Post-Independence Era

Prof. V.P. Gupta


Rau’s IAS Study Circle, New Delhi – Jaipur – Bengaluru

This article caters to Polity & Governance segment of General Studies-Paper II & IV and for Essay Paper in UPSC Main Examination

Indian Independence gave us the freedom to step out into the new era from old shackles of ideas, understanding and imagination for a better society. The emerging notion was to become an ideal nation free from poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality. This could not have been possible without the dedicated and honest efforts of our public servants over the period of years. This idea of relentless public service in the cause of national sovereignty and integrity has given the public service its present reputation. Still there is a long way ahead and much needs to be achieved as a society resembling ideals mentioned in the Preamble.

In the previous article, we learnt how civil services through different legislations and Committees’ recommendations slowly became a part of Indian administration. The present article deals with the growth of civil services in India post-Independence along with other administrative and governance reforms.

Constitution of India – Part XIV

Government of India Act, 1935 Act provided for Services of the Crown in India in Part X. This part provided for Defence Services, Civil Services, Special provisions as to Judicial Officers and Public Service Commissions for the Federation and Provinces respectively. After independence, Constitution of India replaced Government of India Act, 1935 which provided for Services under the Union and States in Part XIV, into two chapters namely Services and Public Service Commission. Article 312 of the Indian Constitution empowered the Parliament to create the All India Services, whenever required in the national interest. The objective was to preserve unity and integrity of the nation through unified structure and standards of administration.

Public Service Commission is required to be consulted on all matters relating to recruitment to civil services and posts. The functions of the Commission under Article 320 of the Constitution includes conduct examinations for appointment to the services of the Union; Direct recruitment by selection through interviews; Appointment of officers on promotion / deputation / absorption; framing and amendment of Recruitment Rules for various services and posts under the Government; Disciplinary cases relating to different Civil Services; Advising the Government on any matter referred to the Commission by the President of India. Thus, appointment and the removal of civil servants for the Union and the States were affirmed by the Constitution and it also gave them the constitutional security of tenure which also allowed them to function independently without any fear from the political class. The All India Services in India serves at central, state as well as at local levels.

Growth of Civil Services through Reforms post-Independence

India had much to achieve after independence and consolidation of its territory including different princely states was of prime concern. Apart from consolidation of territory the other major issue to be addressed was with respect to re-locating people who had migrated to India from East and West Pakistan. Post-independence threw up greater challenges for the administrators of the country at national, region and local level. Thus, to cope with these growing challenges and with an aim to improve the administrative mechanism in the country, different committees and commissions were constituted. Let us go through the recommendations of important committees and understand how these impacted both bureaucracy and governance for the betterment of society at large.

Report on Reorganization of the Machinery of Government
(N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar) 1949

Gopalaswami Ayyangar’s report on Reorganization of the Machinery of Government in 1949 aimed at streamlining government services and maintaining efficiency in the public sphere. The report led to the formation of the Defence Committee, the Economic Committee, the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee, and the
Ad Hoc Administrative Organization Committee by the Central Government.

Public Administration in India- Report (Paul H. Appleby) 1953

In his report, Paul Appleby highlighted the importance of decentralisation of functions of government. He also expressed his concerns on the rigidity of cadres in the public services and the immobility which resulted from modes of recruitment as it made an All India Service officer restrict only to one state unless he/she opted for central deputation. He also complained about the feudalistic hierarchy existing among the officers of government. Mr. Paul H. Appleby’s reports (1953 & 1956) on Indian Administration resulted in the setting up of an Organisation and Methods Division (O&M) in the Cabinet Secretariat and Indian Institute of Public Administration in 1954 with the aim of initiating and sustaining a concerted effort to improve administrative efficiency in all branches of administration. Indian Institute of Public Administration was created under the Societies Act of 1860.

Organisation and Methods or O&M study refers to continuous checking of office work at every stage and continuous research for the improvement and simplification of office methods. Thus, the idea was to continuously study improvement of governmental structures and administrative methods and manners. This culture would have provided continuous employment for the outside experts for the above mentioned purpose.

Thus, presently as per the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances Organisation methods include Formulation and implementation of common office procedures, Publication and updating of the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure (CSMOP) and implementation of its provisions, Aiding and advising the State Governments on O&M aspects, Quality Management in Government including laying down norms and standards for processes, and implementation of the Plan Scheme of Modernisation of Government Offices.

