Seventh pay panel questions sole right of IAS over top posts, says 11 other services to be empanelled

Given the complexities of modern day governance, the existing system of generalists (read IAS) manning senior policy making positions and shifting from one field to another in short spans of time, is considered not just outmoded but inimical to effective policy making.

Sanjay Singh November 20, 2015 12:16:06 IST
Seventh pay panel questions sole right of IAS over top posts, says 11 other services to be empanelled

The Seventh Pay Commission has handed a financial bonanza to Central government employees and sent a strong message to dismantle the present hierarchy that is heavily loaded on the side of seniority over performance.

The report says "Civil servants today need to be focused on outcomes, not processes, and have to be more accountable for delivery. They have to be agents of change and to this end need to be more agile, more technically savvy and to be able to ensure the economic and public service reforms that are essential."

A peon's starting salary has gone up by 2.54 times to Rs 18,000 per month and topmost bureaucrat, the cabinet secretary would now draw Rs 2.5 lakh per month plus other perks costing a total of Rs 1,02,000 crore to the exchequer. But there are reasons for the most coveted of the All India Services, officers from Indian Administrative Services (IAS) to read the report carefully because it recommends a tectonic shift in the way the higher bureaucracy functioned.

Seventh pay panel questions sole right of IAS over top posts says 11 other services to be empanelled

The Chairman of the Seventh Pay Commission, Justice A.K. Mathur submitted its report to the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley, in New Delhi on 19 November 2015. Image courtesy PIB

Dismantling of superiority in the officialdom has form long been demand of officers drawn from non-IAS officers. The pay panel though does not say that in as many words but talks about need for a paradigm shift.

The report says "Civil servants today need to be focused on outcomes, not processes, and have to be more accountable for delivery. They have to be agents of change and to this end need to be more agile, more technically savvy and to be able to ensure the economic and public service reforms that are essential."

The chairman of Seventh Pay Commission justice Ashok Mathur and member Rathin Roy suggest that in the present scenario, it is keenly felt that there needs to be a paradigm shift and the methodology that has been adopted in the past, namely of a seniority driven approach within the various services, has to be revisited. With the role of government in development and in making the country a market driven, investor friendly economy, key functionaries who should be evolving policy and driving the development process should be ones who have the requisite domain knowledge and sufficient experience in the departments and areas that they are required to head.

"In this context, that the service related claims for any top position are not relevant anymore, and what is important is that the right person is selected for every job. The analysis and the recommendations in the paragraphs that follow reflect this approach," they say.

The approach suggested by this committee was that the skills and background of officers be carefully matched to the requirements of particular positions, while not confining individual officers to narrowly defined tasks or sectors. It was recommended that eleven domains (other than IAS) be identified and as part of the empanelment process at joint secretary and additional secretary levels each officer's domain expertise be specifically identified.

Given the complexities of modern day governance, the existing system of generalists (read IAS) manning senior policy making positions and shifting from one field to another in short spans of time, is considered not just outmoded but inimical to effective policy making.

Justice Mathur writes in his concluding note "that the main cause for resentment among services is that over a period of time IAS has arrogated to itself all power of governance and relegated all other services to secondary position. All posts covering majority of domains are today manned by IAS, be it a technical or administrative which is the main cause of grievance. It is time that government take a call that subject domain should be the criteria to man the posts and not a generalist. If fair and equitable treatment is not given to all Services, then the gap between IAS and other services will widen and it may lead to a chaotic situation and it will not be good for the governance and country."

In the present bureaucratic set up of a total of 91 secretaries, IAS officers occupy 73, scientists 10, Indian Police Service 1, Indian Legal Service 2, Indian Information Service 1. At Additional Secretary and joint secretary level posts, the IAS virtually monopolise. The Pay Commission recommends dismantling of existing system to be more inclusive and more transparent in selection process.

A member, Vivek Rae a former IAS officer, however, disagrees with chairman and economist Member. Rae argues for continuance of IAS officers unflinching superiority in the babudom.

Rae is of the view that "the observations made by the panel’s Chairman call for a paradigm shift from a cadre based Civil Service structure to a post based structure including induction of lateral entrants from outside government. While this issue can be debated (and has been debated), it falls well beyond the mandate of this Commission."

He extensively quotes Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to underline his argument to have IAS’s generalist superiority and then adds by himself: “It is only the IAS which has a much wider remit, cutting across various domains which figure in the Central List, State List and Concurrent List under Schedule VII of the Constitution. The IAS comprise a general management cadre, constituted to provide leadership spanning the entire spectrum of functional responsibilities and administrative boundaries of government at Central, State and Local level. It is this broad spectrum job profile which equips IAS officers to occupy senior positions under the Central Staffing Scheme. Their pivotal role in servicing Parliamentary democracy, both at the Central and State level, and keeping the wheels of the Indian Federal structure well lubricated, is also crucial.”

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