Public Services Bill 2007: Magna Carta for public servants in India

The Public Services Bill 2007 which is expected to be taken up by the Indian Parliament in the current session is a manifestation of the struggle of the Indian bureaucracy for devising a mechanism which could ensure efficiency and efficacy of public services . The proposed legislation attempts to set up a regulatory and protective framework for making the civil and police officers perform in a competitive atmosphere without interference and without fear of persecution for being upright and impartial. It covers All India Services namely the IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Services. State Govts. have the option to extend it to respective state public services.

The bill visualizes setting up of a Central Public Service Authority as the apex agency responsible for coordination, control and monitoring of various structural changes visualized in the proposed enactment. The matters relating to the constitution of the Central Public Authority are dealt in Chapter VI of the Bill.

The Authority is to be headed by a person of eminence with at least 25 years expertise in dealing with public service matters. However the bill prohibhits appointment of a MP or MLA or a person connected to any office in a political pand India’s arty to this post. The authority shall have between 3 to 5 members in addition to the Chairperson.

The appointment of Chairperson and members is to be done with approval of the President of India based on recommendations of a selection committee comprising of the Indian Prime Minister , Leader of Opposition, and India’s  Home Minister with  the Cabinet Secretary in the Govt. Of India as the convener. The salary and conditions of service of the Chairperson  and the members shall be at par with the Chief Election Commissioner of India and Indian Election Commissioners respectively. The tenure of appointment is proposed as five years or till attaining of age of 65 years.

The Central Govt shall have to compulsorily consult this Central authority on various matters of public services including evolution and monitoring of a Public Service Code and matters relating to ethics in public service as well as the performance management startegy for public services.

The Public Services which shall be covered by the scheme visualized in the Bill have been defined as below:

Public Services” means the All India Services, the Central Services and any other Service and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union notified by the Central Government;

The principles to be followed in the matter of recruitment to public services are contained in Chapter II which highlights that such appointments shall be on basis of merit and open and fair competition.

Chapter II of the bill deals with certain idealistic concepts such as Public Service values and Public Service Codes. Central Services and All India Services have been so far covered by Conduct Rules which have over the years become a patch work quilt of instructions related to behaviour expected of public servants and need restructuring. The bill proposes to reformulate the approach to these matters .

The Public Service Values projected in the new legislation are coined in more poetic language referring to patriotism, and allegiance to law of the nation while simultaneously making reference to other practical aspects such as integrity, honesty,  transparency etc. for the public services.

The bill seeks to ensure preparation of a Public Service Code with the objective of setting standards of good governance for ensuring that public services are carried out with integrity and efficiency. Any breach of public service ethics shall be subject to punishment as per sanctions prescribed in the law.

Chapter IV of the Bill concerns Performance Management and Accountability for the public services .For this purpose a Performance Management Code is to be evolved by the Central Authority .This code will help ensure that the Public Services function as per developmental and management requirements of the State and objective evaluation of performance is facilitated. The code is expected to inject elements of accountability, neutrality , integrity and professionalism of approach in public services.

Chapter V concerns the conditions of service and protection offered to public servants.

The bill proposes to retain the existing jurisdiction and functions of statutory bodies like Union Public Service Commission, Central Vigilance Commission and assigns several responsibilities to cadre controlling authority which include formulation of service rules and a grievance redressal mechanism for public servants.

In course of discharge of it’s mandated functions , the Central Authority can seek public opinion on policy matters . It has to also submit an annual report to Govt. on various functional  issues including cases of non consultation or non compliance of it’s directions.

The scheme of governance conceived in the bill if accepted and sincerely implemented could metamorphose the picture of public services . Besides offering protection and performance based encouragement it could create a mechanism which is committed to deliver while taking away the interference and pressure tactics which reduce the bureaucratic performance. This will mean depriving the politicians of the unfair advantage which they enjoy today. It is to be seen whether the lawmakers would approve of the suggested changes. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

Benazir, Rajiv, Indu we miss you !

Matrix trilogy a series of films which brought to the viewers a glimpse of future controlled by computer generated soft wares is among my all time favourite movies . The thrill of imaging the unlimited potential of a computer controlled virtual world however concludes with certain philosophical observations . One such conclusion or lesson which emerges from the movie is that even the best computer programme can go horribly wrong . In the movie a virtual character in form of humanoid created through a computer programme named as Smith develops an instinct to reproduce itself in order to overpower it’s opponents. Smith subsequently in the process becomes a threat to the virtual world known as Matrix and it’s creator.

While watching a rerun of the movie it suddenly occurred to me as to how close the storyline fitted with pattern of events which have occurred in this subcontinent in last several decades . I do not know whether politicians like Benazir Bhutto get an opportunity to see such movies. Rajiv Gandhi and Indira Gandhi were victims of their own Smiths much before the Movie was released. But one can wonder just wonder whether any political leader ever contemplated the possible effects of the Smiths created by them becoming a threat to themselves. Off course CIA regularly eliminates it’s Smiths once they appear to be over stepping their limits.

