Here is an essay on the ‘Civil Servants’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on the ‘Civil Servants’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on the Civil Servants
- Essay on the Introduction to Civil Servants
- Essay on the Basic Features of Civil Servants
- Essay on the Functions of Civil Servants
- Essay on Neutrality in Politics among Civil Servants
- Essay on the Legal Rights of Civil Servants in India
Essay # 1. Introduction to Civil Servants:
“Many elements,” observe L.D. White, “combine to make good administration leadership, organization, finance, morale, methods and procedure, but greater than any of these is manpower.” Well thought-out and well planned policies fail to succeed and the best organizations based on scientific principles break down if the human material is not competent to execute the work.
In fact, no activity of public administration can be performed today without civil servants. The days of Laissez Faire are now gone. Under the impact of science and technology, the activities of States have multiplied. At every step the citizen comes into contact with the Personnel who is the “sovereign factor in public administration.”
The word ‘civil servant’ may be said to have been coined on the analogy of military servant and police servant. He is distinguishable from the latter two in that while they are mainly concerned with the safeguarding of the country from the external and internal dangers, he is concerned with purely civil and non-technical affairs of the State.
He is employed in a civil capacity as distinguished from military, judicial or police capacity. Military officers, judicial officers, police officers and many other technical officers like doctors, engineers and draftsmen are, strictly speaking, not civil servants. A civil servant is one whose main function is to administer the law of the land. The civil servants are mainly of two classes lower clerical staff and higher administrative staff.
The higher administrative staff is directly connected with the political head of the department. The lower clerical staff helps the administrative staff and works under its direct supervision and control. State reaches the citizen through the civil servants who are trained, skilled and permanent body of professional officials, and who have adopted government service as a career.
An authoritative description of the civil servant was given by the British Treasury in its report to the Royal Commission (Tomlin) of 1929-31 as under:
” …a civil servant may be defined as a servant of the Crown (not being the holder of a political or judicial office) who is employed in a civil capacity and whose remuneration is wholly paid out of the monies provided by Parliament.”
Dr. Finer, however, classified the British civil service into three categories—Administrative, Technical and Manipulative. The Administrative officers formulate policies and execute them. The technical officials need the assistance of specific scientific knowledge and training like that of doctors and engineers.
The manipulative category of officials execute orders handed down by the first two categories of officials by common physical activity.
Essay # 2. Basic Features of Civil Servants:
According to Herman Finer, Civil Service is “a professional body of officials, permanent, paid and skilled”. It means that it is primarily a body of professional administrators as distinguished from politicians who are elected on party lines. The officers do not earn profits while in civil service but only get handsome salaries in fixed grades.
They have adopted civil service as their life career and through training and experience become skilled in their profession. In the words of Gladden “the requirements of the civil service are that it shall be impartially selected, administratively competent, politically neutral and imbued with the spirit of service to the community”.
The basic features of the civil service worth mentioning are as follows:
The most important characteristic of civil service is that it is a professional class of officials who are trained and skilled. Like other people who carry on different professions, the profession of civil servants is to run the administration.
It does not mean, however, that civil service is a single profession like shoe-making or welding but it is a sum total of many professions from delivering mail to citizens to administering a district—all engaged in a single aim, i.e., the implementation of state policy.
By hierarchy we mean that all the civil servants are organised into a firmly ordered system wherein each one is subordinate to the other, higher to himself and there is supervision of the lower officers by the higher ones.
In this hierarchy, each officer occupies a fixed place with well-defined duties, salary and privileges. The person at the lowest rung of the ladder is ultimately responsible to the one at the highest ladder through a well organized chain. Every official has to obey the orders of the higher official.
The word ‘bureaucracy’ is sometimes used with contempt. The civil servants through distortion and caricature are sometimes termed as bureaucrats. Politicians and public men hurl abuses at them at the time of election and other emergency. They associate bureaucracy with red-tape, officiousness, corruption, inefficiency, wastefulness and what not. But to caricature the civil servants in such a way is wrong.
The existence of civil servants as a professional class is essential for the present-day civilization. Rightly understood, bureaucracy is a professional class of technically skilled persons, who are organized in an hierarchal way, and serve the state in impartial way. They administer on the basis of rules and regulations rather than on grounds of favouritism. Their treatment with the public is uniform.
Though civil servants cannot be blamed for the law and policy of the legislature and executive, yet it does not mean that they are quite unresponsive to public opinion. In the modern welfare state the civil servants have to seek the cooperation of the public and come in contact with them in order to succeed in the implementation of Five-Year Plans.
It is for the purpose of knowing the interests and views of the public and also to inform the public of their programme and policies that the modern governments maintain a Department of Information. It is the duty of the civil servants to show courtesy to the public and make such a psychological approach as to avoid or at least minimize frictions.
They are the servants of the people whose welfare and happiness they should place above their private gain. They should approach them as friends and guides rather than as rulers equipped with authority.
