‘IAS officers who are assigned to home state cadres more likely to be corrupt, underperforming’

Union Public Service Commission (UPSC)
Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) building, New Delhi | Vivek Singh / The India Today Group via Getty Images

A new research paper suggests letting Indian Administrative Service officials work in their home states may be opening the door for greater corruption. 

New Delhi: Indian bureaucrats who work in their home state perform worse than those who aren’t, and are deemed more corrupt and less able to stand up to political pressure, suggests a new research paper.

“The main finding is that home state allocated officers perform worse than comparable officers who are allocated to non-home states,” the paper says.

Officers allocated to their home state are deemed to be more corrupt and less able to withstand illegitimate political pressure, it says. “This effect is primarily driven by the more corrupt and less developed home states,” the paper says.

The paper titled ‘Social Proximity and Bureaucrat Performance: Evidence from India’ has been written by Guo Xu, Marianne Bertrand and Robin Burgess, who are scholars from the University of California, Berkeley, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and the London School of Economics.

The authors, in the preliminary draft of the paper, measured the performance of IAS officials using a subjective poll involving IAS officers, state civil servants, politicians (MLA) to representatives of media, business and NGOs. They then linked the survey data with administrative data on IAS officers.

What the paper says

IAS officers in their home states find it easier to communicate and it may even boost their performance. But there’s a flip side.

“On the other hand, local officers may be more susceptible to capture by the political elite; also, their deeper personal networks in the community they serve may provide more opportunities for bribe taking as well as a more efficient technology for bribe extraction,” the paper says.

The paper says that consistent with the evidence from subjective ratings, IAS officers working in their home states are also less likely to work in other states, and are subject to more political interference. This was measured on the basis of shorter job postings and more transfers.

“The negative home state effect is largest in Karnataka, Bihar, and Gujarat. Karnataka and Bihar are consistently ranked among the most corrupt regions of India. In contrast, this negative effect is close to zero or even reverted in Punjab, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh,” the paper says.

The paper also examines what IAS officers in their home states do once they’re out of public service.

“Finally, by matching IAS officers to company registries, we find that home state officers are more likely to serve in both public and private boards. These firms are also more likely to be based in the same state, thus reflecting the officer’s greater access to local networks,” the paper says.

As of February 2018, 17 per cent of the IAS officers in the scholars’ research sample are serving as directors on the board of companies.

“Nearly all of these companies are unlisted (99 per cent) and companies limited by shares (98 per cent). 65 per cent of the companies are public or state-owned firms, with the remainder covering private sector firms,” the paper says.

The home advantage for bureaucrats

The paper concludes that it is an ‘open question’ whether giving IAS officials postings in their home states helps. It might enhance their commitment and might result in them putting greater effort and to be more effective in the execution of their duties.

“And importantly this gain in performance could be achieved without paying the officer more,” the paper says.

On the other hand, IAS officers in their home states have better opportunities to be corrupt because “they are more trusted and better connected or because (for similar reasons) they are more likely to be captured by politicians and other members of the local elite.”

“Home to home allocations might lead officers to put more effort into enriching themselves or others rather than in serving the local citizenry. In this case gains in performance can be obtained by allocating public servants away from the areas they originated from without changing the pay of officers,” the paper says.

25 COMMENTS

  1. Nice Article, by Berkeley University.

    Berkeley SHOULD LEARN not to put out names of officers who are no way concerned with corruption.
    Should have blocked names before posting the article.

    First we learnt Berkeley doesn’t understand Democracy.
    Now Berkeley shamelessly put names in article and proves it doesn’t understand RESPONSIBLE Journalism.

  2. Absolute nonsense, outsiders don’t understand the local nuances simply bow down to political whims and fancies, treat locals as inferior class of citizens and are more corrupt than insiders, they also enjoy the luxury of not being noticed becoz they collect and invest outside their work place.

  3. This is the age of specialists, be it railways, telecom, mining, defense, industries or whatever. IAS – the generalists, is a colonial leftover. Nowhere in the developed world, you will see generalists calling the shots. Corruption and colonial hangover is the hallmark of this service. Time has come to abolish this cadre. Governance should be in the hands of specialists.

  4. IAS has become sickness of india. None of them now wants to go in public policy framing. All of them want to go in engineering sector for loot and plunder.

  5. Politician are source of curruption and enemy of developement . Delay of project is the reason of polition interaction between developer and adminstration modi ji . You cant give certificate of goodness to your polition .

  6. This is true to the core. More than 60% circumstances arise when they have to bend rules and there they learn that they aren’t breaking rules , they are just bending the laws for “Adjustment” , “Settlement”.

  7. For the 1st 7 Yrs of their service they must be Allocated to Tribal Districts and then they can change cadres as per the Commission.

  8. Total Rubbish! There are many ias officers who are working in there states and they have also received P M award for administration eg. O P CHAUDHARY in chattisgarh. In fact they are more efficient in there home cadre because of familiarity.

    • All know how award are managed…few get the award for there work in true sense…the district magistrate of uttarkashi has got the award for stopping 100 percent open defacation in udham singh Maher and uttarkashi…But one can see the example right on the back side of D M bunglow…

  9. In a time when technological disruptions happen at a frenetic pace, with technology leveraging multiple layers of official deadwood it is right time to have a deep revisit to the civil service by the UPSC.

  10. The authors has mentioned the right observation. Apert from being corrupt, the behaviour of such IAS officers are not up to mark. They are arrogant and do not trwat the local person properly. That may be due to there language advantage. So the IAS officers should not be posted in there own state. Also there should not be any state cadre. Every IAS should belong to national cadre and be transfered to different states during there career.

  11. We cannot be judgemental about an individual or a person. A corrupt person will be corrupt and an honest shall remain honest irrespective of his posting or cadre.

  12. It’z not necessary that ias officer in home cadre all are corrupt those who come to the services with a view to help the the people of their own locality what about those & most aspirants choose home cadre becoz thay are well aware about the problems the people are facing their so thay want to irridacate these problem .In the todays world the youth have changed their midset becoz almost evry one is the victim of this corruption .As per my opinion ias officers shud be alloted home cadres as they have eye on evry problm there

  13. The inference is totally logical…uttarakhand has same plight…local cadre I a s officers are corrupt in all senses…both morally and economically

  14. यह निष्कर्ष पूर्णत: सत्य नहीं है अपितु व्यावहारिक
    रूप में उक्त निष्कर्ष के प्रतिकूल भी स्थितियाँ परिलक्षित होती हैं। वस्तुतः यह व्यक्ति-व्यक्ति पर निर्भर करता है।

  15. IAS, IPS services should be similar to other Central Government Class-I Services, like Engineering Services, which have no state cadre. The engineers keep on getting postings to different states, depending upon the job requirement.

  16. If the officer decided to be currupt , it does not matter is it home cadre or not..They will do as they wish..Why can’t IAS officer do curroption in states other than home cadre..He is an IAS officer ..Not a school kid..It’s based on each one thought and how they think about their job..If they think it as a service they will be good ..If they think this one not for service only for earning lot of money..They will be currupt…at any situation whatever the reason it does not matter.. Whether they r going to be loyal or currupt..It does not based on.. cadre..Such stupid research find..You are underestimating IAS officer by saying this.😌

  17. The data presented might be right i dont know but mentioning of karnataka in the top during tge election days is just making it obious what bjp is trying to do here.This could serve them as they are using corruption as main subject here in the election

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