Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with IAS officers participating in a training programme in New Delhi | pmindia.gov.in
File photo of PM Modi interacting with IAS officers New Delhi | pmindia.gov.in
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New Delhi: The civil service is the steel frame of government and governance in India is a famous cliché.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is giving that cliché a reality check — the solid steel frame is being shaken, stirred and given a makeover like never before in its seven-decade history.

A push for the lateral entry of domain experts, forced retirements of officers in bulk, concerted attempts to break the stranglehold of the IAS, experiments with the time-tested recruitment rules of civil servants, and instances of “protest resignations” of officers — the Indian civil service is undergoing an unmissable churn under the Modi government.

For those directly affected by this churn — the once all-powerful civil servants — the message is loud and clear. The rules of the relationship between the political class and the permanent civil service are being changed by a strong, majority government headed by a powerful leader who believes in being in control.

The churn is part of a well-articulated agenda. In its election manifesto released before the 2019 polls, the BJP stated: “To transform India into a developed nation, we need to work with the guiding principle of ‘minimum government and maximum governance’ and we will bring reform in the civil services and implement it in a manner to achieve.”

Translated into action, it means the Modi government has no patience for the corrupt, the slackers, the naysayers, the entitled or the sceptics. It rewards loyalty and performance, perhaps in that order. It has no space for those viewed with suspicion.

It is, in a sense, a serious attempt to realign the country’s civil service systems with the Prime Minister’s idea of a New India.


Also read: IAS, IPS, IFS cadres to be allotted on basis of foundation course along with UPSC marks 


The first whiff of change

That it cannot be business as usual was clear in Narendra Modi’s first term itself. The quiet induction of the controversial 360 degree appraisal format, the abrupt, unexplained and frequent transfers of officers from one ministry to another, the introduction of biometric attendance in government offices, the concentration of power in a PMO manned by handpicked loyalists — all conveyed the fact that Modi would not let India’s steel frame remain isolated from his all-pervasive style of governance.

If civil servants were enamoured by Modi’s “Disruptor-in-Chief” image in the beginning, the 360-degree appraisal format was to become their first rude shock. Initially buoyed by their enhanced status — direct communication with the PM, the diminished status of ministers in decision-making and the cultivation of a new work ethic that was seen as unconditionally rewarding to doers — the first seeds of change were sown with this controversial reform introduced in 2016.

Under this, at the secretary and additional secretary level, the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) is not the only parameter to judge the performance of a senior officer. It includes a complete fact-check about the approach towards work and general behaviour of the individual officer, based on confidential reports from peers, subordinates, and even outsiders who have dealt with the officer.

While some saw the reform as having some merit, most felt that the corporate-style evaluation for civil servants was extremely vulnerable to misuse.

“It is a very non-transparent process, which goes against the principle of natural justice because no officer knows why they are being empanelled or rejected,” chairman of the Uttar Pradesh IAS Association Pravir Kumar, had said.

While the UP IAS Association may be the only forum to have gone public with the criticism, officers across the country continue to question the mechanism in hushed whispers even now.

But the 360-degree appraisal was just a trailer of what was to come when the BJP returned to power with a bigger mandate.


Also read: UPSC question paper gets ‘lost in translation’, RSS-backed body wants it drafted in Hindi 


The impermanence of the permanent civil service

Days after coming back to power, the Modi government forcibly retired 27 IRS officers who were facing charges of corruption, sexual harassment and fraud under a hitherto rarely used rule.

While their colleagues in the government were still coming to terms with the sudden firing of senior government officials, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) — which comes directly under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) — made it clear that the whip would routinely be cracked on all civil servants working at the Centre.

In a letter sent to all ministries and Public Sector Units (PSUs), the DoPT made a monthly review of “tainted” officers across the central government mandatory — enforcing a mechanism for the continuous scrutiny of officials for the first time.

The fact that the Prime Minister brought up the issue in his Independence Day address to the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort underscored the importance of the anti-graft drive in his scheme of things.

“You must have seen, in the last five years, and this time after coming to power, we have dismissed several people who enjoyed cushy positions in the government,” he said. “Those who used to be roadblocks in our endeavours (to eradicate corruption), we told them to pack their bags (because) the country doesn’t need (their) services.”

