Civil Service had been the core institution to manage the British colonial state in India from its beginning to end. Unlike the British Civil Service, which is the product of responsible political government, the Indian Civil Service originated and evolved from the needs and environment of the colonial state formation processes of the east india company (1765-1858) first and then of the British Raj (1858-1947). Until 1786, the Company's territorial possessions were administered and managed predominantly by native agencies supported by the East Indian Company's local commercial officers called 'supervisors'. The Company's civil servants were called covenanted civil servants, and this title was in currency until the end of the company rule and even long after. Its members entered into covenants for service in India with the secretary of state for india, and hence the covenanted civil service (CCS).
The beginning Until the establishment of the colonial state in Bengal, the East India Company affairs were regulated according to the terms and conditions laid down in the Crown's charters. Under the charters, the Company enjoyed, on behalf of the crown, sovereign powers over its employees in the 'East Indies'. The acquisition of territorial rights in the areas of Chittagong, Burdwan and Midnapore in 1760 and subsequently the acquisition of diwani rights over the suba of Bengal in 1765 necessitated the creation of some civil bureaucratic structure for managing the territorial acquisitions. Robert Clive, the president and council of the Presidency of the fort william in Bengal became the controlling authority of Bengal in diwani affairs. To manage the affairs of the diwani administration he introduced a rudimentary civil service the head of which was John Cartier, president of a' four-member Select Committee. At district level a number of European supervisors were appointed to oversee the native collectors. This provisional civil service was formed only as an adjunct to native naib diwan, Syed Muhammad reza khan. The Company's diwani administration, commonly called Dyarchy was mainly dealt with by the native agencies headed by Syed Muhammad Reza Khan. The earliest civil service planned by Clive was based on sharing powers between the naib diwan and the Company. The dyarchy or double government, as the system was called, met disastrous results culminating in the Great Famine of 1768-69.
The Dyarchy came to an end in 1772 when Bengal was brought under the Company's political control established by the Regulating Act, 1773. warren hastings designated as 'Governor General of the Fort William in Bengal and Council' became the chief of the new bureaucracy established under the Regulating Act. He was to be advised and assisted by a committee of four members called council, which formed the apex of the small bureaucratic structure established for Bengal under the Regulating Act. Next to the council in hierarchy were the native revenue collecting district collectors called diwans. The judicial powers were still exercised by the nawabi establishment. The European district supervisors overseeing the diwans were provided with nominal salaries. To compensate this, they were authorised to participate in trade and commerce privately. In short, the civil service of the early colonial state was one of a combination of revenue collection and at the same time pursuing personal trade and commerce. The newly established civil service was an arrangement with the Europeans at the top and natives below. All diwans or revenue administrators at local level were natives. The administrative idea of Warren Hastings was to associate native elements with the civil service of the Company state. He established Sadr Nizamat Adalat for criminal administration, and it was mostly allowed to be administered by the native judges. The Sadr Diwani Adalat was also administered mainly by the native judges, especially Muslims. In short, while devising the civil service for the newly established state in Bengal, Hastings meant to make it to be a combination of Europeans and natives.
Introduction of All-white Civil Service By 1790, it was apparent that the East India Company was no longer only a mercantile organisation for advancing trade and commerce in the East, but in reality it had become, for Britain, an alternative empire newly gained after the recent loss of North America. Under the circumstances, Parliament intervened and asserted its right in the newly established East India Company's acquisitions in India. Parliament enacted an Act in 1784, generally called pitt’s india act, defining the powers and functions of the new empire and appointed Lord Cornwallis, a defeated but popular general in the American War of Independence, as governor general in council. The Act established a Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India, usually known as Board of Control, which was to be consisted of Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Secretary of State, and four privy councilors, all to be appointed by the King.
