Nov 16, 2015

Group A services hope for end to IAS dominance

NEW DELHI: The expectation of non-IAS services that the all pervasive dominance of IAS in senior government posts may be curtailed has soared following the PMO's preference for specialists rather than generalists manning key departments at the Centre.

The 36 other Group A services have also petitioned the 7th Pay Commission to bring an end to the IAS's dominance and give merit a chance.

TOI has analyzed the composition of the top bureaucracy since 1972 when the IAS had an edge in posts of secretaries in the government but not complete dominance. Out of 45 posts of secretaries then, 30 were from IAS and 15 from other Group A services. In 1984, this changed to 36 from the IAS and 25 from other Group A services.
Interestingly, the dominance of members of the erstwhile Indian Civil Service and later the IAS in top posts of the central government gradually weakened after independence but by 1995, the IAS lobby reasserted and recaptured its lost glory and was successful in posting its men on 71 posts of secretaries out of 92. About a dozen others were scientists on secretary-level posts and the remaining few from other services.

This was partly possible because the empanelling and selecting authorities — the department of personnel and training (DoPT) and the cabinet secretariat — were completely dominated by the IAS.

The situation got better for the IAS in later decades. Currently, 73 of 91 secretaries in the central government are from the IAS, 11 are scientists and seven from other Group A services - none from the IPS, IRS, IAAS or IRAS.

The dominance of IAS — starts right from the joint secretary (JS) level. About 75% of JS, 85% of additional secretaries and more than 90% of secretaries at present are from IAS, according to petitions from Group A services submitted to the 7th pay panel.

The proportion of IAS dramatically increases from 10-12% at the level of directors in central ministries to 75% at the JS level, a presentation from the IPS association said.

The situation in the bureaucracy has changed over the years. Now, more engineers, doctors and MBAs are joining the All India Services (IAS, IPS and IFS) and other Group A services. There is no separate examination for IAS, those with high grades make it to the elite service.

Discontentment is rampant. For instance, posting an IAS officer as head of the revenue department in the finance ministry is something which has always been disliked by Indian Revenue Service officers who contend that members of their service with 35 years of experience are probably more competent on formulating policies to augment the country's revenue collection. Indian Police Service officers find it inexplicable how top positions in the Union home ministry's internal security department could have no IPS officer.

However, organized representations of Group A services before the 7th pay panel demanding parity with the IAS has not gone down well with the IAS association which has declared a cyber war, posting tweets and organizing individual protest letters to DoPT, cabinet secretariat and the pay commission.

Based on what they called feedback from the PMO, sources said the PMO seemed to be moving towards bringing parity in all services for central deputation and picking the right talent for senior posts. It has already directed DoPT to ensure that all Group A service officers are considered for empanelment in a time-bound manner. This is likely to be reflected even in the pay panel's report which may submit its report by next month, sources said.

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