The government has since fired 22 more “corrupt” officers from the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and has brought another 284 more from the Central Secretariat Service (CSS) under the scanner for compulsory retirement — and suddenly, the “permanent bureaucracy” is no longer “permanent” for the dishonest, corrupt and inefficient.

“So far, the message is positive in that the government is basically saying that it has zero tolerance for non-performers and corrupt officers,” said a senior IAS officer. “But what makes us worried is that the government cannot be a court unto itself… There is no clarity over what procedure is followed, whether the person fired gets a chance to defend themselves.”

The officer added, “Senior officers cannot just be asked to leave, and then run around in CAT and other courts trying to prove their innocence.”

It is, however, not all arbitrary. Most officers believe that the ones shunted out by the government so far have all had dubious records.

“Nowhere in the country do you have permanent jobs except for in the government,” said Satyananda Mishra, a former DoPT secretary. “If over time, an officer becomes corrupt, unproductive or just incompetent, why should the citizens keep paying to keep him in the government?” he asked.

The procedure to forcibly retire people is “well-settled,” but was just not implemented in the past because “there was too much sympathy for incompetence and wrongdoing”, he added.


Also read: Lateral entry will not help improve governance. Comprehensive human resource management will


‘Attempts to cultivate a committed civil service’

The sword of forced retirements hanging around the necks of even the most senior officials in the Government of India, however, cannot be seen in isolation.

Since last year, the Modi government has sought to change the recruitment rules of civil servants in the country — attempting to add what some officers say is an element of subjectivity to an otherwise objective and time-tested selection procedure of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

As per current practice, the UPSC independently selects candidates through the Civil Service Examination, who are then allotted services — IAS, IPS, IFS, etc. — on the basis of the ranks secured in the exam. In the last year, however, the government has made attempts to give weightage to the performance of selected candidates in the mandatory combined foundation course, and allot services and cadres to them thereafter.

“It would be very dangerous to tinker with the recruitment rules of civil servants,” says T.R. Raghunandan, a retired IAS officer. “It would lead to complete capture of the system by the Right and give rise to a committed bureaucracy.”

The phrase “committed bureaucracy” was coined by Indira Gandhi, but comes up often in conversations among civil servants nowadays. “Even before this government came to power for the second time, we were told to start planning for its second term,” said a senior IAS officer. “While at one level, it suggested that this government is thinking long-term, but on another, it felt as though we are expected to blindly be committed to their agenda even before they form the government.”

Other reforms too suggest that the attempt is to align civil servants to the government’s agenda. In the last five years, newly-recruited IAS officers are sent to the central government to work as assistant secretaries in various ministries, instead of being sent to their cadres directly.

While the government’s intention is to expose the fresh recruits to the workings of the central government from the very beginning, critics say it is a way to orient the young officers to the thinking of the BJP-led government at the Centre.

The grand lateral entry reform

In June 2018, a tiny job ad appeared in the inside pages of some newspapers. The advertisement for just 10 jobs in the central government sent ripples across the civil service.

For the first time, the government was institutionalising the opening up of the hitherto closed ranks of the civil service. Of 450 posts of joint secretary in the central government, 10 were being opened up for laterally recruited domain experts. Yet, the decision stirred a huge national debate that continues to pervade any conversation on the civil service even a year later.

While the government would take a year to carry out the recruitment process — the nine selected lateral entrants to different ministries in the central government are yet to join even though they were formally appointed last month — the development instantly caught the attention of the commentariat and even political players.

“It is an opportunity to attract and retain the best and brightest from across the world that have a sector perspective and boost the ministry or department’s capabilities and proficiency,” Amitabh Kant, CEO of the NITI Aayog, wrote. “Civil servants together with fresh inputs from lateral entrants can provide synergies to policy and implementation like never before. The role of civil servants becomes even more vital since for lateral inductions to get immersed in the government system will entail a steep learning curve,” he said.

Several others hailed the move and saw it as an opportunity to break the stranglehold of what they saw as India’s “twice-born bureaucracy”, which traces its roots to the British Raj.