The First Administrative Reforms Commission

The First Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) under the chairmanship of Shri Morarji Desai (later
Shri K. Hanumanthaiya) was set up as a Commission of Inquiry in January, 1966 to examine the public administration of the country and make recommendations for reform and reorganisation involving the following aspects: the machinery of the Government of India and its procedures or work; The machinery for planning at all levels; Centre- State relationships; Financial administration; Personnel administration; Economic administration; Administration at the State level; District administration; Agricultural administration and Problems of redress of citizens grievances.

The Commission submitted its report in 20 parts containing 537 major recommendations. First, ARC recommended to reduce political presence of Prime Minister in Planning Commission (PC) as Planning Commission with the help of Prime Minister had steadily entered into the area of the executive authority of the centre and the state governments. Consequently, PC was viewed by public as parallel cabinet or super cabinet thereby adding levels of decision making in the government. Further, it suggested to re-constitute National Development Council and Prime Minister to be the Chairman of the re-constituted Council, while the Secretary of the Planning Commission should act as its Secretary. With respect to centre-state relations, it suggested Inter-State Council under Article 263 to discuss all issues of national importance in which the States are interested. It recommended Inter-State Council to replace the National Development Council, the Chief Ministers’ Conference, the Finance Ministers’ Conference, the Food Ministers’ Conference and the National Integration Council. It further elaborated Inter-State Council to have its own Secretariat. Based on the First ARC recommendations, the Inter-State Council Secretariat was set up in 1991. The Secretariat is headed by a Secretary to the Government of India, assisted by two Advisers in the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India, two Directors and three officers each in the rank of Deputy Secretary and Under Secretary. Even the secretarial functions of the Zonal Councils (established under The States Reorganisation Act, 1956) have been transferred to the Inter-State Council Secretariat with effect from 1st April, 2011. It also recommended constituting Lokpal & Lokayukta to redress citizens’ grievances. The Government of India has recently appointed former Supreme Court Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghosh as India’s first Lokpal.

The Committee on Prevention of Corruption (K. Santhanam) 1964

A Committee on Prevention of Corruption was appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1960 under the chairmanship of K. Santhanam. This Committee gave its report in 1962. The purpose of the Committee was to examine the organisation, setup, functions and responsibilities of the Vigilance Units in the Ministries and Departments of the Government of India, to examine the organisation, strength, procedures and methods of work of the Special Police Establishment and any difficulties, to consider and suggest steps to be taken to emphasize responsibilities of each Department and to check corruption, suggest changes in law which would ensure speedy trial of cases of bribery, corruption and criminal misconduct, and make more effective rules and laws. It was on the basis of the recommendations of this Committee that the Central Vigilance Commission was set up in 1964 through an executive order for looking into the cases of corruption against the Central Government and other employees. Later, in 2003, CVC became a statutory body as Parliament passed the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003. Thus, Santhanam Committee played a key role in establishing an institutional regime of checking cases of corruption under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 of officers of the government.

Kothari Committee & Satish
Chandra Committee

In 1976, Kothari Committee recommended three stages of examination for civil services appointments. The three stage process comprised an objective type preliminary examination comprising one optional and general studies, a main examination which was to comprise of nine written papers and finally a personality test of 250 marks. In 1989, Satish Chandra Committee suggested some minor changes to Kothari model. The committee recommended inclusion of an ‘Essay’ paper. The marks for the Interview were also increased from 250 to 300 marks.

The National Police
Commission 1977

Police forms an important aspect of civil services in India as it maintains law and order and safety of citizens by preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities. Thus, police reforms become an integral part of overall civil services reforms. The Government of India (Janata Party Government) appointed the National Police Commission (NPC) in 1977 which was chaired by Mr. Dharam Vira in the backdrop of emergency period which saw misuse of police by political establishment. The Commission was asked to review Indian Police Act 1861, as well as Police Commission Report of 1902 and particularly such changes which had taken place since Independence at the national level. NPC also examined the role and performance of the police, both as a law enforcement agency and as an institution to protect the rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution. NPC produced eight reports between February 1979 and May 1981. The report said that police without a criminal justice system cannot function properly. It recommended that Law Commission may be enlarged to function as a Criminal Justice Commission on a statutory basis at centre and states. Such a commission will comprehensively monitor the performance of all agencies and apply corrective measures. The Report highlighted gross misuse of police has led to gross abuses, resulting in erosion of rule of law and loss of police credibility as a professional organisation.

