Monday, February 6, 2023
HomeIndiaGovernanceIAS officers counter association president's stand, say being 'generalist' is the strength

IAS officers counter association president’s stand, say being ‘generalist’ is the strength

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IAS community’s reaction comes amid a growing debate over Modi govt’s move to allow lateral entry at joint-secretary level.

New Delhi: The IAS community seems to be upset with the newly-appointed IAS
Association president’s statement that the body is considering making a pitch to the government for qualification-based appointments to get rid of the ‘generalist’ tag attached to the officers.

This comes in the wake of a debate surrounding the Centre’s move to bring in domain experts in the government at the level of joint-secretary by way of a lateral entry.

In an interview to ThePrint last week, IAS Association president Rakesh Srivastava, who is currently the secretary in the women and child development ministry, said that to counter the view that most IAS officers lack domain expertise and are “generalists”, the IAS body will ask the government to see if it is possible to post officers according to their technical expertise.

Also read: Unhappy with ‘generalist’ tag, IAS body wants appointment based on qualification 

“It is wrong to assume that IAS officers are not technically qualified. Majority of IAS officers are engineers, CAs, doctors, etc,” said Srivastava.

“They only become generalists if they are posted to an unrelated department…but it is wrong to say that they are not technically qualified.”

However, it seems Srivastava’s views have not gone down well with many of the officers.

“It is become a bit of cliché to call IAS officers ‘generalists’…They specialise in policy-making, and that is a specialisation in its own right,” former finance secretary Arvind Mayaram, said.

“It is a model of governance that has stood the test of time,” he added.

Being a ‘generalist’ is an advantage

Maintaining that generalists assume leadership roles in not just the bureaucracy, but also in other spheres such as the army or the corporate world, Mayaram said there is a need for a generalist who can supervise all aspects of policy and decision-making at the top.

“In the army, for example, those from various units report to the General…Generals, in fact, go on from being specialists to becoming generalists,” he said.

Steel secretary Aruna Sharma, whose experience ranges from information and broadcasting to home affairs, and from ayurveda to IT, also shared Mayaram’s concern. “Qualification alone does not give the capability to have a vision and translate it into reality,” she said.

“I am no graduate in dairy or IT or steel,” she added, emphasising that this would be no reason to dismiss what she brings to the table as an expert in policy-making.

Earlier this year, ThePrint had analysed the educational qualifications of 57 secretary-rank officers and found that only nine were heading ministries that have a direct relation to what they have studied.

Also read: Any connection between education of top IAS officers & jobs they do is purely coincidental

Underscoring the benefits of being a generalist, an IFS officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “Being a generalist is the biggest advantage of an IAS officer…If domain expertise becomes the criterion, then there are service-specific officers also.”

‘Fix the problem of short tenures first’

In order to ensure better governance, it is important for officers to have longer tenures in departments and ministries, thereby allowing them to develop in-depth understanding of a subject, Mayaram argued.

“First, urge the government for longer tenure as joint secretary/secretary for better governance,” he said.

Also read: Want to make central deputation for IAS officers compulsory: IAS Association president

“IAS officers develop expertise on account of long tenures in certain areas. That is why, earlier, joint secretaries typically spent five years on average in one ministry…,” he said.

“But what you see of late is that officers are transferred from one ministry to another within months. How will they develop any expertise like this?” the officer asked.

An analysis by ThePrint of the tenures of secretary-rank officers in key ministries showed that frequent changes and an abrupt end to tenures continue to be the norm under the BJP-led NDA government.

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  1. Being generalist, you can grab any post, in any department, whether related or not, and widen your turf. Hell with the specialists who know the subject. Secretary if telecommunications, IAS, Secretary of finance, ISS, Secretary of medical education, space or foreign trade, all IAS. So keeping all posts and thus power with themselves, they have played havoc in the administration. Hope one day India will be free of this contagious disease called IAS.

  2. In my opinion the government should be run by specialists at some level (decision making)) of governance. Modelities of appointment be discussed with association.

  3. In Odisha, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar are going to be developed as Smart City. The CEOs if both the projects are IAS. What an IAS knows about town planning. Only they can earn some black money and share it with their political masters, which an expert town planner will never do.

  4. IAS officers having Pro government or Pro political party biases are rewarded, even though such IAS officers adhere mostly corrupt practices, wish to get the work done by their whims for their personal advantages from their subordinates irrespective of how much superior, qualified, sincere and honest the subordinates (he or she) are in their cadre, and also if higher rank officers including even Professors, doctors and others do not budge an inch as per the directives of such corrupt lords, they may put under suspension and these corrupt IAS officers may start some proceedings against them. These Pro government or Pro political party linked IAS officers do work beyond the science of conduct for the benefit of the ruling party. And as the rumours prevail, such corrupt lords, of course very few in number in a state, help the ruling party indirectly in amassing finances for the breathing of the ruling party.
    At the same time, there are many many GOOD IAS officers who do work for the nations and the people, would be left underprivileged. Several straight forward IAS officers who do not budge before the corrupt and wrong practice of their political bosses, would be sent to the revenue board type department by the state government or the other departments considered as the dumping ground.