(iv) Impartiality and Anonymity:
The civil servants have to apply the laws of the State without showing any favour or partiality to any individual or group of individuals in society. They should be neutral in politics and serve the government without caring for the party character of the cabinet.
They are servants of the State and they have to serve any party that is in power. In the words of Gladden, “The concept of a civil service, a professional body of neutral experts in administration dedicated to serve the nation irrespective of their own gain and without reference to party political views or class interests, is thus a modern one.”
And for this very reason, they must work without any desire for fame or name. They have to remain anonymous, whatever praise or blame will go to the minister. Thus they should maintain a high standard of conduct and serve the nation impartially, honestly and anonymously.
(v) Public Accountability:
In a democratic set up of government public servant is to be accountable to the elected representatives of the people who can fire them if they fail to deliver goods.
(vi) Uniformity of Treatment:
The civil services have to believe in uniformity of treatment while dealing with the public. They have to see to equal application of law to every individual as principle of equality of law prevails in democracies.
(vii) Limited Discretion:
Civil services are not the policy formulators. They are only the executors. Hence at the most they have to be advisers. They are supposed to operate within the confines of laws laid down. The statues do give them some discretionary powers as well but they are not to be abused.
They have to work under the direction of political executive, be conscious of judicial scrutiny in case of challenge to their misuse of discretion and vehement denunciation by the legislators on the floor of the House.
Referring about the features of Civil Service, Herman Finer observes:
“The civil service….does not exist to make a profit. Hence its members’ incentive is, in the last resort, to draw a salary, and not, by taking risks to make a lot of money. Secondly, it is public. Hence its actions are subject to persistent scrutiny and liable to disavowal. This again limits its flexibility and enterprise. Thirdly… civil servants and their ministers must face constant informed criticism from Parliament. This fortifies their un-readiness to take chances. Finally, its services are vital. This forces it to pay special care to its staff relations, and, in order to prevent disaffection of dispute, to cultivate equality of treatment at the possible expense of quality of service.”
Essay # 3. Functions of Civil Servants:
The functions of civil servants may be divided into the following categories:
One of the primary functions of civil servants is to offer advice to the political executive. The Ministers rely on the advice of their senior officials who are the reservoirs of information and organized knowledge concerning the subject-matters which they administer. The political executive necessarily depends upon the civil personnel for the information that he needs in formulating his own programme.
In the course of administration many problems arise which are usually worked out in the first instance by the civil service and then reported to the political overhead, if at all, for approval or merely for information. Ramsay Muir has stated this function of rendering advice to the minister in an emphatic though exaggerated style. He observes.
He (the minister) has obtained this position because of his achievements in the general fields of politics. In a majority of cases he has no special knowledge of the immense and complex work of the department over which he is to preside….He has to deal with a body of officials who have been giving their whole time in quietness to the study of the problems of the office, during the years when he has been making his position in the world, or talking fluently on platforms.
They bring before him hundreds of knotty problems for his decision about most of which he knows nothing at all. They put before him their suggestions, supported by what may seem the most convincing arguments and facts.
“Is it not obvious that, unless he is either a self-important ass or a man of quite exceptional grasp, power and courage, he will in ninety- nine cases out of a hundred, simply accept their view, and sign his name on the dotted line?….the policy of the office will nearly always prevail: its power of quiet persistence and of quiet obstruction, and its command of all the facts, are irresistible except to a man of commanding power.”
The underlying significance and philosophy of this function of advice is made evident in the following passage:
“The business of government, if it is to be well done, calls for the steady application of long and wide views to complex problems; for the pursuit, as regards each and every subject matter, of definite lines of action, mutually consistent, conformed to public opinion and capable of being followed continuously while conditions so permit and of being readily adjusted when they do not. Almost any administrative decision may be expected to have consequences which will endure or emerge long after the period of office of the government by which or under whose authority it is taken. It is the peculiar function of the civil servant, in their day-to-day work to set these wider and more enduring considerations against the exigencies of the moment, in order that the parliamentary convenience of today may not become the parliamentary embarrassment of tomorrow. This is the primary justification of a permanent administrative service.”
Sir Josiah Stamp observed, “I am quite clear in my mind that the official must be the mainspring of the new society, suggesting, promoting and advising at every stage.”
However, the extent of influence of the civil services over ministers depends upon four factors, viz.,
(a) The influence of civil service is more on the newly appointed ministers than on the senior ministers,
(b) A civil servant fully conversant with his job is in a better position to exercise influence over the ministers,
(c) It depends upon the type of party in power as well. If a conservative party wedded to the philosophy of status quo comes in power the civil servants will perform only regulative functions. If a radical party pledged to social revolution comes in power, civil services will have to be more active and enterprising,
(d) The competence of the minister also matters. A competent minister will assert whereas incompetent one will toe the line of the Secretary.
(ii) Programme and Operational Planning:
In its broad sense, planning is a responsibility of the political executive; planning the periodic adjustments of the revenue structure is a responsibility of the Minister for Finance, agricultural price and food policy a function of the Minister for Food and Agriculture, industrial policy a function of the Minister for Industries and so on.
