In the initial years after Independence, relations between Ministers and civil servants were characterized by mutual respect and understanding of each other’s respective roles, with neither encroaching upon the other’s domain. However, in subsequent years, matters started changing for the worse.
While some civil servants did not render objective and impartial advice to their Ministers, often some Ministers began to resent advice that did not fit in with short-term political interests.
There was also a tendency for some Ministers at the Union and the State levels to focus more on routine administrative matters such as transfers in preference to policy making. At the same time, some civil servants learnt the art of ‘maneuvering’ for favours in return for pliability in their decision making.
This trend was further accentuated by rising materialism and acquisitiveness in society as well as decline in values across the board. As a result, ‘political neutrality’ which was the hallmark of the civil service in the pre-lndependence era as well as in the period right after Independence, was gradually eroded these trends led to the phenomenon of politicisation of the civil service in India.
Areas of friction
The areas of potential conflict in the relationship between the political executive and the permanent civil service can be identified as follows:
(a) The concept of neutrality
(b) Advisory role of civil servants in policy making
(c) Statutory role of the civil servants
(d) Discharge of delegated functions
(e) Appointments/Recruitment to the civil services
(f) Transfers and postings of civil servants