For the first time in four years, India’s top civil servants will spend a large part of Thursday — Civil Service Day — discussing transparency and ethics in governance.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had started the practice of holding the civil service day in 2008, will inaugurate the function that will be attended, among others, by cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar and principal secretary to the prime minister TKA Nair. The issue of ethics and transparency was recently flagged by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare and led to the formation of a joint committee of ministers and civil society to draft a Lokpal Bill.
Thursday’s meeting also comes in the backdrop of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi outlining during the party’s plenary in December 2010 a four-point agenda to fight corruption that includes fast-tracking corruption cases, including politicians’.
“Any campaign to counter corruption can usefully start with efforts to minimise the extent and depth of the shadows within officialdom,’’ said the background paper for the meeting that will also discuss public sector transparency, public delivery systems and challenges of economic management.
The paper also said fighting corruption is of fundamental value in all government reforms that may require changes in legal and policy frameworks for the control and expenditure of public monies and improved procurement practices.
It proposes possible steps to promote ethical conduct. At the central level, this could include implementation of a uniform framework that governs the rights and obligations of public officials and elected representatives. Its suggestions include the introduction of a code of ethics and an ethics officer at the municipality level and an ethics commission at the local government associations level.