Role of the Civil Servants

 Is the LBSNAA Director trying to trigger a shift away from Sardar Patel’s vision?


Shri Rajiv Gauba
Cabinet Secretary

Dear Shri Gauba,

Writing on the occasion of the 2023 Civil Service Day, the Director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) is reported to have said,

“The task of defining an Indian ethos for the civil service began in the 75th year of India’s independence, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address where he spelt out the country’s vision and the Panch Pran – the five pledges…….” ((

What the LBSNAA Director said gives one the inevitable feeling that there is a move on the part of the government to shift away from the vision of Sardar Patel, who spelt out a clear vision for the civil services in the country, both in his address to the civil servants on April 21, 1947, and during the debate that took place in the Constituent Assembly on the subject in October 1949.

In his address on April 21, 1947, he emphasised the need for civil servants to remain apolitical, as follows:

“I would advise you to maintain the utmost impartiality and incorruptibility of administration. A civil servant

cannot afford to, and must not, take part in politics. Nor must he involve himself in communal wrangles. To depart from the path of rectitude in either of these respects is to debase public service and to lower its dignity. Similarly, no Service worth the name can claim to exist if it does not have in view the achievement of the highest standard of integrity. Unhappily, India today cannot boast of an incorruptible Service, but I hope that you, who are now starting, as it were, a new generation of civil servants, will not be misled by the black sheep in the fold but would render your service without fear or favour and without any expectation of extraneous rewards”

During the debate on the subject in the Constituent Assembly in October 1949, Sardar Patel defended the role of the civil services in India as follows, with special reference to the necessity of their remaining “independent”, committed to the values embedded in the Constitution:

If you want an efficient all-India service, I advise you to allow the services to open their mouth freely. If you are a Premier it would be your duty to allow your Secretary, or Chief Secretary, or other services working under you, to express their opinion without fear or favour. But I see a tendency today that in several provinces the services are set upon and told. ‘No, you are servicemen, you must carry out our orders.’ The Union will go-you will not have a united India, if you have not. a good all-India service which has the independence to speak out its mind, which has a sense of security that you will stand by your word and, that after all there is the Parliament, of which we can be proud, where their rights and privileges are secure. If you do not adopt this course, then do not follow the present Constitution. Substitute something else. Put in a Congress Constitution or some other Constitution or put in R.S.S. Constitution-whatever you like-but not this Constitution. This Constitution is meant to be worked by a ring of Service which will keep the country intact

I feel distressed that the Director of LBSNAA should underplay such a clear vision spelt out by no person other than Sardar Patel himself and say that “The task of defining an Indian ethos for the civil service began in the 75th year of India’s independence”. 

What is urgently needed today is to strengthen the role of All India Services and the other civil services to be fully committed to the values that underlie the Constitution, be independent to translate them into every sphere of governance and be instruments of promoting a secular society in which there is an equal opportunity to prosper for everyone and a society that fulfils the socio-economic values incorporated in the Directive Principles of the Constitution.

In this connection, I would draw your attention to an insightful article authored by Shri M G Devasahayam, (, who was a distinguished member of the Indian Administrative Services himself and a person who also had the fortune to serve the country as a member of the defence services. As referred to in the article, the feeling one gets these days is that civil servants are being looked upon as “compliant managers”, not those visualised by Sardar Patel 75 years ago as “apolitical”, “independent”, committed to the Constitutional values.

I hope that you, as the seniormost among the Civil Servants, would correct the impression given by the LBSNAA Director and reiterate the vision of Sardar Patel.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to the Government of India


Support Countercurrents

Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B.
Become a Patron at Patreon

Join Our Newsletter


Join our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Get CounterCurrents updates on our WhatsApp and Telegram Channels

Related Posts

Join Our Newsletter

Annual Subscription

Join Countercurrents Annual Fund Raising Campaign and help us

Latest News