Monday, 23 May, 2022
HomeIndiaGovernanceThe IAS has thinned at the top of the bureaucracy under the...

The IAS has thinned at the top of the bureaucracy under the Modi government

Text Size:

Just 11 IAS officers have been empanelled by the government this year for joint secretary posts, down from 87 officers in 2014.

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has so far this year empanelled just 11 IAS officers for joint secretary-level posts, a far cry from when officers from the premier service dominated senior positions in the central government’s bureaucracy.

Empanelment is the process of qualifying officers for positions in the Central government, from which some are eventually selected as joint secretaries, additional secretaries, secretaries, etc.

Consider this: In 2014, when the NDA government assumed power, 87 IAS officers were empanelled as joint secretaries. While this number remained the same in 2015, it has consistently dipped since.

In 2016, the government identified 76 IAS officers for appointment at the joint secretary-level, but in 2017, the number fell to just 37.

Also read: For lateral entry, Modi government struggles to get IAS-level quality candidates

The government, instead, appears to be relying on other services for officers to fill the joint secretary-level posts.

To fill the IAS void this year, the Centre has empanelled 45 officers from the Indian Forest Service (IFS), 56 officers from the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and 70 officers from the Indian Police Service (IPS) for the posts.

This, coupled with the Centre’s decision to court private sector talent through the lateral entry route, for the same posts, has left some members of the Indian bureaucracy rather uneasy.

While empanelment of officers from other services is not a break from practice, the consistently declining number of IAS officers being picked for the joint secretary-level certainly is. For instance, in 2012 and 2013, the last two years of UPA-2, the number of IAS officers identified for appointment to the posts was 84 and 101 respectively.

Also read: Retired IAS officer takes the government to court over lateral entry move

So, is the Modi government consciously trying to dilute the IAS dominance by changing the landscape of central deputation? Or is there a shortage of IAS officers caused by what is said to be the reluctance of officers at the state level to move to Delhi and work under the Modi government?

‘A boon for other services’

For long, other services have complained of discrimination in the rules of empanelment, which favour the IAS. For instance, while IAS officers require 32 years of experience in service to be eligible for secretary-level positions in the Central government, their counterparts require over 34-35 years, before which most officers retire.

As a result, of the 81 secretary-level officers in the central government, only 15 comprise those from other non-IAS services and lateral entries.

If officers from other services are to be believed, in the last few years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given several “indications” that he is aware of this chasm.

“There has been no direct statement but there is sufficient indication that the PM is aware that talent is not restricted to the IAS alone,” a senior IRS officer said on the condition of anonymity.

“While we have consistently been demanding better representation, for the first time there seems to be a conscious effort by the government to increase our representation,” the officer added. “Modi is actively trying to break the stranglehold of the IAS at the top.”

The government’s push to other services is not limited to the post of joint secretaries alone. While UPA-2 had empanelled no more than 26 officers from all other services for the post of additional secretaries in the central government, the number has so far risen to 71 in the present government.

All notifications of empanelment of officers for the position of secretaries under the previous government are no longer available on the DoPT website, but officers say no more than 15 officers from services other than the IAS were picked for the secretary-level under UPA-2. This number has risen to 49 under the present government.

“This is not just limited to empanelment. These days, officers from other services are being appointed to important ministries too,” an IFS officer said. “See, there are status-quoist governments and there are non-status-quoist governments. This one is definitely not the first. You can argue whether it is good or bad but this is a fact.”

Limited supply of IAS officers

Some of those in the IAS say there is reluctance among their officers to come to Delhi under this government.

“The supply side is shrinking because life was much better for bureaucrats earlier,” a JS-level IAS officer said on condition of anonymity. “We had a lot more freedom to get projects through… Now, there is constant surveillance, monitoring and tremendous pressure to get stuff done quickly,” the officer added. “No bureaucrat likes to work in a pressure cooker condition.”

As a result, fewer officers want to leave their states and come to Delhi. “Earlier, for vacancies in the central government, there would be 20-25 IAS officers on the offer list… Now, for every 20 vacancies, you will find five IAS officers,” he said.

The “offer list” contains the list of officers whose states are willing to send them to the central government for service.

“It is obvious that Modi wants subservient officers,” another IAS officer alleged. “He thinks officers from lesser-known services will be able to deliver according to him.”

Moreover, there is no scope of “wrongdoing” in this government, the IRS officer said. “If any officer is found to be corrupt, they are immediately moved out… Corrupt officers are apprehensive of statements like ‘na khaunga, na khane doonga’.”

