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from civil services?

Should professionals be debarred
from civil services?

By Abhijeet Kulkarni in New Delhi
May 05, 2003 10:52 IST
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With half of the top 20 seats of this year's Civil Services Examinations being bagged by professionals like engineers and doctors, opposition to debar them from taking the exam is generating a heated debate.

While professionals feel that such a move is unwarranted, legal experts believe that it is difficult do take any such decision since every individual has the 'Right to Vocation'.

Last week a Parliamentary panel headed by Congress MP Pranab Mukherjee had asked the government and Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to give their 'considered view' regarding the desirability of debarring graduates from professional fields like engineering, medical and others saying the money spent on training them was 'going down the drain'.

"If the per student expenditure incurred by the government in producing Indian Institute of Technology and MBBS graduates is taken into account, it shall run into several lakhs if not crores. This means that when such a student joins the Union Civil Services, all the money spend on him goes down the drain," the committee said.

"It (money spent on training) cannot be a reason to debar anyone from taking the civil service examination. The Parliamentary Committee had no business to make any such recommendation," says Dr Yatish Agarwal, a specialist at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital.

Dr Agarwal insisted that it was the prerogative of an individual to decide which profession he/she wants to adopt.

The Delhi Chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also opposed the move saying it would mean that instead of rewarding these students, who also excel in other fields, the government was trying to say that they were not qualified to become civil servants.

"If they join the Indian Administrative Services,  they will actually be serving the country as they have the intellectual capability to excel in any field," says Vijay Malhotra, IMA's honorary state secretary.

Pointing out that the graduates from IITs and many other professional courses are amongst the brightest brains in the country, D P Singh, consultant at one

of the largest IAS training institute in the country says debarring them would mean keeping the majority of talent out of the administrative services.

"Among the thousands of students enrolling for IAS

coaching all over the country, about 30 per cent have a professional background and even if their percentage in the final selection list varies it is always 'substantial'," he points out.

Ankur Garg, an IIT graduate and topper of this year's civil services examination, naturally did not favour the proposal to debar professionals.

Instead of thinking of such a ban, lawmakers should

try and work on the reasons behind the trend of professionals taking to the civil services, says Dr Agarwal.

He claims that this trend of opting for the administrative services instead of continuing in their respective fields also reflects on the 'status of professionals in society'.

Reflecting the same thought, Malhotra says there are

about 8,000 to 10,000 qualified doctors who are either underemployment or unemployed and hence they turn towards the civil services.

"Administrators have better status in terms of power and respect, which lures professionals to these services. If the number of professionals opting for them have to show a downward trend, we will first have to focus on amending this disparity," he added.

Such a debate at this stage is uncalled for, feels

Kapil Sibal, senior advocate and a Congress leader.

Pointing that the panel has not recommended debarring

professionals from undertaking the civil services examination, he said, "Some members have only expressed concern over the amount of money spent on them going waste after they join the civil services."

"The panel has just expressed its views and has asked the government to give its reply," he stresses.
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Abhijeet Kulkarni in New Delhi
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