trend.

1. The National Security Advisor (NSA), while addressing IPS officers at their passing out function in 2021, had emphasised that they should treat civil society as the “fourth generation of warfare, that can be subverted, suborned, divided and manipulated to hurt the interests of the nation”. Such sentiments are alarming and antithetical to democratic dispensations. They aim at placing civil society in a position of conflict with the state.

2. On the 21st of April this year, the Prime Minister addressed a gathering of civil service officers on Civil Services Day. What was disturbing was his exhortation to the officers to be firm in dealing with malfeasance of ‘political parties while in power’. Though couched neutrally, the intent and objective were unmistakable that he wanted the bureaucrats to gun for the opposition.

3. In a recent op-ed, the Director of the LBSNAA wrote, 'The task of defining an Indian ethos for the civil servants began in the 75th year of India’s independence, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address where he spelt out the country’s vision.'

The letter recalls Sardar Patel’s words in the Constituent Assembly in 1947 and expresses concerns that the present government is subverting the civil services and turning civil servants into foot soldiers of the ruling party. This is what the Sardar had said of the need for an independent and neutral civil service:

'There is no alternative to this administrative system…The Union will go, you will not have a united India if you do not have a good All India Service which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has the sense of security that you will stand by your work…If you do not follow this course, then do not follow the present Constitution…Remove them and I see nothing but a picture of chaos all over the country.'

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