The governor general would have three councilors, one of whom was to be the commander-in-chief. All these officers, now known as Covenanted Civil Servants, were to be appointed by the Court of Directors. Advised by the Board of Control, Lord Cornwallis separated the judiciary from the executive, and all collectors eliminated the native elements from the responsible positions and appointed district collectors and district judges all from the covenanted civil servants of the Company. The district collectors were made responsible to the Board of Revenue consisting of senior covenanted civil servants. The zamindars were deprived of their traditional police powers, and every district was placed under one collector for general administration including revenue collection and a superintendent of police for maintaining law and order. District judge, district collector and district superintendent of police became the bastion of British rule at local level and at the top were the Board of Revenue, Diwani Adalat and Nizamat Adalat which were made the controlling authorities of the executive and judicial officials. The governor general in council became the highest authority for the Indian empire. The judicial officers who were given precedence and higher remunerations over the administrative cadres, were appointed from the collectors of good reputation. The native elements in administration were relegated to the positions at the lowest rung with nominal salaries and with no official responsibilities.'
The reorganized civil service under the Cornwallis Code was called Covenanted Civil Service of the East India Company. The members of the newly established Covenanted Civil Service were appointed not through competition but through patronage of the individual members of the Court of Directors. Every director had the statutory privilege of a quota of cadets for appointment in the company's civil services in Bengal. On successful completion of cadetship, the cadets were appointed as collectors and in other executive positions in the Bengal Presidency.
Towards Indianization of Civil Service The East India Company lost its monopoly right partially in 1813, and fully in 1833. Under the Act of 1833, the Company was reduced to a local managing agency of the state on behalf of the crown. Under this Act, the new liberal Parliament resolved to share powers with the natives in the form of giving them jobs and services in the covenanted civil service. But in practice, the covenanted civil service remained closed to the Indians until the last Charter Act of 1853, when the system of recruitment in the civil service by patronage was entirely abolished. Henceforth, the system of appointment in the CCS by competition came into operation. The Covenanted Civil Service was renamed as Indian Civil Service (ICS) under the Act of 1861. But as regards the participation of the Indians in the ICS it remained more or less an impossible task, because Indians were required to participate in the competition by appearing in examinations in London, and at a very tender age and with two years probation in England. Going to England for appearing in the ICS examination meant not only huge costs but also facing religious injunctions against crossing the seas. Muslims were yet to take to English education and compete in the ICS examinations. No Indian could become a member of the Indian civil service until 1863, when Satyendra Nath Tagore became the first Indian to become a member of the ICS, and the stream remained a trickle until the 1920s when Indian Civil Service examinations began to be held simultaneously in England and India, and when policies were taken to admit more Indians in the civil service than in the past.
In order to enable more Indians to join civil service, governor general and viceroy lord lytton (1876-1880) established a system of statutory civil service in 1879. Under this system, one sixth of the posts previously held by the covenanted civil service were to be filled in by men nominated by the provincial governments. The incumbents of the new service, however, were required to be men of good birth. It was a political decision to share power with the members of local elite. But the system did not yield expected result because candidates of 'good birth' were scarcely found to have good education. It was later resolved that men of good birth should expediently provided in the subordinate services, especially in the judicial branch of civil service.'
In the milieu of the increasing clamours for holding the ICS examination in India and more participation of Indians in the civil service, a public service commission was appointed with Sir C. Aitchison as its chairman. Aitchison, a senior ICS member and Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, devised a plan which was finally approved in 1889 and came into execution in 1891. Under the new plan, the Statutory Civil Service was abolished. The civilian officers of the government were divided into three classes, the Imperial Indian Civil Service, the Provincial Civil Service and Subordinate Civil Service. The first was still to be recruited in England, but was open to Indians who could make the journey to England and sit for the examination in London. The other two services were recruited in India and most recruits were made from the Indians. Recruitment for Provincial Service was made in three methods, by examination, by nomination and by promotion from the subordinate services. In 1893 the House of Commons took a resolution to hold the civil service examinations simultaneously in England and India. But the resolution remained a pious wish until the end of the First World War. Under this plan, provincial civil services below the Indian Civil Service were created. Under the provincial civil service was created subordinate civil services.
