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.

Time to Change the Exam Pattern

Dear Friends,

Came across this article in 'The Hindu' wanted to share with you all.Even if there is a change - good news is Public Administration remains as this is core subject for any Administrative work

GM StudyCenter

Those aspiring to be civil servants must have not only the required skills and knowledge, but also the right values which would include integrity, commitment to public service and above all, commitment to the ideals and philosophy embodied in the Constitution.

So, a number of committees and commissions were set up to make recommendations on various aspects of recruitment. The first was the Macaulay committee of 1854. It established the principle of ‘transferability of academic talent to administration.' The Macaulay system continued till three decades after Independence.

In 1976, the Kothari committee recommended a sequential system of examination based on the dictum that the average quality would get richer as the stream proceeds from one ‘stage to the next'. Accordingly, the examination was designed as a sequential three-stage process: an objective-type Preliminary examination comprising one Optional and General Studies, a Main examination which would comprise nine written papers and, finally, a Personality Test.

In 1989, the Satish Chandra Committee was appointed to suggest reforms and it recommended minor changes to the Kothari model. Accordingly, an ‘Essay' paper was introduced and the marks for the Interview were enhanced. Presently, the Civil Services Examination is conducted on an annual basis on this pattern.

The new millennium demanded excellence at every level of governance which required almost total re-shaping, re-structuring of the economic as well as the administrative apparatus of the government. Responding to this need, the Y.K. Alagh Committee, in 2001, recommended significant changes.

At the Preliminary level, it suggested that the ‘optional' subject should be continued but the General Studies paper should be recast to that of a Civil Services Aptitude Test comprising questions on ‘basic awareness', ‘problem solving and analytical abilities' ( situation from the civil services arena to be taken to test reasoning and understanding of problems ) and ‘data analysis ability.'

In order to establish a level-playing field it recommended that the optionals at the Main examination be replaced by four compulsory papers: Sustainable Development and Social Justice, Science and Technology in Society, Democratic Governance, Public Systems and Human Rights. The Second Administrative Reforms (Veerappa Moily) Commission in its report in 2008 upheld the recommendations of the Alagh Committee and made a few more significant suggestions.

The first step in this direction is its proposal to introduce a Civil Services Aptitude Test at the Preliminary level from the year 2011.

The Preliminary examination is expected to be re-modelled in either of the following formats:

Format-I: In this, following the Alagh Committee recommendations, the Preliminary examination may comprise the following two objective-type papers: Optional Subject (300 marks) and Civil Services Aptitude Test (200 marks).

Format-II: Following the recommendations of P.S. Bhatnagar, the Preliminary examination may comprise the following two objective-type papers: Civil Services Aptitude Test (300 marks) and General Studies (300 marks).

The Union Public Service Commission may choose any of the above formats and a notification may be expected by May-June this year. Whatever the format, the Civil Services Aptitude Test appears to be on the anvil.

Likely pattern

A Civil Services Aptitude Test would comprise questions which would test the ‘problem solving', ‘analytical', ‘logical reasoning' and ‘decision-making skills' of the aspirant. To ensure that these questions are relevant they would necessarily be from the arena of civil services with an underlying essence of Public Administration in practice.

The UPSC is expected to push for changes at the level of the Main examination too. It is seriously examining the proposal of including compulsory papers exclusively from the domain of humanities based on the French model of examination. The compulsory papers that are expected to be introduced are: Sustainable Development and Social Justice; Democratic Governance, Public Systems and Human Rights; Indian Constitution with an emphasis on Indian Legal System including Administrative Law; Economic Theory and Indian Economic System; Administrative Theories and Organisational Behaviour and Indian Administrative System. However, these changes are not expected in the near future.


The news of any change is an unnerving moment for any serious aspirant. However, if one is mentally prepared, the transition becomes easier. Given below are a few broad guidelines to help the prospective aspirant to prepare for the examination:

1. First and foremost, there is only a proposal for a change in ‘principle'. The change is to be debated and accepted. The UPSC has to formally declare the new pattern. Till then, all aspirants should continue with the old pattern.

2. As the questions would be from the arena of the civil services, all aspirants irrespective of their background should try to understand the philosophy behind the Constitution, its ideals, its principles and its focus on development. Having understood the constitutional framework they should comprehend the position of the civil services in the relevant context.

3. Having acquired basic knowledge within the given parameters, the next step would be to understand the logic behind every provision. Till now, what was tested was the ‘what'; now, what would be tested will be the ‘why'.

4. The mode of preparation should change from the ‘descriptive' mode to the ‘explanatory' mode.