Monday, January 13, 2014

Preparing for Interview

Dear Friends ,
Please find below some general tips on how to face the interview once the intial written hurdle is cleared. For most interview is the most dreadful thing and I have known many who were not able to clear the interview even after clearing written exams many times. Interview should be faced with confidence and confidence comes with repeated practice and preparation.
Though this is not related to public administration in general but thought would share this here to bring it to your attention.
Indian polity forms an important aspect of the knowledge content of the personal interview of the civil services exam. The candidates need to know Indian polity as part of general studies, current affairs and as optional subject for the candidates of political science and international relations. A career in the civil services is intimately linked with politics, and, in fact, politics and public administration are blood cousins. While politics is involved in policy formulation and decision-making in an authoritative fashion, public administration deals primarily with execution of formulated programmes and policies. Furthermore, in parliamentary democracies, political representatives form the temporary executives while the selected recruited bureaucracy forms the permanent executive body, and the civil servants are expected to work in tandem with political representatives to achieve socio-economic development of our country. A proper understanding of the Indian constitution and the political process in India is indispensable for a productive career in the civil services.
There are four types of issues and topics in Indian political system that the personality test candidates should thoroughly prepare for :
(a)Institutional or structural aspects
(b)Functional features of political dynamics
(c) Maladies that afflict Indian politics and
(d) Current events and issues
Institutional or structural aspects
The interview panel shows a tendency to ask questions on the constitutional, institutional aspects of our political system and therefore students must concentrate on them thoroughly, and they ought to have a complete mental map of our Constitution.They should study the numerous parts, articles and schedules of the Constitution, especially the most important and unique ones.The basic institutional arrangements as laid down by the Constitution regarding fundamental rights, directive principles of state policy, parliamentary system, co-operative federalism, integrated hierarchical judiciary, structure and organisation of State government, and the transitional, temporary provisions of the Constitution are among the significant areas that the candidates ought to pay comprehensive attention to.A rigorous perusal of the interviews of the previous years reveals the frequently asked factual questions on important provisions of our Constitution.What is the doctrine of pith and substance? What is colourable legislation? What is an associate state? What is the zero hour in Parliament? What is the rule of law and where do you find it in the Indian Constitution? What is cut motion? What is the constitutional impeachment procedure for the removal of judges of Supreme Court and high courts? Most of the questions on the institutional aspects of Indian polity are factual, empirical and comparative ones and as the candidates have already studied them as part of the preliminary test and main exam, they need to glance through the Constitution so as to refresh their memory.
Functional aspects
The interview panel seeks to understand the awareness of the candidates about the positive and functional currents of Indian politics.The interviewees must prepare themselves on the numerous achievements of Indian democracy such as the preservation of national unity and integrity in spite of the existence of numerous fissiparous threats and forces, conservation of democracy as a form of governance, achievements of economic growth and concomitant empowerment of millions of people, gradual and peaceful modernisation of a vertically hierarchical society, superlative developments in science and technology and staunch adherence to moral diplomacy in international relations. These are some of the functional dimensions of our polity that the candidates must place before the board to defend the worth of Indian democracy.The interview panel may also ask whether we should replace a parliamentary system with the presidential democracy or a benevolent dictatorship. As democracy signifies popular sovereignty, the candidates must defend the democratic model of governance as a developmental instrument and should eschew any tendency towards dictatorship of any kind.
The panel may like to interact with candidates on the numerous maladies that afflict our political system, such as criminalisation of politics, corruption in public life, decline of the parliament and other important institutions, parallel economy, naxalite menace, terrorism, secessionism and parochialism.There are a number of innovative concepts that describe the malfunctions of our liberal democracy, such as the soft state, the over-developed state, the governability crisis, etc. The personality-test candidates must possess an elaborate understanding, profound perception and convincing arguments to tackle the fusillade of questions that the personal interview panel may fire on these issues.
Current affairs
The major controversies, processes and events in the life of our democratic republic form another prospective domain of questions in the personal interview.The nation will be in the throes of the fourteenth general elections in April and May when the personal interview is scheduled to take place and therefore the interviewees should study all aspects of the elections in India including Constitutional provisions, the election commission, campaign strategies and issues of political parties, electoral reforms, judgments of the Supreme Courts on electoral issues, electoral disputes, prominent personalities, psephological issues such as exit polls and opinion polls, State funding of elections, criminalisation of the electoral process and corrective remedies, etc.
The candidates may face tricky questions in the personality test. They should not either consciously or inadvertently reveal any political bias or colour.The career in civil services in India is designed on the model of Weberian rational bureaucracy and British tradition of political neutrality. There is a bewildering range of diversity in India and the candidates should not exhibit any invidious proclivity towards their own caste, religion, region and language.
To modify Lord Macaulay’s words, the Union Public Service Commission looks for candidates who are Indians in colour, taste, temperament, morals and intellect in the personal interview of the civil services exam and dismisses ruthlessly candidates having proclivities towards nepotism, parochialism and irrational primordial attachments.As and when candidates are caught in a quandary, the Constitution should become a kind of lighthouse and therefore they should articulate their perspectives in tune with Constitutional provisions and values.
The dictum, “ever with the Constitution and never against,” must guide the personality test candidates of the civil services exam.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dear Friends ,

Came across this article on article 370.With relation between India and Pakistan at its sour end again , this becomes relevant to the students of public administration.

