Narendra Modi's real legacy will be if he can redesign the IAS and the concept of an all-India service, argues T C A Srinivasa Raghavan.
A Standing Committee of the Rajya Sabha wants the government to recruit more IAS officers.
This recommendation is there in Paragraph 3.6 of its 112th report.
This is what the paragraph says. I am quoting it in full.
'The Committee observes that there is a huge shortage of more than 1,500 IAS officers in the country. The gap between the sanctioned strength and the in-position strength of IAS officers is as large as 104 in UP cadre, 94 in Bihar cadre and 87 in AGMUT cadre.
'The Committee is of the view that, bureaucracy deficit is, perhaps, compelling states to take recourse to such means as appointing non-cadre officers to cadre posts, and continuing them in such posts beyond the permissible time limit besides giving multiple charges to serving officers.'
'The Committee believes that such measures would compromise the efficiency of administration. Therefore, the Committee recommends DoPT to increase the annual intake of IAS officers significantly keeping in view the evolving needs of Indian administration.'
The reason for this paragraph: Non-IAS officers are being appointed to cadre posts, which are in violation of IAS cadre rules of 1954.
These rules are the administrative equivalent of caste-based reservation.
So the IAS gets the best jobs even though most of its members are probably otherwise unemployable.
Yet the system perpetuates itself because, of all the reforms, administrative services reform is the hardest.
This is because many IAS officers want to reform everything except their own service.
The poor politicians
Those politicians who try reform lose the next election.
It's happened thrice in the last 30 years.
That's enough to warn off all political parties.
The first time was when Shanta Kumar lost in Himachal Pradesh after he tried to bring state government employees to heel.
The second time was when Jayalalithaa tried the same thing in Tamil Nadu.
She had sacked around 100,000 striking government employees.
And the third time was when Chandrababu Naidu got tough with them.
All he wanted was that they should punch in at 9:30 am and out only at 5:30 pm.
And out he went at the next election.
Politicians have therefore decided that the smart thing to do is to leave government employees alone.
And no service knows this better than the IAS.
They take full advantage.
Be that as it may, what is this thing which the Standing Committee has referred to?
I asked some friends and they said these were posts reserved for the IAS not by law but by tradition.
Thus, a post is declared by name to be reserved only for the IAS, as for example District Collector, Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, etc.
Some posts are not named but a number of posts at a certain level are declared to be 'encadred' or reserved.
The government can then post an employee in any department that it thinks is suitable for the officer.
The pay is at the 'appropriate' level. This is entitlement taken to the next level.
Indian Entitled Service
But this sort of entitlement doesn't stop at reservation. It now goes way beyond that.
So there is something called 'non-functional upgradation'. It will make your blood boil when you read what it is.
It also shows just how the IAS manipulates the system.
The politicians know it but look the other way on the Indian principle of 'what goes of my father'.
After all it's the taxpayers who pay.
NFU came into being in January 2006 after the 6th Central Pay Commission recommended it.
It was done to offset the financial loss to officers for lack of promotional avenues.
Thus under NFU, you get paid more even though you aren't good enough to be picked for the next higher post.
So the incompetent get what the best officers get because all Group-A civil officers now get the pay and pension of much higher grades.
No other country has this. As a 1952 batch officer told me in 2007, 'Gadha bhi ghoda ban jayega.'
This is the opposite of what a 1964 batch person told me in 2004.
"Our government takes racehorses and turns them into mules."
That's exactly what's happened to the IAS. And that's exactly why it needs to be redesigned.
Hiding behind the All India Service excuse is no longer enough.
Even if the concept is needed, it needs to be rethought.
The ICS, from which the IAS is descended, was designed as an instrument of British oppression for which the 'natives' paid.
It continues to be exactly that because, despite the lamentation of some of its members, who would want to give up this life of luxury attained after passing just one examination when they were 24 years old?
Narendra Modi's real legacy will be if he can redesign the IAS and the concept of an all-India service.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com