How Citizen Charter can help in making Civil Servants more ethical? With examples ?

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Title: The Role of the Citizen Charter in Cultivating Ethical Civil Servants in India

When discussing good governance and the effective functioning of the administrative apparatus in India, the concept of the Citizen Charter emerges as a significant tool. It provides a framework to enhance transparency, accountability, and efficiency in public services, thereby promoting ethical conduct among civil servants. This article will delve into how Citizen Charters shape civil servants’ ethical behavior, augmenting examples from the Indian context.

Conceptualized by Prime Minister John Major of the UK in 1991, Citizen Charters rolled out in India in 1997 under the aegis of ‘the Right to Information Act’. The basic objective was to empower the common man by making public services more citizen-centric.

How Citizen Charter Can Help Build Ethical Civil Servants:

1. Facilitates Transparency: The Citizen Charter details the obligations of public servants and the standard parameters for services, thus promoting transparency. For instance, the charter of the Indian Railways lists out the rail services expected by commuters, thereby making railway officials more obliging to deliver the promised services.

2. Encourages Accountability: Citizen Charters engender accountability with a clear list of services and timelines ensuring that civil servants are answerable. In cases of non-compliance, citizens can lodge grievances. For instance, complaints against postal services can be addressed using the Department of Posts’ Citizen Charter mechanism.

3. Ensures Fairness: By committing to provide services within a specified timeframe to every citizen without discrimination, Citizen Charters encourage fairness in public service delivery. For instance, the Passport Seva Kendra, operating under the Ministry of External Affairs, articulates its services, implying that every individual applying for a passport should be treated fairly.

4. Promotes Responsiveness: The provision for the redressal of grievances in Citizen Charters makes the administrative machinery more responsive to citizen’s needs. The ‘Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System’ (CPGRAMS) is an example where complaints and grievances from aggrieved citizens are addressed, thus making civil servants responsive.

5. Motivates Integrity: Citizen Charters obligate civil servants to adhere to the stipulated standards of services in an honest and upright manner, hence fostering integrity. The Income Tax Department’s charter suggests that officials must perform duties with the highest degree of integrity, demonstrating zero tolerance towards corruption.

Examples from Indian Context – THIS IS ALL OF YOU ASK IN OFFLINE CLASSES 😅

1. Air India’s Citizen Charter (No more there/changed), with its 24-point list, ensured transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct among its employees.

2. The Passport Seva Kendra’s Citizen Charter confirms the timelines for passport issuance and thus holds its civil servants accountable.

In essence, Citizen Charters can contribute significantly to the ethical development of civil servants. By establishing a clear and direct relationship between the citizens and the service providers, they can foster ethical dimensions like transparency, accountability, fairness, responsiveness, and integrity among the civil servants.

However, for Citizen Charters to be entirely effective, citizens must be aware of their rights and obligations. Therefore, it becomes crucial that efforts are made to educate citizens about these charters. Additionally, the grievance redressal mechanisms need to be robust and centralized for quick resolution.

The effectiveness of Citizen Charters in instilling ethics among civil servants can thus not only transform the realm of public service delivery but also augment the quality of governance in the democratic fabric of India.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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