Civil Services Reforms

Civil Services Reforms

[pib] Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS)PIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CPGRAMS

Mains level : Various grievance redressal mechanism


The Union Minister for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions has recently launched the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) 7.0 version.


  • CPGRAMS is one of the flagship initiatives for the reformation in governance started by the Indian central government through addressing the grievances of general public.
  • The system has been designed in-house by the National Informatics Centre team.
  • It was created in June 2007 by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances.
  • Under the public grievance mechanism, any citizen of India can raise their problems, grievance or pleas to the central govt and state government Ministries and Departments.
  • Grievances can be submitted to all-important portfolio ministers and departments. It has a telephonic feedback feature also.
Civil Services Reforms

[pib] Nagpur Resolution for empowering citizensPIB


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nagpur Resolution

Mains level : Various good governance initiatives

The ‘Nagpur Resolution- A holistic approach for empowering citizens’ was adopted during a Conference on ‘Improving Public Service Delivery – Role of Governments’, in Nagpur, Maharashtra.

Nagpur Resolution

The Conference resolved that Government stakeholders shall collaborate to:

  • To empower the citizens by policy interventions for better service delivery through timely updation of citizens charters, implementation of enactments and benchmarking standards for continuous improvement;
  • To empower citizens by adopting a bottom-up approach to bring massive improvements in quality of grievance redressal and reduction in timelines of grievance redressal;
  • To adopt a holistic approach of systemic public grievance reforms through improved mapping, formulation of monitoring matrix, data collection and evaluation in quality of grievance redressal;
  • To provide an enabling environment for States and Ministries/ Departments of the Government of India for creating web portals and to adopt a holistic approach for improved service delivery through digital platforms;
  • To focus on dynamic policy making and strategic decisions, monitoring of implementation, appointment of key personnel, coordination and evaluation;
  • To achieve a sense of common identity by exchange of technical expertise in the areas of Improved Service Delivery between the paired States under the Ek Bharat – Shresht Bharat Program;
  • To work towards long-term engagements in the areas of Improved Service Delivery for Empowering Citizens through greater cooperation between the DARPG and the participating States and,
  • To ensure timely publication of Good Governance Index to identify the quality of governance in 10 sectors especially those pertaining to welfare and infrastructure at the Union, State and District levels.
Civil Services Reforms

[op-ed snap] Uncaging Indiaop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Civil Service Reforms


There is a need for civil service reforms to transform our economy.

A short story

  • P N Haksar wrote a letter to J R D Tata saying that businessmen were not doing enough for India’s development. 
  • He responded, 
    • I began my 55-year-old career as an angry young man because I couldn’t stomach foreign domination.
    • I end it as an angry old man… because it breaks my heart to see the continuing miserable fate of the vast majority of our people.
    • For much of this, I blame years of ill-conceived economic policies of our government. 
    • Instead of releasing energies and enterprises, the system of licenses and controls imposed on the private sector, combined with confiscatory personal taxation, not only discouraged and penalised honest free enterprise but encouraged, and brought success and wealth, to a new breed of bribers, tax evaders, and black marketeers. 

Reforms in the economy

  • Reforms over 35 years since J R D’s letter — delicensing, deregulation, Aadhaar, UPI, inflation targeting, Bankruptcy, GST, lower corporate taxes, etc. — are India’s strong foundations for a $5-trillion economy. 
  • Reaching a $10-trillion economy and a per capita income close to what China has today needed a new human capital regime for India’s 20 million civil servants.

A $10tn economy – what it would be like

  • 80% of our labor force works outside farms. 
  • We have 200 cities with more than a million people (today – 52). 
  • Our cities meet the Marchetti constant (30-minute work commutes). 
  • Our government borrows at less than 4%
  • Our Aadhaar-linked land markets equalise rental yields and mortgage borrowing rates. 
  • PSU banks are governed by an independent holding company with no access to taxes. 
  • Our credit to GDP ratio rises to 100% (50% now) because our financial institutions know how to lend and recover money. 
  • Government school enrollment stops declining because learning outcomes improve. 
  • We have attracted China factory refugees that are going to Vietnam and Malaysia today. 
  • The global capital glut of negative interest rates chasing growth underwrites our investment needs. 
  • Fiscal discipline delivers low inflation. 
  • 50% of our college-going-age kids go to a diverse higher education system (25% in a homogenous system today). 
  • The policy encourages formal hiring. Our reformed social security system covers 60% of workers (today – 20%).

Problems in achieving this vision

  • Regulatory cholesterol universe for employers – 57,000 compliances, 3,100 filings and 4,000 changes a year. 
  • Hostility to private enterprises comes from toxic civil service thought-worlds like prohibited till permitted, know-it-all rather than learn-it-all, too small for big things but too big for small things, poor and jerky law drafting, contempt for execution complexity, immaculate conception over continuous improvement, stereotyping the private sector as big companies rather than MSMEs, only using punishment to enforce policy rather than design-driven by domain specialisation, and not viewing wealth creators as national assets. 
  • Listed PSUs have destroyed $150 billion in value over the last decade. 
  • Cutting this regulatory cholesterol needs a climate change for civil servants.


