ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Has the IAS Failed the Nation?

An Insider’s View

The decision to recruit experts from the open market in certain departments at the level of joint secretaries is not enough to radically professionalise the civil service. Internal specialisation must be promoted by insisting on stable tenure in the states so that there is incentive for the Indian Administrative Service officers to acquire expertise in their chosen sectors. Also, the IAS officers should take the entry of the outsiders as a challenge, because if they do not improve their performance, there could be repetition of such recruitment every year.

A shorter and abridged version of this note was published in the National Herald on 17 June 2018 titled “The IAS Is Not Really Threatened.”
 

The Government of India (GoI) has decided to recruit 10 outstanding individuals from the open market with expertise in the areas of (i) revenue; (ii) financial services; (iii) economic affairs; (iv) agriculture, cooperation and farmers welfare; (v) road transport and highways; (vi) shipping; (vii) environment, forests and climate change; (viii) new and renewable energy; (ix) civil aviation; and (x) commerce. Their initial appointment would be for three years and extendable up to five years depending upon their performance. They would work at the level of the joint secretary, a post normally occupied by the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or central service officers. It is a crucial level of senior management in the GoI administration, as joint secretaries lead policymaking, design programmes, and monitor their implementation.

This initiative to prefer specialists over career bureaucrats has been hailed as a bold and radical step by some who argue that it would bring in fresh and vibrant ideas, expose the top civil service to competition, and promote better policy formulation based on expert domain knowledge. On the other hand, many have condemned the bypassing of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) as an attempt to facilitate the backdoor entry of people committed to the present governments ideology, or recruit employees working for those industrialists who are close to the ruling party.

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Published On : 22nd Jun, 2018

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