But there is a field wherein civil servants also perform the function of planning, and this is the field of programme planning.
As we know, the legislature passes (to draw a framework for the implementation of policy) an Act in general terms to execute and implement which certain rules and regulations are required. The civil servants, who put that law into execution, determine the specific steps to be taken in order to bring to fruition a policy or a law already agreed upon.
To the extent that the policy decision is ambiguous or vague, programme planning may actually affect policy though in principle its purpose is merely to affect policy. Programme planning involves a detailed study of the job to be done. It is the visualization of the whole operation. The success of any new policy will depend ultimately upon good programme planning.
Besides, assisting the ministers in the formulation of policy and drawing a framework of plan, the civil services are required to participate in the execution of plan. This is termed as operational planning.”
Civil Servants exists to perform services in the broadest sense of the term. Its primary purpose is production. Things produced may be tangible objects such as kilograms of fertilizers and miles of concrete roadway or less tangible such as cases of legal disputes decided or school children educated.
Every official responsible for running administration needs work standards to enable him to determine whether his organization is reasonably effective, whether his subordinate employees are competent and whether levels of efficiency and output are rising or falling.
He is to secure the most effective utilization of personnel, both with regard to immediate assignments and to ultimate potential. He also supervises his subordinate employees. Supervision is an extremely difficult and delicate task. The immediate test of success is production. The supervisor must cultivate attitudes that are conducive to co-operation, energy and loyalty.
(iv) Delegated Legislative Powers:
Due to the emergence of the welfare states, the activities of the State have got multiplied. The Legislature is neither competent nor has the time to cope with enormous and complex legislation which has consequently grown up.
Hence it delegates power of making laws to the executive. It passes the bills in skeleton form leaving the details for the executive to fill. This job is evidently performed by the permanent heads of the departments. The orders so issued ultimately are enacted through Evaluating Acts.
(v) Administrative Adjudicatory Power:
This is another important power which has been entrusted to the executive due to rapid technological developments and the emergence of the welfare concept of the State. Administrative Adjudication means vesting judicial and quasi- judicial powers with an administrative department or agency.
In India, this power has been mostly given to the administrative heads. In the U.S.A. many administrative tribunals with administrators as the chairmen have been set up to deal with adjudication.
(vi) Organization and Methods:
An important function of the civil servants particularly of middle management is to bring about improvement of working methods so as to eliminate waste and loss of effort and secure the most complete utilization of available resources. This function is performed with the assistance of units specialized in what has come to be known as organization and methods work (often referred to as O and M).
These units have been set up in the United Kingdom, in the United States of America and in India as well in United Kingdom they came into being after the First World War which were greatly expanded after the Second World War.
The O and M unit is located in the Establishment Division of the Treasury and there are O and M cells in most of the departments. In the United States, the Bureau of Efficiency was established in 1913 for doing the O and M work.
The bureau was consolidated with the Bureau of Budget in 1933, but little was done to carry forward its contribution to good management until the organization of the Bureau’s Division of Administrative Management in 1939, now the office of Management and Organization. Most federal agencies now have well-established organization and methods offices.
Civil servants have to play an important role in a modern state. Their powers are gradually growing. De Tocqueville rightly remarked “…the passage of time constantly opens to the central government new fields of station. Society which is in full progress of development constantly gives birth to new needs and each one of them is for the government a source of power; for it alone is in a position to satisfy them.”
Referring to the powers of civil services in Great Britain Ramsay Muir remarks “…under the cloak of ministerial responsibility and cabinet dictatorship it has thriven and grown until like Frankenstein’s monster it sometimes seems likely to devour its creator…it has become the most vital and potent element in our system of government… the power of this bureaucracy, the permanent civil service is to be found not only in administration but also in legislation and finance: it not only spends the proceeds of taxation, it largely decides how much is to be raised and how.”
The functions which civil servants perform, are varied and numerous.
They collect facts and figures, undertake research, advise the Minister who is new to his job, and make plans to satisfy the needs and requirements of the people. With the expanding activities of the State, their role is also becoming more and more vital.
It was not without reasons that Ramsay Muir said “Parliament is a tool in the hands of ministers and ministers are a tool in the hands of permanent civil service.” In India the civil services can play a still greater role as India has recently achieved freedom and is making efforts to rebuild its shattered economy so that the standards of living of the people may be improved.
The civil servant needs a change in his attitude if his role is to be meaningful. The days are now gone when he was a kind of terror to the common man. He is now the humble servant of the people to work for them and help in their welfare.
That a change has come about in the outlook of civil servants, cannot be denied, but still they have to go a long way to make the common man feel that they exist for his welfare and prosperity and that he should cooperate with them in the task of building India, a land of peace, prosperity and plenty. Jawaharlal Nehru’s words should ever ring in his ears.
He said, “Administration like most things is in the final analysis a human problem to deal with human-beings not with some statistical data… Administration is meant to achieve something and not to exist in some kind of an ivory tower following certain rules of procedure and Narcissus like, looking on itself with complete satisfaction. The test after all is the human beings and their welfare.”