  • A new human capital regime starts with two projects each in six areas of structure, staffing, training, performance management, compensation, and culture
  • Structure 
    • Project 1 involves rationalisation: We don’t need hundreds of PSUs and departments in 55 central ministries (Japan has 9; the US has 14, the UK has 21). 
    • Project 2 involves reverting the cylinder to a pyramid – 250+ people in Delhi with Secretary rank.
  •  Staffing 
    • Project 1 eliminates the sanctioned and actual strength gap because this is possible only with good people being overworked, non-urgent work neglected or squatting on unnecessary posts. 
    • Project 2 creates cognitive diversity and competition with 20% lateral entry. 
  • Training 
    • Project 1 involves restructuring how courses are chosen – demand rather than supply-driven, how course nominations choose people, how the courses are evaluated, and how course results integrate with performance management. 
    • Project 2 involves making learning continuous rather than episodic.
  • Performance Management 
    • Project 1 involves a forced curve for appraisals of outstanding (20%), good (60%) and poor (20%). 
    • Project 2 involves replicating army thresholds where people retire at 50 if not shortlisted for promotion
  • Compensation 
    • Project 1 involves moving to a cost-to-government number by monetising benefits. 
    • Project 2 involves freezing salaries at the bottom (we pay too much) and raising them at the top (we pay too little).
  • Culture 
    • The tone from the top around corruption and differentiation. Too many civil service leaders overlook graft among subordinates or don’t question the processes that breed corruption. 
    • Leaders punish good performers by writing performance appraisals that don’t differentiate between gaddha (donkey) and ghoda (horse), giving top jobs by seniority, and allowing automatic promotions that create a pool of “promotable but not postable”. 
    • Differentiation needs fear of falling and hope of rising.


Cutting edge economics views development as a game of scrabble where vowels provided by the government enable the private sector to make more words and longer words. The current civil service fails to provide enough vowels; the steel frame has become a cage. For too long, the brain of the Indian state was not connected to its backbone. It’s time to connect the backbone to its hands and legs.

Civil Services Reforms

In news: National Recruitment Agency (NRA)Priority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRA

Mains level : Need for centralised recruitment


  • The Finance Ministry has approved a proposal to streamline recruitment of some posts in the government along with various equivalent recruitment in public sector banks.
  • A new National Recruitment Agency (NRA) will be set up to conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for all these competitive examinations, in which an estimated 2.5 crore candidates appear annually.

National Recruitment Agency (NRA)

  • The proposed NRA will conduct preliminary examinations for all these recruitment, which are at present conducted by the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).
  • As per the proposal, the NRA will subsequently forward the list of qualifying candidates to the respective recruiting agencies to conduct the mains examinations.
  • The SSC and IBPS, it is learnt, will not be disbanded for now and will conduct the mains examinations as usual.
  • The basic idea behind this proposal is to shortlist qualifying candidates through a Common Eligibility Test before sending them for the mains examination.

Why a new agency is proposed?

  • The proposal for a new agency is meant to streamline recruitment process on subordinate-rank posts in the government.
  • The proposed NRA is expected to reduce the burden of SSC and the IBPS, among others, from holding preliminary recruitment exams, which is an extensive exercise.
  • Once up and running, NRA will work as a preliminary single-window agency to shortlist qualifying candidates from bulk of applicants and forward the list to SSC, IBPS, etc, to hold the mains.
  • According to an estimate, more than 2.5 crore candidates sit for these prelims, most of them conducted by SSC.
  • Recruitment conducted at present through the SSC and proposed to go to the new agency include the Combined Graduate Level (CGL) examination to enter government departments.

For clerical level

  • Similarly in line with CGL, recruitment tests for clerical-level recruitment in public sector banks are proposed to go to the NRA.
  • The proposed agency, however, will not be in charge of recruitment of Probationary Officers (PO) in banks.
Civil Services Reforms

[op-ed snap] Forging the steel frameop-ed snap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Mussorie Academy - Civil Services


The 60-year-old Mussoorie Academy deserves some credit for producing officers who have contributed to nation-building.


  • The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration was simply called the Academy of Administration when it was set up in 1959 in Mussoorie. 
  • It signalled to systematically train members of the higher civil services in order to equip them to be the change agents of a resurgent India. 
  • The two All-India Services, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service attracted some of the finest minds from the university system. 
  • The IAS motto, ‘Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam (proficiency in action is yoga)’, and the Academy song, ‘Hao Dharomete Dheer, Hao Karomete Bir (Be firm in your faith, courageous in action)’, symbolised the nation’s expectation from them. 
  • The Academy introduced in 1960 a common Foundation Course (FC) in order to “instil a shared understanding of government and build camaraderie among the civil services”. 
  • It is the professional training institution for the IAS and continues to conduct an FC for various All-India and Central Services.