Editor’s Note: A correction has been made in this story. There are 15 secretary-level officers in the Central government from non-IAS services and lateral entries, not 24. The error is regretted.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. It certainly is a revolutionary change which will everlasting good for the country. None other than the present PM has the boldness to undertake such a step. God bless him

  2. . “If any officer is found to be corrupt, they are immediately moved out… Corrupt officers are apprehensive of statements like ‘na khaunga, na khane doonga”
    That very liberal, easy going, money minting environment is not there. There is constant watch and vigil over them. In States, if you are a boot licker of the ruling party, you can sell of a District.

  3. Our politicians need IAS officers since they are ignorant of proper administration and some of them are illlerate and have no morality why don’t you print the facts instead of playing the blame game

  4. This article is full of misconceptions:
    1. Empanelment does not lead to actual postings. In most of the cases ministers want IAS officers to be posted and not from other services who have limited field experience.
    2. Getting personnel from other services do not mean that government is utilising their professional skills. An IRS has no clue about fields like induatry, agriculture, health and so on but still get posted in these departments.
    3. Be it IAS, IPS or IRS or any other service, joint secretary level posts are leadership positions and persons manning them should have leadership qualities not technical skills (it happens in Private sector as well). IAS develop better leadership qualities not because of their intelligence alone ( which may be matched by other services) but their sheer exposure to field and leadership positions from the day they get their first posting in the state.
    4. We must also consider that in the 90s intake of IAS officers was half of current intake. Such is the shortage that two batches of IAS officers are getting empaneled together for JS and AS level

    While I agree that government should utilise the total pool of talent for manning senior positions, IAS officers still offer the best talent pool to be utilised by their political masters. Its another matter that every govt will have its own agenda which are not always noble. In the end, it is said that ‘in a democracy you get the goverment you deserve’. So vote wisely next time !!!!!!

    PS: I work in private sector but have many bureaucrat friends whom I know inside out.

    • Tell me a beaurocrate who knows better than a doctor who studied public health administration, tell me an ias who know better economics than the professor of economics, tell me an ias who knows better about atomic energy, agriculture, statistics than their domain expertise ? I wonder how can you reply without knowing? You must be a clerk in a private office that’s why your knowledge is limited,

  5. Undue previleges being enjoyed by politicians like – lifetime full income tax free pension by MCD corporators/MLA/MPs even when they serve for a very short duration unlike the common citizens .
    Rules applicable to a common citizen for pension should be applicable to politicians too.
    In Jamshedpur Sakshi vegetable vendors earns ₹.30 lakhs per year, paying tax zero.
    Enjoying all free benefits.
    Who will be blamed.
    Salary community are victims.

  6. It’s a good trend. CEO of my organization(central govt) is an IFS officer. He is an Excellent officer who undoubtedly outperforms most IAS officers of his level.

  7. They are not interested to come to centre because perks like free enjoyment of lunches and dinners, attending office at their choice n non. accountability were all absent now . All officers in all depts works under pressure only. But IAS Felt the pressure now only as nobody dares to question them. So it is a most welcome change to make them to work now at least for betterment of nation.

  8. In Jamshedpur Jharkhand, no law and order for public.
    Day light loot public valuables, ornaments, fire bullets.
    No traffic rules implemented.
    Middle of the road autorikshwas runs, pick up passengers drop.
    Parking Both side of service road Paridi NH33 to Mango bridge chocking road. Stacking construction material like iron rods, sand, stone chips on service road. On duty traffic police being public servant collects hapta vasuli, leaving openly at the cost of public. Hardly any space left for private vehicles.
    Can we get good administration in near future.

    • Plz you should find new city like bokaro,Ranchi,dumka,etc as ur wish
      Yr jitna bole rhe ho itni to prblm hai nhi Jamshedpur m..

  9. Technical post for governing techincal departments like Medical Engineering etc must be by a techincal person with long good carrier sucess in these departments as IAS officers do more harm than good to these Institutions. Even IAS with basic degree in these filed like BE or MBBS is not enough to have a good developmental vision. Any techincal department needs a vreat vision to become compititive so governmebt should take faculties on deputation (without making them loose thier jobs) for 2_3 years and govern these department a d can see the result in next 5_6 years a d compare with tbat by IAS cadre.

  10. A few %age r really back bone to the nation. Surviving our country on them only.
    But majority edicted for greedy, encourage corruption to politicians and other executives in the office. Exploiting public to provide services. Do job for mafias.

    State level, Collectors or Dy. Commissioners of a district in Jharkhand need motivation to work honestly for public.
    Not to enjoy powers like kings or so in-laws to corporates.
    Jharkhand is the worst victim. Highly corrupt. NH33 Ranchi to Tata like paddy field. The most widest NH. Advance riad tax paid by us but no roads.
    Bjp ruled, two CMs from Jamshedpur.
    Thousands fatal, a lot damage.
    Let us motivate to develop our infrastructure, provide roads, medical, education.

