Tuesday, 16 July, 2024

Civil Service Day An Occasion To Recognise Value

Civil Service Day An Occasion To Recognise Value

Shyam Prasad Mainali

Civil Service Day is an occasion of all the civil servants to celebrate their professional day that has implications for other stakeholders and beneficiaries. Their services reach out to the people through various organs such as ministries, departments, and other offices. Termed as the permanent government, bureaucracy is the key instrument to implement the government’s policies and programmes. Like many in other countries, Nepal has many days declared as specific professional days which are responded by the concerned members of the respective fields. The Civil Service Day is one of such occasions marked to recognise the contributions and commitments.

At present, almost 135,000 personnel, including the civil servants, are working at the local level. Despite having a long history of civil service in Nepal, the government has started celebrating Civil Service Day on the day of 'Bhadra 22' since 2061 BS. Getting into civil service is one of the most sought-after dreams for most of the talented youths of the country. To celebrate the passion of all those people who successfully join civil services to serve the nation, the Government of Nepal has dedicated the day to them.

Civil servants work tirelessly towards ensuring the smooth functioning of the public administration and do not show allegiance to any ruling political party. All civil servants, including retired ones, celebrate this day with an enlightened slogan every year. All of them dedicate themselves for the better delivery of public services to meet the expectations of the citizens throughout the nation so that they feel proud of being decorated with the title of 'Rastra Sewak'. It is a moment to motivate civil service officers, and appreciate and evaluate their works and efforts of various departments under the civil service.

Global perspective
Nepal started to mark the Civil Service in a response to the global trend. By adopting resolution on 20 December 2002, UN General Assembly designated 23 June as a public service day. The day is celebrated in different countries, which voluntarily organise programmes to mark the day. Political leaders, planners and policymakers throughout the world are welcomed on their behalf to contribute on the auspicious occasion. This august gathering is especially concentrated on the value and virtue of the public service for the cause of the community. It highlights the role of public service in the development process, encourages the young talents to join the civil service, retain them in the organisation and utilise their expertise for the betterment of public service delivery.

Nepal government started a competition-based selection of the government employees following the advent of democracy. In India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of Independent India, during his address to the probationers of Civil Services Officers at Metcalf House, Delhi in 1947 had outlined the role of civil servants. Patel aptly called the civil servants as the ‘steel frame of India’.
To hone the skill of the bureaucracy, different countries have adopted various frameworks to enhance bureaucratic efficiency. They included Margaret Thatcher’s “First Step,” “Next Step” and “Charter” of the United Kingdom, “Batho Pele” of South Africa, “Smiling Movement” of Malaysia, Operating Agencies of Ghana, Public Enterprise of New Zealand, Special Operating Agencies of Canada, and Corporatisation in Australia. Likewise, hammer and scissors awards have also been in widely use for encouraging government machineries. Of them, Reganomics and Thatcherism were notable.

One scholar has rightly said: "No government can be better than its bureaucracy permits it to be". Civil service plays a vital role to stand as a bridge between the citizens and the politicians. It is indispensable in the smooth functioning of the state. Article 285 of the constitution of Nepal states that good governance will be ensured by making the public administration clean, competent, fair, transparent, corruption-free, accountable to the people, and participatory under the state policies and ensuring equal and easy access of people to the services provided by the state. The day is the right moment to commit to the constitutional provisions.
Having network spread across the country, the civil service is responsible for providing various types of regular, contingency and developmental services to the people. Especially, the local governments are in touch with the citizens and provide service directly to the public. The civil service has been demonstrating patience and professionalism to adapt to the major political changes occurring frequently. It has been the demand of the day to ensure transparency and accountability in the service delivery, to make the service flow simpler, technology-friendly, timely and more effective.

Employee adjustment
Under the federal setup, the government has made adjustment of civil servants, ensuring inclusiveness in governance, easy access and demand driven delivery of services and active participation of the stakeholders in policy formulation. The success of federalism largely depends on the role of civil servants assigned to maintain peace and order, make necessary arrangements for the appropriate distribution of available resources in line with the elimination of inter-regional disparity and carry out the development activities according to the needs of the people. Therefore, the day aims at renewing their commitments to public service and excellence in work.
The civil servants must show confidence for good governance. To bridge the politics-administration dichotomy, a clear-cut jurisdiction and better understanding between the two is highly desirable. In the 21st century, digital governance has been gradually practiced but the tendency of procrastinating the adoption of modern technology especially in the developing countries like Nepal must end. The future public service needs to be more agile, tech-savvy, data-driven, and human-centric. These are core elements to build future readiness, ensure inclusive policies and responsive services, reduce inequalities and raise trust in government.

(Mainali is a former government secretary.)