THE government has now made it mandatory that only IAS officers can apply for the post of Permanent Representative of India in UNESCO, Paris, which will be lying vacant with incumbent Ruchira Kamboj, a 1987 batch IFS, ending her term next year. This joint secretary-ranked post which comes under the administrative control of department of higher education under the ministry of human resource development (HRD), was not reserved earlier only for IAS. And that's which is why an IFS officer got selected for the post. But a DoPT letter, dated October 25, 2016 which was addressed to union secretaries and state chief secretaries, said that the first mandatory qualification for an applicant to be eligible is as follows:“The officer belonging to Indian Administrative Service, who have been empanelled to hold the Joint Secretary or equivalent posts at the Centre and should be at least 3 batches below the batch next considered for empanelment as Additional Secretary to Government of India”.
The letter further said that the post may be circulated amongst eligible officers and the applicants need to apply within one month.
Before Kamboj took charge as Permanent Representative of India to UNESCO in April 2014, an IAS officer of 1979 batch — Vinay Sheel Oberoi who held that Paris-located post. Oberoi, now a union secretary in HRD, was given extensions for personal reasons and he held the post for four years — between 2010 and 2014.
Yes, this UNESCO post was always considered an IAS post, but earlier advertisements never mentioned it categorically that only IAS officers could apply for the post. Had it been so, Kamboj would not have been selected at all.
In fact, there are a number of such foreign posts where all Group A services officers are eligible to apply though ultimately IAS officers get selected in most of those. But the question is: Will the eligible criteria for those foreign posts too see a change in the days to come?