Former finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg (right) who offered to resign from the premier service in July 2019. | ANI
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New Delhi: The spate of resignations from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in the last few weeks has left the fraternity curious, divided and worried.

In July, former finance secretary Subhash Garg offered to resign from the government soon after he was abruptly shunted out from the finance ministry — a move that was seen as a “protest resignation” by some of his colleagues in the service.

Then, in August, G. Kannan, a young officer of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre 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 for being posted to the Northeast.

Warning signs

While the resignations may be too few to be called a trend just yet, they have become the talking point among civil servants, with most within the fraternity convinced that they are early “warning signs”.

“At least two officers have resigned publicly stating that there is a crisis of conscience,” said retired IAS officer T.R. Raghunandan. “We ought to sit up and take notice.”

What makes the resignations unusual is that the officers have not left the service for better avenues in the private sector, but instead left what was a very secure future to follow their ethical calling, he pointed out. “They won’t even get their pensions…They’re putting a lot at stake,” Raghunandan said.

K.B.S. Sidhu, a senior Punjab cadre officer agreed. “It is too early to call it a trend, but these are early signs that the IAS Association, the government, DoPT, etc. should take note of,” he said. “It cannot be ignored because this kind of a public statement of why one is resigning and how their voice is being stifled is new,” Sidhu said.

Stifling conduct rules

While officers admit that several of them have left the lucrative service for better opportunities in the private sector or to join politics in the past, seldom have they quit over “national issues” that are beyond the scope of their domain.

“Also, their resignations highlight the issue of Conduct Rules once again,” said Sidhu. “Whether or not by their very nature, Conduct Rules can constitutionally be regarded as a ‘reasonable restriction’ on the fundamental right of the freedom of speech and expression, is an issue which has not been tested legally.”

The rules governing the conduct of India’s bureaucracy largely ensure that officers do not divulge confidential information or criticise government policy, and remain politically neutral.

“It is not like I didn’t know of the Conduct Rules before I joined the service,” said Kannan. “But right now, I felt that my freedom of expression is more important than delivering my service…I understand that the rules are there, that is why I’ve left the service, and am not criticising while staying in it.”

“I think the space for dissent is shrinking, and that is not good for the economy, society democracy or polity of this country,” he added. “One cannot make greed, fear of administrative action or trolling censor ourselves.”

Following his resignation from the service, Kannan has faced a lot of trolling and criticism, even from some peers with the civil services. Some have argued that officers should remain concerned with their own job, and do what is in their control efficiently and responsibly.

“It is not like their resignation will change anything,” said an IAS officer who did not want to be named. “As officers, we are given specific areas of work…When we are uncomfortable with something, we can express ourselves in file notings, but other than that, we should use the opportunity given to us to do our best.”

Serving the nation

Another IAS officer pointed out that a lot of times, the officers who leave the service do so on account of personal and professional dissatisfaction. “While taking the UPSC exam, middle class people feel this is their best bet to share power… When they come into the service, they realise there is no actual power, no scope to innovate or change things, especially nowadays,” he said.

“This causes a lot of resentment. Especially, if you are not given field postings, you are reduced to glorified clerks, signing and passing files. The ambitious ones feel frustrated.”

The officer took the example of Mittal, who resigned over being transferred to the Northeast. “While taking the UPSC exam, everyone says they want to serve the nation… The Northeast is part of the nation too, why not serve there?” the officer asked. “These are the lesser talked about issues of the bureaucracy…When young officers get posted to remote parts of the country, they face a lot of frustration, and not everyone copes.”

Silence of the association

While officers remain divided over whether resigning from the service is the correct way if one feels ethically or professionally disoriented in the service, the silence of the IAS Association has alarmed many.

“I want to put it on record that the IAS Association has become completely spineless,” Raghunandan said. “How can they not speak up when young, talented officers from their service are leaving citing these problems?”

ThePrint reached the IAS Association for a comment, but it declined to comment on the issue just yet.