The First World War had a great impact on the British imperial power and also on the Indian nationalist movement. While the war undermined the imperial strength and determination, the event stoked up the Indian nationalist and revolutionary movements. These factors compelled the government to implement the earlier parliamentary resolution (1893) to hold the civil service examination simultaneously in England and India and recruit at least 33 percent of the civil servants from amongst the Indian candidates and increase the quota by 1.5 percent at least every year. From 1922, Indian Civil Service examinations began to be held simultaneously in England and India, and consequently larger number of Indians got entry into the Imperial Civil Service and Provincial Civil Services every year. By 1939, out of a total of 1299 posts in the Indian Civil Service 540 (41%) were held by Indians, whereas the percentage remained below one percent before the First World War. Alongside regular competition for civil service including provincial services, the government also recruited members for civil services on a larger scale on nominations made by the provincial government. Communally, Muslims of Eastern India remained virtually unrepresented in the Indian Civil Service. On political considerations, government resolved in 1925 to nominate educated Muslims of good birth to Indian and Bengal Civil Services. But few could avail of this opportunity because of lack of good education. By 1934, the system of administration in India came gradually to consist of seven All India Services and five Central Departments, all under the control of the Secretary of State, and three Central Departments under joint Provincial and Imperial control. After the partition of India, the parts of the civil service were renamed Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) in Pakistan while the Indian section retained the name Indian Civil Service.
The evolving structure of the civil service made India over time a bureaucratic state far superannuating the political authorities. The organized bureaucracy of British India (ICS) made itself over time the real authorities of the colonial state and political elements like parliament, secretary of state, India Council, Governor General and Viceroy could pretend to have powers over the civil service, but in reality bureaucracy made itself the most effective organised power in the colonial state. In the eyes of all, British and Indian, the members of the ICS appeared to be the 'heaven-born sons' ever pampered, ever privileged and practically ever above law. Parliament made law in 1833 to Indianise the civil service, but the ICS could keep it inoperative until 1853 when the Indian civil service was made open to Indians. But no Indian could become an ICS member until 1863. The main reason is that Indian candidates had to go to England for competing for the civil service. Parliament resolved in 1893 to hold the ICS examination simultaneously in England and in India, but the 'heaven-born sons' could not stall it until 1922, and that was allowed because of the changed political and other situations after the First World War. All the liberal reforms introduced by Governor General and Viceroy Lord Ripon were made ineffective by the bureaucracy. [Sirajul Islam]
Civil Service since 1947 The trend in the development of the civil service during this period are largely marked by continuity of the inherited tradition of the structure and functions of the services that existed prior to 1947. This was so despite many commissions/committees formed from time to time to restructure the services. Most studies attribute this to the resistance of the elite Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP) cadre. There are other reasons also.
Chief among the other reasons include the lack of political continuity and the initial constitutional framework of governance, the existence of five provinces with distinct ethnic groups which emphasised the necessity of central service, in particular, All-Pakistan Service patterned on the tradition of the yester years.
The services structure of the central government of Pakistan, till 1971, fell into two main categories: (a) the former all Pakistan Service such as the Civil Service of Pakistan (CSP), the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), (b) the former Central Superior Service which included Pakistan Foreign Service (PFS), Pakistan Audit and Accounts Service (PA&AS), Pakistan Military and Accounts Service (PM&AS), Pakistan Taxation Service (PTS), Pakistan Railway Accounts Service (PRAS), Pakistan Customs and Excise Service (PC&ES), Central Secretariat Service (CSS), Pakistan Military Land and Cantonment Service (PML&CS), Pakistan Postal Service (PPS), Central Information Service (CIS).
The other centrally recruited services included Central Engineering Service (CES), Telegraph Engineering Service (TES), and Geological Service etc.
At the provincial, in what was then known as East Pakistan, there were as many as twenty seven services or classes of services. These include: East Pakistan Civil Service (EPCS) Class-I, East Pakistan Civil Service (EPCS) Class-II, East Pakistan Civil Service (Judicial), East Pakistan Police Service, East Pakistan Junior Police Service, East Pakistan Senior Education Service, East Pakistan Junior Education Service, Assam Education Service, Class-I, Assam Junior Education Service, Class-II, East Pakistan Excise Service, East Pakistan Junior Excise Service, East Pakistan Agricultural Income Tax Service, East Pakistan Junior Agricultural Income Tax Service, East Pakistan Health Service (Upper), East Pakistan Health Service (Lower), East Pakistan Senior Service of Engineers, East Pakistan Engineering Service, East Pakistan Higher Agricultural Service, East Pakistan Agricultural Service, East Pakistan Higher Livestock Service, East Pakistan Livestock Service, East Pakistan Higher Fisheries Service, East Pakistan Fisheries Service, East Pakistan Senior Forest Service, East Pakistan Junior Forest Service, East Pakistan Food Administration Service, East Pakistan Food Secretariat Service, etc.
