Monday, June 08, 2015

What provokes IAS officers to oppose lateral entry of specialists and claim they are specialists in governance?

A NEWSPAPER article arguing that prime minister Narendra Modi should have started his innings by ending the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), has provoked a number of IAS officers to resort to social media to strongly defend their contribution to the nation and oppose lateral entry of specialists. Though the article published in a business daily was against “un-fire-able, unaccountable civil service” as a whole, it mainly targeted the IAS with “imperial-era privileges”. Former chief secretary of Delhi Shailaja Chandra, who calls herself an “independent policy analyst” and “Once IAS” argues that the alternative to…
scrapping the IAS (selected through a fiercely competitive examination) could turn disastrous. She Tweets:  “IAS exam conducted by UPSC. Over 500,000 applicants. Just 100 or so successful. Why not alter Constitution, close UPSC and let PMs/CMs choose?” She humors: “Sardar Patel should not have pressed for All India Services (a k a IAS.) Country would have been administered far better by politicians!”
Varsha Joshi, a 1995 batch IAS and joint secretary in the ministry of new and renewable ministry, posted several Tweets to argue how an IAS officer works in a rural area, handles law and order and drought, and creates changes working with "illiterate" public leaders. Here is the summary of her argument in Twitter: “…an exam in which a million youngsters participate..or a career progression which takes one from literally standing on the road handling law and order or drought or disaster all by oneself as a 20 something, so that you never forget the reality of India…working as leader of a million people in your early 30s as DC/DM of a dusty mofussil no one has ever heard of…creating change working with the "illiterate" public leaders in your cadre (state) to understand why the public respects and trusts them… learn to work with them for the people and handle vested interests too and then work in obscure corridors in Govt of India understanding how governance processes work and only then take up senior leadership positions of Joint Secy and above that everyone wants "lateral entry" into?”
Ms Joshi then questions: “Would a person who has spent 20+ yrs getting here know less than someone who has never seen a village?  Governance is a specialisation and IAS officers specialise in it…It’s one thing to bring in specialised knowledge from others or better training for the IAS and another to diss the service like other institutions (Judiciary? Academia? Press?) don't exist…”


  1. The choice for the country is obvious-either to bring a totally new system compatible with democracy or continue with the archaic administrative practices carried forward from the britishers.Even now the District Collectors have feudal privileges like no of vehicles for family, big contingent of servants and very little contact with the common citizens.After passing one difficult exam once, they are never tested by an independent expert panel and continue to enjoy power and privileges at the cost of the citizen throughout their career.They have become the biggest mafia whom even the topmost politicians are also afraid to break even in the 21st century india.They are siphoning out the funds meant for the poor in active collusion with dubious politicians and contractors.Of course there are honourable exceptions in IAS also.The developed countries have a much better system where experts head all the important organizations.If we do not discard the rotten bureaucracy at the earliest, it is very difficult for the country to attain the status of global superpower as visualised by our visionaries.As for as the IAS are concerned they are not going to leave their power and privileges easily, unless the political executive brings in strong administrative reforms in tune with a 21st century democracy.

  2. The steel frame of Patel has rusted and is beyond redemption. Unfortunately IAS has reduced itself to being liaison agents of politicians and pressure groups. Further, governance has become far more 'technical ' for the 'generalist' IAS officers to claim the right to head each section. Time for them to accept the new realities gracefully

  3. Dont change service , we have to change training, atmosphere, social value. IAS officers belong to society so they are replica of indian best brain. So i could not make IAS , it does not mean i should hate IAS. they are best brain but Govt has to use them not critics them

  4. No doubt, for the public service, officers have to go through several hardships and challenges, and several officers are performing that. But, please look at the outcomes. Our country is emerging as the nation of most poor of the world besides Sub Saharan Africa. Our cities are becoming slums. Our health indicators such as IMR, MMR shows very slow improvement. In such scenario, should we cheer for the hardworks only and keep our blind eyes on issues/outcomes. It seems we are in system trap. We need to come out of the trap, and for this entire system of bureaucracy need to be reformed. Only the best brain should be on top to resolve the issues, is a myth. We need officers who should have positive mindset, attitude, and passion. And such officers are not necessary belong to IAS or any specific services. They may be from any of the services and even entrepreneurs. So, present Government should seize the opportunity and initiate reforming the system.