GM StudyCenter


Understanding Article 370


Article 370 was and is about providing space, in matters of governance, to the people of a State who felt deeply vulnerable about their identity and insecure about the future.

At the Bharatiya Janata Party’s recent Lalkar rally in Jammu, its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, called for a debate on Article 370. This is encouraging and suggests that the BJP may be willing to review its absolutist stance on the Article that defines the provisions of the Constitution of India with respect to Jammu and Kashmir. Any meaningful debate on Article 370 must, however, separate myth from reality and fact from fiction. My purpose here is to respond to the five main questions that have already been raised in the incipient debate.
Why it was incorporated
First, why was Article 370 inserted in the Constitution? Or as the great poet and thinker, Maulana Hasrat Mohini, asked in the Constituent Assembly on October 17, 1949: “Why this discrimination please?” The answer was given by Nehru’s confidant, the wise but misunderstood Thanjavur Brahmin, Gopalaswami Ayyangar (Minister without portfolio in the first Union Cabinet, a former Diwan to Maharajah Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, and the principal drafter of Article 370). Ayyangar argued that for a variety of reasons Kashmir, unlike other princely states, was not yet ripe for integration. India had been at war with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir and while there was a ceasefire, the conditions were still “unusual and abnormal.” Part of the State’s territory was in the hands of “rebels and enemies.”
The involvement of the United Nations brought an international dimension to this conflict, an “entanglement” which would end only when the “Kashmir problem is satisfactorily resolved.” Finally, Ayyangar argued that the “will of the people through the instrument of the [J&K] Constituent Assembly will determine the constitution of the State as well as the sphere of Union jurisdiction over the State.” In sum, there was hope that J&K would one day integrate like other States of the Union (hence the use of the term “temporary provisions” in the title of the Article), but this could happen only when there was real peace and only when the people of the State acquiesced to such an arrangement.
Second, did Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel oppose Article 370? To reduce the Nehru-Patel relationship to Manichean terms is to caricature history, and this is equally true of their attitude towards Jammu and Kashmir. Nehru was undoubtedly idealistic and romantic about Kashmir. He wrote: “Like some supremely beautiful woman, whose beauty is almost impersonal and above human desire, such was Kashmir in all its feminine beauty of river and valley...” Patel had a much more earthy and pragmatic view and — as his masterly integration of princely states demonstrated — little time for capricious state leaders or their separatist tendencies.
But while Ayyangar negotiated — with Nehru’s backing — the substance and scope of Article 370 with Sheikh Abdullah and other members from J&K in the Constituent Assembly (including Mirza Afzal Beg and Maulana Masoodi), Patel was very much in the loop. And while Patel was deeply sceptical of a “state becoming part of India” and not “recognising ... [India’s] fundamental rights and directive principles of State policy,” he was aware of, and a party to, the final outcome on Article 370.
Indeed, the synergy that Patel and Nehru brought to governing India is evident in the negotiations over Article 370. Consider this. In October 1949, there was a tense standoff between Sheikh Abdullah and Ayyangar over parts of Article 370 (or Article 306A as it was known during the drafting stage). Nehru was in the United States, where — addressing members of the U.S. Congress — he said: “Where freedom is menaced or justice threatened or where aggression takes place, we cannot be and shall not be neutral.” Meanwhile, Ayyangar was struggling with the Sheikh, and later even threatened to resign from the Constituent Assembly. “You have left me even more distressed than I have been since I received your last letter … I feel weighted with the responsibility of finding a solution for the difficulties that, after Panditji left for America ... have been created … without adequate excuse,” he wrote to the Sheikh on October 15. And who did Ayyangar turn to, in this crisis with the Sheikh, while Nehru was abroad? None other than the Sardar himself. Patel, of course, was not enamoured by the Sheikh, who he thought kept changing course. He wrote to Ayyangar: “Whenever Sheikh Sahib wishes to back out, he always confronts us with his duty to the people.” But it was Patel finally who managed the crisis and navigated most of the amendments sought of the Sheikh through the Congress party and the Constituent Assembly to ensure that Article 370 became part of the Indian Constitution.
Third, is Article 370 still intact in its original form? One of the biggest myths is the belief that the “autonomy” as envisaged in the Constituent Assembly is intact. A series of Presidential Orders has eroded Article 370 substantially. While the 1950 Presidential Order and the Delhi Agreement of 1952 defined the scope and substance of the relationship between the Centre and the State with the support of the Sheikh, the subsequent series of Presidential Orders have made most Union laws applicable to the State. In fact today the autonomy enjoyed by the State is a shadow of its former self, and there is virtually no institution of the Republic of India that does not include J&K within its scope and jurisdiction. The only substantial differences from many other States relate to permanent residents and their rights; the non-applicability of Emergency provisions on the grounds of “internal disturbance” without the concurrence of the State; and the name and boundaries of the State, which cannot be altered without the consent of its legislature. Remember J&K is not unique; there are special provisions for several States which are listed in Article 371 and Articles 371-A to 371-I.
Fourth, can Article 370 be revoked unilaterally? Clause 3 of Article 370 is clear. The President may, by public notification, declare that this Article shall cease to be operative but only on the recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the State. In other words, Article 370 can be revoked only if a new Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir is convened and is willing to recommend its revocation. Of course, Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution to change this provision. But this could be subject to a judicial review which may find that this clause is a basic feature of the relationship between the State and the Centre and cannot, therefore, be amended.
Gender bias?
Fifth, is Article 370 a source of gender bias in disqualifying women from the State of property rights? Article 370 itself is gender neutral, but the definition of Permanent Residents in the State Constitution — based on the notifications issued in April 1927 and June 1932 during the Maharajah’s rule — was thought to be discriminatory. The 1927 notification included an explanatory note which said: “The wife or a widow of the State Subject … shall acquire the status of her husband as State Subject of the same Class as her Husband, so long as she resides in the State and does not leave the State for permanent residence outside the State.” This was widely interpreted as suggesting also that a woman from the State who marries outside the State would lose her status as a State subject. However, in a landmark judgement, in October 2002, the full bench of J&K High Court, with one judge dissenting, held that the daughter of a permanent resident of the State will not lose her permanent resident status on marrying a person who is not a permanent resident, and will enjoy all rights, including property rights.
Finally, has Article 370 strengthened separatist tendencies in J&K? Article 370 was and is about providing space, in matters of governance, to the people of a State who felt deeply vulnerable about their identity and insecure about the future. It was about empowering people, making people feel that they belong, and about increasing the accountability of public institutions and services. Article 370 is synonymous with decentralisation and devolution of power, phrases that have been on the charter of virtually every political party in India. There is no contradiction between wanting J&K to be part of the national mainstream and the State’s desire for self-governance as envisioned in the Article.
Separatism grows when people feel disconnected from the structures of power and the process of policy formulation; in contrast, devolution ensures popular participation in the running of the polity. It can be reasonably argued that it is the erosion of Article 370 and not its creation which has aggravated separatist tendencies in the State. Not surprisingly, at the opposition conclave in Srinagar in 1982, leaders of virtually all national parties, including past and present allies of the BJP, declared that the “special constitutional status of J&K under Article 370 should be preserved and protected in letter and spirit.” A review of its policy on Article 370, through an informed debate, would align today’s BJP with the considered and reflective approach on J&K articulated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Only then would the slogans of Jhumuriyat, Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat make real sense.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Communicate with GMStudyCenter