“In the civil services, you are selected on the basis of a 30-40-minute interview and marks scored in an exam,” said Mishra, the former DoPT secretary. “It is not a scientific procedure…A lot of people who just get marks in an exam are not cut out for policy-making.”

“Why should they remain in the system and have an uncontested say in matters of governance?” Mishra asked.

The government has already announced its decision to expand the lateral entry scheme, and appoint 40 lateral entrants at the director and deputy secretary level.

But several questions over the credibility of the selection process have been raised. “For me, it is not that important if such reform is brought about. As long as the UPSC is doing it, it is okay,” said former secretary in the central government Anil Swarup. “But the government should not have a say in who is getting what service.”

It is a concern shared by many.

“Lateral entry is not quite a new reform,” said Raghunandan. “Previous governments have done it too without making a song and dance about it… The fear now is that there could be a selection of people of a particular ideology, and that is worrying.”

Serving officers say there are other problems too.

“We have no problem with the lateral entry, we are not scared of competition,” said a member of the IAS Association. “But what has the government done to prevent conflict of interest? Why is there no cooling-off period stipulated for these people?”

“If IAS officers cannot work in the private sector for two years after leaving the government, why provide this privilege to lateral entrants?” he asked. “Is it because the government is worried that nobody would join them if they lay these rules?”

While several officers have been anxious regarding these questions, the IAS Association has so far not made any public statement on the lateral entry reform — betraying a reluctance among officers to question the government.

But a more fundamental question also remains. Would a handful of lateral entrants hired on a contractual basis be allowed to make any real interventions in governance when the corridors of power continue to be dominated by the IAS?

According to Mishra, the lateral entry can work “only if they (lateral entrants) are allowed to work”.

“The worry is that they may become just as good or bad as the system… What can 9-10 people who are appointed for 3-5 years really do?” he asked.

The lateral entrants themselves remain hopeful. A lateral entrant appointed by the government said, “This is the first time an institutionalised lateral entry is taking place in the Government of India, but it’s not like it hasn’t happened before. The perception that we will not be allowed to work or anything is unfounded. There has to be a two-way understanding that we are there to help in certain areas, and we will require help in some areas.”

Constant pressure and surveillance

If there is one service that has been at the centre of the Modi government’s experiments with the civil service, it is the IAS. Once known to have an unchallenged, uncontested hegemony in the hallowed echelons of power, the Modi government has consistently attempted to dismantle its stranglehold in governance.

“Be it by promoting officers from other services, getting lateral entry or getting these biometric attendances, the attempt has been to show IAS officers that they are no longer the big bosses,” said a senior IAS officer.

Ever since it came to power, the Modi government has sought to reduce the empanelment and appointment of IAS officers in the central government, instead promoting and empanelling officers from other services, which had for years complained of discrimination in the rules of empanelment.

Surely, it has not been a one-way street with fewer officers willing to come to the Centre on deputation. “The supply side is shrinking because life was much better for bureaucrats earlier,” said a joint secretary-level IAS officer who did not wish to be named. “We had a lot more freedom to get projects through… Now, there is constant surveillance, monitoring and tremendous pressure to get stuff done quickly.”

“No bureaucrat likes to work in a pressure cooker condition,” he added.

Another officer pointed out that if one is not “a handpicked loyalist”, they are always seen with suspicion. “Even things like who enters our room is constantly watched and reported,” the officer claimed. “Why this constant surveillance?”


Also read: IAS resignations: Are civil services losing their charm in Modi era? 


‘Mixed signals’

While there is tougher surveillance and more pressure to deliver, there is also the perception that “a free hand” is given to those seen as performers. “You would notice that the PM handpicks performers from different places and gives them a free hand,” said a secretary-level officer. “One of the most important things this government did was to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act… The underlying motive behind it was to ensure that officers don’t under-perform in fear of prosecution.”

“The point is that the PM does give mixed signals to the bureaucrats… In one meeting, he will tell secretaries to act as the PM, and the next minute there would be news of forced retirements,” the officer added. “It is one way of keeping everyone on their toes.”

Surely, for some officers, the Modi style of governance has been so unpalatable that they have decided to leave the service altogether — giving rise to a new trend of “protest resignations”.

