New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government Wednesday launched the ‘Karmayogi Yojana’ or the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB), in a bid to transform status-quoist and rule-obsessed civil servants working in silos into “experts”.
The scheme attempts to challenge an oft-repeated criticism against civil servants of clearing an exam in their 20s, and then doing little to build on their skills, and also change their orientation from “rules” to “roles”.
It will cover around 46 lakh central employees, and a sum of Rs 10.86 crore will be spent on it over five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25.
#MissionKarmayogi – National Program for Civil Services Capacity Building approved in today’s cabinet will radically improve the Human Resource management practices in the Government. It will use scale & state of the art infrastructure to augment the capacity of Civil Servants. pic.twitter.com/RNl3uDS7IL
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 2, 2020
A council headed by Prime Minister Modi will supervise skill and capacity building plans for civil servants, which will then be implemented across central training institutions of the government, which currently work with little or no coordination, the government said.
“The scheme will ensure that training is not taken as an excuse to take a sabbatical, but is a continuous process throughout the career of a civil servant,” an official of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.
“Officers will be evaluated on the basis of the courses they take, in the sense that for each officer, an online database will be maintained on what courses they have completed, how did they fare, what areas does their expertise lie in, etc,” the official explained. “So, if an appointing authority is considering an officer, they can simply see what kind of training the officer has been getting.”
Capacity building commission
The PM-headed council will have a supervisory role over the scheme, with a capacity building commission reporting to it. This commission will oversee all the existing training institutions in the country like Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), National Police Academy (NPA) and National Academy of Direct Taxes.
“The commission would be an overarching body which decides the curriculum, and has the bandwidth to understand what changes are needed in training with changing times,” an official associated with the NPA told ThePrint.
“It would be a UGC-like body, which will keep a track of what bureaucrats are being taught, and what they need to be taught.”
The government has also announced the provision of iGOT-Karmayogi, a continuous online training platform, which would allow all government servants from assistant secretary to secretary level to undergo continuous training, depending on their domain areas.
Courses from international universities will be made available on the platform for officers to take any time, the government said.
However, ministry officials told ThePrint that there is also a plan to considerably reduce foreign training, as it is extremely expensive for the government, by popularising iGOT.
This year, the government barred foreign training of officials due to Covid-19.
Civil servants unsure if it’ll amount to much
Civil servants who spoke to ThePrint on condition of anonymity said they remained unsure of whether the reforms will have any bearing on their actual work.
“The reform sounds pretty good, but as civil servants, it would not really affect our working,” said an IRS officer. “I will still have to do the tax collections that I do, an IPS officer will have to still manage law and order, so while training will allow officers to widen their horizons, it would not directly impact their working.”
An IAS officer, however, felt that the reform, if implemented correctly, would challenge the existing perception of officers as “laqeer ka fakir” (someone who toes the line).
“If training actually becomes central to officers’ performance, one would eventually see a change in the governance in the country,” the IAS officer said.
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