Also read: Subhash Garg resignation has few precedents — last senior officer quit 33 years ago


 

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43 Comments Share Your Views

43 COMMENTS

  1. We are in a democracy since independence, 15-08-1947, more than seven decades, our aspirations have changed for better quality life with good governance. But , unfortunately, the mindset of rules continues to the hangover British colonial rule. As r ujlers impose restrictions on IAS cadre, let rulers also have similar restrictions, so as to the whole system goverance is balanced, and tilted to once side. The recent resignations is symptom of cancer, it would spread whole bnody, if not diagnosied early as prevention, then cure would be impossible later. So, in summary, follow the thumb rule, ” prevent in early stage than cure later, when it would be beyond control. A worthy discussion woth for exchange knowledge and not fo argument for argument sake. We are all equal the same aspirations to contribute our mite for nation building to improve quality life for our masses.

  2. if those things will be continued this way ,then those days are not very away when almost all sector and almost section of societies will be devide on the basis of orientation toward the govt and non- orientation toward and lead to the authoritarian regime in our beloved country and would establish a new kind India based on undemocratic, unethical and deprived from almost all fundamental rights .

  3. They are under much pressure to perform. Have to deal with the local politicians who want them to perform their works, without any hitches. They don’t have any privacy 24 x 7. They are on the job constantly. They don’t have a family life. They are strangers to their wife and kids. They have no say in any matter. That is why it is no longer a coveted job any more.

  4. Anyone who is a part of a large employer like the Government should expect that he will not be very independent. Can a person act according to his conscience in private sector? From experience, I know it is impossible. One has to be loyal to the employer’s goals, or quit. These resignations of younger officers seems like piqued response to some unpleasant experience. Anyway, IAS officers are too generalists. I have come across some, who head PSUs, who hardly know the business of the company they lead. They are totally dependent on the advise given by their subordinates. Some try to act independently without understanding the business of the organisation they head and leave a mess behind. This is an age of specialisation. Probably, number of IAS posts should be reduced. Government seems to be mulling introducing stricter rules for resignation. But, how long an unwilling person be retained, and expected to do a good job?

  5. Resignation due to posting in North East better be ignored. Resignation of Gopinathan Kannan:- His conscience never pricked when Article 370 was usurped to drive out Kashmiri Pandits, induct Rohingyas, Uighur Muslims, ignore Ladakh etc.
    The lockdown for good is fought unjustifiably whereas when terrorists enforced it these people were mute spectators.

  6. It is all just publicity stunt. Don’t they know before or at the time of choosing IAS what they can do? They are not do naive or innocent. Perhaps they would have thought they can rule the world. Poor guys. Nothing is list if few Mavericks leave. Rest of the people, most corrupt and masters of the art of file-pushing are there to loot the nation.

  7. This had to happen. Those who have dealt with IAS officers in the last 3 decades will express their clear views about the poor knowledge, low dedication, poor sincerity and bad approach towards all aspects of their work. Majority of the officers have been pushed to the places of importance by the corrupt politicians to achieve their personal goals. The officers have supported and helped the politicians in return. Give and take. I have dealt with the IAS fraternity for almost 15 years is different roles.
    At last a govt with clear goals, targets, approaches, sincerity and honesty is here. The IAS officers are being seen under a lens. It’s good for the country. The real bad ones must be thrown out, average ones should be warned to improve, best ones should be recognized. It should be made public. Are we looking for better days, more efficient ones ?

  8. It is an assumption that the resignations were based on some “higher calling” of service to the nation”. In some cases, it’s clearly a misplaced notion of entitlement. On what basis can an IAS officer question his posting, just because it is to the North East…….if he was so conscientious, he would have grabbed the opportunity to make a change, where it is both needed and where it matters. Resignations on the grounds of being passed over or not getting the Dept, of choice are all symptoms of our inefficient and spoilt bureaucracy, living on the notion of power and corruption.

  9. Good way to get out of public service as there is no power. If these people have moral values they should understand their training etc is with public money and the can’t waste it this way. Same applies to all jnu s

  10. They must be getting more money, I think because there are no dearth of people to give them crores such that the government is in trouble. Supporters of Islamic State have a lot of money to purchase thousands and their future will be obviously secure. Now, there is no fear of another demonetisation. 500 crores for these IAS is nothing which will give them a lot of pension. Even in Britain protests are going on. Convert Kashmir into an Islamic State. Divide India. And some of the media are there to carry on. India is not China. So, you can do anything with impunity, you just need the backing of monetary power from some source.