  11. IAS officers are not the last word.They are thinking that they are the wheels of government.Right from under secretary to cabinet secretary, promotion must be done according to their work, honesty,non corrupted, action taken to the subordinate who corrupted to oust from service. Their prime motive should be served the people as they are getting all things from the taxes collected from people by various methods. So they are not masters but the people. How many IAS officers think of that. It is all because that in our democracy no educational qualification and age, experience fixed for ministers. So in many cases ministers have to depend on officers.

  12. This government is like a child that wants everything all at once. A child will not listen to reason. It will not take no for an answer. The bureaucracy have not been able to fulfil the wild dreams of this government for they gave to follow transparent processes, be fair to everyone for which they have to follow time tested rules. This government has promised too much that it is unable to deliver. They have always needed yesmen. They need them more now. When they came to power they promised the moon in five years. Three years into their term they realised it takes at least 7 years from the drawing board to production, even if things worked like clockwork. So they set the clock back to 2022. They used PSEs, which have less stringent control measures, to do their work in the social sector – from building toilets, to reviving bankrupt fertilizer companies, to generating jobs, to appointing apprentices; the list goes on and on. The major chunk of money, man-hours and time of PSEs is now going into fulfiling the wild wishes of this government, who again like children, come up with a new one, every second. Since some of the tightrope walking PSE chiefs, who have only 2 or 3 years to go and who can and do say yes to every whim of this government, knowing that wouldn’t remain to see the fallout of their commitments, they powers that be were taken in by their efficiency. So this government now wants to induct yes-men from the bureaucracy. On another point, I read some of the comments above. Some do hate the IAS. There are some rotten eggs there too like everywhere. But good ones one doesn’t see. They work quietly aligned to their responsibilities to the Republic and Constitution. Some of the above comments are obviously from bhakta, who have no idea what it is to work within a government. Well, all are welcome. But this government needs to be exposed for the wild adolescents that they are. That may not happen immediately. But it will happen in time.

  13. When IAS lobby was thick on top layer of India govt for decades, India progressed not at a faster rate, the atmosphere was not so surcharged with so much instability and law and order so worse. They ruled with iron hand and with justice. With their central control gone, elected public leaders with no sense of civility or any regard for country are serving their own interests. Being at the top level, it was very difficult for foreign powers to impregnate India’s sovereignty. By diluting that ironclad security, Modi has played havoc with sovereignty and replaced with mediocre bureaucrats from lower ranks. Now easy to sell India.

  14. Modi is very much clever..he do corruption but in a scientific way…he is like Hitler too..that’s why curbing all ias posts.. my husband in power sector there’s so much corruption at higher gm Ed level…it was there before 2014 and still persists ..Modi and his ministry done nothing..instead they forced CEO to collect fund and donate in bjp party….so devil..and just this before election they transferred my husband a remote site as he is a honest person..really an exceptional hard working.. from his corporate office to quizzed more fund from power grid to meet up their bjp party expanses of their thousands or crores of cadres who will beat the fake propaganda of Modi in different social networking site and bullying the person and threatening them whoever oppose them

  15. As soon as congress govt was dislodged and Modiji took charge I had tweeted or posted that if he was really interested in all encompassing development he should reduce/remove the strangle hold of IAS officers in the governance. IAS officers had occupied posts for which they had no knowledge and were only capable of extortion and dadagiri. Imagine one day he was chairman of seri culture and next day chairman of Chennai port and after few years may be Secretary to the ministry of defence terrorising the generals.
    I am sure Modiji did not read my post but had similar ideas and has taken the right action.

  16. Happy to read this story. Bottom line is neither is Modi corrupt nor does he let others in bureaucracy be corrupt. That’s really great news for the people of the country..

  17. It was interesting to read what an IAS Officer said “IAS do not like to work in pressure cooker condition”. But they make everybody else to work in pressure cooker conditions. Not only that. They add liberal tadka of insults, humiliation and demoralising. They degrade professionals and public alike.

  18. There is deliberate transition taking place in the beuraucracy at the centre. The message is loud and clear. More varied the talent more efficient will be the system. Gone are the days that babus enjoyed all with least effort!

  19. The initiative to open more JS / AS / Secretary level posts to services other than the IAS is praiseworthy, welcome, long overdue. A difference of a few marks in a competitive exam should not cause permanent stunting of the career prospects of members belonging to other services. They have a different set of experiences and expertise, would enrich decision making at the apex of government.

  20. Among many distructive methods the British used to capture, loot and rule India, this system yield them the most. It’s pitiable that we have not realized that India will never progress in this system of bureaucracy headed by the Babus. Government if serious about this surgical strick against the most organized bureaucrats mafia, we can surely will hope our nation is in its right path.