Dear Friends , 

We have been getting queries / questions / clarifications in comments section of the blog , which we dont publish or answer. Comments section is meant to be used for any corrections / to provide additional relevant informations or compliment the effort of the contributors.

For seeking suggestion/advise/clarifications please send an email to , we will try to do our best to respond.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Administered IAS Study Circle

Dear Friends ,

I came across this Group where there is no spamming. Please see the objectives of this group from the creater of this group.

If you search in Yahoo group's listing you will get many IAS groups. But creators of this group have found that all those groups are lacking administration and hence lot of spams,and more over they are year wise ..none serves the purpose of one-stop. This is the only group where in administration is assured and we want to make this a group which will act as a one-stop-shop for IAS aspirants.The administration of this group is distributed among a group of people to ensure efficient operation. You will get the details of the group setting,moderators etc once you join the group.Please join and start using the group. Also let us stop using the other groups as soon as possible, so that we are on track soon.

-Let us belong to achieve success

The objective seems to be novel - even I have been a member of many such IAS study groups but most of them have turned out to be big time spammers - and I have unsubscribed from all of those. I just signed up to check this group - in fact true to its objectives there are no spams - its strictly regulated. So in this age of internet - if used properly these could be powerful tools for information exchange.
You can be a member of this group by sending an email to


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Question of Accountability

Dear Friends , 

With the 2 G spectrum in the backdrop, the question of accountability between minister and civil servant has assumed significant importance. And there is this neatly articulated article.I have highlighted the important notes which is mandatory to remember and quote if possible in the examination and have given the additional details in the later part of the articles.



We should take note of the basic concept of ministerial responsibility, which is the prime tenet of a Cabinet system of government as developed in Westminster and adopted by the Constitution of India.
There are four principal features of the Cabinet system of government. One is that the Cabinet is a single unit accountable to the elected legislature. On every important piece of policy and performance, all members of the Cabinet stand and fall together. The second feature is that, in the presidential system the head of the executive, the President — apart from impeachment procedures — is answerable normally to the electorate, either directly or through a system of electoral college. But in the parliamentary system, the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, is immediately answerable to the elected House. The third feature is that, while all members of the Cabinet are collectively responsible to the legislature, there is also individual responsibility for each Minister with respect to the performance of the Department or Departments under his charge. The fourth feature is that, although all members are equal and responsible for every decision taken collectively in the Cabinet, the Prime Minister represents the ‘keystone of the Cabinet arch' and occupies a position of exceptional accountability on the performance of the Cabinet on the whole.

