Ajay Prakash: IAS topper 2011
In a country obsessed for government jobs with a whopping population of over 1.2 billion people, there is no doubt that to become a officer is not an easy job. Every year, almost 6 lakh students/candidate take the test of Indian Administrative Services conducted by UPSC and mere 850 get selected. But only if you get a rank lower than 80 then there is a guarantee of you selection! (80 out of 6 lakh!)
Difficult? Hard? With an acceptance rate of just 0.025%, if your relatives dissuade you to follow this path then don’t be surprised! Without aggrandizing the issue, what happens to these intelligent indefatigable top brains of the country that they turn frivolous as an IAS officer in government? Let’s take a closer looks to the problems faced by these perseverant officers who gets moulded to be insensitive & inefficient.
Once out of college and with indefatigable hard work of over two years, a student gets accepted by UPSC to serve his country. His passion to assist the nation remains intact at this stage. He goes out to join the cadre for which he was selected & finds it humiliating to compare his present circumstance with that of his friends in private arena. His friends have got into a mid-manager level position in the 2 years (when he was preparing) and are drawing 3-4 times his present salary. His intact patriotism allows him composure by the fact that he is serving the nation & thus money is not a constraint. When he starts his job, he is given a Type 4 quarters which are 2 bedroom flats & those who have long completed their normal construction life. On the other hand, his friend in the private sector gets a fully furnished flat in a building which at least doesn’t look dead from outside! If this was not all to his humiliation, his own boss treat him like a inferior species as no one is accountable for attrition rate in government while his friend in private sector gets a warm interaction with seniors as they can’t afford someone leaving his job!
Govind Jaiswal: IAS AIR 48, Rickshawallah’s Son
Now that intact patriotism takes a hit & he starts to get moulded into the same insensitive officer that his boss is. A nation which expects him to sign on tenders going above the value of mere lakhs feels cheated when this officer boy uses car to drop her wife to the station. Media makes numerous stories on this car misuse in such a way that these people are further humiliated to realize that nation is not ready to give him any respect but expects him to be the same indefatigable lad.
After few years of experience, he receives an offer from some big private firm with whom he was dealing with and which is ready to pay him much more than his present salary, higher benefits and lastly, more respect in society. Now, should he not take this opportunity? Will you tell your son to leave it? May be not. Here lies the underneath problem with our bureaucracy as they are just left with one thing to show off i.e. “EGO”. Private sector will always try to poach these people mainly because they are the finest Indian brains and that is how attrition rate increases adding a cost of almost 5-8 times that of the salary of leaving employee.
Having advocated the problems faced by officers, this post will remain incomplete without suggesting improvements in our present bureaucratic system.
1) Have you ever felt like a customer in an RTO office or say in an passport office? A larger problem will be tacked only when bureaucrats consider meeting the needs of the customer, not the bureaucracy! Every department should identify customer foremost, survey there problems and get in the direction of solving them.
2) From a more centralized way of working to an decentralized governance is required in present circumstance. In this era of excessive information, pressure for accelerated decision-making may get solved either by adding more politicians, bureaucrats etc in the center ELSE: sharing it with more people down below instead of concentrating at already stressed and malfunctioning center. (Quote from Reinventing Government)
3) Give the IAS officers some freedom to express themselves and don’t tie them up! Don’t create a environment where an officer works just for the sake of passing those hours and days, give your support equivocally when they are right. Don’t make rules so rigid that they are not ready to innovate or may be even sign a single file with the fear of being caught for no wrong. They might receive a charge sheet in few months and then fight for year’s altogether to revoke that charge sheet for the sake of promotion.
4) Breaking the seniority ladder to a more scientific techniques like competency mapping of employees and find leaders among them should be the logical way out instead of present day’s seniority working. Everyone have some trait with few doing excellent in managing people while others extraordinary in innovation/R&D etc and thus choosing seniority leaders is just as random as a throw of a ball!
5) Lastly, attrition of one good leader/officer leads to an paralysis of entire office. Unlike many other fields where individuals don’t actually change things, in government offices, if you lose one good officer then the entire line of employees suffers & might turn completely inefficient. And that is why attrition rate should be brought to minimum level by more salary (not very important though) and proper facilities (very important).
In the end, Janlokpal movement might put the entire bureaucracy under bad press but to motivate India’s best brains should also be on the to do list. These people are not bad after all, they have got into a mould due to a long humiliating journey of being an IAS!
I have nothing but contempt for the kind of governor who is afraid, for whatever reason, to follow the course that he knows is best for the State. -Sophocles