While the CSP and PSP were categorised as All-Pakistan services, there were other central services. The term central services were first used by the Lee Commission to denote those services which were recruited by the centre and whose members were exclusively assigned to central level posts. The recruitment to All-Pakistan was also done by the Central Government through the Central Public Service Commission. However, once recruited, the members could be assigned to the provincial level positions. It is important to note, however, that exclusive assignment of the central services to Central Government posts was departed from in case of some central services like PA&AS and PRAS. In case of PA&AS, some of its members could be posted to the offices of Accountant General of the provinces. Similarly during the early sixties, when Railway was bifurcated into East Pakistan and West Pakistan Railway, the centrally recruited members of PRAS were posted to the provincial Railways although recruited centrally. The history of each of the central services and their respective career pattern are briefly discussed below.
Pakistan Foreign Service In 1947, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations was formed with the External Affairs, Commonwealth Relations and Political departments. A year later, the External Affairs and Political departments were reorganised into a separate Ministry called Ministry of States and Frontier Regions.
The PFS cadre was formed in 1948 to fill up various diplomatic, counsellor and commercial posts within the overall control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations. Commercial and later press duties of diplomatic missions were, however, performed by non-PFS officers. Between 1949 and 1962, various commissions addressed the question of control over the Non-PFS officers serving in foreign missions. The recommendations emerging from such commission reports are:
Non-PFS officers serving in diplomatic missions should be fully under the control of the diplomatic personnel;
PFS personnel should undertake press and commercial responsibilities directly as part of their normal duties.
The above recommendations were not implemented by the Government. Non-PFS officers serving in diplomatic missions continued to be under the administrative control of their parent ministries. Between the years 1959 and 1969, separate cadres were constituted to man non-PFS positions. These cadres are: Central Secretariat Service (1959), the Central Information Service (1963), and Trade Service of Pakistan (1969).
Ahmed Commission recommended merger of the CSP and the PFS under two distinct categories: CSP (Foreign branch) and CSP (Domestic branch). The proposal was not implemented.
Untill 1958, the PFS recruits used to be trained at the Fletcher School of International Diplomacy. Thereafter, they would be posted as Third Secretaries to a diplomatic mission and would continue their service abroad until they had reached the position of First Secretary/Counsellor. After that they would return to the Foreign Office as Directors. At the level of the Director General, they would be posted as ambassadors. The Governor General, later the President was authorised to fill up 50% of the posts of ministers and ambassadors from outside the PFS.
Accounts Services The historical antecedents of PA&AS can be traced to the Indian Audit and Accounts Service. The latter was born out of the Accounts Department of the Government of India. Until 1899, the recruitment to this department was made in India. In 1899, this was opened to the Europeans. Four-ninths of the posts were reserved for the Europeans as a result of which the department came under the administrative control of the Secretary of State.
Pakistan Military and Accounts Service' the origin of PM&AS could be traced to the Military Finance Department established in 1900 and manned exclusively by military officers. In 1909, the Military Finance department was reorganised into a civilian department and by 1913, it came under the direct control of the Secretary of State.
Pakistan Railway Accounts Service PR&AS was the lineal descendant of Railway Finance and Accounts Service which was created in 1928.
The career pattern of the members of the above three accounts cadres were similar. After initial entry, they would be trained in the Finance Services Academy at Lahore. Thereafter, they would join their respective organisations. After serving for about 20 years, they would arrive at senior administrative positions. From this level, they could be deputed to posts under the Economic Pool and gain entry into positions in the Central Secretariat or other senior positions under the economic ministries such as Finance and Commerce.
