The challenges IAS officers face in the 21st century are no different from those of the 20th century which is "committed to the larger public good against all odds", senior bureaucrat V Srinivas told a delegation of civil servants from the Gambia during a special training programme. The motto "I am ethical, I am accountable and I am the IAS" is reflective of India's constitutional values that are deeply rooted in high moral tones with a universal dimension, he said.
Srinivas and former cabinet secretary Ajit Seth addressed a 27-member delegation comprising permanent secretaries and deputy permanent secretaries of Gambia on 'Transparency and Accountability in Governance' at the National Centre for Good Governance in Mussoorie. The centre is conducting a special training programme for the senior civil servants from the Gambia under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme.
In the chairman's remarks, Seth said the Right to Information enables improving governance in India by bringing transparency in decisions regarding major contracts, settlement of disputes and clarity in land matters. The large scale adoption of Aadhaar for subsidy disbursement has strengthened India's fight against corruption, he said.
The steel frame of India's governance has helped develop process-driven governance, which is rule-based and with adequate accountability, Seth said. India's civil service practices include mapping of career paths and continuous performance assessment, an official statement quoted him as saying.
Srinivas, who is an additional secretary in the department of administrative reforms and public grievances, said the bulwark of good governance policies are accountability, transparency, stakeholder participation, judicial framework and fight against corruption. He deliberated on the constitutional provisions of articles 309, 310 and 311 dealing with services and the second administrative reforms commission's recommendation that article 309 "Recruitment and Conditions of Service of Persons serving the Union and the State" should be further strengthened to protect bonafide actions by civil servants.
India's fight against corruption is based on enhanced use of technology, increased transparency, greater stakeholder engagement, severe penalties with time-bound completion of disciplinary proceedings, credible deterrence with strong audit and accounting mechanisms, said Srinivas, who was the lead speaker. During the discussions, the permanent secretaries of Gambia appreciated the progress made by India in the areas of transparency and accountability with independent constitutional bodies like the Central Information Commission, the Central Vigilance Commission and the CAG.
They felt that it was a unique opportunity for Gambia's senior officials to understand the best practices of India's governance model. The National Centre for Good Governance, India's leading civil services training institution, has been training civil servants from a number of countries in South Asia and Africa.
Recently, the NCGG had entered into a collaboration with the Maldives Civil Services Commission for capacity building of 1,000 Maldives civil servants over the next five years. The agreement was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Male on June 8.
The Ministry of External Affairs bears all expenses pertaining to the training program under ITEC. The training of Gambia's permanent secretaries and deputy permanent secretaries represents an important step India-Africa collaboration. The two-week training programme is being held at Mussoorie and Delhi from June 10 to June 21.
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