In July, former finance secretary Subhash Garg offered to resign from the government soon after he was abruptly shunted out of the finance ministry. While the Modi government has frequently transferred secretary-level officers — sometimes rather dishonourably — such a high-profile resignation from the civil services had not been seen in the last three decades, some of his colleagues said.

Subsequently, three officers, much younger than Garg, resigned from the service arguing that democratic principles were being compromised under the Modi government — an unprecedented statement from serving officers of the IAS.

Two of them, however, cited ideological reasons for the decision, while a third resigned for having been posted to the Northeast.

The first of them was G. Kannan, a young officer of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre who left the service, publicly expressing his reservation and disillusionment with the actions of the Government of India in Jammu and Kashmir since 5 August.

Days later, Karnataka cadre officer S. Sasikanth Senthil resigned from the IAS, arguing that it was “unethical” to be an IAS officer when the “fundamental building blocks of diverse democracy are being compromised”. The same day, Kashish Mittal, an AGMUT cadre officer posted in the NITI Aayog, resigned after being posted to the Northeast.

As with most changes brought about by Modi, the reforms in the civil service too remain polarising. While some believe that the system — a relic of the colonial era — is in dire need of radical reform, others fear an ideological and political capture of the civil service. What is indisputable though, is that the fundamental blocks of the Indian civil services are shaking under the Modi government. For better or for worse, it is too soon to tell.


Also read: If India is in crisis, it is because good guys like ex-IAS Kannan Gopinathan rather quit 


 

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32 Comments Share Your Views

32 COMMENTS

    • Really? These bureaucrats are dinosaurs in present world. Passing an exam based in rote learning, these bureaucrats are a serious drag on India’s progress. Can anyone imagine in a fast paced world like this, Indian bureaucrats are still getting promotion on basis of seniority? Name even 10 projects which were done in time and without scams after this bureaucracy was instituted. Slow moving snails, wasteful management of resources, looting nation with nexus with politicians , no accountability, what has this so called pillar given us apart from the worst , most corrupt, lethargic bureaucracy in Asia ? Sorry mam, you are either an aspirant or belong to the coterie to claim the bureaucracy as a “pillar” . Hilarious.

  1. Good move. Break the IAS mafia. How come a lateral can change anything in 3-4 years. How dare anyone changes. Time to bring in merit and continuous learning and fresh ideas and subject matter expertise to relevant domains. It is a system where someone takes an exam 35 years back, passes that interview and becomes a jack of all trades at all times. Which business gives you that free ride in the current competitive world where everything changes completely every decades. Outdated, obsolete skills serve no purpose., so bring in young laterals to think fresh. The job is not an entitlement of few who passes that outdated exam and selection process.

  2. The bureaucracy in India went into rigor mortis many years ago. The Modi government is trying to pry India out of its dead and rotting corpse.

  3. The bureaucracy protects its own. Take the example of Amitabh Gupta, IPS who was sent on compulsory leave for issuing a NOC type letter to one Wadhwan and his family and servants totally numbering 23 in five cars, to travel from Khandala to Mahabaleshwar
    ( both hill stations in Maharashtra ) duringg lockdown. No doubt the politicians must have taken a huge bribe. But Gupta has not been even suspended.

  4. A reform which is solely needed in India is to do with the proper implementation of the RTI act. This is being hampered by the DOPT or department of personnel and training. All the central ministries headed by the respective ministers and IAS secretaries do not implement section 4(1)b of the rti act under the proactive disclosure clause and even if they do, it is not kept upto date deliberately or key parts are left out from the proactive disclosure. Another issue is that there is no scope for 360 degree disclosure or appraisal by the public consumers of govt services of the central ministries and subordinate organisations because the DOPT managed deptt of administrative reforms does not allow forms to be filled about itself on pgportal.gov.in. People are unable to login easily because of complicated password system and the same is the case with applying for RTI online at rtionline.gov.in. If the stakeholders or basic consumers of govt services cannot appraise or give feedback about services given by IAS officers, what can a 360 degree appraisal mean, except a fake concept being implemented only as lip service?

