Civil Service Neutrality

Administrative neutrality means acceptance of the discipline of working without reservation- devotion for the success of every govt. in power. In order to ensure proper functioning of parliamentary democracy, it is necessary that the govt. servants remain free from party biases. Paul H. Appleby says that every civil servant must know about party politics of the govt. but he should stay away from any participation in the matter. Fulton Committee also stated that the civil service has to be flexible enough to serve govt. of any complexion.

British concept of civil service neutrality serves the following purposes:

1.  Public confidence in the non-political character of civil service

2.  Confidence of ministers in the loyalty of their civil servant

3. High morale of civil servants based on the confidence that promotions would not be based on political considerations but on merit.

Related Article: Civil Service Activism

Traditional concept of civil service neutrality is based on administration-politics dichotomy but today policy formulation is a persuasive process and cooperative endeavour. Neutrality under these circumstances can be another name of inertia and status quo maintenance. 

It was forgotten that neutral, value-free bureaucrat was possible in society where consensus existed on values; but transitional societies, where situations of dissent and conflict existed; it was too much to expect anyone to be neutral.

Neutrality in civil service is a ‘myth’. In reality top civil servants are deeply involved in making political decisions. Under cover of myth, in reality the civil servants are protected from accountability to parliament and public.

Neutrality in public office tends in moral corruption. If all governments are to be served with equal impartiality and loyalty there are no grounds at all for criticizing the German official who served Hitler to the best of his ability.

Neutral bureaucracy, like the concept of bureaucracy itself, seems a highly idealized notion. In reality civil servants are professionally involved in political decision making. Like any other interest group in society, bureaucracy as a group has its own aims and interests. Hence it also actively involved in pursuit of class interests.

Behaviour of Indian bureaucracy during the post-independence period shows that it has been involved in politics and political party activities in a variety of ways- some civil servants joined political parties and contested elections after the retirement. It is impossible to believe alignment towards a party is developed only after retirement.

Thus in the context of large scale welfare programs, neutrality is neither possible nor desirable but a certain commitment to the goals and objectives of the state is inescapable.

Access more Public Administration Notes here

Some Appreciation Please!

  Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2015 at 3:00 AM under   Polity