Monday, 7 August 2017

IAS should be abolished. Why?

In India, no person from well to do family will aspire for job. They either continue family's existing businesses or start new enterprises. It is mostly middle & lower classes with meager disposable money look for jobs. IAS, without any doubt remains most preferred job ever since independence.
  • Around half a million youngsters across the country attempt the preliminary test of the Civil Services Examinations conducted by the UPSC every year. The final recruitment is for 1000 officers in Central and All-India Civil Services. Out of which 100 officers are for IAS.
  • Considering the difficulty levels of the exam, and the tiny proportion of applicants who make it as final recruits, the exam is considered one of India’s toughest. The ones who clear it are hailed as India’s brightest.
  • Hard work through a long period of slogging for the exam helps but sheer luck is not ruled out.
  • The recruitment system is a legacy of the colonial ICS that gave way to the IAS and over the years, the exam pattern was updated to make it more inclusive.
  • The bureaucracy in India continues to be a relic. It is an archaic system designed for a poor colonial state and definitely not for a modern democracy and a major economy. 
  • There have even been a few calls for the abolition of the IAS. There is no doubt that it needs urgent reforms. 
  • The exam is not designed to recruit for the specific needs of various services. It is a generalist selection for specialist roles.
  • Other than successful IAS candidates, for all others it was neither their first choice nor the line of career that they were best suited for. 
  • As a generalist service, the IAS offers a variety of work and powers than the other specialist services. Early in their careers, IAS officers are entrusted with administrative powers for the maintenance of law and order, revenue collection, implementing development works and social schemes and performing quasi-judicial functions in districts with huge perks & privileges, attractive for an average Indian youth.
  • The District Collector, post reserved exclusively for the IAS, is the Chief Executive of a district entrusted with immense responsibilities and commensurate powers. Collector for a district or Commissioner for a Municipal Corporation is similar to CM of a state and PM of the Union but without any accountability to the electorate and enjoys job security and promotions despite poor performance.
  • After a decade in the districts, IAS officers move into Secretariats, where they run the Ministries and Departments of the State and Union governments and it is the IAS, with its historical advantage in pay and promotions, that is able to monopolize the most senior roles.
  • A non-IAS officer can never become secretary of a department even after serving for full life time.
  • IAS leadership of the bureaucracy had always scuttled administrative reforms for lateral entry of domain experts that threatens their monopoly, so far. Non-specialist IAS officers have retarded the progress of  the nation, so far.
  • It is assumed that the common generalist exam looks for trainability so that any service-specific skills and knowledge required for the job can be imparted during training or picked while working.
  • The UPSC would do well to conduct separate exams for each service, with candidates having desired skills and interest in the job. This will have our youth entering, say, the Indian Police Service because they really want to become IPS officers, and not because they missed the IAS by a few marks.
  • A maturing democracy must further devolute powers to districts, cities and towns, strengthening elected representatives and reducing the discretionary powers of bureaucrats. The State government which doesn't want to lose its control over local bodies and IAS will fight tooth and nail to preserve its present powers. It is evident that any desirable administrative reform would not be possible because of the mere existence of the IAS. 

Power is thrilling only when misused especially for corruption. 
Otherwise it is a huge liability and burdensome.

Learning by working is a slow process and prone for errors and mistakes with depth of knowledge restricted. The fastest and easiest way to learn is through is university graduation, post graduation and doctorate courses. Today IAS officers are mostly jack of all trades and master of nothing and yet commands immense power on people & society. Their half knowledge is often disastrous. The minister and his secretary have no expertise and yet direct departments with specialists in performance of its duties. Very often IAS officers assist ministers indulging in corruption subverting rules, of course for a cut. Otherwise ministers have no knowledge of procedures and rules. During past twenty years private sector salaries are so high, some bright IAS officers are leaving govt to join corporates. Yet youth aspires for IAS because of power, perks and corruption money. In order for our country to progress as a nation, administrative reforms are a must; and for reforms IAS is stumbling blockade; hence IAS must be abolished even if it is disruptive. Otherwise we will be progressing rather slowly.

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