Good action on our inputs
Yesterday I saw in the new that PMO has sought empanelment of non-IAS officers in news. This is progress.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has apparently sought empanelment of non-IAS (Indian Administrative Service) or Group A officers for the senior posts of secretaries in the central government, and it can only be hoped that such a policy change would leaven the existing hierarchical differences among groups of bureaucrats. The genesis of the differences is rooted in the structure of the Civil Services examination. Those scoring high marks and securing top ranking are assigned to the IAS, while others, based on the scale of their marks and rankings, are relegated to services like Indian Accounts and Auditing, Revenue, Customs, Income-Tax and the Railways.
There are a total of 36 services other than the IAS and the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). The pre-eminence of the IAS is reflected in the appointment of its cadres to the higher echelons of the service, with IAS officers taking over as secretaries in the various ministries of the central government. The top bureaucrat, the Cabinet Secretary, invariably happens to be from the IAS cadre. This, not surprisingly, has generated a great deal of resentment among non-IAS groups of bureaucrats.
Ever since the 1991 reforms, there has been talk of reforming the bureaucracy in order to meet the challenges of a professionalised free market economy. It was felt that the administrative skills that an IAS officer acquired over the years were far too general in nature sans the technical knowledge or domain expertise that is necessary to deal with specialised domains like, for instance, international trade, taxation, security et al. It is against this background that those serving in specialised services like the Indian Revenue Service have now laid claims to receiving equal treatment at par with the IAS in postings to senior positions in the Ministry of Finance.
Statistics indicate that though a larger number of non-IAS service officers have over the decades come to occupy the top positions of secretaries and joint secretaries in central government, the IAS officers still continue to have an edge in securing these powerful positions. more