Changing with times

  • In the last six decades, there have been transformational changes in the country. 
  • The civil servants have also had to constantly upgrade themselves.
  • The Academy has been steered in critical junctures by administrators such as A.N. Jha, P.S. Appu, B.N. Yugandhar and N.C. Saxena. 
  • The content and methodology of training have changed to meet the demands of time.
  • The pattern introduced in 1969 — of district training being sandwiched between institutional exposures at the Academy — has remained broadly unaltered. 
  • On successful completion, IAS trainees are now awarded an M.A. degree in Public Management by the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
  • The Academy also conducts mid-career training programmes for officers, in keeping with their varying job requirements from policy implementation towards policy formulation. 
  • The Academy now houses five national research centres on rural studies, disaster management, gender, public systems management, and leadership development and competency assessment. 
  • Pursuant to the Kargil Review Committee recommendations, a joint civil-military programme on national security was introduced in 2001.

Challenges remain

  • How much of its effort gets reflected in the performance of officers remains a moot question. The correlation between the training imparted in Mussoorie and the quality of public services in the Indian polity should be established. 
  • There has been no serious attempt to record the experiences of the trainees/officers at the field/secretariat levels and publish them in scholarly journals, enabling others to benefit from such exposures. 
  • The Academy Journal, The Administrator, does not seem to have any discernible impact on the academic discourse on the various facets of our governance. 
  • What have been the outputs of the five national centres? How does such research inform the training curriculum? 
  • The Academy hasn’t yet realised its potential to emerge as the main think tank for civil service reforms.
  • The public sometimes resent the bureaucracy, often for valid reasons. Politicians criticise the bureaucracy as blocking the course of development. The reputation of officers is being unduly tarnished. The Academy should help build a national consensus on these contentious issues.
  • Civil servants should maintain their integrity and efficiency while serving in a system that deals with power play and corruption. 


  • In defending and expanding the constitutional values and in adhering to the spirit of various progressive legislation, the IAS and other Services have played a significant role in nation-building. 
  • If one looks at the trajectory of independent India and compares it with that of our immediate neighbours, our higher bureaucracy appears to be a defining difference. 
Civil Services Reforms

Govt. sacks tainted officersPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Civil services reforms in India

  • According to an official release, 15 IRS officers in the Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs (CBIC) cadre, who had attained the age of 50 years and above, have been given retirement without notice.

Compulsory retirement

  • Under 56 (j), the performance of an officer who has turned 50 or 55 or has completed 30 years of service (whichever is earlier) is being reviewed to ascertain if he/she is liable for compulsory retirement.
  • Though the rule that provides for compulsory retirement of government staff in public interest has existed for several decades, it has sparingly been invoked.
  • The order said that the each official retired will be paid a sum equivalent to the amount of his pay plus allowances for three months equivalent to last drawn salary.

Rule 56 of Fundamental Rules

  • Rule 56 of Fundamental Rules states that the appropriate authority has the absolute right to retire, if it is necessary to do so in public interest.

Perform or Perish

  • In the case of officers who have entered the government service before the age of 35 years and attained the age of 50 years and in other cases where the officers have attained the age of 55 years or have completed 30 years of service, the government begins periodic review three to six months in advance and takes a decision on the basis of effectiveness of an officer.
  • This is a potent tool in the hands of the Union government as the top court of the country has upheld its validity.

Validated by the Court

  • Supreme Court has not only held the validity of Fundamental Rules 56 but it has also held that there is no need to issue a show-cause notice to such officers before serving a retirement notice to the concerned officer.
  • These people are those who have completed more than 50 years.
  • And the message has to be sent to others and that is why the government is sending the message.

For all services

  • The provision is there for all the services. It has to be done by the ministry concerned.
  • For the IAS officers it is DoPT and for IPS officers it is MHA so the decision has to be taken by them.
Civil Services Reforms

Cabinet SecretaryPriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Read the attached story

Mains level : Cabinet Secretariat and its Functions

Rules amended to re-appointment

  • The government amended a six-decade-old rule to grant a three-month extension to a serving Cabinet Secretary.
  • According to All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958, the government can give extension in service to a cabinet secretary provided the total tenure does not exceed four years.
  • This move has made him the longest-serving bureaucrat in the country’s history following the change in the rule.

Who is Cabinet Secretary?

  • The Cabinet Secretary is the top-most executive official and senior-most civil servant of the Government of India.
  • She/he is the ex-officio head of the Civil Services Board, the Cabinet Secretariat, the IAS, and all civil services under the rules of business of the government.
  • She/he is the senior-most cadre post of the Indian Administrative Service,[6] ranking eleventh on the Indian order of precedence.
  • She/he is under the direct charge of the PM and is appointed for a fixed tenure of two years. 
  • The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Transaction of Business and the Allocation of Business Rules 1961.


