Posted In: Civil Service Reforms
First of all, I must thank Mr Raman of Gconnect to open a forum for this topic.
Civil service Reforms, many aver is a contradiction in terms. Civil servants have everything going for them. Politicians have to face elections once in five years or more often and can lose their positions. Civil servants on the other hand have iron clad security guaranteed under articles of the Constitution. . Politicians when they become ministers may not have any knowledge of the subjects dealt with by their ministry. In the upper reaches of the government too the civil servants coming from the All India Service like the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) too need not have any knowledge of the subject. Politicians as ministers or their parties leaders may be surrounded by protesters from the aam admi class demanding civic services, like electricity, road and water. The civil servant who twiddled his thumbs and slept on ‘papers under consideration’, tied the red tape tighter received his promotions according to a prearranged time plan ;- 4 years Senior Time Scale, 9 years Director, 16 years ( for IAS Only) Joint Secretary, 25 Years Addl Secretary and 30 years Secretary can afford to remain as anonymous as the villains in unresolved crime novels. The civil servant who dipped his hand in the till or developed itch hands is protected by armour plates of their own class. The higher one is in the echelon more difficult it is to frame charges or it can be so much delayed through the Old Boys Ties ( Called Batchmate) that one can retire unscathed. Here of course poltical masters and civil servants are on the same side.
India inherited a civil service system from the British which gave supremacy to generalists on the assumption that once people are selected on the basis of a competitive examination at 21 they will be diligent, learn everything on the job, honest and most of all give impartial advice to the political ruling class till they die or fade away. As per the award winning book of Arvind Adiga the only job in which people learn on the job is sex work. By the way I have not seen many IAS people retire actually.
The second premise was that in a federal set up like ours there is a need for a unifying bureaucracy who will be affiliated both to a State of the Union and the Federal government. Most of these assumptions have turned out to be utopian. It is a myth spread by the vested interests that the federal set up owes its success of integration or at least forestalling disintegration to the system of All India services.
With increasing permeation of technology in ever sphere of societal and government activity it is realized that some modicum of knowledge or expertise is necessary in some field of the other. One cannot live by manipulation alone. The maturing of our concept of India as a single nation owes its success more to the citizens, educationists and reviled politicians than the paid cadre of bureaucrats.
The civil servants in general and the members of the IAS in particular have stonewalled successfully any meaningful reforms on performance related incentivisation, any alteration to dislodge the ironclad security, and adding to the pool of talent to the top positions for the last several decades. Thus every one who enters the IAS can reach the top post of secretary regardless of area of knowledge, performance by sheer efflux of time and seniority. Only exceptions are those who fall by the way side for misconduct unrelated to the work area or very unfortunate chaps who are indicted by some Judicial commission or the other during civil riots.
One of the far reaching reforms recommended by the First Administrative Reforms Commission in 1963 to break this stranglehold of the prestige group was to make the IAS as a functional service just as the other central services and open up posts of Joint Secretary and above for open competition among all services and allowing lateral entry. This report must have gathered tons of dust and the only time it must have been brought down from the records room must be recently in 2008 when the Second Administrative Reforms Commission under Veerappa Moily wanted to trace the anthropology of administrative reforms in 2008.
In any case the report of Second Administrative Reforms Commission is out. It is available in arc.gov.in. Tenth Report in pdf files.
On a cursory reading my impression is that it emphasizes more on structural aspects of civil service careers than dwell on citizen centric governance by the civil servants. Although it talks about domain expertise it appears to ignore the rightful place of technologists, engineers, scientists and doctors ( medical) needed for delivering quality service to citizens as well as rendering policy advice to the political masters.
I hope those who are interested in civil service reforms academic, though the value of such interest may be since no politician whose sights are always set on the next election or bye-election is likely to read it ever , are requested to read the report and give their views. Meanwhile I shall seek the indulgence of Gconnent Members Senior and Junior to bear with me as and when I try to share my views chapter by chapter over a period.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.