In a clear message to bureaucracy to act fast to change the public perception about government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said the civil services must be fair, honest and efficient and make renewed commitment towards disadvantaged in the society.
"We must introspect and recognize that there is a great deal of public dissatisfaction with the functioning of government, at all levels of government. This challenge the civil services must endeavour to address as a collective entity," he told the senior officials on the Civil Services Day.
The most important challenge before the civil services was to instil confidence in people that they were fair, honest and efficient, he said.
"The poor and the underprivileged complain that the government is biased against them. The business class complains that government is intrusive and slow to act. The middle class complains that government is corrupt and unresponsive", Singh said.
Noting that the civil services needed to make a renewed commitment to placing themselves on the side of the disadvantaged in the society, he said special attention must be paid to the needs of the poor, particularly the SCs, STs, minorities, women and children.
"As government moves away from running industries and controlling economic activity, to managing public services delivery, it must pay greater attention to improving its human face," the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister said that in sectors like education, healthcare and employment generation, the challenge was one of effective and equitable delivery of public services.
At the same time, there was a need for a new paradigm of public-private partnership that would enable government to work with others in society, Singh said.
"Our early feedback on some of our flagship programmes like Bharat Nirman, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, National Rural Health Mission and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan are generally positive though not uniform across states," he said.
In areas like food distribution, nutrition and basic health services, there was a need to do more, he said, adding that the government has increased outlays and asked civil servants to ensure their success.
Complimenting the civil service for its positive contribution to the functioning of the vibrant democracy, the Prime Minister said if inclusive growth was government's agenda, there could be no better champions for it than the civil service.
"People from Kanyakumari work to sort out issues in Kashmir and vice versa. This inclusive character of civil service reinforces our diversity, our common purpose, and our shared destiny", he said.
Singh also gave away the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Public Administration for 13 initiatives taken by civil servants and others towards good governance.