The Indian Entitled Service

News: Recently, a Standing Committee of the Rajya Sabha in its 112th report has recommended to the Union government to recruit more Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers.

What are the issues with the IAS?

There is a huge shortage of more than 1,500 IAS officers in the country. For example, the gap between the sanctioned strength and in-position strength is around 104 in UP cadre, 94 in Bihar cadre and 87 in AGMUT cadre.

The shortage compels the states to appoint non-cadre officers to cadre posts. Further, they are given additional charges and remain appointed beyond the permissible time limit.

The inadequate number of IAS offices would compromise the efficiency of administration.

The appointment of non-IAS officers to cadre posts is in violation of IAS cadre rules of 1954.

What are the challenges in bringing reform?

Many IAS officers want to reform everything except their own service. Therefore, bringing the administrative services reform becomes the hardest.

Those politicians who try reform lose the next election. For example, first time Shanta Kumar tried to bring Himachal state government employees to heel but he lost elections. Same happened with Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu and Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh.

There are certain posts which are reserved for the IAS not by law but by tradition. For example, District Collector, Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, etc.

There are issues with the “non-functional upgradation (NFU)”. It came into being in January 2006 after the recommendations of the 6th Central Pay Commission. It was done to offset the financial loss to officers for lack of promotional avenues. It secures the pay and pension of all the Group-A civil officers even if some of them are incompetent. No other country has this.

Way Forward

The Committee recommended DoPT to increase the annual intake of IAS officers.

There is a need to redesign the concept of NF. Even if the concept is needed, it needs to be rethought.

Source: The post is based on an article “The Indian Entitled Service” published in the Business Standard on 22nd April 2022.

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