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?