Essay # 4. Neutrality in Politics among Civil Servants:
Public servants should serve the government and not a particular party. The fortunes of civil services should not be connected with the rise and fall of political parties. Neutrality in politics is necessary for maintaining the integrity and effecting efficiency of administration. Political neutrality is the hallmark of Indian administrative service.
A civil service man is debarred from indulging in activities of a political nature or canvassing for political support. He does possess the right to vote but he has to exercise it secretly. His political beliefs are supposed to be his private concern. He is supposed to be loyal to any political party that is victorious at polls.
Permanence of tenure and peaceful contented stay at a station necessitates aloofness from politics. However the concept of neutrality is not to be invoked to shield non performance, poor performance or shoddy performance.
Following are some of the rules pertaining to political neutrality:
(a) No member of the service shall be a member of or be otherwise associated with any political party or any organization which takes part in politics nor shall he take part in, subscribe in aid of, or assist in any other manner, any political movement or activity.
(b) No member of the service shall canvass or otherwise interfere or use his influence in connection with, or take part in election to any legislature or local authority.
(c) No member of the service shall, in any radio broadcast or in any document published anonymously or in his own name, or in the name of any other person or in any communication to the press, or in any public utterance, make any statement of fact or opinion which has the effect of an adverse criticism of any current or recent policy or action of the Central Government or a State Government or which is capable of embarrassing the relations between the Central Government and the Government of any State or which is capable of embarrassing the relations between the Central Government and the Government of any foreign state.
(d) No Government servant shall, except in accordance with any general or special order of the Government or in performance in good faith of the duties assigned to them, communicate directly or indirectly any official document or information to any Government servant or any other person to whom he is not authorized to communicate such document of information.
Though observance of such codes is essential yet it may be stated that in the interest of contemporary democracy, maximum possible freedom of expression for public servants is essential. In fact, there is a great need of effecting a compromise between reticence and freedom.
The Master man Committee in its report on Political Activities of Civil Servants in Great Britain stated, “In a democratic society it is desirable for all citizens to have a voice in the affairs of the state and for as many as possible to play an active part in public life.
The fact that the civil service contains a larger proportion of the population than ever before and that it includes a highly educated and intelligent section of the community makes it obvious that the civil servants should not be excluded from all citizenship except in so far as other overriding considerations of public interest render this unavoidable.”
F.M. Marx nicely portrays administrative neutrality in the words “Administrative neutrality means acceptance of the discipline of working without reservation—indeed with duration for the success of every government lawfully in power. Conversely, it carries with it a prohibition. Permanent officers cannot allow themselves so intimate an identification with a particular policy or programme as to create for them an emotional disability when it comes to turning in the opposite direction under a different government.”
The Fulton Committee also stated that “The Civil service has ….to be flexible enough to serve government of any complexion… whether they are committed to extend or in certain respects to reduce the role of the state.”
The rules pertaining to political neutrality of employees are very stringent in India and they necessitate drastic revision. At present, they are observed in breach. Discrimination should be made between officials and officials regarding these codes.
In U.K., for instance, complete freedom of political activity is allowed to the industrial grades, superlative grades in the post office and minor grades such as messengers comprising 62% of the civil services.
Likewise, typists, clerical assistants, post office manipulative supervisory officers constituting 22% enjoy all political rights except that they cannot contest election of the Parliament. The remaining 16% general administrative, executive and clerical grades cannot take part in national political activities though they can take part in local politics with departmental permission.
However a different tale is to tell in India. The Pay Commission strongly supported the strict rules of political neutrality of the Indian civil services.
It remarked, “It is necessary for a proper working of the system of Government adopted in this country that civil servants who influence the policies of Government or have administrative or executive powers or are otherwise in a position because of their public office to influence the citizen or who are concerned with ‘conduct of elections to legislative bodies’ should remain aloof from current politics.”
The commission did not make any distinction between the various categories of employees and suggested neutrality in politics for all categories of employees.
At a later stage, another committee termed as Prevention of Corruption (Santhanam Committee 1964) Committee examined these Conduct Rules and pointed out some lacunae, viz.,
(i) There was no rule which cast a specific responsibility or duty on superior officers to keep a watchful eye on the integrity of other government servants working under them,
(ii) No rule made it clear that every government servant is responsible for his actions except when he acts under the direction of his official superior.
(iii) There was no clear specification of the conduct expected of a government servant in the event of conflict between public duty and his private interest, though some of the points were implied but left unsaid,
(iv) The rules relating to raising of subscriptions, acceptance of gifts, engaging in speculation, private trade or employment resulting in harassment and pinpricks in some respect and were inadequate in certain other respects.
(v) The rule relating to property returns was hopelessly out of date. Annual immovable property returns serve no useful purpose when the tendency in modern times is to hold assets otherwise than as immovable property.
In the light of these recommendations, the Central Services Rules were revised.
The provisions made in the 1964 Rules are as follows:
(i) Every government servant holding a supervisory post shall take all possible steps to ensure the integrity and devotion to duty of all government servants working under him.