It suggested reducing superintendence of state governments over police officials especially in matters of postings and transfers. It also recommended establishment of special Investigation Cell in the Police Department at State level to monitor the progress of investigation of cases under the Protection of Civil Rights Act or other atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Tribes. It suggested establishing Composite Cell at district level under the Sub-Divisional Officer to inquire into complaints emanating from Scheduled Castes/Tribes, particularly those relating to lapses in administrative measures meant for their relief. The Commission rooted for a transparent mechanism of functioning of police except in four areas namely
(i) operations, (ii) intelligence on the basis of which operations are planned and conducted, (iii) privacy of the individual citizen and (iv) judicial requirements. It further recommended to replace the Police Act of 1861 by a new Model Police Act, which not only changes the system of superintendence and control over the police but also enlarges the role of the police to make it function as an agency which promotes the rule of law in the country and renders impartial service to the community.

Sarkaria Commission on
Center-State Relations, 1983

The Ministry of Home Affairs constituted a Commission under the Chairmanship of Justice R.S. Sarkaria to review the working of the existing arrangements between the Union and the States in the changed socio-economic scenario. The Commission submitted its report in 1988 on different aspects of centre-state relations such as legislative, administrative and financial relations among centre and states, role of governor, reservation of Bills by Governors for President’s consideration and Promulgation of Ordinances, Emergency Provisions, deployment of union armed forces in states for public order duties, All India Services, Inter-governmental Councils, Economic and Social Planning, Industries, Minerals and Mines, Agriculture, Forests, Food and civil supplies, Inter-state river water disputes, Trade, Commerce and Inter-course within territory of India. These recommendations on different issues highlighted the changing scenario in Indian polity and the need for a course correction on different aspects of governance specially on centre-state relationship. Officers of All India Services and state civil services play pivotal role in the governance and administration of India and it is through them most of the changes sought are implemented by the government. Let us go through the key recommendations of Sarkaria Commission.

Among its major recommendations, it recommended that a permanent Inter-State Council called the Inter-Governmental Council should be set up under Article 263 to improve mutual understanding and trust between the Chief Executives of the Union and State Governments. Such an atmosphere ensures spirit of co-operative federalism. Another key recommendation was about the constitutional office of Governor. The report stated that Governor should be detached figure and not too intimately connected with the local politics of the State, should be a person from outside the State and while selecting a governor, persons belonging to the minority groups should be given a chance. The Governor after demitting his office, should not be eligible for any other appointment or office of profit under the Union or a State Government except for a second term as Governor or election as Vice-President or President of India. When the Legislative Assembly is in session, the question of majority should be tested on the floor of the House. In case of hung assembly in state elections, the Governor should select a Chief Minister from among the following parties or groups of parties by sounding them, in turn, in the order of preference as indicated (i) An alliance of parties that was formed prior to the elections; (ii) The largest single party staking a claim to form the government with the support of others, including ‘independents’; (iii) A post-electoral coalition of parties, with all the partners in the coalition joining government; (iv) A post-electoral alliance of parties, with some of the parties in the alliance forming a government and the remaining parties, including ‘independents’, supporting the government from outside.


These were some of the important reforms proposed after independence not only in civil services but in overall governance and administration of the country. Some of these recommendations were even accepted by different governments at different time. Growth of civil services in India thus can be seen through recommendations of these different committees. Constitution of these different committees on various aspects of governance also
reflects the dynamic nature of government’s ability to tackle challenges and also to adapt to changing environment. Economic policies pursued by the Indian Government post liberalisation transformed Indian economy and this also saw various changes in the functioning of government as slowly we moved towards specialised governance through creation of autonomous tribunals. Further, changing environment including addition of technology in our lives also leads to certain changes in governance methods. In the next series, we will discuss reforms proposed in Indian administration and governance post liberalisation.

Note: In our next article, we will explore in detail about the various reforms undertaken in civil services post liberalisation.

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