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Old Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Elected and unelected rulers would come and go, some of them whiling away much of their time in the West at the tax payer's expense. Parliaments might be suppressed; ministers might spend most of their time in their hometowns, or abroad, the permanent bureaucracy, the officials high and low, the deputy commissioners, the magistrates, the civil and criminal courts, the revenue officers, the lowly clerks, the postmen, the police officers manning the police stations, the engineers and doctors -- they saw to it that the machinery of government ground away.

Taxes were collected, accounts kept, justice dispensed, and public services and civil order for the most part maintained. Honest to a degree unknown or unpractised among the parliamentarians and cabinet ministers, industrious in a plodding sort of way and fairly efficient, possessed of a strong sense of public duty, of a remarkable esprit de corps, and of a pride in their professional code, but also woefully unprogressive and unresponsive to the demands of the evolving society, they were a pillar of the state. Like the French permanent establishment, they saw to it that the business of government got done even in the most chaotic moments.

Once the civil service was the backbone of the state. No longer. Successive governments have reduced public servants to the level of domestic servants. The service we inherited on independence, known for its integrity, objectivity and political neutrality, has over the years been thoroughly mutilated, demoralised, politicised, corrupted and changed beyond recognition, and is now a ghost of its former self.
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