(ii) No government employee shall use his position or influence directly or indirectly to secure employment for any member of his family in any private undertaking.
(iii) No government employee shall, in the discharge of his official duties, deal with any matter or give or sanction any contract to any undertaking or any other person if any member of his family is employed in that undertaking or under that person or if he or any member of his family is interested in such matter or contract in any other manner and the government servant shall refer every such matter or contract to his official superior and the matter of contract shall thereafter be disposed of according to the instructions of the authority to whom the reference is made.
(iv) No government employee shall engage himself or participate is any demonstration which is prejudicial to the interests of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, decency or morality or which involves contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.
(v) No government servant shall join or continue to be a member of an association, the subjects or activities of which are detrimental to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality.
However, most of these ‘don’t exist in theory and not actual practice. The Indian bureaucracy has earned the odium of political commitment rather than neutrality during the last few years.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi once remarked “The country would be in a rut if it followed the British system in which civil servants were not supposed to be concerned about which political party was in power.” This remark of the Prime Minister (ex) is self revealing; Our civil services since the times of Mrs. Gandhi have learnt to be loyalists to the ruling party. Hence they could reap rich harvest for this commitment to the party in power.
However it led to ushering of Era of discrimination Victimization, intimidation, and harassment of individuals showing allegiance to the opposition party by these officers became the order of the day. Promotions, rewards and transfer to a lucrative place have been the consequences of adoption of influential political Godfathers. The codes of conduct exist for the political orphans became almost a maxima.
V.V. John rightly remarked “Political neutrality expresses itself in the loyal support that the civil service gives to the party in power which will be available to another party, were it to come to power tomorrow. The political neutrality should mean what John has stated. It does not mean what the bureaucrats in most cases think in our country.
They become yes men and sign on dotted lines as desired by the Minister. They go to the extent of damaging the opposition by denigrating it in the eyes of their supporters deliberately. They are evasive to their demands and indifferent to their requests. This enables them to appease their political boss and gain favours.
Essay # 5. Legal Rights of Civil Servants in India:
The following are the legal rights of public employees in our’s and in other democratic countries:
(i) Political Activity:
The public employees are not free to indulge in political activity. The limitations on political activity by service employees are necessary to protect them against political pressure and to maintain the politically neutral character of the public service.
This doctrine of civil service neutrality is a relic of the past. It is a product of British parliamentary practice. The civil servants are required to serve the government wholeheartedly no matter what its party complexion is.
Parliamentary democracy presents a harmonious blend of the amateur politician and the expert administrator. The former represents the current breeze of public opinion whereas the latter represents expertise, administrative skill and experience. In order to perpetuate harmony between the political and permanent heads it is thought desirable to sterilize politically the latter.
However, complete deprivation of a vast section of population of an important fundamental right may be uncalled for and evidently appears inconsistent with the principles and requirements of public administration. The civil servants too, like other citizens, have a rightful share in the civil and political life of the country.
However, they constitute an educated section of the community. As such, excluding the administrative elite from political life altogether may not be in the interest of the country’s political life. Hence there arises a necessity of compromise between political neutrality of the employees and their fundamental right to participate in the civic and political life of the community.
Besides on practical ground also, complete political neutrality of the civil services tends to develop among the employees an attitude of indifference to the impact of administrative activities. They do not bother about the result yielded by these activities.
Such an attitude of a public servant is likely to prove detrimental to the social and economic welfare programme of the Government. The advocates of a modern welfare state expect all citizens to have firm faith in the democratic values and imbibe a spirit of dedication to public interest, the civil services being no exception.
In U.K. a compromise between the two seemingly contradictory principles has been struck. The Government employees working in industrial and business departments enjoy all political rights guaranteed to ordinary citizens.
The non-Industrial civil services have been put in three categories—the free class, the intermediate class and restricted class. The first class enjoys all political rights except those which involve a blatant violation of the public trust. This class comprises about 62 per cent of the civil service.
The second class is allowed, with the previous permission of the department concerned, all forms of political activities except parliamentary candidature. The third class is negated all political rights except right to vote and is allowed passive membership of a party and local government membership. This class constitutes about 16 per cent of the total of the employees.
In the U.S.A. Government is more restrictive on the political activities of the government employees. However, they enjoy the right to vote and express opinions on all political subjects and candidates. They cannot indulge in political campaigns or participate in any political management.
They can neither embrace membership of any political party nor contest election. Their right to organize also is restricted. They can seek membership of only recognized associations. In India, the system agrees more with U.S.A. than U.K.
The civil services in India possess the right to vote in parliamentary and local elections. They can neither seek the membership of any political party nor aid or assist in any other manner any political movement or activity.’ They cannot even canvass for any candidate.
Though they possess right to vote yet they have to exercise it in a manner that their political loyalties are not revealed. They can contest election for local bodies with permission of the Government.
