Politicisation of civil service has been much discussed in the media. Little research as to its implications on economic, social, and political order exists. The author’s analysis of this burning issue is truly revealing. Drawing on examples from the United Kingdom, the author acknowledges that civil servants have to act under political direction. However, politicisation of civil service in Bangladesh has been carried to absurd lengths. The point he makes is that this type of politicisation is anathema to constitutional governance. In public eye, the civil servants become almost indistinguishable from the party activists. Viewed in this perspective, politicisation of services will clearly appear as self-defeating political stratagem — it destroys institutional governance that makes way for a failed state. The study comprising twelve chapters provides considerable information on the historical background of the civil services and their developments since 1757 AD. The study provides data and information (not easily available), which should serve as an important backdrop to a proper comprehension of the dimensions of any future exercise of the reform and reorganization of services in Bangladesh. The inter-relationships of the civil service and the judiciary, ministers, and parliament discussed provide a worm's eye view to anyone interested in the subject and would help in dispelling misperceptions about the character, role, and conduct of public servents in a complex and difficult environment. This dispassionate and objective study fills a yawning gap that exist in the availability of literature on the subject.
A. M. M. Shawkat Ali joined the former Civil Service of Pakistan in 1966 and served in many important positions in the government of Pakistan and Bangladesh. He retired from service as Secretary 2001. He is now engaged in private sector research and consultancy and contributing columns to major English and Bangla dailies, besides working as Adjunct Professor in East West University, and Civil Service College, Dhaka.