The National Civil Service Day in India is celebrated on April 21 as an occasion for the Civil Servants to salute their commitment to implementing the government's policies and schemes up to the root level successfully and appreciate their efforts in doing so. It is this service that is responsible for the public administration of the government. Also, on this day the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Administration are presented and districts across the country participate in the process.
Getting into the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services is one of the sought-after dreams for every graduate. Civil Service in India consists of Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and a comprehensive list of All India Services and Central Services Group A and Group B.
The origin of National Civil Service day goes back to the year 1947 when on April 21 the first Home Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, inaugurated the All-India Services. While addressing the probationary officers at the All-India Administrative Service Training School at Metcalfe House in Delhi Sardar Patel delivered a powerful speech and empowered the Civil Servants to adopt the true role of national service leaving behind the experience. In his speech he referred to civil servants as the ‘steel frame of India’. The first such function was held in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on April 21, 2006. So, since 2006 it has been celebrated as National Civil Service Day on April 21.
While interacting with The Goan on the National Civil Services Day, Ajit Roy, Collector and District Magistrate, North Goa highlighted the manifold responsibilities that a civil servant shoulder in various capacities while playing the role of a catalyst between the public and the government. Here are some excerpts from this candid conversation...
The Goan: A Civil Servant's profession seems to be a 24x7 job as we see you busy working in your office on a Sunday afternoon instead of being at home with the family. When do you find time for yourself?
Ajit Roy: We do have long working hours. We have to be in the office on holidays too, especially, in special circumstances like during elections or disasters and natural calamities. Our job is to keep our democratic system healthy, be impartial and conduct our duties in a time-bound manner. So, our working for 24x7 is important for society to be in place. During disaster times, or temporal geographic situations, we have to address the mechanism and here, our role becomes important. As, today’s times are unseen with an unprecedented health disaster staring at our face, the administrative system does look overwhelmed. Currently, we are working on so many fronts – managing Covid centres, arranging for doctors and nurses, turning government buildings into make-shift hospitals. There is a lot of application of mind while delivering our job responsibilities. For the past 13-14 months we are doing that and trying our best to manage the situation. Indeed, this is not a time to think of a holiday! And yes, while I agree that due to the nature of our high-profile jobs, we have little time for the family but our families understand the nature of our jobs and hence, co-operate.
TG: Could you share your reason for joining Indian Civil Services?
AR: Well, I come from a tiny agricultural village in Bihar, and have seen the problems of poor people – how every second year, there is a flood in the village and how life gets disrupted. But I have also seen the State in motion and action. My schooling in a government educational institute, the humble background, the teachers who encouraged us to learn – all had an impact on me. Books motivated me a lot. Amid poverty and scarcity, I saw the government machinery extend sincere help to the needy, try to change their situation and make an effort to better the society. Wanting to be a part of such a motivational team, I decided to work in the administrative setup and reach out to the last person in line in the most difficult times. Today, it’s so satisfying to see me doing that.
TG: Is it tough to answer the UPSC exams? What do you wish to tell today’s youth who wish to aspire for a career in Civil Services?
AR: Any exam, for that matter, is tough. But once we choose something and decide to walk towards our goal, we have to learn to find solutions to our problems. Factors like family, friends, teachers become your support system. As we all are a part of society and face similar challenges, I feel, with determination, we can overcome them and finally, win. To serve the common people and see that the rules and laws of the government are observed by the public for their good, gives immense satisfaction.
Let me assure you, today’s youth do have a fair idea of the nature of high-pressure jobs like ours. A youth joins the Civil Service at the age of 24-25 and retires at 60 at the top senior-most position. The decision to join Civil Service is taken at a very young age and in full knowledge of the demands of these services are.
TG: So, what is the actual role of a Civil Servant?
AR: In the democratic strategy in our country, the role of the parliament and assembly is law formulation. This law-making process precedes the law implementation. The political executives sit with the senior civil servants to discuss and formulate the laws, which are then presented before the parliament. The other, junior-level civil servants are the ones who see that these laws are implemented and observed by the public at the ground level by the State or the district. Law remains common to all. Our job is to see that all understand the law. We maintain public interaction, listen to their grievances, find out solutions and work out ways to a satisfactory, balanced outcome.
TG: In today’s pandemic times, what message do you have for the common citizens of Goa?
AR: Goa has the highest literacy. Any educated person will know the rule of survival of the fittest. The world has discovered a novel virus during the last year and it has affected our lives in more than one way. We will survive and prosper, if we remain fit, tells medical science. But though we belong to an intellectual species, we have not learnt enough from the past incidents. The virus has a super spreading effect through contact. We talk, listen to things that are said or told, but we are not implementing them. We are not showing behavioural changes or reducing interaction with others. We are aware that the second wave has hit and we don’t know if there would be a third one, too. The need of the hour is to control our behaviour which, eventually, will lead to control of the virus.