Pakistan Customs and Excise Service The antecedents of this cadre can be traced to the two departments of British India: the Customs department and the Central Excise department. Originally a Provincial department, the Customs department became a centrally controlled service in 1906 under the Secretary of State. The Central Excise department was responsible for collection of excise duty on sugar, salt, matches, betel nuts and tobacco. It was also responsible for land customs. In 1959, the Central Land Customs and Excise Service, Class-I was merged with the Sea Customs Service to form PC&ES. The recruits to this cadre were trained in the Finance Services Academy to become assistant collector. Then they moved on to the senior positions as collector or equivalent positions in the Central Board of Revenue. Some of them could also gain entry into the Economic Pool.
Pakistan Taxation Service' Like other central services, PTS can trace its link to the Income Tax Service of the Government of India which was created in 1944 although the functions of that department existed long before that date. Initially, this cadre consisted mostly of officers promoted from Class-II positions or from provincial services.
After initial recruitments, the officers of this cadre would be trained in the Finance Services Academy. After the training at the Academy, they would undergo further training at the departmental training directorate at Karachi. The career pattern was more or less similar to other central services. The Income Tax Officer, as he was then called, could advance in his career to the position of Commissioner of Income Tax or equivalent position. Some of them could also enter the Economic Pool.
Pakistan Military Land and Cantonment Service The birth of this cadre is also traceable to the British days. During the days of the British Raj, an extensive network of cantonments was established under the direct control of the Government of India. The cantonment areas were administered by the military personnel till 1924, when most of the posts were transferred to civilian control. Two basic functions of this cadre were grouped into the lands branch and the Cantonment Executive Service, the latter being recruited by the Public Service Commission. Cantonment Executive Service officers basically were concerned with local government functions within the cantonment areas. The local government body used to be known then, as they are now, as Cantonment Executive Boards. The two branches were merged to become Military Lands and Cantonment Service.
Being a small cadre, the career prospects of the officers were limited. The topmost post was that of Director.
Pakistan Postal Service The historical antecedents of the cadre can be traced to the postal department of the Government of India which was created in mid-nineteenth century. The traffic branch of the telegraph department was merged with the postal department in 1914. There were four class-I services which performed the various functions of the department. These were the superior Telegraph Service; the Posts and Telegraph Traffic Service; the General Central Service; and the Telegraph Traffic Service. The General Central Service after 1947 came to be known as the Pakistan Postal Service (PPS).
The bifurcation of Postal department and the Telephones and Telegraphs department occurred in 1961. The separated departments came under the control of two Directors General. In 1965, the Telegraph Traffic Service was merged with the Telegraph Engineering Service which became a separate cadre. In 1968, the Posts and Telegraph Traffic service was merged with the PPS.
The career pattern of a PPS officer started at the bottom as Assistant Post Master General or equivalent post and then up to the position of the Post Master General. Generally, the career ended within the department.
Telegraph Engineering Service The member of this cadre were recruited by the Public Service Commission through a separate engineering examination. The officers manned the various technical posts within the cadre.
Central Engineering Service The genesis of this cadre can be traced to the imperial branch of the Public Works department which was recommended by the aitchison commission. The Railway branch of the Public works department was abolished in 1905. However, the members of the Building and Roads branch, Irrigation branch and Railway branch continued to be treated as members of the same cadre until 1918. Within a span of six years two distinct cadres emerged, The Indian Service of Engineers (consisting of the Roads and Building and the Irrigation branches) and the State Railway Engineers. Officers of the CES almost exclusively remained within the ambit of the department.
Central Information Service This cadre was created in 1963. The object was to provide a service structure for officers working in the government owned information media and also in diplomatic missions abroad. In 1970, the name of the cadre was changed to Information Service of Pakistan (ISP). The career pattern was limited to various posts within the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the organisations under it being Radio and Television as well as diplomatic missions abroad.
Trade Service of Pakistan Formed in 1970, it was modelled more or less like the ISP. The officers of this cadre worked within the Ministry of Commerce and also held commercial posts in the diplomatic missions abroad.
Central Secretariat Service The birth of this cadre is associated with the introduction of what is known as the Section Officers scheme in the Central Secretariat. The introduction of the scheme was recommended by the G. Ahmed Committee in 1959. The major objective behind the introduction of the scheme was to reduce layers of decision-making at the level of assistant and under secretaries, superintendents etc. It was also proposed that the Section Officers (SO) would also be given limited authority to dispose of cases without further reference to the Deputy Secretary. Seventy percent of the posts of SO were to be filled up by promotion from superintendents, assistants and other class-II services. The remaining 30% were to be filled up by direct recruits.