(ii) Right to Associate:
In all the democratic countries, the right of the public employees to associate has been recognized. Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution recognizes such a right subject to ‘reasonable restrictions’. The civil servants are allowed to form their own associations and are not allowed to join or form any political party. The associations may be formed for economic, cultural or professional purposes.
As soon as an association is formed, a copy of its aims, objects and constitution is sent to the head of the department who issues a letter of recognition if he recognizes it. The government deals only with such associations as have been recognized by her.
In India all employees except of military and police (who have to deal with law and order and national security) are allowed to form unions. These unions come under general trade union legislation.
(iii) Right to be Affiliated:
So far as the right of affiliation is concerned, different countries have different rules.
In the United States the Lloyed-La Follette Act, 1912, provides that:
“….membership in any society, association, club, or other form of organization of postal employees not affiliated with any outside organization imposing an obligation or duty upon them to engage in any strike, or proposing to assist them in any strike, against the United States, having for its objects, among other things, improvements in the condition of labour of its members, including hours of labour and compensation thereof and leave of absence, by any person or groups of persons in said postal service, or the presenting by any such person or group of persons of any grievance or grievances to the Congress or any member thereof shall not constitute or be cause for reduction in rank or compensation or removal of such person or groups of persons from said service.”
In India, there is no legal restriction on the public employees’ associations or Unions is the matter of affiliation to outside bodies, though the service rules penalize the disobedience to orders. We have the All India Railway men’s Federation, All India Postal and RMS Union, All India Postmen and Lower Grade Staff Union. Later, a Central Employees’ Confederation of nine all-India Federations and Unions was established.
The Government of India has laid down the following instructions regarding the recognition of its employees’ Associations:
(1) Government is prepared to accord recognition to associations of its employees which comply with certain specified conditions.
(2) The association must consist of a distinct class of Government employees.
(3) Every Government employee of the same class must be eligible for membership of the association.
(4) Ordinarily Government will not object to persons who are not in the active service of Government being office holders of the association, but Government reserves the right in particular cases to refuse recognition to associations of which all the officers are not either in the active service of Government or are honorable retired officers belonging to the same class of Government employees as the association represents.
(5) Representations from such associations, whether made orally by deputation, or presented in writing, may be received by Government officers notwithstanding anything contained in the rules relating to the submission of petitions and memorials by Government servants, on the conditions as laid.
(a) No representation or deputation will be received, except in connection with a matter which is, or raises questions which are of common interest to the class represented by the association.
(b) Nothing in these instructions affects the discretion of the President, the Chief Commissioner, the Head of Department or any other officer of Government to receive or not to receive a deputation from any association.
(6) Recognition is accorded for the purpose of enabling the employees of Government to communicate their needs to the government or to the government officers, and it may be withdrawn by the government if an association adopts other methods of ventilating these needs or grievances.
(7) Government may require the regular submission, for its information, of copies of the rules of association and the annual statement of its accounts and of lists of its members.
(8) Government may specify the channels through which representations from the association shall be submitted and the authority by whom deputations may be received.
(9) The office too is empowered to grant leave to a Government employee and will, so far as possible, grant casual leave to an employee who is a representative of recognized association to attend duly constituted meetings of the association. The grant of such leave will be subject to the exigencies of the service of which the officer in question shall be the sole judge.
The above instructions were issued in 1937. After independence, Government of India felt that “Government servants are well able to look after their interests and manage the affairs of their unions without the assistance of outsiders as office bearers.”
Therefore, it has discouraged the forming of associations having outsiders as their office bearers by refusing to give them recognition. The Government has instructed all service unions not to have outsiders in their unions.
During 1950 to 1957, the civil services of the lower ranks felt very restive. The outside influence over the unions consequently got accentuated. This seriously impaired discipline among the employees. In 1950, the Government introduced in the Parliament a Trade Union Bill which debarred outsiders from being office bearers or members of civil service unions. On the dissolution of the Parliament, the bill lapsed.
The Government did, however, instruct all employees unions not to encourage outside influence. In August, 1957, it amended the Central Civil Service (Conduct) Rules so as to provide that “No Government servant shall join or continue to be a member of any service association of Government servants (a) which has not,’ within a period of six months from its formation, obtained the recognition of the government under the rules prescribed in that behalf, or (b) recognition in respect of which has been refused or withdrawn by the government under the said rules.”
(iv) Right to Strike:
A great controversy that exists today regarding public employees relationship with the management is Can government employees be given the right to go on strike to further their objects and get their demands fulfilled?
This question was brought to the forefront of importance in India with the general strike of Central employees of subordinate grades in July, 1960. This was not, however, the first strike of Central government employees in India.
Prior to it also there had been strikes in Railway and Postal services which had countrywide repercussions. In the states also strikes have occasionally occurred, the most important of which were the strike by Patwaris some years ago and the strike of Punjab Subordinate Services Association on May 27, 1966.
The strike of Punjab Press Workers’ Union continued for about 17 days during May, 1966. In Uttar Pradesh, the strike by subordinate services lasted for more than two months.
