New Delhi: The Modi government’s plan to merge the recruitment exam for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) with the civil services could lead to an end to the long-standing animosity between the forces, and finish the culture of silos in which IPS and CAPF officers work, several officers said.
According to a PTI report, the Centre is finalising a proposal to change the scheme of the UPSC test for recruitment of entry-level paramilitary forces’ officers in order to merge it with the coveted civil services examination that selects IAS and IPS officers.
As of now, CAPF officers above the level of assistant commandants are recruited through the Central Armed Police Forces (assistant commandants) Examination conducted by the UPSC. This exam is separate from the Civil Service Examination (CSE) also conducted by the UPSC.
The proposal comes almost a year after CAPFs — the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Border Security Force (BSF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) – were granted the Organised Group A Service status by the Supreme Court.
The OGAS status allows these forces better prospects for promotion, pay, command and deputation of its officers at par with their IPS counterparts.
“It would be a very good move if the government goes through with this proposal… Just like they merged all the railway services to end the culture of working in silos, this sort of merger can go a long way in ironing out differences between CAPFs and IPS officers,” a senior CAPF officer said. “At the end of it, most of the hostility of IPS officers towards CAPF officers comes from the fact that they see us as inferior.”
“If we are selected through the same exam, this twice-born attitude of the IPS will be addressed,” the officer added.
Much to the chagrin of the CAPF officers, IPS officers, deputed to the paramilitary forces, have long argued that they are more equipped to lead the CAPFs as they have come to the service through a highly competitive exam.
While they have used this argument to bat for continued deputation of the IPS in CAPFs — the matter is still sub judice – the government’s proposal to induct CAPF officers through the same exam as the IPS could put an end to this tussle.
Retired IPS officer Neeraj Kumar also said that the proposal is a welcome one. “It is a good idea… If CAPF officers are recruited through the same exam as IPS, they can be promoted to the IPS at some point also,” Kumar, who retired as the commissioner of Delhi police, said.
“Since the civil service exam is such a highly competitive one, CAPF officers who come through it will have the requisite rigour and quality,” he added. “In the long-run, it will end these hierarchies between forces and services.”
The silo culture
The resolve to end the culture of working in silos is something that the Modi government has spoken of several times. Addressing the fresh batch of civil servants in Gujarat last year, PM Narendra Modi had said, “The presence of silos and hierarchy does not help our system. Whoever we are, wherever we are, we have to work together for the nation.”
Then again while merging all eight railway services into one, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had said that the move was necessitated due to all the railway services working in silos, and in turn, hampering the growth of the railways as an organisation.
However, serving IPS officers have raised several concerns regarding the proposal.
“Our worry is not that IPS deputation will be affected by this proposal – that matter is still sub judice – but there are other issues,” said a senior IPS officer. “To begin with, CAPFs are given several immunities under military style laws… Are they ready to give them up?” he asked. “They cannot be both military and civil servants.”