  5. The biggest damage done to this country is by the BABUs. They were trusted with correcting and guiding the some time even illiterate politicians, because they were suppose to be the cream of the society. It was them who tutored the gullible and played the ball with the corrupt. They were the known wealth creators for themselves and the their political masters.
    It is only Modi govt who is capable of shaking the foundation of India’s IAS-led civil service —the rusted and rotten frame . A man given such privileges must be deprived of them even at a hint of wrong doing and then punished in a way, that the rest will think 100 times before indulging in nefarious activities for self or the political master.
    In democracy people will elect but the BABUs ( who are selected and protected) can and should make sure that that the elected operate within the parameters laid down by constitution.

    • The biggest damage done to the country is done by politicians with babus coming in a close second. And with greater authoritarianism as we see under the Great Gujaratis viz. Modi & Shah, even the few segments of babudom that were relatively – I re-iterate relatively – upright and meritocratic will now be turned into puppets.

      Hence, when you obsequiously claim “It is only Modi govt who is capable of shaking the foundation of India’s IAS-led civil service”, you are actually turning over an independent civil service to dance to the tunes of 2 RSS and fascism inspired Gujaratis who have run the economy to the ground, increased political instability in the country and waged war on the poor. All for centralising and consolidating their own political power, democracy be damned.

      Sadly, India’s upper caste Hindu middle classes back these 2 men, conflating their Hindutva with Hinduism.

      • Nobody elected those babus. A bunch of humanities graduates who have read too much Karl Marx, read history through the eyes of the Marxist Bipan Chandra and never ran a real business or created jobs are in dangerous policy making positions. Their independence needs to not only be taken away but their agency itself needs to be challenged. It is time for capitalism to take over and save whatever is left of the country or we’ll just be a feeding ground for sending our talented to different countries around the world for the rest of the century and beyond, if there even will ever be a beyond.

      • My dear , I think you are not aware that the PM and Home Minister both belong to OBC . I don’t understand why you people always show a tendency to bring the upper class into the controversies which has no meaning at all. Please grow up man , don’t be so lame with your thinking . And , as far as the lateral entry is concerned , I also don’t agree to it. It’s not that Modi became PRIME MINISTER just because of the upper class voters . If you study the demography it’s the OBC and the SC,ST who are more in numbers. So, how can you say that it’s only because the upper class backing the MODI and AMIT SHAH …….. When you talk plzzzz have an inspection and analysis about which you are going to say or write.

  6. This is a trailor only the services will be turned into Master and Servant relationship.
    Leaders know iron cuts iron by their people secludedly but not uniformly on their Masters , therefore applying it ruthlessly and speedily lest they could consolidate and revisit their faithfulness.

  7. The IAS, IPS must be abolished. All must join at the lowest rung of the officer cadre and rise up as is the system in the UK. Second, the IAS is a staff function. How can they be senior to the technocrats who are the line function ? This is the biggest fault in our organisations. Third, those who form the rejected stuff (80%) having failed to get seats in medical, engineering etc., take coaching and compete in IAS, IPS. That is why the quality of officers in the IAS, IPS is so poor. What have they done in the lasr 72 yrs. of Independence? Not a single govt. Office is efficient, sensitive to the needs of the public and all depts. are mired in corruption. For rapid development, technocrats must be elevate and given status above the clerks of the IAS. The head of the technical depts. Must report directly to the Minister concetned, and the services of the IAS must be made available to them in the same way that personnel depts. in PSUs do.

    • IAS are glorified clerks, a governance structure designed by British Invaders to enslave Bhaarat. Brit called it ICS, post 1947 they changed name to IAS.
      3050 IAS admin clowns are jack of all trades, masters in none. Should be dismantled by act of parliament & replaced by domain exptertise of technocrats. IAS is the root cause of political and bureucratic corruption, crime chaos, lack of investments, unemployment & poverty in last 73 yrs.

      • “Should be dismantled by act of parliament & replaced by domain exptertise of technocrats”

        You might end up with a bunch of testicle scratching, triushul wielding thugs from the VHP, RSS, Hindu Jagran Manch and other assorted saffronistas running the show and lighting the fire on the funeral pyre of the economy.