  • She/he facilitates smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments of the Government.
  • This Secretariat provides:
  1. Secretarial assistance to the Cabinet and its Committees
  2. Assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination ,
  3. Ironing out differences amongst Ministries/ Departments
  4. Evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ adhoc Committees of Secretaries.

Origin of the post

  • Before the adoption of the portfolio system in India, all Governmental business was disposed of by the Governor-General in Council, the Council functioning as a Joint Consultative Board.
  • This procedure was legalized by the Indian Councils Act, 1861 during the time of Lord Canning, leading to the introduction of the portfolio system and the inception of the Executive Council of the Governor-General.
  • The Secretariat of the Executive Council was headed by the Private Secretary to the Viceroy, but he did not attend the Council meetings.
  • Lord Willingdon first started the practice of having his Private Secretary by his side at these meetings.
  • Later, this practice continued and in November, 1935, the Viceroy’s Private Secretary was given the additional designation of Secretary to the Executive Council.
  • The constitution of the Interim Government in 1946 brought a change in the name, though little in functions, of this Office. The Executive Council’s Secretariat was then designated as Cabinet Secretariat.
  • It no longer remained concerned with only the work of circulating papers to Ministers and Ministries, but developed into an organisation for effecting coordination between the Ministries.
Civil Services Reforms

9 professionals selected as joint secys in biggest lateral induction into govt servicePriority 1


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various appointments

Mains level : Lateral entry scheme

  • The government has selected nine professionals, largely from the private sector, as joint secretaries in various departments, signalling a major shift in the entry of professionals in shaping policies.
  • This is perhaps the first time that a large of group of experts with domain knowledge will enter the government through the lateral-entry process.

Appointment as Joint Secys

  • So far, the joint secretary-level officers are largely drawn from the pool of people who clear the civil services examination conducted by the UPSC.
  • To ensure the same standards, the entire process of the selection of these experts was conducted by the UPSC.
  • They will join their respective departments on a “contract basis”.

Not for the first time

  • Earlier, some experts had joined the government through the lateral-entry route in ministries such as finance, power and sanitation.
  • The list of professionals included those like Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Bimal Jalan, Vijay Kelkar (former petroleum and finance secretary), R V Shahi (former power secretary), apart from Parameswaran Iyer, who is currently sanitation secretary, and Rajesh Kotecha, who heads the Ayush ministry.

Assist this newscard with:

Burning Issues- Lateral Entry into Civil Services

Civil Services Reforms

Explained: India’s Official Secrets Act, its history and usePriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Official Secrets Act, RTI

Mains level: Utility and misuse of the aforesaid Act


  • The Attorney-General has asked for “criminal action” against those responsible for making “stolen documents” on the Rafale deal public, has brought the Official Secrets Act into focus.
  • The colonial-era law meant for ensuring secrecy and confidentiality in governance, mostly on national security and espionage issues.
  • Governments have also faced criticism for misusing the law against journalists and whistleblowers.

The Official Secrets Act

  • The Indian Official Secrets Act, 1904 was enacted during the time of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.
  • It was an amended and more stringent version of The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act XIV) of 1889, brought in at a time when a large number of powerful newspapers had emerged in several languages across India.
  • Fearless editors opposed the Raj’s policies on a daily basis, building political consciousness among the people, and facing police crackdowns and prison terms to uphold their mission and convictions.
  • One of the main purposes of the Act was to muzzle the voice of nationalist publications.
  • In April 1923, a newer version of the Official Secrets Act was notified.
  • The Indian Official Secrets Act (Act No XIX of 1923) replaced the earlier Act, and was extended to all matters of secrecy and confidentiality in governance in the country.

Ambit of the Act

  • The secrecy law broadly deals with two aspects — spying or espionage, which is dealt with in Section 3 of the Act, and disclosure of other secret information of the government, which is dealt with in Section 5.
  • The secret information can be any official code, password, sketch, plan, model, article, note, document or information.
  • Since the classification of secret information is so broad, it is argued that the colonial law is in direct conflict with the Right to Information Act.
  • Under Section 5, both the person communicating the information, and the person receiving the information, can be punished by the prosecuting agency.

Did the law undergo any changes over the years?

  • No. However, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (SARC) Report, 2006, suggested the Act should be substituted by a chapter in the National Security Act that incorporates the necessary provisions.
  • The reason: it had become a contentious issue after the implementation of the Right to Information Act.
  • The OSA does not define “secret” or “official secrets”. Public servants could deny any information terming it a “secret” when asked under the RTI Act.

Why it is problematic?

  • The SARC report stated that as the OSA’s background is the colonial climate of mistrust of people and the primacy of public officials in dealing with the citizens, it created a culture of secrecy.
  • However, confidentiality became the norm and disclosure the exception. This tendency was challenged when the Right to Information Act came into existence.

