Should IAS Be Discredited?
gfiles|October 2019
There is unspoken anguish and agony among those who came into the IAS as a mission and not mercenary service. Some of them are imploding and this could turn into explosion if not promptly addressed and remedied

In his recent book, What Ails the IAS and Why It Fails to Deliver”, NC Saxena, former Secretary to the Government of India (GoI), former secretary, Planning Commission, and former member, National Advisory Council (NAC) has come down heavily on the Service. This is what he has to say:

“Despite their integrity, hard work and competence, Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers, who occupy almost all senior administrative positions in the states and at the Centre, have not been able to improve development outcomes for citizens. India could not achieve many Millennium Development Goals, particularly in hunger, health, nutrition, gender, and sanitation. India’s social indicators are today worse than poorer countries such as Bangladesh. Besides, growth has not helped the most marginalised groups such as tribals and women. Section 46(1) of the Rajasthan Tenancy Act still places women on a par with lunatics and idiots. Of all these groups, tribals have been the worst sufferers because of anti-tribal forest policies, displacement laws, and poor governance.

“IAS officers have not been able to ensure that teachers and doctors stay in their place of postings and provide quality services. Land records are outdated with the result that two-thirds of all pending cases in the courts are related to property disputes, which take an average of 20 years to settle. The list of beneficiaries for State programmes has huge errors of inclusion and exclusion.

“IAS officers are not able to ensure regular monthly honorarium to contractual staff, such as para teachers, rozgar sahayaks, anganwadi workers, and cooks in mid-day meal programmes.

Secretaries in the states, who belong to the IAS, often collude with the junior staff, and don’t honestly report figures on hunger deaths, malnutrition and usage of toilets, leading to an erosion of accountability. Reforms initiated failed to make any impact because most IAS officers resist change, or are indifferent to the poor.”

Response for this castigation from Ex-IAS Officers has been sharp. Topping them all is the comment from Saxena’a cadre-mate and former Union Education Secretary Sushil Tripathi: “Naresh Saxena has let everyone down. he was deputy director for 3 years and later director for 4 years at the National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. he trained over 10 batches and perhaps could not present a role model to follow.” Sushil has a point. director of the Academy is considered as the ‘Guru’ by the IAS probationers trained by him/her. Pertinent question has Guru Saxena terribly failed his shishyas?

Be that as it may, resignations are happening in quick succession in the IAS. In January, 2019 it was Shah Faesal of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre who had topped the 2009 batch. Primary reasons for his resignation were the throttling of freedom and "unabated killings" in Kashmir. In March this year he launched his own political party, the Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement. Soon after the lockdown of the Kashmir Valley following the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and reducing J&K from a state into a Union Territory he was arrested and detained in Srinagar. he is still in confinement.

In August 2019, Kannan Gopinathan from the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre (IAS-2012) resigned stating: “We got into the service thinking that we can provide voice to people, but then we ended up with our own voice being taken away from us.” he has been bemoaning the loss of freedom of expression with particular reference to Kashmir.

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