excerpts from an article by Srivatsa Krishna IAS
- One of the few institutions created by the British, which has survived the test of time in more ways than one, and yet had some notable failures is the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
- The classic Westminster model, on which the IAS is founded, postulated that while politicians would debate and legislate policy, the civil service would execute it.
- IAS urgently needs reform if it is not to become increasingly irrelevant to development or be co-opted by the corrupt.
- IAS must not be a lifetime appointment. Initial appointment should be for 15 years.
- very officer's performance should be evaluated by a constitutional authority such as the UPSC
- evaluation should be based on a 360-degree kind of appraisal
- Inputs should be sought from everyone — superiors, peers, subordinates and clients. The World Bank and the UK's bureaucracy successfully follow this system.
- Those who do not make the grade could stay on at the same level, pay and position for three years, after which the commission would evaluate them again. Else they can take their VRS and leave
- If the officer does make the grade, he can be hired through a competitive process on seven year contracts, with specific performance targets.
- The terms of the contract should incentivize performance. Their accountability should be to the result, not just to the process.
- there must be quick and visible punishment for deviant officers
- They must be punished and removed from the service after a fair and speedy trial.
- Recently, Himachal Pradesh removed two officers ; Tamil Nadu did so too a few years ago after they were convicted of corruption.
- promotions in the IAS continue to be based on a mix of seniority and merit and the latter is evaluated in a very subjective way.
- Natural incentive for an honest officer is to shun initiative and try not to make decisions, to sign every file only after 20 others have signed it.
- E Sreedharan broke with procedure to give Delhi a world-class Metro. There are several CAG reports on his violations but had he not taken the initiative to violate procedure, the Metro would not have been completed in time and under budget.
- unless the all-India conduct rules and their implementation become more nuanced and less mechanical, initiative will be stifled and officers will be prevented from leaving the system to learn modern tools, gather rich global experience and return.
- Officers will become frogs in the well rather than eagles in the sky.
- The IAS is merely one subsect of Indian society and reflects both the bright sparks and its problems.