By Prof. D P Agrawal, Hon’ble Chairman, UPSC
Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri Hamid M Ansari; Hon’ble Members of the Commission; Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is with great pleasure that I extend a very warm welcome to Hon’ble Vice President of India, Shri Hamid M Ansari. The Union Public
Service Commission is deeply honoured that he has consented to deliver the second lecture on ‘Governance and Public Service’. The inaugural lecture in the series was delivered by Her Excellency, the President of India in 2009. We are extremely grateful to you, Sir.
The country has witnessed an all round development in almost all the sectors since last two decades. The need for maintaining the pace of development and the requirement to ensure that benefits of development percolate to all citizens pose a great challenge to governance system.
We need to evaluate and re-jig the systems of governance responsible for ensuring an effective public service delivery and to keep it efficient and people friendly. In the journey of 85 long years in its various incarnations, the Union Public Service Commission as a constitutional body while zealously guarding its independence has discharged its mandated functions - not only the recruitment and selection for the civil service under the Union, but also advising the Government on matters closely relating to manpower requirement in public services. At the same time, the Commission has also been fully alive to the emerging challenges of governance.
Good governance for effective public service delivery presupposes that the systems are manned by the right people with right skills and capabilities. While undertaking the recruitment and selections in a meritbased manner, the UPSC has always been open to innovations in the area
of selection procedures and processes. The changes introduced in the Preliminary stage of the Civil Services Examination from this year are a pointer to the Commission’s commitment to select the most suitable person for the Civil Services. The changes in the scheme and pattern of
the Preliminary Examination are based on the principle of equity in as much as it will provide equal opportunity to the candidates from diverse educational and social backgrounds. We are also in discussion with the Govt. of India about an alternative method of selection for induction into All India Services from the State Services.
Commission handles more than 15 lakhs applications every year. To tackle this challenge Commission has introduced the system of online application for the candidates, which has been receiving an overwhelming response. Encouraged by the positive response, the Commission has
recently introduced hundred percent online application for two Examinations, namely Engineering Services Examination and Indian Forest Service Examination. To facilitate the candidates from the remote area, Commission permits them to apply off-line also.
Recently, UPSC also conducted successfully one online recruitment test at different centres in the country. Based on the experience from this experiment, the Commission may, in future, introduce online examinations and tests for other selections as well. The primary concern of the Commission is to recommend the selected candidates to the Government as soon as practically possible. Detailed analysis of delayed cases has been done in the Commission which revealed a number of lacunae in the proposals submitted by the Ministries. A number of workshops have been organized by the Commission for the Ministries/Departments to facilitate them to overcome these lacunas. In the same context, a Single Window System has been introduced, whereby a preliminary scrutiny of the cases is done at the time of receipt itself. I am happy to mention that this initiative has shown positive results in disposal of the cases.
Commission recently organised a day long interaction session with the Heads of Training Academies and Institutes of All India and Central Services. The idea was to benefit from their feedback and perceptions. During the deliberations, it was learnt that no mechanism exists to map the performance and behavioural aspects of officers in the field in the early stages of their career. It was considered necessary by the group that the Government put in place such a mechanism. The Commission would be interested in knowing whether the selected candidates exhibit the attitudes, values required and display the skills and competence required for the job.
In today’s globalized world, one cannot remain totally confined to one’s own approaches, methods and ideas for delivering the given mandate. We have to be a learning organization, ready to accept the best practices available globally. Towards this objective, the UPSC hosted
the first Conference of the Chiefs of Public Service Commissions of SAARC countries in the month of November, 2010. The initiative was appreciated by all the Member States and it was decided to continue such dialogue every year. The Commission has also entered into bilateral partnerships with Public Service Commission’s of Canada and Bhutan. A similar MOU is likely to be signed with the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission of Afghanistan. We are confident that such partnerships will be of professional benefit to all of us.
The Constitution of India, under proviso to Article 320 (3), provides for exemption of posts from the purview of the Commission. Such an exclusion of posts from the purview of Commission would be justified only in exceptional circumstances. To allow permanent exemption of posts/services would run counter to the spirit of the provisions of the Commission. However, over the years, the Government of India have excluded a number of civil posts /services from the purview of the Commission invoking this proviso to Article 320(3). Considering the purpose and spirit of the Constitutional provisions, I would urge the Government of India to bring all such civil posts/services back within the purview of the Commission.
Article 321 of the Constitution mandates that Parliament may by law provide for exercise of additional functions by the UPSC in respect of services of the Union and also as respects the services of any local authority or other body corporate constituted by law or of any public
institution. By virtue of its independent Constitutional status, the Commission inspires the highest confidence in the public with regard to its fairness, impartiality and objectiveness of its selection procedures. It is therefore for the government of India to consider amending the existing Acts of Parliament creating Corporations, Tribunals or other Organizations, to incorporate a provision for consultation with the Commission in making recruitment, selections, etc. for these bodies.
As of now, our country has a large number of recruiting agencies which make selection to various services/posts under the Government. In most of the Developed countries, an independent authority audits all selections made by different authorities. It may be worthwhile to adopt such a system in our country also. In our context such auditing could be done by the Commission.
The emerging dynamics of governance call for a fresh look at the issue of permanent appointment in the civil services vis-a-vis the outcome-based performance. The life- long job security provided to government servants perhaps brings in an element of complacency and
inertia. There should be intense assessment of performance of the officers at various stages of their career to weed out dead woods at an earlystage in order to have a civil service that is nimble, efficient, impartial, accountable and above all honest.
Another issue that needs attention is opening up of senior positions in Civil Service to all persons possessing skill sets matching with the job profile. Such selections should be made on a competitive basis with no prejudice to anyone. Coming back to the subject of today’s lecture by the Hon’ble Vice President, I can’t resist from mentioning that the foremost challenge in
governance today is to maintain the highest standards of probity, integrity, accountability, transparency and fair play. I am sure that if we are able to successfully meet this challenge, the people’s aspirations and expectations are bound to be fulfilled.
Before I end, I take this opportunity to welcome you all and also once again welcome the Hon’ble Vice President of India.