No witch hunting in name of fighting corruption: PM

New Delhi: Fighting the charge of policy paralysis in Government, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked civil servants to show "boldness" in decision making, assuring them there will be "no witch hunting" in the name of fighting corruption.

Addressing them on the Civil Services Day here, Singh asked the bureaucrats to fight the tendency of not taking decisions because of the fear that things might go wrong and they might be penalised for that. "It should be our endeavour that there is no witch hunting in the name of fighting corruption. It is our government`s commitment to put in place a system and create an environment in which our civil servants are encouraged to be decisive, and no one is harassed for bonafide mistakes of errors of judgement," the Prime Minister said.

Singh, however, also noted there is a growing perception, right or wrong, that the moral fibre of civil servants and public servants in general is not as as strong as it used to some decades back and that the civil servants are now more likely to succumb to extraneous pressures in their work. "These perceptions might be exaggerated but I do think that there is a grain of truth in them," he said.

While maintaining that the decisions that civil servants take must be fair and objective in nature, he made it clear that the government stands committed to protecting honest and well meaning civil servants who might have made genuine errors in their work.

"…We cannot have a bureaucracy which is hundred percent risk averse. In fact we should encourage boldness in decision making, provided that the decisions are well considered and as per the law of the land. A civil servant who does not take decisions might always be safe, but at the end of the day he or she would have contributed nothing to our society and to our country," the Prime Minister said.

Singh also chose the occasion to stress that the Centre has made "substantial progress" in the last one year towards strengthening the legislative framework and revamping the country`s administrative practices to enable it to fight the menace of corruption in public life better.

Maintaining there is a need to be honest in admitting our failures and our deficiencies, the Prime Minister said that the decisions that the civil servants take must be fair and objective in nature, based on sound evidence and deep analysis and designed to serve the best interests of the country. "Their judgement and advice should not be affected by the nature and colour of the political leadership. If this does not happen, the impartiality and fairness of the decision making processes in public administration would get compromised and the quality of our output would be sub-optimal…this is a vigil that the civil servants must maintain constantly," he said.

Noting that there is a growing perception in the public that the attributes of objectivity in work have been diluted, Singh said he leaves it to the civil servants to ponder to what extent this perception is true and what they can collectively do to remove it from the public mind.

Congratulating the award winning civil servants on the occasion, he also said that several civil servants in the country have been shining examples of probity and integrity, working selflessly for the public good.

The Prime Minister also urged the bureaucrats to redouble their efforts to keep pace with the new technology and to new ways of doing things, saying it is generally felt that the civil services have somewhat lagged behind in. Singh also chose the occasion to impress upon the bureaucrats the necessity of inclusive growth, saying the country`s growth would not have much meaning if "we fail in building a truly inclusive society and country".

Speaking on the first theme of the programme `Security for the Marginalized: Vision for a Caring India`, Singh said, "Indeed, without inclusion, social and economic, the very sustainability of our growth processes comes under question." He said that as the country enters the twelfth plan period, there is a need to redouble the efforts for building a society and country in which the fruits of development are shared by each and every citizen.