Is withholding information the only issue with the Act?

  • Another contentious issue with the law is that its Section 5, which deals with potential breaches of national security, is often misinterpreted.
  • The Section makes it a punishable offence to share information that may help an enemy state.
  • The Section comes in handy to book journalists when they publicise information that may cause embarrassment to the government or the armed forces.
  • The Delhi High Court in 2009 has ruled that publishing a document merely labelled as “secret” shall not render the journalist liable under the OSA.

Do other nations have similar laws?

  • Several countries including the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, and New Zealand continue to use the legislation to protect state secrets.
  • In 2001, Canada replaced its OSA with a Security of Information Act. The “official secrets” come under the Espionage Act in the U.S.

With inputs from:

The Hindu

Civil Services Reforms

Government plans to rename Indian Forest ServicePrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IFS and its mandate

Mains level:  IFS and its role in tribal development


  • The Centre has proposed a pro-tribal measure – renaming of the Indian Forest Service as Indian Forest and Tribal Service.

Why such move?

  1. The move follows a directive from the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) to this effect.
  2. Forest Service officials have always been the first point of government contact for tribals.
  3. But there is no awareness among the service officials on the different problems.
  4. In fact, tribals often complain of harassment like not being allowed to carry out their headloads of minor forest produce.

About Indian Forest Service

  1. IFS is one of the three All India Services of the Government of India after IAS and IPS.
  2. It was constituted in the year 1966 under the All India Services Act, 1951.
  3. The main mandate of the service is the implementation of the National Forest Policyin order to ensure the ecological stability of the country through the protection and participatory sustainable management of natural resources.
  4. An IFS officer is wholly independent of the district administration and exercises administrative, judicial and financial powers in his own domain.
  5. Earlier, the colonial govt. had constituted the Imperial Forest Service in 1867 which functioned under the Federal Government until ‘Forestry’ was transferred to the Provincial List by the Government of India Act, 1935.
  6. Thereafter subsequent recruitment to the Imperial Forest Service was discontinued.
Civil Services Reforms

[pib] Integrated Government Online Training Programme (iGOT)PIB


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: iGOT

Mains level: Certified training of Civil Servants


  • The iGOT (Integrated Government Online Training Programme) developed by Department of Personnel and Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, was launched.

Why such move?

  • The National Training Policy-2012 mandates that all civil servants will be provided with training to equip them with the competencies for their current or future jobs.
  • The current structure of training for Government servants including domestic and foreign training is mostly available to very small section of the government servants.
  • The outreach of the existing training setup is very limited in view of the large workforce employed in various States/UT Governments.

IGOT Programme

  1. Aim: To provide a broad training eco-system creating synergies across various premier training institutes of the country and to cater the training needs which can encompass all the officials in the entire hierarchy of Central and State Governments.
  2. The IGOT will augment the existing training mechanism with online module-based training coupled with certification on flexitime basis.
  3. The training will be focussed and targeted to the requirement of the officials.

What is included in IGOT Programme?

  1. The e-Learning mode provides unparalleled opportunities for training to a large number of civil servants scattered all over the country.
  2. The latest technologies make available vast resources of learning material and online courses, providing the individuals enormous choices and flexibility in learning.
  3. It will provide a single point of access to the repository of training resources.
  4. The training courses under this programme will be accessible through DoPT’s web portal.
  5. The initiative aims at “Competent Civil Services for Good Governance”.
Civil Services Reforms

[op-ed snap] Reforming the civil servicesop-ed snap


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Debate surrounding the lateral entry scheme


Lateral entry scheme

  1. A recent move by the Centre seeking applications from ‘outstanding individuals’ to fill in 10 posts of Joint Secretary has caused consternation
  2. The response from applicants, however, has been overwhelming

Need for Lateral Entry

  1. In our Cabinet system of government with collective responsibility, the Secretariat plays a crucial role
  2. The concept of a ‘generalist’ higher civil service can be contextualised against technical/specialised bodies on one side and the lay political executive on top
  3. Higher bureaucracy in the secretariat often has to examine proposals received from specialised departments/corporations
  4. They prepare a cohesive note in consultation with other ministries/departments like Finance, Personnel and Law to facilitate the Minister concerned or the Cabinet to take a final decision
  5. To steer a proposal through this labyrinth requires both expertise and experience
  6. The key officials in the secretariat, from the Joint Secretary to the Secretary, are the point persons guiding this consultative process and advising the political executive to take a final call
  7. A Joint Secretary to the government has this crucial “line” function to perform in policy formulation and its implementation
  8. The final decision rests with the Joint Secretary/Additional Secretary, the Secretary and finally the Minister/Cabinet

Apprehensions regarding IAS officers expertise

  1. Can an IAS officer, however brilliant and diligent she might be, based on her experience at the sub-district and district levels, handle diverse portfolios from civil aviation to power to defence
  2. Can a career civil servant, recruited through a tough competitive examination, cope with the increasingly complex matrix of decision-making at the senior levels of government
  3. Whether the higher bureaucracy is equipped to comprehend complex economic and technical issues in order to properly aid and advise the Minister

Lateral entry already exists

  1. Lateral entry at the level of Secretary has met with some success
  2. Secretaries to the Departments of Atomic Energy, Science & Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research, Health Research, and Agricultural Research have always been scientists of eminence
  3. In departments like the Railways, Posts, etc., all senior positions are manned by Indian Railway or Postal Service officers

What needs to be done?

