After nine years in civil services, Kashmiri IAS officer Shah Faesal quit to join politics. In a social media post, Faesal said he took the decision “to protest the unabated killings in Kashmir and absence of any credible political initiative.”
ThePrint asks: Shah Faesal quits IAS: Right for officers to join politics early or wait till retirement?
Shah Faesal’s statement shows an ugly reality where bureaucrats feel silenced
Retd IAS officer
Shah Faesal’s resignation tells us some very grave truths about the system. One of them is about the status quo in Kashmir and the sense of insecurity felt by the Muslim population in the rest of the country as well. Shah is a young, promising, articulate individual, and made for an excellent IAS officer. The kind of potential and calibre he brings to the table is immense and the system only stands to benefit from it. His words come from a place of hurt and helplessness.
His statement also shows us the ugly reality—bureaucrats feel silenced. Perhaps they think the environment is not conducive enough to affect much change. His resignation is a big loss for the bureaucracy, even if it may be a big gain to politics.
He is sacrificing a secure profession for what is a big gamble. Surely, he is an ambitious and smart fellow. He has been hounded in the past as well for his comments and remarks on social media. All these are factors may have played a role in his resignation.
While there is no doubt that his future will continue to remain bright and he can reach great heights in politics, this is surely very demoralising for the bureaucracy. More than anything else, it is his reasons behind quitting that are very disturbing and a wake-up call for all of us.
Maintaining ideals is not easy in politics, but a determined person can always contribute to nation
Retd IAS officer
When getting into the IAS (or any of the civil services), almost none of the new entrants are aware of what lies in store for them. Nor are there any specific tests at the entry-level or any orientation programmes for the suitability of the new entrant to be judged. Not just politics, the young entrant may soon discover that she/he is more suited for a career in business or the social sector. Hence, an early exit to pursue a more rewarding calling could yield a much better return to society.
If it is going to be politics, it makes far more sense to leave the civil services earlier rather than later. Although lacking in public service experience, the enthusiasm and energy of the young civil servant may be far more useful in these times of rapid change than the cautious approach of the retired veteran, conditioned over the years to stick to tried and tested solutions.
Maintaining ideals is not easy in the rough and tumble of politics. Nor is there any guarantee of immediate success. But as long as the person is imbued with an ingrained spirit of service to her/his fellow humans and is firmly wedded to the principles of constitutional democracy, she/he can definitely contribute to the nation and its citizens in different capacities.
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The question of civil servants joining politics has been a topic of debate for a long time. The fact that the IAS officers have such close interaction with politicians further complicates the question. One of the major points against IAS officer’s leaving service to join politics is to do with the time, effort and resources put into training and grooming IAS officers, and whether that is wasted once they leave. In my opinion, we miss the larger picture.
Almost all those who join the IAS are intelligent, dynamic and motivated individuals. They join the service to make a positive impact on the country. They can continue to do so even after leaving the service, sometimes doing more than they could while they were in the system.
The rules of the civil service and strict procedures followed by the government are in place to ensure equality and impartiality. But often these rules become an obstacle to achieving the very goal that those in the service set out to attain. In times like these, when there is an attack on the basic values of the Constitution and the country, it is not surprising that smart and passionate people have a hard time staying within the service and want to serve the nation through other avenues.
Important thing is while serving as an IAS officer, one shouldn’t be biased in any way
IAS officer, batch of 2015
Everyone joins the civil services to contribute to the nation. But if a civil servant in the middle of his/her tenure starts feeling that s/he would contribute better as a politician, then what is wrong with that. Ultimately, it is his/her prerogative to decide the career path. The idea that one must wait till retirement to join politics is not set in stone.
That said, the important thing is that while serving as an IAS officer, one shouldn’t be biased in any way. As long as nothing points to evidence of them being prejudiced in any manner, it’s alright to join a political party after quitting. One cannot speculate whether or not they were laying ground for their entry in politics while being in the services. It is important that they were ethical and honest in their decision-making in bureaucracy.
As for Shah Faesal’s reasons behind quitting, not much can be said. I haven’t been in his shoes, and I haven’t worked in Kashmir. He is best equipped to understand the place. In this country, we love to point fingers and dictate major life decisions to other people.
Shah Faesal’s reasons for quitting seem perfectly legitimate
Retd IAS officer
I believe it’s a matter of personal choice. Shah Faesal feels really strongly about certain things and has decided to show a spine and follow his conscience. This is a quality we must appreciate.
I know for a fact that there are plenty of issues in the services and many civil servants feel really strongly about certain things. For instance, despite their being affirmative action for SC/ST category in the civil service examinations at the entry level, there is rampant discrimination that many from this community face throughout their service. They feel a sense of helplessness because there isn’t anyone to listen to their complaints or grievances. They silently endure everything during their entire tenure.
On the other hand, there are other civil servants who refuse to wait until their retirement to raise their voice. Shah Faesal is one such civil servant.
One may disagree with his reasons for quitting. Personally, I find his reasons perfectly legitimate. Kashmir is not just a piece of land — people reside in Kashmir. The atrocities committed on the Kashmiris are inexcusable. We are alienating the Kashmiris while simultaneously calling Kashmir an integral part of the country. This is a contradiction.
Shah Faesal has been doing some excellent work in the education sector in Kashmir, and his resignation is a loss to the services. But if he thought he cannot do justice to his work, then this was the right thing to do.
By Fatima Khan, journalist at ThePrint. You can follow her on twitter @khanthefatima.