Since its introduction, there had been a continuing debate as to the efficiency in decision-making. It was criticised as a 'blind-alley cadre' by the Pay and Services Commission 1962. The Commission recommended that the system of under-secretaries be revived. The 'blind-alley' argument was premised on the ground that the SOs could not be promoted to the posts of deputy secretaries for lack of field experience. The Services Reorganisation Committee of 1969 took a moderate view but called for the revival of the post of assistant secretary and for further specialization of SOs. The M.H Zuberi Report of 1967 called for adjustments and not wholesale changes.
Other Service The constitution of General Administrative Reserve (GAR) flowed from recommendations of Tottenham Committee in 1946. It was created by adopting lateral recruitment method to fill up the posts of under secretary/deputy secretary. Initially, about 100 officers were recruited from various walks of life on competitive basis. After 1947, the Government of Pakistan retained the lateral recruitment method for GAR and recruited 100 more officers. A special wing was also created within GAR consisting of officers having financial experience. These officers were meant for posts in the Ministry of Finance.
Despite repeated demands from GAR members, it was never constituted as separate cadre. In 1952, the Government decided not be make further recruitments to GAR. In 1959, the status of GAR was reviewed by the G. Ahmed Commission. It was decided not to make further recruitments. Consequently, the GAR went out of existence in the process of time. In 1970, there were only 24 GAR officers.
Civil Service in Bangladesh Bangladesh adopted its Constitution in November 1972. Under the Constitution, the country was declared to be unitary state, and thus the relevance of central services was lost. The Constitution does not use the term civil service but refers to all classes of civil servants as persons in the services of the Republic. The relevant chapter on the services (article 136) contains among others two important elements. First, it empowers the parliament to make laws to regulate the terms and conditions of members of civil service. Second, it empowers the government to reorganize the services and even vary the terms and conditions to the disadvantage of the members of civil service.
The government set about the task of reorganizing this services inherited from Pakistan period. To this end, it constituted a committee known as administrative and service reorganisation committee (ASRC, 1973). It was led by Professor MA Chowdhury, the Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University. Regarding services structure, the committee recommended that-
The distinction between the former All-Pakistan Services, other Central Superior Services and the former Provincial Services should be abolished. The distinction between higher and lower classes should also be abolished and continuous grading system from top to bottom should be substituted in each occupational group;
The present system of reservation of posts for various groups should also be abolished; and
All civil servants should be organised in a single classless grading structure covering the whole service in which there should be an appropriate number of different pay levels matching different levels of skill and responsibility, and the correct grading for each post is to be determined by an analysis of the job.
The recommendations of ASRC remained shelved for reasons not publicly known. As a result, the old Pakistani cadre system continued to operate. However, to give effect to the authority of the government to reorganize the services, the Services (Reorganisation and Conditions) Ordinance, 1975 was promulgated in 1975 followed by an Act. An important development in 1976 relates to the creation of a cadre named Industrial Management Service (IMS) for the nationalised industry including the publicly owned banking sector. Recruitment was made in 1973 but rules were framed in 1976. The PSC sent its opinion to the government that IMS could not be regarded as a regular cadre of the government. Ultimately, by a notification issued on 14 November 1982 the government amalgamated IMS with BCS (Administration) cadre.
Following a violent change of government in 1975, martial law was imposed in mid August, 1975. In February 1976, the government constituted a Pay and Services Commission known as Rashid Commission after the name its chairman Abdur Rashid. This Commission recommended a fourteen hierarchical structure of service as grouped into:
Administrative, Top Management and Specialist Group (referred to as level 'A'); Executive and Middle Management Group (referred to as level 'B'); Ministerial, Inspectoral, Technical and Support Group; and Messengerial and Custodian Group.