        You claim:
        “IAS is the root cause of political and bureaucratic corruption”
        Aren’t you now conflating cause and effect Mr R Sood ? Every IAS officer is forced to kowtow to politicians and threatened if s/he does not do so. the names of IAS officers Ashok Khemka, Durga Nagal ring a bell Mr Sood?

        An uncle of mine, anupright IAS officer recruited in the late 50s wrote a report warning the GOI (Congress at that time) about the perils of locating the Union Carbide chemicla plant close to the slums of Bhopal. For his efforts, he was transferred, sidelined and eventually decided to retire early. And his advice to me, way back in the 80s was to stay clear of that profession as it entailed working for politicians rather than the people. And with Modi and Shah now institutionalising political interference in the civil services, rest assured that the civil services will reflect always reflect the contours of Indian politicians. And they, with almost no exceptions are vile, corrupt, power hungry and interested in feathering their own nests.

    • “Not a single govt. Office is efficient, sensitive to the needs of the public and all depts. are mired in corruption. For rapid development”

      Do you know what happens if you are upright and do not toe the line of politicians ? Heard of the cases of honest, upright officers like Ashok Khemka and Durga Nagpal? They have been hounded, threatened, transferred and toyed with by the political class. And the Modi moves which give politicians greater rights to make civil servants do their bidding as opposed to upholding the Constitution will only make the situation worse. Indeed, it entrenches and institutionalises political interventions in the civil services.

      Unless there is a watertight insulation of the civil servants from the shenanigans of the political class, you are not far off from the day when you will political apparatchiks and babus from the RSS, VHP and other nutcases that worship the likes of Adityantah running the bureaucracy.

  8. IAS system created by Britishers to rule over India the legacy continued in collaboration with politicians in the bargain they become parasites.
    Indian private sector corporate working efficiently due to accountability with no redtapism .
    Modi is shaking the foundation of bureaucracy & challenging them hence they are feeling the heat.
    It’s good move hopefully will yield results in time to come.

  9. Nice article but note it down those young IAS who have resigned will either join big corporate or Politics for making money. Next I have observed that IAS sitting on key posts will sign the documents after the expectations are fulfilled. Let Income tax department check the assessts official, unofficial, families and benami — they are the richest in India. Please don’t have mercy on these cadres.

  10. Indian Civil Services was introduced in India by Britishers for their own purpose of plundering India.There is no such one exam to recruit the top rank officials in any developed country.Britain itself has abandoned this kind of bureaucracy.
    There is performance based promotion to become top rank officials in developed country.
    On the other hand,Indian Governments continued with this system after independence, so that Indian corrupt politicians could enjoy the fruit of corruption without being directly involved in curruption.These officials have worked over the years as stooges of ministers and politicians.Indian bureaucracy with provisions of infallibility and immunity against prosecution have been proved the major cause for corruption.
    The current Primeminister Mr.Narendra Modi has guts to go for the required reform and therefore people are supporting him.
    ICS should be down away with some better system.

  11. awesome Mr. Modi!!!!!!!!!! after reading this, im feeling proud that my vote is not being wasted…this is how a nationalist and popular leader should behave instead of a robot. also , those who are resigning ,,,please resign en masse. you will not be missed…there are professionals far more worthy waiting to work with govt.

  12. Any set of reforms will have to be judged by the results it has produced on the ground. Admittedly, India is too large a government system for the fruits to ripen overnight but, viewed objectively, there is little visible in the last five odd years to suggest that the country’s governance has moved to a higher orbit. Have written enough on the economy, which could prove to be an immense iceberg. Consider foreign policy, for IAS and IFS come from the same stock. It is really for the Cabinet Secretary, the head of the civil service, to tender good advice on the disruptions that are taking place.

  13. The point is, SOMEONE will have to run India’s administration machinery. IAS and such services which selected candidates from highly competitive UPSC exams were doing a reasonably satisfactory job for decades. Now Mr Modi says they are not good enough. Well, he will have to prove his point. Are his lateral entry candidates delivering the results? Let someone in his PMO start giving a regular brief to media – – something along the lines, PROGRESS OF SPECIALIST GUIDED PROJECTS. If this indeed hints at emergence of an encouraging trend, then no amount of praise for Mr Modi will be enough.