About the dual responsibilities of a Minister, Ivor Jennings stated: “The Cabinet is a general controlling body. It neither desires nor is able to deal with all the numerous details of the government. It expects a minister to take all decisions which are not of real political importance. Every minister must therefore exercise his own discretion as to what matters arising in his department ought to receive Cabinet sanction. The minister who refers too much is weak; he who refers too little is dangerous.” (Page 233-234, Cabinet Government, Third Edition, 1980)

Jennings also stated that the minister is fully responsible for the decisions of his civil servants. He wrote: “All decisions of any consequence are taken by ministers, either as such or as members of the cabinet. All decisions taken by civil servants are taken on behalf of ministers and under their control. If the minister chooses, as in the large Departments inevitably he must, to leave decisions to civil servants, then he must take [the] political consequences of any defect of administration, any injustice to an individual, or any policy disapproved by the House of Commons. He cannot defend himself by blaming the civil servant. If the minister could blame the civil servant, then the civil servant would require power to blame the minister. In other words, then the civil servant would become a politician. The fundamental principle of our system of administration is however that the civil service should be impartial and, as far as possible, anonymous.” (Page 149, The British Constitution, Fifth Edition, 1971)

If a civil servant is found by an impartial enquiry to have exceeded or misused his authority or power to secure personal gain or advantage to other individuals or organisations, he should be duly punished under the law.

The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the 2G spectrum deals, submitted in November 2010, revealed a presumptive loss caused to the Central government of about Rs.1.76 lakh crore. This is the largest single instance of corruption in monetary terms in India's political history. Furious indignation among the media and the public, and the demands of the Opposition parties, led to the resignation of Telecom Minister A. Raja. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal now holds additional charge of the Telecom Ministry.
On December 31, 2010, the Telecom Minister appointed a one-man committee comprising Justice (retd) Shivraj V. Patil “to examine the appropriations of procedures followed by the Department of Telecommunications in [the] issuance and allocation of spectrum during the period 2001-09.”
Justice Patil submitted his report on January 31, 2011. It was put on the website of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on February 10. In the report, material covering the eight terms of reference is examined separately in each chapter.

As the committee was appointed mainly to study the appropriations followed by the DoT and to give suggestions to streamline policy regarding the future sale of spectrum, it did not go into past losses incurred by the government in the sale of spectrum. However, the terms of reference required the committee to “identify the public officials responsible in the cases of ‘deficiencies' and ‘shortcomings and lapses.” Accordingly, the report provides particulars of names and designations of the officials involved in taking decisions, responsible “for deviations in formulation of procedures” in 17 paragraphs of Chapter 6, and of the officials “responsible for lapses,” in 20 paragraphs of Chapter 7.

In 36 of the 37 paragraphs, the report lists the names and designations of officials, from the Secretary downwards. Invariably every paragraph concludes with the remark: “The officers named above appear to be responsible for the deviation,” or “for the lapses,” as the case may be.
In these paragraphs dealing with officers taking decisions, the Telecom Minister is associated with the officials in the following paragraphs (given here without the names and designations of the officers):
Para 6.1(ii): “The decision was taken on the basis of note put up (by 10 officials) and approved by the then Minister.”

Para 6.1(iii) is about the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India that were not placed before the Telecom Commission. It states further: “This was endorsed by 2 officials and approved by the   Minister.”

Para 6.1(iv) refers to the DoT seeking the legal opinion of the Attorney-General/Solicitor-General through the Ministry of Law and Justice on the procedure to be followed for the grant of new Unified Access Service Licences (UASLs). The Law Minister gave the opinion that in view of the importance of the case, it was necessary that the whole issue be first considered by an Empowered Group of Ministers. However, based on a note by two officers of the DoT, “the Minister took the view that the opinion of the Minister of Law and Justice was out of context and decided [that] the procedure for grant of new UASLs formulated earlier be continued.”

Para 6.1(vi): “Said decision was based on the contents of the letter of the Minister dated 26-12-2007 addressed to the Prime Minister. On the basis of [a] note by 3 officers and [as] approved by the Minister, [a] decision was taken to treat the contents of the said letter of the Minister as the policy of DoT.” Peculiarly, about the decision to issue a Letter of Intent (LoI) to amend the UASL on payment of additional fee, Para7.1(xiii) states: “This is in deviation from the practice followed which accords priority on the basis of date of application and not on the date of compliance of LoI. This decision was taken by the Minister on 17-10-2007.” In this case, no officer is noted as having been involved in making the decision. In all fairness and according to the principles of natural justice, it should have been noted that the Minister alone was responsible for this deviation. But no such comment has been made about his act of deviation.

It is difficult to accept the conclusion that the officers who prepared the drafts were responsible for the ‘deviations' or ‘lapses'; some of them were approved by the Minister himself. In particular, as per Para 6.1(vi), the decision was taken in the presence of the Minister to treat the contents of his letter to the Prime Minister as the policy of the DoT, which is stated in the paragraph to have been approved by the Minister himself. In this case also, the paragraph ends with the remark: “The officers referred herein above appear to be responsible for this deviation.”

It appears that there is a conspiracy to make the officials of the Ministry responsible and punishable for the actions of the Minister.

