the timely empanelment of non-IAS officers. He gives details of how 1995 batches of IAS and Indian Foreign Service officers were already empanelled for appointment to posts of joint secretary and joint secretary equivalent under the Central Staffing Scheme whereas the next nearest batch of any service to be empanelled was that of the 1991 batch of Indian audit and accounts service (IAAS). “The junior most batches of IRS (IT), IES, IRTS and ITS to be empanelled to the posts of joint secretary and joint secretary equivalent were those of 1986. The 1982 batch of Indian Telecom Service, 1983 batch of IRSME, 1984 batch of IDES, 1985 batches of IOFS, IIS, IRPS and IRS (C and CE) were the junior most batches so far empanelled to posts of joint secretary and joint secretary equivalent,” he analyses. In simple words, officers from the allied services take much longer to get empanelled as joint secretary whereas IAS and IFS become eligible at a much younger age, thereby giving that latter a better window to move up in the government’s hierarchy.
In fact, the same story gets repeated for empanelment of additional secretary and secretary in the government of India. Prasant in his research has found that only around 25 non-IAS officers (from a group of 36 services) were empanelled for secretary and secretary equivalent posts in the last five years whereas in case of IAS, about 200 officers made into it. And there is one more difference. “The junior most batch of IAS empanelled for secretary and secretary equivalent posts is that of 1980 whereas the 1976 and 1977 batches are the junior most from the other services to be empanelled at this level,” Prasant writes. Also, officers belonging only to seven services have been empanelled for secretary under the Central Staffing Scheme now.
Even in case of empanelment of additional secretary and equivalent posts, Prasant’s essay observes that only officers belonging to 10 services have been empanelled during the last five years.
The writer also tries to figure out why such discrimination exists. According to rules, the empanelment and actual appointment for the posts of additional secretary and above is done directly by the cabinet secretary, who is always an IAS. In this exercise, the cabinet secretary is assisted by a special committee of secretaries (SCoS), which consists of senior IAS officers only. In other words, it is the IAS officers who undertake the empanelment process, make recommendations for appointments and make the actual appointments. No wonder, 74.22% of secretary level posts and 88.14% of additional secretary level posts in the government of India are occupied by the IAS officers themselves, Prasant writes.
Among some of the recommendations suggested by the writer include scrapping of the current empanelment process and direct recruitment from the officers belonging to all the 37 eligible services through a fair competition. He further suggests that the post of cabinet secretary, the top job in Indian bureaucracy, should not remain reserved for IAS alone.