"Above all, I would advise you to maintain to the utmost the impartiality and incorruptibility of administration. A civil servant cannot afford to and must not, take part in politics. Nor must he involve himself in communal wrangles."
On 21st April 1947, a few months before India achieved independence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Home Minister of the country, addressed the first batch of officers of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS).
In the inspiring speech, the Iron Man of India spoke to the civil servants about how their duties would be very different from the previous batches and the responsibilities that lay ahead of them.
“You are the pioneers in the Indian Service, and the future of this service will depend much upon the foundation and traditions that will be laid down by you, by your character and abilities and by your spirit of service,” he began.
He also stated that replacing the Indian Civil Services that operated in British India by the IAS marked the “inauguration of an all-India Service officered entirely by Indians and subject completely Indian control.”
Sardar Patel was speaking about the code of conduct that public servants should follow and highlighted key characteristics in his talk.
Here is a list of five such characteristics that Sardar Patel spoke about, and the IAS officers who embodied them through their work.
1. Impartiality and Incorruptibility
“Above all, I would advise you to maintain to the utmost the impartiality and incorruptibility of administration. A civil servant cannot afford to and must not, take part in politics. Nor must he involve himself in communal wrangles.”
Poonam Malakondaiah, Manoje Nath, GR Khairnar, Samit Sharma and Rajni Sekri Sibal are IAS officers, who have been fighting hard against corruption in the system. Whether it be constant transfers or suspensions, these civil servants did not let any barriers stop them from fighting their battle. Here is the detailed story.
“Along with discipline, you must cultivate an ‘esprit de corps’ without which a service as such has little meaning. You should regard it as a proud privilege to belong to the service., covenants of which you will sign, and to uphold throughout your service its dignity, integrity and incorruptibility.”
IAS officer PI Sreevidya, the Deputy Commissioner of Kodagu, was working tirelessly when Karnataka was severely affected by floods earlier this year. She had assumed this position just eight months before the floods ravaged the district. However, neither that nor the fact that her four-year-old son had to be shifted to a relief camp, stopped her from leading rescue operations. This is PI Sreevidya’s story.
3. Work without any expectation of extraneous rewards
A few months ago, when Kerala was hit by the catastrophic floods, many IAS officers went above and beyond their duty to organise rescue operations, arrange relief camps and contribute to them. If not for these dedicated officers, thousands of people would have lost their lives.
Krishna Teja, the sub-collector of Alleppey, organised a historic rescue mission in his district and evacuated 2 lakh people in less than two days.
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Two other IAS officers did not hesitate in working late nights in Wayanad relief camps and carried rice sacks on their shoulders as the volunteers were exhausted after a long day of nonstop work. Kannan Gopinath, the collector of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, took leave from his office so he could facilitate help in relief camps in Kerala ‘undercover.’
Alongside these officials, several other IAS officers also worked tirelessly without the expectation of any reward for their efforts, truly living up to Sardar Patel’s words.
“Your predecessors had to serve as agents of an alien rule, and even against their better judgement had sometimes to execute the biddings of their foreign employers… The days of the Indian Civil Service of the old style are going to be over… The change is both significant and epoch-making.”
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5. Spirit of service
“I have dwelt in the significance of this change mainly in order to bring home to the minds of the probationers particularly, and to the outside world incidentally, that the days when the service could be masters were over and the officers must be guided by a real spirit of service in their day-to-day administration, for in no other manner can they fit in their scheme of things.”
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In his 34 years of service, IAS officer Pradeep Kasni was transferred 71 times. His consistent fight against corruption in government offices had prompted his transfers in various states, but Kasni would not budge. Even when he received no payment for six months, he continued with his efforts. Finally, in March this year, he filed an appeal with the Central Administrative Tribunal after retiring from the service and has vowed to carry on the fight. Read his full story here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)