The principle of ministerial responsibility should be invoked in the matter of the decisions involved in the 2G spectrum scam.

If, in the case of the 2G spectrum deals, the Minister had acted on his own to issue licences, he comes under his individual ministerial responsibility to be accountable for the huge loss and the consequences of the unprecedented scale of corruption.

Mr. Raja had claimed that the procedures he adopted in the allocation of spectrum licences had received the stamp of approval of the Prime Minister, as his letter of December 26, 2007 had been acknowledged by the Prime Minister in a reply thus: “I have received your letter of December 26, 2007 regarding developments in the telecom sector.” If this assumption by Mr. Raja is acceptable, then the entire policy and procedures adopted in the grant of 2G licences will become a matter to be considered under the collective responsibility of all members of the Cabinet 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Minister versus the Civil servant

Dear Friends ,

Came across this article which is very much relevant for the students of public administration.


The Central Bureau of Investigation's decision to arrest the former Telecommunications Secretary, Siddhartha Behura, along with the former Minister, A. Raja, in connection with the 2G spectrum case, revives an old debate over the relationship between the civil servant and the politician. The drastic action by the agency should shake the entire bureaucracy, especially the officers of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, out of their complacency. It should make them introspect on how they should regulate their responses to ministerial demands for unequivocal compliance of directions. The issue is ticklish and may never be resolved to the satisfaction of either side, or even those members of the public who believe that the independence of the civil service became extinct a long time ago. Nevertheless, it has become necessary to place things in perspective, so that the public understands the dynamics of a relationship which places enormous strain on officers at the senior levels of the bureaucracy.

There is nothing that has been reported till now that suggests that Mr. Behura had been dishonest and received monetary favours from the companies which benefited. Only a CBI charge sheet will lead to the process of confirming or disproving his integrity. There is just a possibility that, while being personally honest he had been more than willing to do the Minister's bidding, in order to stay in the good books. It is not insignificant that he had worked under Mr. Raja earlier in the Ministry of Environment. The fact that he signed more than 100 letters in regard to the issue of licences within days of assuming charge as Secretary, is a cause for grave misgivings: he was dishonest or negligent or displayed a lack of application of the mind. His lawyer claims his client had raised several objections to the Minister's actions. It is not known whether these had been recorded on the files. If Mr. Behura's dissent had indeed been put down on paper, that would provide an extenuating circumstance when his criminal liability is assessed.

Lord Macaulay, who was the Law Member of the Governor-General's Council in India and later Secretary of War in England in the second half of the 19th century — he is recognised as the draftsman of the remarkably structured Indian Penal Code — visualised the civil service as a body of young men with outstanding intellectual abilities and values. His report of 1864 paved the way for streamlining the recruitment for and training of the members of the Indian Civil Service. The foundation he laid stressed the qualities of discipline and integrity. The early years of Independence saw both Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Home Minister Sardar Patel nursing the civil services with great care and affection. They were convinced that the bureaucracy, as it evolved under the British, constituted a vital and dependable machinery to push through with the various reforms that an infant nation desperately needed. The uprightness and patriotism of the two great men ensured that the civil services were kept insulated from the muddy waters of day-to-day politics and played the key role expected of it in maintaining social stability, thereby providing the right ambience for development work.

Overall, despite a few hiccups, the culture that respected the average civil servant flourished. A clear distinction between the policymaking role of the Minister and of the implementation function of the civil servant had come to be established. By and large, the latter could argue against a Minister's decision without the peril of being humiliated or penalised. Once the Minister made up his mind after a discussion, he had the last word, and the Secretary had no alternative but to implement the decision. There was therefore everything in the system that promoted candour and honesty.

The watershed in the infamous history of the Indian administration thereafter was possibly the Emergency, declared in 1975 on specious grounds. The arbitrariness that ensued led to the dilution, if not the annihilation, of many traditional institutions. The civil service just caved in without protest.

Since then, the floodgates have remained open, and there has been no stopping the process of tinkering with the civil service. The casualties have been the fearlessness and objectivity of the members of the civil service. Barring a few, Ministers both at the Centre and in the States have steamrolled the bureaucracy so much that a fear psychosis now envelops the whole civil service. The judiciary has generally been remiss in undoing the damage. This is because of the stand that it cannot step in where routine administrative matters (such as transfers and suspensions) are involved, and that an act of injustice done to a civil servant does not constitute any infringement of the fundamental rights embodied in the Constitution. The Administrative Tribunals have occasionally offered some redress but have not done enough to remove the fear that grips a majority of public servants. This explains the rot.

The current situation is one in which the average IAS or IPS officer can hardly say ‘no' to a ministerial fiat. Blind obedience is what is expected, even when a direction is downright illegal. Some of the unfortunate recent scams are a direct outcome of this situation. A few of the so-called ‘encounters' involving anti-social elements also belong to this category. The demand these days from a Minister is for instantaneous action, and any perceived delay by an officer is fraught with grave consequences. In earlier times, ministerial displeasure often resulted in an officer's transfer from a sensitive job. These days, however, the consequence of ministerial ire is an inspired physical assault or a dubious departmental enquiry.