  11. It is really surprising young officers suddenly realised that they do not have freedom to express or democratic building blocks being demolished or someone who is accustomed to city life do not want to be transferred to remote parts of India. It is, on the hand force one think about what could be the reasons. I am not evaluating the individuals under reference. Definitely they may have valid reasons and should spell out the same in public so that public, on whose name they accepted Civil Services, will come to and can assess the reality. Since three days I have reading articles under caption _Express Network_ publishing realtime stories of civil servants who have done excellent job in their respective districts or state like MP, J&K and Assam. These civil servants have been honoured by the said Newspaper for their great works. Columnists should also highlight such stories. Further, how one believe that J&K was peaceful since many decades and suddenly had become a hell. Were there not bandhs, protests, shutdowns of schools, commercial establishments called by various groups. Was there not violation of human rights, freedom of speech, dissent etc. disturbing pieace and loss of lives. Please give us some historical perspectives. If you say that State cannot be repressive but maintain law and order but no words on disruptive and anarchic ways of separatists. Please enlighten readers on this count.

  12. Before entering the All India Services, many candidates will have high ambitions to enter the Services to bring about changes in admn and to serve people to best possible extent. But in the field they come to experience lot of pressure from politicians, peers and circumdtances so as to compromise their cherished values and goals. Even officers of considerable seniority are not exception to this as we have seen some of them toeing the lines of politicians like Ministers resulting in having to face enquiries, disciplinary actions and even facing jail terms. Upright officers are sidelined without being placed in right positions befitting their skills and efficiency.
    In this background, they should be allowed to be outspoken about implementation of Govt policies vis-a-vis their role. There should be unbiased evaluation of their performance while considering their postings and promotions, besides an assurance of allowing them to perform their duties devoid of pressures and pulls from any quarters, which will encourage them to achieve goals set to them.

  13. We still follow the legacy left behind by the British. Best available talent is inducted into IAS every year but how many of them have justified their talent. Once they are into it, they have to unlearn to come down to the level of mediocrity. The system and the service rules inhibit the proper exhibition of their talent. With time they grow wiser and choose to be part of the herd. Wastage of national talent which was required only for the purpose of clearing the CSE and not thereafter.

  14. They’re white elephants of a corrupt and inefficient burocracy.They are burden on the nation.They must have amassed huge wealth due to their official position.They are sure to join Private companies or start their own company.No one reports what they do later.The media never tracks them anymore.

  15. i want them to resign en masse. these corrupt, unethical guys who are worse than politicians are keeping India from being developed. please resign even by citing your fake moral and conscience arguments. it would do nation good. GoI should take help of professional experts. there is a Bhojpuri saying : “Murga na hoyi toh bhihan na hoi ka”

  16. One thing is sure that most of the officers who are quitting are from professional background. Say, BE, BTech, MBBS, MBA etc. They lack sustainability and get confused as their professional counter parts are tend to change jobs frequently for the sake of money. So, it’s right time to introduce a professional degree specifically to become civil servants like MBBS to become a doctor.

  17. Looks like this is the emergence of the “Resignation gang” after the likes of the “Award wapasi” and “Tuke-tukde” gangs…

  18. Good these guys Resign on emotive issues
    They can’t handle pressure
    Seen IAS officers who stood tall against all odds and remained balanced

  19. The corrupt, the power hungry, the incompetent, and the careerists will never leave the service even if they are threatened with murder.

  20. Let’s not comment now, wait for one year, you will find them working for a company with fat salary or joining some party. Why have they not done earlier, Modi and team is in power since 2014. India has seen such drama by so called writers or many returning awards etc. Just wait wait wait. Let the government work. Yes Congress & opposition will roll crocodile tears for them.

  21. IAS officers are resigning primarily beceause of Art 370 ; also citizens are being deprived of rights in Kashmir. They say they are unable to tolerate Govt moves on such lines.
    Not one of them talks of Kashmiri Pandits terrorised , killed and driven out of their homes and forced to settle elsewhere.
    I want to ask – on whose side are you with.
    Pakistan ?
    Better you resign. Its good.Someone more loyal to the tricolor will take your place.
    JAI HIND !