In some cases the government has been very punitive, e.g., in case of Patwaris, while in others it has shown a lenient and conciliatory view, as in the case of May 27, 1966 strike when it asked the employees to apply for one day’s casual leave.
For the first time in the history of our country the policemen in almost all the states started a series of agitations and threatened direct action for the redressal of their grievances in 1979. Patiala policemen were the first to do it on May 8, 1979.
A significant feature of the police agitation is revealed from the fact that besides the constables Assistant sub-Inspectors and sub-Inspectors also participated. It spread like wild fire throughout the length and breadth of our country.
In Haryana policemen struck work in 1990-91 for many days. Besides other demands they have been asking for the right to form associations. Dhamas, processions, demonstrations, resort to violence at places, insulting superior officers, raising of slogans against politicians had been the methods of protests.
Their other demands have been:
(i) Right to representation,
(ii) Increase in salary and allowances,
(iii) Reduction of hours of work,
(iv) Abolition of orderly system,
(v) Better medical and health facilities,
(vi) Cordiality of relations between superiors and subordinates.
The University and college teachers were on strike for about one month in October 1998 to demand implementation of U.G.C. pay-scales. Strikes have almost become a routine for the restive employees on account of deterioration in their pay standards.
Even the doctors in All India Medical Institute, Delhi resorted to strike for many days when Dr. Venu Gopal was ousted from Directors post in the recent past. Medical Services were badly affected.
Strikes in public services are not peculiar to India alone. In England, there was a general strike in 1926. The Boston Police strike in 1919 in the United States was most serious. The public school teachers in Buffalo, New York, went out on strike in 1946.
The strike of municipal employees in Pontiac, Michigan, the same year lasted for forty-two days. Thus strikes in public services have occurred occasionally in other countries as well.
What should be the attitude of government towards the strike of its employees? Let us see the practice in different countries. In the United States Section 305 of the Taft-Hartley Labour Management Relations Act of 1947 has prohibited strikes in an outright and all-inclusive way.
The section reads, “It shall be unlawful for any individual employed by the United States or any agency thereof including wholly owned Government Corporations to participate in any strike. Any individual employed by the United States or by any such agency who strikes shall be discharged immediately from his employment, and shall forfeit his civil service status, if any, and shall not be eligible for re-employment for three years by the United States or any agency.”
Thus the position is quite clear regarding federal services in the United States. Corresponding legislation appeared in some states also. Virginia prohibited strikes of any public employees in 1946. In 1947 ten other states enacted analogous legislation. In England though strikes are not forbidden by statute, however, disciplinary action can be taken against an employee who has refused to perform his duties.
In Japan, Switzerland and Australia it is illegal for Government employees to participate in a strike. In India also the strike by Government employees of certain categories has been declared illegal after the General Strike of 1960.
In July 2003, the Government employees of Tamil Nadu went on general strike. The government dismissed bulk of them. Eventually the matter went to the Supreme Court. Its judgement on August 6, 2003 is worth quoting.
It stated ‘the government employees do not have legal, fundamental or moral right to resort to strike for expressing their grievances. It refused to an earlier decision of the apex court which had clearly stated that even the trade union did not possess the right of collectives bargaining going on strike (Ruling of 1962 of Supreme Court).
A bench comprising Justice B. Shah and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan stated “Strike as a weapon is mostly misused which results in chaos and total maladministration”. It further added “It affects society…when two lakh employees go on strike enmassel, the entire administration comes to a grinding halt.”
Hence the apex court expected the employees not only to be conscious of rights but duties as well. It said ‘Misconduct of government employees was required to be dealt with in accordance with law.” They exhorted the reinstated employees to take care of discipline in future.
Arguments against Strikes:
The practice in different countries thus shows that governments do not favour strike by its employees. The question arises as to why most of the Governments are opposed to strikes? The reasons are not far to seek.
First, the government performs those functions which are essential for the existence and well-being of the community as a whole. Strikes in essential services will paralyze the life of the whole community. Pfiffner therefore remarks, “Visions of administrative chaos and paralyzing conflict arise upon mere mention of unions.”
President Roosevelt in 1937 wrote to the President of the National Federation of Federal Employees “Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the Federal Service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the government a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking towards the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.”
Second, refusal to obey the orders of the sovereign state is tantamount to disloyalty to the state.
Hence in 1946, American Congress passed a legislation specifying that, “any person who engages in a strike against the Government of the United States or who is a member of an organisation of government employees that asserts right to strike against the government of the United States shall be guilty of felony.”
Third, Public servants stand in a closer and confidential relations to the state. Hence, they cannot be permitted to belie the trust reposed in them.
Fourth, when state assures its employees a privileged position as compared with the general public and guarantees them special terms and conditions of service by legislation, it expects a proper behaviour from them.
Fifth, strikes demoralize the employees if they fail. They bring misery and untold suffering to the employees in question.
Keeping in view these drawbacks, Willoughby remarks, “….It is highly undesirable for employees’ organisation to make use of the strike as a weapon for enforcing their demands.”
