The Lee Commission, officially known as the Royal Commission on Public Services in India, was a pivotal landmark in India’s administrative history. Established in 1923 under the chairmanship of Sir William Robert Cornish Lee, this commission played a significant role in shaping and reforming the Indian administrative services.
A comprehensive understanding of the Lee Commission is essential for UPSC aspirants as it forms a critical part of the Indian polity and governance syllabus. This article will delve into the origins, objectives, recommendations, and lasting impact of the Lee Commission.
Introduction to Lee Commission
The need for the Lee Commission arose from various factors. First, it was a response to growing discontent and demands for administrative reforms in British India. Indian nationalists, reformers, and political leaders had long advocated for colonial administrative setup changes.
Second, the First World War exposed weaknesses in the administration, particularly in the recruitment and training of civil servants. The British government recognized the urgency of improving the public services in India, both as a response to Indian demands and as a means of bolstering its own administrative efficiency.
Objectives of the Lee Commission
The Lee Commission was tasked with the following key objectives:
- Reviewing the organization and functioning of the civil services in India, including the Indian Civil Service (ICS), Indian Police, and other administrative services.
- Assessing the recruitment and training processes for civil servants in India, with an emphasis on their suitability and efficiency.
- Identifying areas for reform and making recommendations to improve the Indian administrative system.
- Ensuring that the administration could meet the evolving needs and demands of British India effectively.
Recommendations of the Lee Commission
The Lee Commission’s report, published in 1924, contained several significant recommendations, many of which had far-reaching implications:
- Introduction of Provincial Civil Services (PCS): The commission recommended the creation of Provincial Civil Services (PCS) to cater to the administrative needs of individual provinces. This was a significant step towards decentralization and regional representation.
- Recruitment through Public Service Commissions: To ensure transparency and merit-based selection, the commission suggested the establishment of Public Service Commissions at the provincial level to oversee recruitment.
- Improving Training: The commission recommended the establishment of an All India Administrative Service (AIAS) and an All India Police Service (AIPS). It also stressed the need for a common training program for civil servants at the national level.
- Merit-Based Promotion: Merit-based promotions were proposed to eliminate favoritism and nepotism in civil services.
- Indianization: The Lee Commission advocated for the gradual Indianization of civil services. It recommended increasing the ratio of Indian to British civil servants over time, reflecting a recognition of Indian aspirations for self-governance.
Impact & Legacy
The Lee Commission’s recommendations laid the foundation for significant administrative reforms in India. Some of the key outcomes and legacies of the commission include:
- Establishment of Public Service Commissions: The recommendation to create public service commissions paved the way for transparent and merit-based recruitment in civil services, a practice that continues to this day.
- Indian Administrative Service (IAS): The idea of an All India Administrative Service was implemented, leading to the formation of the IAS, which remains one of the most prestigious civil services in India.
- Indianization of Civil Services: The Lee Commission’s emphasis on Indianization gradually led to the increased participation of Indians in the civil services, a crucial step towards self-governance.
- Decentralization: The introduction of PCS contributed to the decentralization of administrative power, enabling provinces to have greater control over their affairs.
Also Read: Sarkaria Commission
The Lee Commission’s comprehensive review of the Indian administrative services and its recommendations for reform played a pivotal role in shaping the modern Indian bureaucracy.
For UPSC aspirants, a thorough understanding of the Lee Commission is essential to grasp the historical and structural evolution of India’s administrative system. It remains a testament to the evolving nature of governance in colonial India and the transition towards a more inclusive and representative administrative apparatus.