As Abraham Lincoln once said in his Gettysburg address: “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

India is the world’s largest democracy, and the significance of instituting an organized system of chosen competent representatives from among the people who make up the nation, cannot be stressed enough. In this article you will get to know about the role of civil services in a democracy and who introduced the system of Civil Services in India?

Let us do a step-by-step analysis of the inevitable role of civil services in a democracy.

What are Civil Services?

In the simplest of terms, a country’s civil service is their government body responsible for its public administration and implementing their formulated plans and policies for holistic social welfare. In India, a civil services official ideally is a servant of the Indian society, and is selected on the basis of their merit in the Civil Services Examinations (CSE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), The prominent civil services in India are the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Forest Service (IFS), Indian Revenue Service (IRS), and Indian Police Service (IPS). What differentiates civil services from the government is their nature of permanence during the transitions of the elected governments.

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The Role of Civil Services in Indian Democracy

It is not enough to say that power rests with people in a democracy. Role of civil services in a democracy insights will be given in this section. To implement this ideology, civil services are established to carry out the following role: –

1. The Voice of the People

Civil servants are the voice of the people they represent. They identify and redress the grievances of the community they represent

2. Uninterrupted Public Welfare

Since the political executive of the Indian state is deemed to change every 5 years, it is crucial to have an administrative body to carry out the formulated government policies without any hiccups

3. Application of a Broader Conceptual Knowledge

This organized body of meritorious individuals is unlike the transitioning political executives they give advice to and are holistically well versed with the understanding and working of the public system

4. Effectual Implementation of Welfare

They are responsible for implementing and executing effective and efficient policies on behalf of the government for national and social welfare

5. Historical review of Civil Services

The civil service officials are neither judicial nor political. Their role is similar to that of a servant to their king in history. There is mention of similar governance in the Mauryan administration of similar officials, who were referred to as rajukas and adyakhshas. In modern history, under Lord Wellesley in 1800 A.D, the East India Company had government servants who served the crown. While in the pre-independence era, this group of government servants promoted British interest, post-independence, it was substantially modified to suit the developmental requirements of the newly formed democracy.

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Difference between Indian Civil Services and American Civil Services

Owing to the prevalent demographic and psychographic make-up of a country, its civil service differs substantially.

Although the vision behind the establishment of a public welfare organization for the government remains the same, the application and methodologies adopted vary.

Let’s go through the key differences between both briefly –

1. Selection

The selection of Indian public servants is strictly on the basis of merit. The CSE conducted by the UPSC is the benchmark for any individual to secure their position in the prestigious Indian Civil Services. In the United States, the system of lateral entry prevails for higher positions.

2. Permanence

The Indian civil servants are permanent, irrespective of the change in government. The higher ranks in the US system are prone to change with the shifts in government.

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Advantages of the Indian Civil Services System

A civil service official is the servant of the Indian society who holds a respected position and gradually evolves to higher ethics. Let’s take a quick look at the advantages of the system:-

1. Permanence Leading to Unhindered Administration

An effectual structure and longevity of the public policy implementation are in place, irrespective of the government in power.

2. Narrow Scope for Corruption

The permanence and impartial nature of their position restricts immoral behaviour by public servants for any short-term gains

3. Consolidation of Objectives

The system consolidates the ideology and methodology of the entire public administration system and confers unity to its objectives.

  • The system is impartial with reference to political attribution
  • There is no scope for nepotism in the Indian civil service system

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Major Responsibilities of Civil Servants to Government and Society

The role and duties of civil services in Indian democracy are inevitable and crucial. Let’s check out the responsibilities one by one.

 1. Accountability to the Elected Government

As in any democracy where the elected government (ministers) is responsible for their people, the civil servants become accountable to the elected ministers

2. Impartial Service to the Government

Irrespective of the change in the elected government, the public servants must provide responsive and unbiased advice to the government it serves.

3. 360-degree Involvement in Public Welfare

They are required to formulate and implement welfare policies and ensure that the law is maintained in the public interest

4. The Voice of the People

They are the chosen representatives of the government and must adopt an ethical outlook in the interest of the society

Importance of the Civil Service to the Indian Administrative System

  • The role of the civil services in the Indian democracy is that of a strong binding force of all formulated plans and policies of public welfare.
  • It personifies an ingrained unifying character that consolidates the entire framework of initiatives and institutions undertaken to benefit the people.
  • It is the main component of democratic governance and is helpful in maintaining structure and governance in the face of adversity or political unrest.
  • It is imperative to practical policymaking and regulation.
  • It is necessary to carry out policies effectively and morally, keeping at the forefront the sensitivity and security of the people.

Constitutional Provisions Related to Civil Services in India

 1. Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules

The Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules regulates the methodology of how the officials are required to assist the President or Governor to exercise their executive functions.

 2. Articles 53 and 154

As per Articles 53 and 154, the executive power of the Union and the States vests in the President or Governor directly or through officers subordinate to him. These officials constitute the permanent civil service. They are governed by Part XIV of the Constitution (Services under the Union and States (Article 308-323).

  1. Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules: the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules allocates the work amongst the ministers.
  2. Article 308 – Definition of state.
  3. Article 310 – Tenure of office of persons serving the Union or a State.
  4. Article 311 – Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State.
  5. Article 312 – All India Services.
  6. Article 313 – Transitional Provisions.

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Civil Services Perform the Following Important Functions

Coming down to the final part of this study, let us discuss the major functions the civil services perform in society. The role of civil services in Indian democracy is undoubtedly a vital tool for proper governance.

The civil services are accountable to –

  • The elected government and ministries have to assist and aid in the formulation and adherence of public interest policies.
  • Serve the society by way of ensuring that promised policies and laws made for the upliftment of the society are advocated without any discrimination, and are in reality, delivered to those they are made for.
  • Be actively responsive to the grievances of the people, and to treat them fairly, courteously and sensitively
  • Safeguard public interest in all situations and to ensure proper guidelines, policies and regulations are followed at all times.
  • Actively involve themselves in the functioning of the elected ministries and legislature
  • Follow their set code of conduct under all circumstances
  • Serve the government elected by the democracy it serves in impartially, and with equal respect.


To sum up, the role of civil services in a democracy is of paramount importance. It is crucial in the process of ensuring a smooth functioning of the nation by way of promoting efficient policymaking, effective delivery of promised services, a unification of the varied organizations and objectives as one, all the while upholding their oath to the constitution of the land, of serving the people with highest morals, professionalism and sincerity.

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Role of Civil Services in a Democracy: Who introduced the system of Civil Services in India?
What is the role of civil services in a democracy? Who introduced the system of civil services in India? How is it important for the UPSC exam? Click here to know it all.
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About the Author

Greeta Sulochana

Greeta Sulochana is a content evangelist with a flair for compelling creative writing. She has penned down her thoughts in poetry and prose since the past five years, and has catered her skills to the Indian and international audiences. She started out as an advertising intern with Grey worldwide, and is now a full-fledged writer in passion and profession, who has worked for major national brands.

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