An important innovation made by the Rashid Commission was the creation of a separate cadre called Senior Service Pool (SSP) to which recruitment at the level of deputy secretary was to be made open to all cadre based on written and a oral test to be conducted by the PSC. On 1 September 1980, the government by a statutory order constituted as many as 14 cadres in which were to be absorbed all previous services depending on functions. Ultimately the number of cadres became 30 by an amending notification issued by the government on 31 August 1986.
In respect of creation of SSP as a separate cadre, the government made necessary rules and notified the same in 1979. However, the government took as long as 10 years to agree with PSC on the syllabus of the written examination for recruitment to SSP. The concept and structure of SSP envisaged (a) equal opportunity to all cadres in policy management positions at the secretariat and (b) creation of a pool of skilled officers of the service. For reasons not publicly known, the attempt for recruitment to SSP aborted in 1989. Eventually, SSP stood abolished from 12 July 1989. The present cadre strength of Bangladesh Civil Service stands at 29, the BCS (Administration) and BCS (Secretariat) having been amalgamated.'
An important feature of the civil service recruitment system is the reservation of quota for various categories of candidates. Fifty five percent of the posts are kept reserved for various categories of candidates. These include freedom fighters and their children (30%), women (10%), tribal (5%), remaining (10%) are for district quota. This decision was taken by the government on 17 March 1997. Both PSC and the Public Administration Reforms Commission (PARC, 2000) recommended rationalisation of quota system but to no effect.
Purges in civil service can be traced back to 1972. In that year, in the absence of the Constitution, two Presidential Orders (PO) were promulgated. First, the government promulgated Bangladesh Service Order popularly known as PO 9. Second, the Government of Bangladesh (Services Screening) Order, 1972 known as PO 97 of 1972. There are no reliable data as to how many civil servants lost their jobs due to the application of these laws.
There is another law created in 1974. It is called the Public Servant's Superannuation Act. Under this law, which still exists, any civil servant including employees of public corporation can be sent to retirement by the government if the civil servant or any other person in public employment has completed 25 years of service. This law also gives right to an employee of a semi-government body to seek early retirement on completion of 25 years of service. It is often described as a handy tool for the government to send civil servants to forced retirement without assigning any season. It is alleged that such decisions are taken by different governments purely on political considerations.
Purges have also been made during martial law government of 1982. It is said that 555 civil servants came under scrutiny. It is not publicly known how many lost jobs.
Induction of retired or serving officers from the armed forces has been feature of civil service. The implementation mechanism of such a policy led to the constitution of a Council Committee led by the Vice-President in August 1980. Former armed forces officers were to be recruited on the basis of following criteria:
Serving in the government offices or autonomous bodies; Retired prematurely from the Army, Navy and Air Force for no fault of their own or without being asked to show any cause; Below 45 years of age on 1 January 1980; and Recommended by the Ministry of Defence for employment in the government offices or autonomous bodies.
As a result some former officers from the army were inducted into police, food and trade cadres purely on the basis of interview through the committee. Some others were straightway posted as joint secretary to the government.
During the decades of the nineties and onward different governments with support from the international leading and other such organisation conducted and completed studies on civil service or public service reform. The major objective was to strengthen and put in place a professional civil service system. The studies include:
Public Administration Efficiency study (PAES, USAID, 1989); Public Administration Sector Study (PASS, UNDP, 1993); Government that Works Better (World Bank, 1996). These were followed by somehow grown studies titled Towards Better Government (1993) and Public Administration Reform Commission Report (2000).
More recently under an umbrella project titled 'Supporting Good Governance Programme (ADB 2009) civil service reform programme has been completed. The studies undertaken suggested reform measures in (a) field administration reform, (b) clustering of ministries, (c) career planning, (d) deployment and promotion policy. Given the past experiences of earlier reform studies which remained unimplemented, it is too early to predict whether the recommendation of the latest studies will be implemented. Overall the public perception of the efficiency and honesty of civil servants is not a happy one. Civil service, by all accounts, is characterised by low morale, lack of motivation and adherence to established norm and values. Politicization of civil service has been an issue of public debate during the last two decades.
Cognizant of the issues, major political parties like the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Awami League (AL) vowed in their respective election manifestos (2008) to free the civil service of politicisation. The manifestos further affirmed to ensure promotion in service on the basis of talent, eligibility and efficiency. [AMM Shawkat Ali]