But how sad it is to see the common thread running through the ghastly elimination of three top leaders of Indo Pak subcontinent. Indira Gandhi the shrewdest prime minister that India had after Nehru, failed to foresee the risk of backing certain aggressive elements in the Sikh community and therefore ended up antagonizing the whole community at one stage. Rajiv Gandhi champion of cause of Tamils in Sri Lanka and darling of crowds in South had to pay for his misjudgment for the Sri Lankan misadventure . And now Benazir daughter of East who overlooked the resurgence of hardliners during her regime as Prime Minister seems to have been made to pay for the indiscretion when the seeds nurtured during her rule seem to be overtaking every thing under militant form of religion.

I wish these charming and sophisticated leaders , of modern era , although lacking the formal training into school of political science could have been sincerely and forcefully advised by other mature politicians around them in such sensitive matters. These leaders had the capability to understand repercussions if they were properly guided. Sadly it could not happen and the world lost three extraordinary humans with so much potential untapped. The political scenario in the Sub Continent would have been so much richer with their presence.

Tsunami in Delhi

26th December 2004 was an unforgettable day for people living in many coastal cities in India . The powerful earthquake and the gigantic Tsunami waves which followed it shook several peaceful and sleepy towns out of their slumber, swept away several habitations from face of earth and in the process left painful memories of loss of near and dear ones for survivors. But human beings are just play things in the hands of nature so civilizations silently bear the sufferings arising out of such acts of devastation at the hands of the creator.


But how do we react to a Tsunami created in the national capital by politicians for the sake of publicity at the cost of public . Tsunami in a coastal city may be a something acceptable for natural compulsions but Tsunami in the land locked capital city of the country ? What does it mean ? Tsunami I am referring to here is a rally of human beings which is due to engulf the Capital city around the third anniversary of the original Tsunami .The occasion for rally is the celebrations for the empowerment of the Panchayati Raj institutions in the country . The proposed sweeping mega event which seems to owe its creation to brain waves originating in the ever creative mind of some ruling think tank is slated to hit the city on Christmas eve with a mega force . Train loads of members of panchayats and their families numbering more than 2.5 Lakhs are expected to descend on the city at the call of respected Prime Minister to participate in this celebration of transfer of democratic rights to grassroots level by virtue of a constitutional amendments several years back .


The persons in charge of the affairs started everything at a breakneck pace as if there was a fear that time was running out for the Govt. The first meeting was organized at a notice of barely 48 hours. Since it was impossible for senior officers of States (who have to send the participants) to attend the meeting at such short notice, so the Delhi based representatives of States were roped in along with Railways , Municipal Corporation and other agencies connected with logistic arrangements . Stunned by the sheer magnitude of the wasteful exercise Railways tried to plead for mercy citing the heavy cost of transportation (around 200 Crs.) , the heavy traffic movement due to vacations and paucity of resources and time. But the Juggernaut refused to stop it’s run. The pleadings of Health authorities about the possibility of causalities due to extreme weather conditions at the time of rally too could not impress the leader.


The citizens of Delhi have for years been at the receiving end, bearing brunt of the miseries and chaos in daily life which accompany such political gimmicks . Rallies organised in past have thrown life out of gear. People going to workplaces, children returning from schools , persons in need of medical treatment , women and disabled have repeatedly suffered in the past due to blockade of the traffic and hours and hours of traffic jams. Rallies have often created scenes of lawlessness and chaos. Public money worth Crores has gone down the drain, every time when such fancies have struck the minds of a political leader. However the anxiety to corner publicity at national stage always overcomes any sensitivity to sufferings of the public in the minds of politicians. Also, perhaps because most of the organizers have scant affection for the city and the city govt. burdened under it’s own contradictions, surviving at the mercy of central leadership is too meek to come to the rescue of the people.


Several years back the then political masters had decided that enough was enough. Henceforth Delhi would be a civilized place. So a rally ground was developed at the outskirts of the city in village of Burari. It was decided that all those coming for rally would disembark outside city limits at this rally ground, park the vehicles and do whatever they wanted in support of their cause at the vast open grounds there. This time too it was reminded by someone that Burai or even some neighboring town like Gurgaon would be a far better option for this kind of gathering. But politicians know their games well. A rally outside the city limits! Would that receive as good attention from media . Off course not. And a rally at Gurgaon ..would that not give far more mileage to the concerned State Govt. So heart of Delhi would remain the best choice and the human Tsunami would sweep us off our feet on the destined day. Get ready Delhiites.


Subsequently better sense seems to have prevailed. Rally is now Cancelled (14th Dec.2007 )