  22. Bureaucracy is one of the most corrupt institutions in our country. Top officers have taken bribes to the tune of crores of rupees and this thing goes on everyday below and over the table in front of all junior and senior officers, clerks and staff. Everyone in the system knows it and yet no one resigned from their posts because of ethical compulsions in all these years. Maybe this resignation dramas are not as simple as they look on the outside.

  23. Which side of the table you occupied seat for protecting the public interest matters ….in hierarchical ( contrary to horizontal type listening ) administration practice under CCS CCA rules 1965. Superior can do no wrong is the admn pipe line might have experienced by them during their service on seat.

  24. Where were these so called IAS champions when ethnic cleansing was carried out in Valley by the so called people of Valley. Why they never protested against the congress establishment which was appeasing a particular religion & are still doing at the cost of country. We are from Jammu Region & are still suffering being pro Indians even in the hands of BJP to please Abdullah & Mufti.
    These people misguided the Valley People right from 1947 and never allowed them to be integrated with India. Kashmiris were peace loving but politics & fundamentalism from Bengal UP & Bihar who never left India for Pakistan although they supported the creation. Government of India Ruled by Congress through Back Door enacted 370, but now the same Parliament removed it which is OK. But 35 A must stay for our Identity.

  25. Today’s youth want a bounty but does not dare to face challenges in life.North India is very much part of India and these officers must come out of their respective comfort zones

  26. Such people belong to JNU ideology , Enemy supporters . Psychological test should be must for Civil services . JNU type institutions where people are taught antinational approach should be shut immediately .

  27. It seems those who left the service are frustrated due to shrinkage in the opportunity to make money at the top level and the increase in working hours,responsibility and accountability.Earlier during Congress and UPA rule above were not there and these officers in league with political class minted the money by damaging the system.

  28. A division between chaploos officers and non Chaploos officers among IAS fraternity w.r.to National interest within constitutional frame is now appearing on Public plateform. Can their services and National loyalty be held deficient and doubtful for ATR ?

  29. Leave now than later. Others want these coveted jobs. Join the private sector and become Mr. Nobody with huge responsibility but higher cash but no benefits.

  30. It is surprise to know that one IAS officer resigned while he was posted to North East India. Then he talked about the shrinking space for expression. It apperas that to avoid NE posting , he is resigning. Till the time he was posted to as per his choice, everything was fine for him but suddenly lot of hurdles to work. I feel if any officer want to work for people, he contribute more when he is posted to difficilt areas where there are many opportunities to deliver. But it is highly unfortunate that todays young officers working in most of the service hesitate to go to remote areas. There is need to take some measures to ensure this.

  31. This is temptation towards politics. Sooner or later just like Mr. Faisal of J&K cadre, they are likely to join politics.

    May also join private sector.

  32. No great deal being an IAS…
    It was always the same all the while. Just that the media plays a BIG role in these matters now. Most survive; some don’t. The inner core of the IAS is worse than what Kannan has said about freedom and free speech… There’s no such thing recognized within the IAS. It’s glorified slavery in there. I have been there…

  33. I think as of now the UAS officers association is headless and in limbo. Normal circumstances is different from unusual happening. The line need to be drawn. Best example is emergency if 1975. May be an undeclared or camaflaged emergency or chilling of individual freedom that matters a lot.

    • Those who couldnt win elections and whose ideology is thrown in the dustbin by the electorate will find there to be “emergency” and “fascism” and “dictatorship”, “danger to democracy” , etc.- this is because there is a belief that their ideology has a birthright to rule India forever even if nobody likes it!

      The public is sick and tired of these award wapasi and now service waapsi gangs – they have become a joke and an object of contempt. Trying to exercise executive power without a mandate is the definition of “anti-democratic”. Yet that is biggest pain point for these KTP officers.
      Ideological zelots should not get selected in the first place. So good riddance.

      Lastly 2 juniors resigned and association that represents over 10,000 is supposed to jump and make a statement ? Thats delusional self-importance, even for a IAS waala..

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