  1. Concerted efforts should be made to help IAS officers, after their first decade of “immersion” in districts, acquire specialisation in broad sectors like social, infrastructure and financial, based on their qualification, aptitude and preference
  2. The government must ensure that only candidates, the likes of whom are not available in the existing system, are appointed
  3.  If they turn out to be truly outstanding, there should be provisions to induct them permanently in the government, with the approval of the UPSC, and consider them for higher postings
  4. IAS and other officers can be allowed to gain work experience, for a limited period, in the private sector

Way Forward

  1. The government should have the best people at the helm of affairs and if there is a need to supplement the existing stock of talent by attracting fresh blood into the system, the IAS should welcome such an inclusionary move
  2. The lateral entry scheme, if implemented properly, may foster more competitive spirit, break the complacency of the higher civil servants and eventually prove to be a pioneering initiative in public interest
Civil Services Reforms

Lateral entry of officers: Search panel decides UPSC will choosePrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Selection of Personnel’s in Lateral entry scheme

Mains level: Lateral entry into civil services.


More faith in UPSC

  1. In order to limit scope for political intervention, the Search-cum-Selection Committee has decided that the appointment process to be handled by UPSC through the ongoing process.
  2. The panel headed by the Cabinet Secretary reposed more faith in the UPSC to make the appointments than take it upon the committee itself.

No affirmation yet over selection process

  1. No prior consultancy was done with any of the 10 ministries on how to go about the selection process.
  2. Therefore, the committee had no clue on how to select the bureaucrats.
  3. Also missing is the assessment criteria for screening individual applications, as these are likely to be varied as per demands of various ministries.
  4. The panel was therefore in two minds: either to hand over the shortlisting of candidates to the UPSC too or to let each ministry prune the applications for the UPSC’s selection procedure.

Screening through Experts

  1. In case if PM decides to hand over the shortlisting to the concerned ministry, one option would be to hand over the applications to a team of sectoral experts for screening.
  2. Those shortlisted would then be scrutinized by a panel of government representatives.
  3. Assessing a candidate’s domain knowledge and experience before assessing his motivation is a crucial task which can be effectively done by sectoral experts.

Lateral Entry to bypasses Reservations for Field Expertise

The ‘lateral entry’ route will also bypass the UPSC system under which 15 per cent seats are reserved for Scheduled Castes, 7.5 per cent for Scheduled Tribes and 27 per cent for OBCs in the IAS.

Civil Services Reforms

Government opens doors to lateral entry


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Read the attached story


Govt invites applicants at Joint Secretary-level posts

  1. In an apparent bid to bring in expertise from the private sector individuals and infuse talent into the country’s bureaucracy, the government has invited “outstanding individuals” to join the government at the joint secretary level at the Centre.
  2. For starters, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has invited applications for 10 senior level positions.
  3. The departments for which applicants are sought include Revenue, Financial Services, Economic Affairs, Commerce and Civil Aviation, Agriculture and Cooperation, Highways and Shipping and Environment and Climate Change.

Eligibility Criteria

  1. The notification specifies a minimum age of 40 years and minimum qualification of graduation from a recognized university or institute while higher qualification will be an added advantage.
  2. As per the notification, the eligibility criteria includes “Individuals working at comparable levels in Private Sector Companies, Consultancy Organisations, International/Multinational Organisations with a minimum of 15 years’ experience” other than those working in central public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies, statutory organizations, research bodies and universities.
  3. According to the DoPT, the recruitment will be on contract basis for three to five years
Civil Services Reforms

IB background checks mandatory for regulatory body heads: Government


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions & responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intelligence Bureau, Appointments Committee of the Cabinet

Mains level: Ensuring better deployment of officials at important posts

New norms notified by the personnel department

  1. According to a recent order from the government, background checks by the Intelligence Bureau has been made mandatory for candidates shortlisted to fill posts of heads of various regulatory bodies and tribunals
  2. Verification of character and antecedents of the shortlisted candidates shall be made by the administrative ministry/department through Intelligence Bureau

Selection process

  1. The selection of chairpersons and members of regulatory bodies and tribunals are done by respective selection committees or search-cum-selection committees
  2. These panels shall shortlist candidates (two or three times the number of vacancies) in the first round
  3. Based on the clearances from the IB, the selection committee shall recommend a panel of candidates, which shall be submitted for the consideration of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC)
  4. This submission will be done by the administrative ministry after obtaining approval of the concerned minister in charge


