Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Take: Merit over Jugad must remain the guiding force of UPSC

TWO months ago, babu blogger met with one of the senior most UPSC officials to argue how the government should attract talents through lateral entry for achieving better administration. The argument was straight and simple --- why can’t we flood the administrative machinery with mid-career specialists who won’t mind joining the government mid-way and make a difference to the system thanks to their customized domain knowledge which generalist IAS lack. It’s not even hard to find a few classic examples in various ministries including that of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as finance secretary earlier when a specialist changes the work environment and becomes a game-changer.
Though babu blogger’s argument was well in sync with the recommendations of the administrative reforms commission, senior men in UPSC vehemently objected to the proposition saying that it would lead to malpractices in the recruitment process and “jugad” would replace “merit” while getting premium berths in India’s elite administrative services. As babu blogger was having a cup of tea in Dholpur House of Delhi, one of the top officials manning the UPSC agreed that many IAS, IPS or IFS officers lose their sheen mid-way and take a no-changer attitude and refuse to modernize the administrative system. Yet, he would still argue in favour of the sanctity of UPSC’s recruitment process which in turn ensures the best lot joins the services. “Even the Prime Minister’s Office can’t influence us saying we should recruit X, and reject Y,” the official said with a sense of pride.
As Sandeep Kaur, a peon’s daughter who cracked the civil services exam, 2009, recently has inspired many a have-not across the country, the UPSC official’s conceited argument can’t be negated. Thanks to the fairness and sanctity of the Commission and its ability to resist requests from who’s and who of India’s corridors of power for facilitating a candidate getting into the elite services, the UPSC-route of recruitment is still the best for ensuring fair play. Yes, UPSC should be given the discretionary power to judge the best among those private sector guys who wish to join the government. After all, jugad should not get precedence over merit. At least for the sake of the country's Sandeep Kaurs!

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  1. What about 100 talented people who come out of the tough competition among 5 lakh graduates. Should they be denied opportunity at the cost of these MBAs & economicswallahs who already hold top posts in corporate sector. IAS officers can not go to private sector as easily becase of many reasons.but others must be allowed to come in for posts of IAS since it has been popularised by media that all problems in the government is due to the IAS. Remember my friend it is the same IAS officers set with which Bihar is getting 11% growth rate and was languishing under Laloo's jungle raj. Bottomline is that something else requires revamp and not IAS system.

  2. Firstly the article forgets that IAS is the biggest lobby in this country. Unless the politicians can go beyond the lobby, no worthwhile administrative reforms is possible. Secondly, the comment clearly is self-contradictory. It seeks to give credit for the current growth to the IAS while also admitting that the same IAS was not able to deliver earlier. Shows then that the IAS as such cannot deliver and the change if any can only be brought about by the political system. If so why do you presume that professionals cannot do a better job?

  3. Totally agree with the argument....We see cases of corruption in Legislature, Executive, Administrative & Judicial bodies on a daily basis. UPSC is one body which has maintained its integrity over the decades. Already bureaucrats are coming under increasing political pressures. Providing lateral entry to experts from private sector is a great idea but if its institutionalized then Politicians will get more leeway in placing their sychophants in the system. Its absolutely correct that at present even the PMO or Cabinet can't influence UPSC in selection of a candidate. UPSC deserves a salut for doing such great work.

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