  5. IAS are the best..just try to answer a single question of ias question paper and u will understand what it takes to be an IAS officer....they deserve even more power, privilege and dominance. as far as bad condition of country is concerned it is due to the 'ILLITERATE' political pundits of india who transfer and even force IAS officers to commit suicide.

    1. In the present scenario the IAS exam is toughest in the country. Thanks to the elite families that they can afford to buy coaching and children who are trained to crack the exam in the luxury of ac rooms. But to say that who do not afford to get into IAS do not deserve life is ridiculous apathy to situation.
      let me give a brief background of mine: I missed IAS exam by 80 marks. I could afford to get coaching only for one optional subject and rest I did it by my own. Born to a middle class family and raised by single parent. Being a meritorious student throughout and almost cracked all exams of the country.
      Presently: I am just an PSU employee who does petty jobs of getting photostats done for boss, oversee manual jobs by my sub-ordinates and typing work for boss.
      If one exam determines your destiny then you must be open to exams at later stage of your life to occupy top jobs in departments. Specialists must also be given opportunity to head the department they have worked for years.
      It is hypocrisy to say that those who are in Ias are only 'intellectuals' on this planet. There were many in my class who could easily crack the exam with ease but they went on to join forbes no. 1 company( of course they were born with silver spoon). Karl Marx has rightly said that elite rules the world. Only the form changes but substance remain same.
      Its damn hard for those to crack the exam who do not have necessary support structure behind them because they grapple with multiple problems besides dreaming about coveted job. The survival need comes first. There are some exceptions to the entry into the elitist club but they do not make generalization. For those not making it to it life is just an apathy, a powerless soul, a brain death and constant witness to the pain of not giving meaning to the life at all.
      IAS job in essence is removing the vast inequality that exists in society but they are the one's who create inequality by their mere occupation to that position.
      Why are top engineers , doctors and other professionals quitting their jobs to clear this exam?
      Do they dont owe something to society? Do they constantly be reminded of the fact that they are just piece of dust when it comes to the process of decision making?

    2. What is "Best"? Whether person answering the tough question of IAS exam, but, unable to address public issues in the real environment of illiterate political pundits, can be proclaimed as the "Best"?

    3. "a single paper of IAS question paper"..... Just non-sense hypocrisy. Anyone with just normal awareness level can get 25-30% marks in the so called toughest exam. Marks of topper range between 48-52%. If exams are the criteria to select the 'best' at junior level then it should be so at higher position as well.The best for the country will come only when all professional ( of any field) should enjoy equal status, power and respect in society. The quest of egalitarian society remains a mirage.

  6. How can one exam determine your life so severely?

    Are developed country bureaucracies less efficient??
    Is grime and dust experience the necessary or sufficient condition for policy making? How does the grime and dust anyway make your ready for steel/petroleum/roads etc . The secretary position is not an IAS prerogative . Why so if grime and dust was needed? Officers from other services have done brilliantly at lateral entry levels .

  7. It is much easier for specialists to learn administrative skills than for a generalist to learn specific knowledge. In advanced countries domain expert head departments and quickly learn management by doing executive MBA in one year.I was surprised to see food administration in India is headed by IAS. In US, it is always MD or PhD with scientific expertise who head FDA.

  8. Most of the socalled elite service members detoriate so fast in their career that they are fit only to manipulate the politicians and corner privileges at the cost of the citizens.Do we not know that many IAS toppers have been convicted for serious corruption offences.There is no independent system in place to check their competence and integrity levels, because of which the worst among them occupy the most important positions to ruin the country.No developed country has such a rotten system.Its high time that real experts having sound integrity head the relevant govt deptts just like the advanced countries, instead of the arrogant and corrupt bureaucrats,if our country has to really progress.

  9. We should get out of the 'Either Or" and zero-sum mindsets. We can have both IAS and Specialists as parallel streams. The Govts can decide to use both the streams the way they deem fit. This will also create a healthy competition. If IAS/ Specialists are that great, let them prove thru their performance vis a vis the other. This will give the elected Govts some flexibility in selection of executives.