Appointments Committee of the Cabinet

  1. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) decides appointments to several top posts under the Government of India
  2. The committee is composed of the Prime Minister of India (who is the Chairman), the Minister of Home Affairs
  3. Originally the Minister in-charge of the concerned Ministry was also the part of the committee but as per the new notification (as on 14.7.16) the minister of concerned ministry has been excluded from the committee
  4. The Establishment Officer’s Division (EO Division) processes all proposals for senior appointments in the Government of India that require approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet under the Government of India Transactions of Business Rules, 1961
  5. The Establishment Officer (EO) is the ex-officio Member Secretary of the Civil Services Board that is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary

Other Cabinet Committees

The following are the other important cabinet committees:

  • The Political Affairs Committee deals with all policy matters pertaining to domestic and foreign affairs
  • The Economic Affairs Committee directs and coordinates the governmental activities in the economic sphere
  • Parliamentary Affairs Committee looks after the progress of government business in the Parliament

Except for the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation and Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, all other committees are chaired by the Prime Minister

Civil Services Reforms

Key changes likely in Civil Services exam

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Baswan, Alagh, and Khanna Committee

Mains level: Civil services reforms

Civil Services examination likely to see major changes

  1. The Civil Services examination that selects the top bureaucrats in the country is likely to see major changes
  2. These may include reduction of upper age limit and removal of an optional paper in the mains
  3. This is to ensure level-playing field for all the aspirants

Recommendations forwarded to DoPT

  1. These recommendations were made by the Baswan Committee, which is yet to be made public
  2. It has been forwarded to the Department of Personnel for taking a final decision on the same and its consequent implementation (according to sources)
  3. It is widely believed in the official circles that the above two key recommendations may be accepted

Student views taken into consideration

  1. The suggestion to remove the optional paper is being considered a major reform for which the Baswan Committee depended on the feedback from aspirants
  2. Students overwhelmingly supported it when the committee sought their responses online
  3. Most aspirants feel it would be a game-changer as there is a huge difference in the award of marks in the optionals, while some subjects have innate advantages


  1. The trainers of Civil Services’ aspirants feel the removal of optionals may work to the advantage of urban youngsters since it would test their general knowledge and would be on other governance-related subjects like public administration and law
  2. The languages that are quite popular for scoring high, may lose relevance now.
  3. Literature and popular optional subjects would lose relevance too
  4. Positive: It would provide a level-playing field for all the aspirants since the cross-domain movement would reduce drastically

Other committees on Civil services reforms

  1. Alagh Committee
  • It recommended that the optional subject be removed from the mains while continuing the same in prelims
  • It also suggested that the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) be introduced

2. Khanna Committee

  • The CSAT was introduced after the Khanna Committee report recommended the same in 2010
Civil Services Reforms

[op-ed snap] Generalist vs specialist


Mains Paper2: Governance| Role of civil services in democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims: Not much

Mains level: If lateral entry is allowed in civil services, it could be a game changing decision. The government has sought recommendations in this regard. This issue can also be linked to GS Mains paper 2 topic i.e. role of Civil service in Democracy. UPSC has asked question on Similar type of issue in Mains 2014(Domain based Civil service!)



  1. This article explains how the government can bring much needed external expertise into the civil services system.


  1. The IAS was modeled on the colonial era Indian Civil Service as a generalist service to deliver the core functions of the state — collect taxes and maintain law and order thus specialization remaining the major lacuna of the system.
  2. The challenge of development in a large, populous and impoverished country was probably not on the radar screen when the IAS was designed.
  3. So to deliver in the changing dynamics the IAS adapted by retooling itself as ‘’development agent’’.
  4. But with economic reforms the nature of administration changed, demanding domain knowledge especially at the policy level. Role and relevance of IAS was again questioned.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Two views emerged-

 First view: Best leadership is provided by generalist

  1. They have a greater breadth of knowledge and understanding. Specialists tend to have a tunnel view.
  2. The domain knowledge input to the policy making can be accomplished by employing domain experts advising the generalist leader in decision making. According to this view, a good IAS officer can head the Department of Agriculture as competently as she would the Department of Shipping.


Second view:

  1. The IAS, as generalists, tend to over-weigh their experience of the process and form over understanding of policy content. Only specialist can provide leadership in the functional area.
  2. There is no need to look for binary solutions. The Constitution Review Commission 2002 suggested the “need to specialise some of the generalists and generalize some of the specialists”.


 Career progression of an IAS officer-

  1. The first decade of an IAS’ career is typically spent in field postings with responsibility for policy execution which hones her administrative and people management skills, apart from imparting invaluable understanding of ground realities.
  2. From there an IAS graduates to policy formulating positions, at the centre and state levels. This transition provides the ideal marker for beginning to specialise — combining the soft skills they have learnt with the hard skills of a specialised domain.