    • Very well said Mr Sanjiv Bhatla !

      By institutionalising “lateral entry”, what MoSha are doing is getting a formal channel for implanting their own ideological sidekicks i.e. Hindutva types from the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal etc. into the civil services. Stalin was a master of doing this in the former USSR – he simply planted his henchmen in the civil servcies and they kept a close check on other civil servants and ensured that they did his bidding.

      For all its flaws – and there are many – the civil services are taught to uphold the Constitution and serve the people. And a few do precisely that, recognising that even though the people may have elected a corrupt, conniving and at times criminal politician, the rights of the people triumphed the selfish desires of the politician. We have the cases of IAS officers like Ashok Khemka and Durga Nagpal who stood for the people and against politicians – at great personal risk. Indeed, even risk of death. Khemka, it must be remembered, took on the might of the Congress party in many of his decisions. Durga Nagpal took on the sand mafia in Noida and was promptly in the crosshairs of the Samajwadi Party. As India Today* writes:

      “An intrepid young officer takes on illegal sand mining. Acynical state government punishes her on the pretext of having incited communal tension. Durga Shakti Nagpal is proof that India is no country for upright bureaucrats”

      Clearly, MoSha have learnt a thing or two from corrupt Congress, Samajwadi Party and other political outfits. Indeed, MoSha are ensuring that the de facto practice of treating the civil services as an appendage of a political party becomes a de jure one.

      Incidentally, loved reading your sagacious observations in The Hindu comments section as well. My comments in TH do not get published anymore …

      * https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/special-report/story/20130819-durga-shakti-nagpal-suspended-ias-officer-uttar-pradesh-akhilesh-yadav-765162-2013-08-09

  14. I am Sr. Citizen and had opportunities to meet many IAS and IPS officers. Largely I have found them arrogant and never consider them as public servant. Instead they treat the public as their servants and second class citizens. ACR is managed and our country system is largely corrupt. A good officer is determined by general public how he attends to the problems and solve them using the powers the IAS/IPS possess. Modi Govt is perfectly right to bring about the changes. ACR must be judged by real time experience.of common man and not by managed ACR.

    • Very well said sir. The worse thing was that even after paying the admin fee (read bribe) they would still not do the work. Land revenue, health care and ration ( the ones that effects the poorest the most) are the worst.

    • Whilst you may be right that IAS & IPS officers have now become a law unto themselves, you forget that they are not anymore independent but are the personal bureaucrats of politicians. Hence, you should be directing your ire at politicians who have corrupted the civil services. As India Today writes about Ms Durga Nagpal, an IAS officer who stood for the rights of citizens:

      “An intrepid young officer takes on illegal sand mining. Acynical state government punishes her on the pretext of having incited communal tension. Durga Shakti Nagpal is proof that India is no country for upright bureaucrats”

      It is naïve of you to think that the MoSha move to introduce lateral placements in the IAS is a move to help much maligned citizens like you. Indeed, it is nothing but an institutionalising of political interference in the civil services.

      And yes, I am sure that for blind, blinkered Modi worshippers, Modi can do no wrong and if he claims that 2+2 = 5, your ilk will go about thrashing people who doubt it. Just as the middle classes vehemently defended demonetisation, a classic example of voodoo economics and the perils of unchecked authoritarianism, knee-jerk defence of the supposedly infallible Great Gujarati is in your DNA. If the Great Gujarati says bang your vessels, you will do so, he he says light diyas, you would comply; if he suggests that you should drink gomutra, you would do so too. I fully accept that the Indian, upper middle class, upper caste Hindus are now members of the Modi cul. And it is your prerogative to belong to the Modi cult or the Swami Nithyananda cult. But let me ask you something, assuming for the time being that the Great Gujarati is utterly honest and has solely the interests of citizens like you in mind when he wishes to make the civil services more pliant to politicians. My question to you Sir is as follows:

      What happnes when the Great Gujarati is one day booted from power and let us say another political party or coalition of political parties comes to power? Would they not throw out the Great Gujarati appointed civil chamchas err.. servants and replace them by their own flunkeys ? Want Mayawati to appoint her stooges in the civil services Mr BK Periwal?

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