NEW DELHI: Civil servants must guard against being identified with political dispensations or individuals, President Ram Nath Kovind said today.
He also said bureaucrats must have the courage to give a frank, independent and unbiased advice to political executives.
A group of 65 state civil services officers promoted to the IAS and attending the 119th induction training programme at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, today called on the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Addressing bureaucrats, Kovind said they should give confidence to the people whom they are mandated to serve that civil servants are fair, honest, professional and efficient.
The President said there are legitimate questions that are asked about the quality of governance systems and bureaucratic mechanism which cannot be ignored.
"But perceptions do matter ... There is a perception that over time certain officers get identified with one or the other political dispensation or individual. You must guard against this," Kovind said.
He said civil services have to function within the larger system of political governance where political leaders are elected to represent the people in a democracy, and frame the agenda of the government.
Civil servants are to assist political executives in the formulation and implementation of policies, he said.
The President asked the bureaucrats to ensure that government policies are formulated in accordance with the law and the spirit of the Constitution.
"Civil servants must have the courage to provide a frank, independent and free from bias advice to political executives they assist," he said.
The President said officers need to encourage professionalism not only in their own working but also in the organisation they lead.
"There should be an even greater commitment to rising above caste, community and regional identities. Wherever you may work – irrespective of the district or the state, the ministry or the department – you will be contributing to nation building," he said.
The President said the most important challenge before them is to give confidence to the people of India that civil servants are fair, honest, professional and efficient.
He said public servants work for the people of India but there are people who need the government and their support and service more than the others.
"These are our fellow citizens who are economically weak, socially disadvantaged and politically under-empowered. Or those who are treated with disadvantage only because they are women. It is on these groups that you must focus your energies," he said.
Kovind said at Independence, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first home minister, realised India could not be integrated and governed unless it had an efficient and professional All India Civil Services.
"This civil service needed to have the necessary job security and safeguards to allow it to offer independent advice to the political executive," he said.
He said the All India Services have played a significant role in the development of the country and the growth of the economy.
"Even so, we have to be mindful of the expectations of our young population, and of the poor and the marginalised sections of our society," he said.