  5. I do not doubt authencity of the IAS , but politicali the ideoly of the country has been reduced to familyism. Philosophy of cast has worked to nurture the conceptual form of national scam in the name of family, so that the IAS class is not even insulated there is also the tendency to make money in racism and illegal legality. Well, I agree with the appointment of the proposed proposal by the central government, many talented individuals know the world who did not try to become an IAS ,by coincidence,by the new rule , government can use their speciality in the interest of the public , A welcome step by the Modi government .

  6. Everything should be judged by the produced result. But nowadays ,views changes with the change of kings, coloured eyes also produce coloured views, training to be human, is neglected everywhere,& everyone becomes expart in rulling thedowntrodden & pleasing the higher ruler.

  7. An IAS is a flexible officer trained to tackle varied situations.Unlike an old scientist he is unbiased and gives a fresh look to things. In fact even in technical hierarchy he can save executives from wrath of bias. That indeed is one job of administrator. To inject lateral specialists in such matrix is like destroying sanctity of another institution by the govt. Yes there are multidimensional thinkers in specialist organs of govt too; but they are required in greater nos. in such settings they are in. Specialization can be no substitute for traits of courage , quick decision-making , kindness etc.

  8. Let us examine NATURE.It promotes specialization .Tigers are master predators,birds are masters of the skies and fish of water.But high or extreme specialization leads to extinction ! such is the case with gharial [Gavialis gangeticus]which is dependent exclusively on fish or the cuddly Panda dependent on bamboo.f Homo sapiens success is due to their generalist physical body and specialized mental abilities.We need both generalists and specialists in administration.The present problem is more due to human relations;the IAS cadre reaches higher posts at comparatively younger age,draw much higher salaries and often tend to be disrespectful of specialists working under them,than with them.

  9. This whole article itself shows that a Secretary level IAS officer who may be on the verge of retirement is not clear what should be his fraternity role.

    The expertise in policy governance is all crap. Only political decisions and self interest documents laden with IAS ego are churned out in the garb of policy. And their implementation is worse.

    A survey on the life styles of IAS is the need of the hour and their lavish life style at public expense or otherwise must be investigated.

    Instead of providing any leadership, they are fooling the professionals for years to their advantage.

  10. IAS passing and getting through is with general knowledge , logic ,and presence of mind. They are not inferiors. But politicians dont allow them in one post to expertise in that field. So the idea of introduction of experts atloint sec level from out side is not a bad idea but it should not be made like Governors post. True pattriots love devolepment with calibered people. I support the move.

  11. These generalists have finished the country with their policy making expertise. The policies are hollow and lack substance as the people in charge know nothing about what they are in charge off!!
    There are good lot of IAS officers who can grasp the technicalities and develop policies. But the problem is these are few and these generalists have pervaded the entire phalanx of governance. That’s the reason why our PM directs and nothing happens. Most of these babus don’t how to implement the PM’s vision. Now it’s the very same inefficient generalists who are crying hoarse. Afraid of threat to their comfy cushy careers, the country be damned. Why should these babus be afraid of a little competition if they’re as superior as they claim to be. The fact is these emperors have no clothes and it’s time they are shown the mirror. Does the PM have it in him!!!!

  12. To select for an IAS is itself a specialisation and they are common in all, making then according to their qualification is just another step to dilute the fairness and further promoting discrimination amongst the officers. Pro government or pro political party would be rewarded and who work for the nations and the people would be left underprivileged. Already Mr Modi is deternined to dilue the foolproof and strong system of cadre appointment by selecting non IAS officers who got to such position after passing the toughest level of examination. If they think that IAS are not capable, though they are the most talented lots, then you may end the civil services system and recruit your kins who belongs to Radical groups. One thing more to add that all initiative of this party in power is towards only to favour few sections of the society. I appeal to all officers that plz do take stand against such move and as a public, we would support you as you are the best capable who can run this nation most efficiently and effectively. This nations trust not political government rather officers who got selected to such coveted level after sheer dedications. Don let you all influence by political power please and look at the people who are eagerly looking up to you for the redressal and further welfare of the nations. Jai hind, Suhel

  13. Of course… decision of present Government to open lateral entry of certain specialised officials at Joint secretary level from private sector may be considered on experimental basis, but it may not be denied with the facts of their contribution and implementation of policies to their respective fields of specialisation in the companies or fields entrusted, where they are prove their mettle, whenever an IAS fail and indulge, is a welcome step.

  14. The civil service system introduced by the British still rulethecommon man like British. The system is the greatest curse off India. They never allow any other system to overtake them.

  15. It is frequently seen that IAS officers are very adamant to any advice. This isn’t a good practice. Being a generalist may be good in some departments but certainly for not all. First of all these elite public servants must analyse the suggestions and debate with experts (these may of course include IAS officers). We need a transformation in beaurocarcy, it’s the need of time. I think Modi government has also felt this.