  21. Boldness of Modiji bothered a lot for the corrupts in all sphere n hence there is hue n cry all around – Modi Hatao – a Modi hate campaign.

  22. Though I do not agree to other actions /policies of Modi Government, this was a necessity of the country as in most of the key technical posts of experts of subject domain like health, engineering, agriculture, water supply IT etc have been encroached by IAS cadre in states and harassing the technocrats in their work and carrier progression even by doing criminal acts

  23. as it goes private establishments will train and supply required officers for government work

  24. Why Modi Gov reduced the IAS officers to 11 only? BJP, RSS are asking Modi Gov to hand pick officers, who are loyal to hindutva, RSS and BJP policy and off course from Brahmin class.
    Modi will ruin India before going away from power in 2019.
    He is a dangerous vampire and an evil spirit.

    • Illiteracy is the bane and looks like your opinion has roots in it. Just because you hate Modi for a reason best known to you and to the many who can read between your lines you cannot question the real intentions behind his actions. It’s disgusting, your hackneyed views.

    • Sure. Because he saw through the game of conversion by Christian missionaries and closed sham NGOs aiding them.

  25. It is abundantly clear. The last statement says it all. There is no scope for corruption so, nobody wants to go. If it were taken as an opportunity to serve and if the bureaucrats wanted to do, there wouldn’t have been this thinking. Being used to amazing wealth wherever they can while placating their equal lu corrupt electric representative boses, in a regime functioning differently obvious lu there is a vacuum.

  26. This probably is the most significant change Modi is bringing about. If this country has not progressed as it should have, it is because the good intents and policies have not been implemented. The problem has been of delivery. The IAS have been the people who have been assigned to deliver the policies of the government to the people. But what they have done is to carve out a cosy life for themselves full of power, perks, benefits without any answerability.
    But Modi has realized this devious game of the IAS. He can not at once put a stop to it, because he knows very well how much power is in their hands and how much damage they can do. So he is tightening the noose gradually. Now no IAS wants a central posting because there’s no more pelf and power, rather their is responsibility to deliver, which they just don’t like. So Modi is gradually opening gates for other central services and people from corporate world, which the IAS people don’t like. There is great resistance. We shall continue to see the road blocks and devious game in future.

  27. As usual , once again, a biased bunch of words, doesn’t make sense to critical readers. Knowing the importance of traditional knowledge of IAS cadre, who have been appreciated by people in power cutting across the parties, Modi Government also takes care of its administration using the same treasure of Talented IAS officers.

    • What is the traditional knowledge of an IAS? Arts graduate deciding steel or mining policies. So you see several laws being made without the appreciation of the technology and reality, which then takes several years to undo, that too after suffering loss to the nation, and retarded growth. Wonder how an IAS becomes an expert of civil aviation, finance, agriculture, steel, surface transport, art & culture, etc all in one go just by clearing a UPSC exam. The whole system is flawed.

      • Well said. The bane of this country is the relentless onslaught of the civil services in a one size fits all scenario. If these bureaucrats are such super performers then India should have been a super power and an also ran. Politicians come and go, it’s the bureaucrats who have been ruling our country and selling us all these years.

      • That is why our India is lagging far behind in every directions in comparison to other developed countries.

    • IAS cadre for that matter any all India cadre represent a bunch of non professional people holding all important position in the Government and spoiling all administrative effort Of The Govt because of their lack of domain knowledge. Harshamoy mukherjee

  28. The IAS is like parthenium weed. Once it gets foothold, it spreads without any limit and removes all other vegetation. Thus it gets exclusive hold. I think the despotic supremacy in government has not brought any changes in the society for the past seventy years in spite of its monopoly. Now it is time to bring in professionals in the government instead of this moribund blinkered file pushers who always think of their next promotion.

  29. It is good to read that the govt is putting pressure on beaurocrats to perform. Efficient & honest people always have to perform under pressure. If corruption is checked, the same should be appreciated. Hope this govt also checks undue previledges being enjoyed by politicians like lifetime full income tax free pension by MCD corporators/MLA/MPs even when they serve for a very short duration unlike the common citizens . Rules applicable to a common citizen for pension should be applicable to politicians too. The undue subsidy to parliament canteen for meals to members is a unnecessary burden to the Exchequer. This must stop as MPs are very well paid according to pay scales fixed by themselves. Modi ji must put a stop to such undue benefits to politicians too as they claim to be honest servants of the Nation.

  30. I think the last statement is probably the main reason for the officers to not go! Am amazed the writer did not examine that in more detail!

Comments are closed.

Most Popular