After making an appraisal of Government Union relationship in U.K., Germany, U.S.A. and France Dr. Finer expresses views against strikes on the following grounds:
(1) “If the State engages itself to give certain benefits to its civil servants, and by its institutions and traditions substantiates its engagement it may as a matter of a fair bargain require a corresponding guarantee that it will not be subjected to the inconvenience at the minimum of a strike.”
(2) “The interests which the State has in the continuous operation of its services are of an urgent life and death nature and these must not be stopped lest a great calamity befall it.”
(3) If the demands of civil servants are given ample constitutional channels in which to find their vent and if just to their satisfaction then strike must be relinquished as a means of forcing the State to surrender.”
Advantages of Strikes:
Though strikes seem to entail grave consequences and create administrative chaos, yet they too have certain striking advantages.
(a) Strikes compel the government to consider the problem of management-employee relationship. What to talk of strike, even threat to strike can sometimes bring round the Government. In Orissa, the policemen served an ultimatum to the Government that if their demands were not met on or before June 4, 1979 they would go on strike.
The government was cowed down. It announced concessions to over 26,000 non-gazetted policemen involving expenditure of over 2 crores. But additional sum of Rs. 25 lakhs was earmarked for their housing. In Andhra Pradesh also threat of direct action by police worked and number of benefits were announced for policemen. Practically in all states, the policemen took to agitational approach.
The Union Ministry of the Home Affairs convened a conference of Chief Ministers of the States on June 6, 1979 and agreed in principle on:
(a) Payment of higher pay to the police;
(b) Payment of special allowance to constables;
(c) Abolition of orderly system;
(d) Recognition of policemen’s association.
Almost all states enhanced the pay and allowances and some of them abolished orderly system. Some of them granted them the right to form associations and recognized police unions. All this reflects that unionism is an acknowledged method of protecting the service conditions of the employees. During the last two decades also unionism made the Central and State Govts. bow to the unions’ demands.
(b) They provide food to think. Hence Government’s attitude towards them has been gradually softening from hostility to tolerance and then to encouragement.
(c) Strikes have made the government realize the utility of unions.
Mere Banning is no Remedy:
It may be said that strikes cannot be put to an end by merely prohibiting them. While it is true that strike by public employees causes misery and insecurity to the people, disturbs the peace and order in the country, and affects adversely the well-being of the citizens, it also remains true that strikes are not resorted to in a vacuum and without sufficient grounds.
Strikes depend on the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country. The worse conditions of employment in the Civil Service leads to strikes. The more adamant and un-reconciliatory the attitude of the government, the greater will be the chances for bitterness between the government and the employees and eventually resort to strike by the employees.
Chances of strikes would be minimized if:
(a) Proper service conditions are provided;
(b) If the authorities hear patiently the grievances of the employees and give them a fair treatment, etc., if liberal and progressive management philosophy is adopted;
(c) If the causes of strikes are removed by mitigating the grievances of the employees to the minimum;
(d) If Councils on the pattern of Whitley Councils in U.K. are set up. These Councils will bring the representatives of the management and the employees unions together on a conference table.
Central Pay Commission on Strikes:
In India, after the experience gained from the General Strike of July, 1960, the Government has prohibited strikes in certain specified services like Ordnance, Posts and Telegraphs, and Railways, etc. it would now be illegal for these services and other like services to resort to strike. Though this prohibition has come into force, still attention may be drawn to what the Central Pay Commission observed.
“In the circumstances, if a proposal that Government servants should give up the strike weapon is to have just basis and is to secure reasoned acceptance by them, there should be set up an adequate machinery for negotiation, redress of grievances, and settlement of disputes; and there should further be provision for arbitration to which recourse can be had, should a difference on a question of remuneration or some other particularly important condition of service, such as leave and hours of work, remain unresolved, it is only thus that the Government would be discharging the obligation towards their employees, which they would be assuming by requiring them to give up the right to withhold their labour. If it is in the public interest that Government servants should not use a weapon, which, in the hands of other employees, is an effective instrument for securing their remuneration and satisfactory conditions of employment, it is only just and right that the Government servants should have an alternate arrangement for securing equitable treatment. If strikes and demonstrations can be eliminated from the public service and a fair treatment can be ensured to public servants through orderly processes, introduction of an adequate machinery for removal of grievances, including compulsory arbitration, would not be an unreasonable price to pay.”
Administrative Reforms Commission’s view on Strikes:
The Administrative Reforms Commission recommended the prohibition of strikes in government service through law. They did, however, recommend the setting up of a machinery for redressing the legitimate grievances of the employees.
A scheme for the Joint Consultative Machinery and Compulsory Arbitration in October, 1966 for Central Government employees was established by Government of India. However, police personnel were excluded from it.
After police agitation throughout India in 1979, the Government decided to set up Joint Consultative Machinery for police as well. It may not be out of place to point out that mere setting up a machinery is not enough.
What is required is a positive attitude and faith among the politicians and bureaucrats in bilateralism in service matters. As long as they are lacking in practice strikes and agitations by the affected classes of employees are bound to recur frequently.