Tuesday, November 01, 2016

“Shri IAS” or “Dr IAS”?

TWENTY four days after issuing an official order stating that Kshatrapati Shivaji, 1986 batch Maharashtra cadre IAS, will be India’s new executive director of Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) in place of 1983 batch Rajasthan cadre IAS Umesh Kumar, there is a “partial modification” of the order. In a corrigendum issued on October 28 which was dubbed as “Most Immediate/Confidential”, it was said that…
“Shri Kshatrapati Shivaji” should be read as “Dr Kshatrapati Shivaji”. Issued by the establishment office of the DoPT and signed by a deputy secretary-ranked officer, the corrigendum is sent to 20 different offices including to the offices of cabinet secretary and principal secretary to PM et al, following the usual official procedure. The original order was issued on October 4, 2016.
Yes, the officer concerned is highly qualified. As BoI had earlier written in a post, Shivaji is a civil engineer with an M.Tech degree in building science; he is an MA in economics and also holds two additional degrees— one MBA and another PhD in management.
But the question arises whether the prefix “Dr” is important at all for IAS officers, and for that matter other civil servants. Can an officer be a better performer if she holds a PhD degree? And does the government need to write Dr X or Dr Y, moment the officer gets a PhD degree.
Except some rare examples if any, none of the IAS officers is a PhD when she enters into the service, for the obvious reason of the lengthy process of completing a PhD programme and the existence of an upper age limit in UPSC examination through which the selection to civil services is made. So, the officers with the prefix of “Dr” actually complete their courses when they are in service. Yes, the government encourages officers to take up courses up to one year (post graduation or MBA) and also sponsors them to study in foreign universities. But PhD is a not a short course. It may take three years or even more.
The government should first decide whether it wants its officers to undertake longer courses like PhD. And if it does, will such a degree make it a difference to an IAS officer's career beyond the "Dr" prefix?


  1. I don't think the relevant question is whether an officer will be a better performer if he / she holds a PhD. Instead the questions should be whether the government should really be wasting so much time and effort on such cosmetic efforts. An utter waste in my opinion, no doubt to pamper to inflated egos and a sense of entitlement.

    Brig. S.S. Dhillon (retd)

  2. The officer (Maha 1986)must have insisted that a corrigendum be issued, in the hope that his performance and dignity would probably go up after adding the honorific “ Doctor “. Getting posted as ED, ADB, Manila, is not easy particularly as the posting should have legitimately gone to a Foreign Service officer .But, the IFS officers don't serve in States’ districts and thus unable to cultivate politicians. Serving in districts is,therefore , considered more important than serving in foreign countries. This explains why the IFS,is no longer considered a sought-after Service.
    A K Saxena (A retd civil servant)

    1. Mr A K Saxena's reply shows exactly the problems prevalent in current civil service. It is worrying that a time has come when "performance and dignity would probably go up" by adding "Dr.". This is a typical Indian mindset borne out of insecurity and perception of inferiority. Most foreigners prepare in advance before meeting senior staff of multilateral institutions such as ADB, World Bank and the fact that Mr Shivaji has a doctorate would be very much known. He would not get any more or any less respect or dignity by virtue of advertising that fact. I am saddened that we Indians think that courtesy and dignity are proportionate to educational qualifications and markers of wealth, caste, family, etc. Shame on us.

      Brig. S.S. Dhillon (retd)

  3. The IAS officer who got selected is not selected on merit or based on his qualifications but just because he belongs to IAS. Selected by a panel of IAS officers. "By the IAS, for the IAS and of the IAS" - this is the state of administration in India now. And why are IFS officers suitable to this post. This is not a diplomatic post. The post should not be reserved for any Service. It should be filled by any civil servant of required qualifications and seniority selected by a panel not consisting of any bureaucrat. The selection panel should consist of industry titans, Directors of IIM, etc. but not bureaucrats.