Against this backdrop, how do you expect even an iota of independence or candour from civil servants? It is easy for many of us to be critical of them for their submissive behaviour. But any non-conformist uprightness is a sure route to disaster. This is despite many safeguards, including the protection provided in Article 311 of the Constitution, which guarantee due process before a major penalty (dismissal, removal or reduction in rank) is imposed. Suspension from service is perhaps the worst ignominy that can befall a government official. No doubt there are some restrictions on this power. These do not, however, deter a reckless Chief Minister from settling scores with an unbending civil servant, especially in the higher echelons. The Union government caused great damage by sharing this power with the States in respect of the All India Services. This has been the chief source of fear even among bold officials. Major reform is immediately called for in this area.

It is not as if the blame rests squarely with the politicians. Overzealous and greedy civil servants have contributed equally to the dilution of standards. Many of them have looked the other way when Ministers were found indulging in malpractices. Worse is the case of those who have themselves functioned as conduits for money passing to Ministers. A third category comprises those who are themselves guilty of corruption and cannot blame their Ministers of unethical behaviour. How else do you explain an IAS-officer couple in Madhya Pradesh having been allegedly 
found to have assets worth more than Rs.300 crore?

Are such officers the products of an ambience where there is a premium on dishonesty? Or, is it that they have a DNA which prevails over any instinct to be straightforward? What is clear, however, is that unless New Delhi takes up a major exercise to promote honesty in public service, especially in the IAS and the IPS, the country will come to be looked upon as a banana republic by the rest of the world. The growing feeling among major investors from the developed world that they cannot do business in India without paying bribes is a matter of shame.

In the meantime, my advice to senior officers is this: put down any dissent from ministerial directions in writing, and just abstain from any decision that even remotely suggests any irregularity or illegality. Do this even at the cost of being victimised through suspension or being ignored for a significant position that is legitimately your due. These are golden rules which you can ignore only at your own peril.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Right Information by Right to Information: An Interview with Wajahat Habibullah

Dear Friends ,

I came across this insightful, short interview with former CIC(Chief Information Comissioner) on RTI.From Public administration perspective it comes under Accountability and Control



As India grapples with the Naxal menace in Left Wing Extremism affected states with no concrete long-term solution in sight for now, the former CIC suggests simple measures using the RTI which may prevent further outbreak of the problem.

Question: What is the genesis of RTI in terms of being utilized in Naxal affected areas in the Eastern Tribal Corridor?Wajahat Habibullah: At the time when the Naxal uprising first appeared in India in Naxalbari, another revolution was taking shape in Rajasthan, that of demand for Right to Information. In both places, the dispossessed excluded population was demanding the right to ask questions from the authority and equality and parity. However, one group took to arms, while the other pursued the RTI for the same demands.

Question: Can effective implementation of RTI reverse the trend of violence in the tribal hinterlands which are the worst affected by Left Wing Extremism? WH: RTI can be an effective tool only as long as it is utilized before the violence starts. Once a trend of violence is set, it cannot be used to reverse the cycle. It is only a preventive and not a corrective measure. If used properly, it can be effective in the tribal heartlands of India, which are taken over by the Naxals at present.

Question: Has the failure of proper implementation of Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 proved to be an element in increasing tribal anger towards the government?
WH: The tribals have been displaced, marginalized and victimized. It is critical to put PESA to proper use now. It has not been effectively utilized so far as it has not been able to bring much voice to the tribals. It must be given an opportunity and means to empower the tribals.

Question: Has the government been able to reach out to the vulnerable tribal population through the RTI?
WH: Government and administration have been oppressive since the British expropriated tribal and government areas. Now, with RTI, they have an opportunity to be heard. The tribals of India have suffered exploitation for far too long. Now, growth of education has allowed them to project what they have been denied. The redressal mechanism could include RTI as the initiating point. Unfortunately, so far the RTI has not been able to be properly implemented in the affected states.
Question: Which state has benefited the maximum from proper implementation of RTI? Which states show the worst implementation of the RTI?WH: Except Andhra Pradesh, all Naxal affected states have the worst implementation  record of RTI. This is the reason why Andhra Pradesh is now the state which is least affected by violence despite being the state where the genesis of the problem emerged with the Telangana uprising.
Andhra Pradesh has had very effective implementation of both Panchayati Raj and RTI. YS Rajasekhara Reddy was himself a big propagator of the RTI. He had said that the RTI Act was a big part of his success as it allowed him to reach out to the rural areas of the state and Telangana.

Question: RTI pendency has been steadily going up over the years. How far will it prove to be effective, even if implemented properly, in tribal areas when the pendency in areas with educated and aware problems is so high?Question: RTI implementation position is much better.  Statistically speaking, the pendency numbers have gone up - about three years ago, pending applications stood at 10,000. Now, they are 14,000. However, three years ago, total applications settled were 22,000; the number now stands at 65,000. So, in that context, while pendency has gone up, so has the number of people using the RTI. 

Question: How can RTI result in a decline in violence?WH: The expectation of people to get a reply for their grievances and making the system accountable has risen. This tendency will give way to a decline in overall violence. People may get agitated, frustrated or more demanding, but will not take to violence. It gives some sense of responsibility and accountability. 