  16. IAS officers in the country form the crux of the best brains in the country and to achieve that,they have to swim against several cross currents and against stiff competition.To best illustrate this,one must know that out of a field of ten lakh aspirants to start with,after filtering at two or more stages they make it to the few 500 odd vacancies at different levels of central bureaucracy.There was a time say about three decades ago,bulk of them were from the general discipline.But this scenario,has undergone a sea change wherein we have many with qualifications from specialised fields,be graduating from some of the cream of institutions,be it doctors,engineers,accounts and audit,credit rating,scientists,agriculture and horticulture,business administration etc.Their expertise,if we are sure of utilising their service in intended area,then we may post them in such areas for a desirable period as deemed.Like wise such of those officers deputed for building expertise to different countries,on return from such training,be posted to such specified departments and fields without disruption atleast for four to five years.This could be the best solution we are looking at,which may be explored to derive the best from these men.So let’s give up on this new but impracticable solution.Lets not tarnish the image of the IAS.

  17. Govt is right in bringing outside expertise at particular post . example software engineer in govt dept could not stand before Pvt company softwares why ? because they are rigrious in one field and keep on updating for better bargain .Mix system like mix economy ,nothing wrong . It can be audited after an year .

  18. Either way, being a generalist or a specialist, the IAS is just treated as parthenium, s dangerous weed which grows anywhere and everywhere, and very difficult to remove. If that cadre is able to erase that impression, it is good for the cadre and nation.

  19. A large section of IAS / Provincial Civil Service Officers are not only corrupt , but, I have doubt about their prudence and intelligentsia also. The IAS association should take a resolution to the effect that the IAS aspirant will give a declaration of all moveable and immovable held by him / by his near one, like his father, mother , brother etc. before appearing IAS Exam as like as MP & MLAs, then we can think that they are really honest. The Secretary of the Health​ must be a doctor not a IAS of others academic field . Likewise, the Secretary of the PWD , Animal Husbandry , Judicial Dept and Education Dept must be eminent Engineer, Veterinary Surgeon, Jurist, Professor respectively, they will the handle the matter better than IAS bureaucrats.

  20. I am not an IAS, but I love this interesting conversation. IAS itself is a quality and intelligence and a real driving force in every areas of governance.

    I feel personally, the huge knowledge, intelligence and the core values of being human in IAS are the unique things for their applicability for development of the nation that presently needs competencies in abundance for the common people with common intelligence.

    I am basically Agriculture graduate, shifted to different areas and had diverse qualifications. Ultimately, as Practising CS, the quality of services I rendered to large Corporate Branches for their large Corporates for 2 decade is considered to be quite distinct and unique.

    IAS Community has huge resources to offer to the nation to achieve new heights globally.

  21. Hi sir a very confusing and conflicting,as it happens in India the association of people decide only in own advantages,,,,, sorry to name pillors of India,how will see that there Pride and power is dispersed to another genere, some personal issues that for few centuries the steel frame run the country under foreign advantage,,, but the situation has changed a lot we have to change the mental setup at that time, district head moves with 84 personal, now inspects to840 minutes in a trip,so how will that association will accept the introduced in there world ,,,,, there are many many black sheep in our community,, jai jai Bharat swacch, swacch Bharat apna apna mulk,mahan

  22. Civil servants, with their basic/professional educational qualifications and high calibre, get through the selection and attain a starting position in the Governance. During their job, they pass through rigorous process of practical learning and resolving emerging critical issues and help in Governance. Their all round experiences attained during their job make them specialist who skillfully contribute towards planning, policies and implementation.

    In contrary, political leaders, mostly illiterate or with basic education and with empty brain, reach the Parliament and hold different portfolios as Ministers and make laws to be enforced by executive and judiciary to run the country.
    This is really unfortunate.

  23. Being Generalist is the strength, to enslave all specialists, scientists, engineers, doctors and professionals. Generalist Indian Adamant Service will lead organizations but never take responsibility. Enslave their subordinates in line with colonial British imperialist ideology and work like an agent to political bosses and never think about continuous improvement. Promote egocentric protocols, respect should come by one’s performance not by enforcements. British type IAS should be abolished. Mussorie institute should become a imperialism museum. All institutions run IAS by are corrupt, redtapist, and egocentric in this country. People should think why this service should exist. Agents.

  24. In almost all services there are engineers doctor not only IAS. I am a Computer engineer . Plz IAS association post me as IT head of some govt department.

  25. Every body is protecting his turf. Political parties have to agree if they need generalist or specialists studying global practices.

    • Now a days the most important role of an IAS is to please his Political Master by hooks & crooks. Once qualified as IAS most of them concentrate only to make money. They are the one who find new ways & means in CONNIVANCE with their Political Masters to amass WEALTH at the cost of EXCHEQUER . They don’t bother about the country or good governance.Most of them are corrupt, characterless, blackmailers and dance at the tune of their Political Masters.The things have reached to such a sorry state of affairs only God can save India!

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