Why managing Specialisation can be a problem?

  1. There remains many questions to be answered like how much specialisation should there be?
  2. How should officers be allocated among the specialisations?
  3. What should be the weightages for expressed preferences and revealed competencies? Once allocated a specialisation, how should an officer’s career be managed?


  1. Categorise ministries broadly into three groups — welfare ministries, regulatory ministries and economic ministries since experience suggests that each of these categories demands broadly similar behavioural attributes and aptitudes. But in this, allocating officers across specialisations should not be reduced to a formula.This will facilitate officers in specialising as they move up the hierarchy based on their revealed aptitude and performance record.
  1. Specialisation need not be mandatory. One of the tasks of cadre management will indeed be to match the supply and demand across specialisations and generalists.Once they are allocated specialist positions, officers should be afforded opportunities to deepen their domain knowledge through study and training
  1. An IAS should be allowed to work outside the government, preferably in a non-governmental organisation for a few years, irrespective of their area of specialisation. This is bound to make them more useful and relevant civil servants.


Civil Services Reforms

Issues with Central services

  1. Administrative Reforms Commission: For all services, advance projection should be made of the requirements of personnel for 5 years at a time and these should be followed by mid-term appraisals
  2. Why? Deficiencies in the management of the various cadres
  3. Parity: It is not clear if the task force would address the most contentious and sensitive issue related to parity between the IAS and other technical services, including that of doctors, engineers and scientists
Civil Services Reforms

Centre’s task force for cadre review of Group A Central Services

  1. Objective: Cadre Review exercise is meant to ensure the smooth functioning of the service and keeping up the morale of its members
  2. The decision of the Department of Personnel is on the directive of the Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister
  3. Terms of Reference: To make a comprehensive study of the structures of organized Group A level
  4. Recommend ideal structure expected at the higher levels of the posts of Director General to Additional Secretary
  5. Suggest ways of ideal recruitment and the way forward to mitigate stagnation level
Civil Services Reforms

Sankalp project

  1. Context: Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare has initiated Sankalp scheme in Jan 2014
  2. About Sankalp: Aims at channelizing skill, experience and time available with retired govt servants into meaningful, voluntary contribution to society
  3. Importance: This would add to the social capital of country and at the same time restore dignity and purpose to life post-retirement
  4. For Awareness: Department has been conducting Pre-Retirement Counseling workshops regularly
Civil Services Reforms

PFRDA eyes ‘soft compulsion’ to hike pension coverage

  1. PFRDA is considering a plan that will make it mandatory for employers to automatically enrol their employees into a pension scheme with an option to the subscriber to opt out
  2. Move has been proposed after a disappointing response to the govt’s ambitious Atal Pension Yojana
  3. Atal Pension Yojana, launched last year, failed to meet its ambitious 20 million enrolment target by December-end
  4. Soft compulsion is used in many countries to increase the coverage under private pension system
  5. Generally known as automatic enrolment in private pensions with an option to the subscriber to opt-out
Civil Services Reforms

A just exemptionop-ed snap

There is a moral and economic case not taxing NPS withdrawals.

  1. Currently, subscribers’ contributions to the NPS as well as interest earned during the accumulation phase are tax-exempt. But withdrawals from the scheme attract tax ie EET 2.
  2. Which is not the case with the Employees’ Provident Fund, Public Provident Fund, or even equity-linked savings scheme investments which are EEE.
  3. Differential tax treatment makes no sense, especially when the NPS is a social security scheme unlike the PPF, which is a pure interest-earning, tax-saving instrument.
  4. India has no real social security scheme, more so for the unorganised and informal sector that makes up about 88 per cent of its total workforce.
  5. It will make NPS more attractive and increase its subscriber base.
  6. More funds into NPS will help finance long gestation projects which offer no immediate return.
Civil Services Reforms

‘Anubhav’ – showcasing outstanding work done during service

  1. The Department of Pension & Pensioner’s Welfare has launched an online software, ‘Anubhav’.
  2. For showcasing outstanding work by retiring employee and sharing experience of working with the Government.
  3. It is envisaged that over a period of time, this will create a wealth of institutional memory with replicable ideas and suggestions.
  4. This tool in addition, gives opportunity to the retiring employee to invest his experience, skill and time for growth of social capital of the country.
Civil Services Reforms

Now DoPT approval must to suspend IAS officers

  1. IAS officers can now be suspended only on the recommendation of the Central Review Committee and with the approval of the minister in charge of the DoPT.
  2. States will now have to inform the Centre within 48 hours of suspending any all-India services officer (IAS, PS and IFS) working for them.
  3. The Central Review Committee will now have the secretary of the DoPT as chairperson and its members will be the DoPT’s establishment officer.
  4. These rules are aimed at checking any arbitrary suspension by the governments.
  5. These All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Amendment Rules, 2015, replace the rules of 1969.

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