Question: How can the awareness about RTI spread in the interiors of Naxal affected areas where accessibility is still a huge problem for authorities?WH: Spreading of awareness about RTI in tribal areas can be done through various NGOs working with the Naxals in the areas as they have better accessibility among the population rather than the authorities. Allow the civil society to function properly in these areas. Tribals are not even aware of the RTI as of now, let the NGOs and other agents of civil society spread the awareness about what can be done with the help of RTI as an alternate to taking up arms.

Question: Can RTI prove to be a tool for reforming the existing Naxal cadres?WH: I don’t know if the RTI can prove to be an effective tool in reforming existing Naxal cadres. It can definitely be used to wean away their support base in the tribal belts. Right to Education, Whistleblowers’ Act etc, all go hand in hand. 

Question: Has the media been playing a responsible role in the spreading of awareness about the RTI in Naxal areas? What else can they do?WH: Visual media is playing a role in the spread of awareness about RTI. Doordarshan has given coverage in collaboration with the respective state governments to promote community television or education through community televisions and computerization through NREGA (already in place) by putting up computer systems in rural areas. Furthermore, the PDS system needs to be strengthened and visual media’s support can be sought for that.

Question: Can the corrupt practices in Indian politics and bureaucracy be reformed towards changing the pattern of uneducated vulnerable tribal population being targeted by the Naxals for support?
WH: Taken with RTE, if the RTI is promoted successfully in rural and tribal areas, it will help engender a demand for awareness. Political demand for the same will automatically follow if the masses demand for it. Effective utilization of RTI will also have a remedial effect on corruption in the Indian political and bureaucratic system; it will not eliminate it, but can be used for imposing restraint.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Administrative News (Jun 20 2010)

Dear Friends ,

This is a news bite appeared in deccan chronical which says there is acute shortage of IAS officers in the country and hence are proposing to conduct examination for the state public servants to induct in to IAS. But as usual this is a thought - not sure when it will materialise.

Also there is a summary of the survey conducted among the ICS ( Indian Civil Service ) officers which might give some idea of how IAS/IPS/IFS officers are feeling.


June 17: The government has proposed special examinations to induct young officers recruited through the state civil services into the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS).

Faced with a shortfall of at least 560 IAS officers across India, a proposal for the UPSC to hold “limited” competitive examinations to allow young officers serving in the states to join the IAS is being actively considered by the Prime Minister’s Office.

A similar move to make up the acute shortfall of IPS officers through a “limited competitive examination” for young officers in central police organisations, central paramilitary forces and state police forces had been firmed up by the Union ministry for home affairs in March this year. The proposal had been struck down by the UPSC, prompting the home ministry to approach the PMO to overrule the UPSC’s decision.

Home minister P. Chidambaram will meet law minister Veerappa Moily and minister of state for personnel Prithviraj Chavan on Friday to elicit their views, settle contentious issues like age criteria, and other modalities involved in holding such exams.

“We will be taking the views of the stakeholders to resolve any complications in view of the concerns expressed by the UPSC. A final view will be taken after we study their suggestions,” an MHA official said.
Bearish Babus
(ICS survey summary)
When the early results of India’s first Civil Services Survey came in from Hyderabad a few months ago, the close-knit team of government officials at the Department of Administrative Reforms associated with the ambitious project weren’t particularly surprised, or shocked.

Yes, there had been disappointment and frustration among leaders of India’s civil services. Men and women of questionable integrity did manage to hold important positions in the government. In fact, they were the ones who often managed to get the better postings.

But almost everyone knew that.

Not many, however, were aware how deep, and widespread, the problem was.

One-third of the respondents in the survey – who studied for years to make it past the fiercely competitive civil services examination – had been almost driven to a point where they wanted to give up their job and the perks that came with it.

“We did have our hypothesis on the basis of practical experience … for instance, we expected the survey to reflect frustration … a divide between the Indian Administrative Service and the non-IAS services and political interference to some extent. It did,” conceded a senior researcher at the Hyderabad-headquartered Centre for Good Governance, which did the survey.

For someone who pegged civil service reforms as a key agenda point for his government six years ago, government officials said the survey delineated the agenda that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needs to pursue actively. Of course, civil service reforms aren’t going to be easy.

“Government officers have been the target of criticism for far too long. This survey seeks to capture the circumstances that they work in … often with their hands tied behind,” said an official, pointing it was fashionable to compare the private and the public sector without accounting for the handicaps.

A significantly large proportion (42-48%) of the respondents from the three all-India services — the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service — complained about undue outside interference. Many others spoke out about the lack of adequate financial resources and competent staff.

Respondents complained that if they did not fall in line, they ran the big risk of being transferred to an obscure post and location.

“What worries the honest government servant is the prospect of being posted to an obscure (place) with zero job content or worse, a string of such postings as a price for one’s honesty,” the survey report observed. Government officials said the fear of such a posting usually forced most ‘honest’ officials to fall in line. Those who resist spend the better part of their careers living out of their suitcase.

Shekhar Singh, who was with the Indian Institute of Public Administration and has spent years interacting with the civil service, said the impression within the bureaucracy that merit and honesty didn’t count any longer was crucial.

