Proposals are afoot for appointing 'agents of change' for engineering reforms in the civil services, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.
Robust structures and institutions have to be designed for delivering results far into the future; the "creaking system" cannot endlessly be persisted with, Singh said at a function at Vigyan Bhawan to mark the Civil Services Day. Complaints of 'Inspector Raj' persist, he said, adding that the bureaucracy could not continue to be "prisoners of archaic procedures and processes".
Referring to the private sector reforms that have enabled it to emerge as world class, the prime minister said that the government processes needed to be similarly re-engineered. He added that the 'agents for change' would be public oriented personnel of outstanding caliber; free of departmental baggage and those that would work on a full time basis within the system to deliver results. "I am hopeful that once this mechanism takes shape, we will be able to see visible results in a reasonably short period of time", he said.
Singh also told senior bureaucrats that efforts would be made to ensure women and minorities are adequately represented at all levels in government.
"As a government committed to appropriate affirmative action for all disadvantaged sections, we will ensure that constitutional commitments are fulfilled and that women and minorities are properly represented at all levels in government," he said.
Stressing on a citizen-centric approach of governance, Singh said that the role of the bureaucracy had changed from that of a "law enforcer" to a "provider" of basic services and public goods. "Civil servants have to shift from being controllers to facilitators and from being providers to enablers. They need to equip themselves with the necessary skills and capabilities by mastering new technologies and functioning styles", he said.
Referring to expectations about India's economic transformation, the prime minister said that achievement of objectives would depend on the ability of civil servants to engage in "out of the box" thinking." I have no doubts about the continuing centrality of government in a wide range of activities and designing an efficient management of change should be the key concern of a dynamic and well functioning system of public administration," he said.
"I view the reforms of government as a means of making citizens central to all activities by effectively addressing the concerns of the common people", he emphasised. The terms of reference of the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), he said, reveal a shift from traditional public administration concerns to more citizen-centric governance concerns. "I hope this initiative will fetch results sooner rather than later", he remarked.
On the occasion, two civil servants were also conferred the Prime Minister's awards for excellence in public administration: Steel Secretary RS Pandey and the Karnataka Government's e-governance secretary Rajiv Chawla.
Among those present at the function included the Minister of State for Personnel Suresh Pachouri, Cabinet Secretary BK Chaturvedi and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, TKA Nair.