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Yes, Minister
C. Subramaniam
(Published in 1982 Annual Number)
The civil service is the repository of experience and has the relevant training, it is an essential arm of policy making. The minister has to depend on the civil service to give him the facts, analyse alternatives and assist in evaluating them.
-C. Subramaniam
Administration at the highest level involves a close partnership between the Minister and his Secretary. The civil service is at the cutting edge of implementation. This does not and should not mean however that civil servants are in total control of government. The leadership should be that of the Minister. To what extent the Minister leads or is led depends on his quality and dedication.
In a parliamentary democracy such as ours, the Minister is ultimately responsible for policy. Policy itself results from interaction between the Minister, the civil servant and the public which, after all, is the ultimate constituency. To the extent the civil service is the repository of experience and has the relevant training, it is an essential arm of policy making. The minister has to depend on the civil service to give him the facts, analyse alternatives and assist in evaluating them.
My experience shows that the civil service welcomes—indeed demands—leadership from the Ministers in initiating and examining new pathways of change. Contrary to the common illusion that civil servants revel in routine administration, my experience leads me to think otherwise. I have drawn forth the best from civil servants when I initiated the processes of change both at the State and Centre.
What civil servants need is an understanding leadership from a Minister who would take the knocks of public criticism and feed back such reactions which help the new policies.
I would like to recall here the close cooperation which I obtained from civil servants both in the Ministry of Agriculture in Delhi and in the States when I took the decision in the sixties to introduce high yielding varieties of grain. There was a risk involved that if the new varieties for some reason proved unacceptable, there would be public criticism. At the same time, the potential gain to the country in the event of success was enormous.

(Contd...)


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