The performance appraisal system has gone for a toss with everyone being ranked as very good or excellent, he said. “A civil servant recently told me that when they joined the service nearly two decades ago, officers were afraid to be corrupt. Now, they are afraid to be honest,” he said.

“The irony,” a senior IAS officer said, “is that the government works so hard to recruit the best minds available into the civil services and then forces them into mediocrity”.

Some officials insist that the ability to work despite the pulls and pressures is one of the greatest strengths of the civil service vis-à-vis the private sector.

But it is something their job trains them to do from the moment they begin their first stint in a district.

“As district magistrate, you not only prioritise the allocation of funds in the face of competing demands from different departments as well as local political representatives; right from the MP down to influential local political leaders,” a senior IAS officer said.

The civil service will definitely be able to deliver better if there aren’t any pulls and pressures.

“But the bitter reality is, this may never happen… never mind what anyone tells you. Reforms are like this transparency bug … Everyone wants it but not for themselves,” said a government official with more than 20 years of experience behind him.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bad Governance leaves Bureaucrats disillusioned

Dear Friends

It is my responsibility to give both sides of the coin with respect to Civil Services and civil servant.This article falls under 'signficant issues in Indian administration' as far as UPSC current syllabus is considered. 

But this should not deter you by taking the exam - as there is no other career can be compared to civil services in India. But at the same time you should not be in an illusion that civil services is feather's bed.  Let me tell you one thing upfront - as you all know clearing civil services is itself a big achievement but its not an end but its a beginning of a long journey which is hailed as even more difficult than clearing the exam. The war between politicians and bureaucrats is long standing and will continue. How well a civil servant handle his political head will depend on his success as a civil servant.

But these are only informations - which can be true or false. What you need to understand is - these issues are happening in Indian Administration.


Disillusioned, dispirited, disgusted, disenchanted, dismayed, disoriented, demoralized, dejected…… these adjectives sum up the current state of bureaucracy in Andhra Pradesh.

For six years now, bureaucrats in the state have been in disarray. Not all of them, of course, but the majority who are committed to work and service of people are certainly feeling the discomfiture.

Deprived of suitable postings where they could function more effectively and deliver better, most of the bureaucrats – particularly the younger lot – are left distressed.

Obviously, this state of despondency among the cream of civil servants – a result of abysmal cadre management – has left a telling impact on the administration in the state.

Administration had, literally, gone to dogs during the regime of (late) Y S Rajasekhara Reddy between 2004 and 2009. And, the rot seems to be continuing even under his successor K Rosaiah.

When S V Prasad, the 1975-batch Indian Administrative Service officer, became the Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh on December 31, 2009, bureaucrats saw a ray of hope in him. Most of the IAS officers, especially the “juniors”, sincerely hoped things would change under the guidance of S V Prasad as he was perceived to be an able officer who had a better understanding of the “cadre.”

Alas, all such hopes seemed to have dashed.

Reading the latest list of transfers (of IAS officers) affected on April 2, one would be left with a sore feeling.

Here’s a classic example: N Nageswara Rao, an IAS officer of the 1992 batch, has been appointed Collector and District Magistrate of Khammam district. He would now be the senior-most officer among the district Collectors in the entire state. That’s, however, not the news. Nageswara Rao practically has 363 days of service left before he superannuates on March 31 next year.

Now, what’s the sense in appointing such an officer to an important post as a district Collector? Another officer M Purushottam Reddy of the 1996 batch, who has been appointed as Collector of Mahbubnagar district, is just two years away from retirement.

Of the 23 districts in the state, 11 districts now have promotee IAS officers as Collector and District Magistrate. Exclude the state capital Hyderabad district, it become 50:50 for regular recruits and promotees. This is something that hasn’t happened in the past.

Also, why did the government develop a sudden love for such officers and land them in prime posts? Nageswara Rao and another IAS officer P Venkateswarlu (1994), posted to Adilabad district as Collector, have already risen to the rank of ‘Secretary to Government’ and should ideally be relegated to suitable postings in the Secretariat or other departments.

There are many young and deserving IAS officers, that too regular recruits, eagerly waiting to be posted to the coveted job of a district Collector. These are the ones who actually need to be posted in the districts so that they can move around with agility, work with more vigor and produce better results. But certainly not the ones who are on the verge of retirement.

Consider another ridiculous thing: Natarajan Gulzar has been appointed Collector and District Magistrate of Hyderabad. He is an IAS officer (regular recruit) of the 1999 batch. Now, he will boss-over a promotee officer V Durga Das (Joint Collector), who technically is one year senior to him in the IAS.

This isn’t the first instance where such postings were given. During YSR’s regime, a similar thing happened in West Godavari where Lav Agarwal (1996 batch) was the Collector and B Ramanjaneyulu (1995) was the Joint Collector.

The Chief Minister might be unaware of such technicalities but what were the top bureaucrats, who were supposed to guide him in such matters, doing? Was the Chief Secretary unaware of these lapses? Was also the Chief Minister’s Principal Secretary Jannat Husain ignorant about it?

Such goof-ups will not only show them in poor light but also threaten to damage the system as such.