Civil Services Reforms

Civil Services Reforms

[pib] Mission Karmayogi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission Karmayogi

Mains level : Civil Services Reforms

The Union Minister of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions has informed about the Mission Karmayogi to Parliament.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The Mission Karmayogi recently seen in news is related to:

a) EPFO reforms

b) Labour laws reforms

c) Civil Services reforms

d) Artisans and Handicrafts

Mission Karmayogi

  • The mission is established under the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB).
  • It is aimed at building a future-ready civil service with the right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of New India.
  • It is meant to be a comprehensive post-recruitment reform of the Centre’s human resource development, in much the same way as the National Recruitment Agency approved last week is pre-recruitment reform.

Why such a mission?

  • The capacity of Civil Services plays a vital role in rendering a wide variety of services, implementing welfare programs and performing core governance functions.

Major undertakings of the scheme

  • The scheme will cover 46 lakh, Central government employees, at all levels, and involve an outlay of ₹510 crores over a five-year period, according to an official statement.
  • The programme will support a transition from “rules-based to roles-based” HR management so that work allocations can be done by matching an official’s competencies to the requirements of the post.
  • Apart from domain knowledge training, the scheme will focus on “functional and behavioural competencies” as well, and also includes a monitoring framework for performance evaluations.
  • Eventually, service matters such as confirmation after the probation period, deployment, work assignments and notification of vacancies will all be integrated into the proposed framework.
  • The capacity building will be delivered through the iGOT Karmayogi digital platform, with content drawn from global best practices rooted in Indian national ethos.

Apex bodies under the mission

  • The Prime Minister’s Public Human Resource Council will be set up as the apex body to direct the reforms.
  • There will be an autonomous Capacity Building Commission to be established to manage the reformed system and harmonize training standards across the country so that there is a common understanding of India’s aspirations and development goals.
  • A wholly government-owned, not-for-profit special purpose vehicle will be set up to own and operate the digital platform and its content.

Answer: C

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Civil Services Reforms

Changes needed in lateral entry requirements

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Making lateral entry a success

It has been a while since the government introduced the provision of lateral entry into civil services. This article suggests the changes that need to be made in the system to attract the best talent and facilitating their success.

Administrative reforms in India

  • The lack of administrative reform in India has frustrated many stakeholders for a long time.
  • One of the key focus areas of such reform is enabling lateral entry into an otherwise permanent system of administrators.
  • Eight professionals were recruited for joint secretary-level positions in various ministries.
  • Some other positions at the joint secretary and director-level have been advertised.

Changes needed

1) Entry requirements need to be relaxed

  • In the permanent system, IAS officers get promoted to joint secretary level after 17 years of service and remain at that level for ten years.
  • If similar experience requirements are used for lateral entry, it is unlikely that the best will join because in the private sector they rise to the top of their profession at that age.
  •  To attract the best talent from outside at the joint secretary level, entry requirements need to be relaxed so that persons of 35 years of age are eligible.

2) Facilitating lateral entrants for success

  • There are many dimensions to this. For a start, there are several joint secretaries in each ministry who handle different portfolios.
  • If assigned to an unimportant portfolio, the chances of not making a mark are high.
  • A cursory look at the portfolios of the eight laterally-hired joint secretaries doesn’t suggest that they hold critical portfolios.
  • There must also be clarity in what precisely is the mandate for the lateral entrant.
  • To be disrupters, lateral entrants need to be able to stamp their authority on decision making.
  •  For this to happen, there need to be more lateral entrants at all levels in ministries.
  • In the functioning of government, there is a long chain in decision-making and a minority of one cannot override it.
  • Also, it requires an understanding of the system and an ability to work with the “permanent” establishment.
  • No training or orientation is provided for this.

Consider the question “What are the advantages of lateral entry in the civil services? What are the challenges in the success of lateral entrants? Suggest the measures to improve it.”

Conclusion

Lateral entry, like competition in any sphere, is a good thing. But serious thinking is required on entry requirements, job assignments, number of personnel and training to make it a force for positive change. Some reform of the “permanent” system — particularly its seniority principle — may be a prerequisite.

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Civil Services Reforms

‘Lateral Entry’ into Bureaucracy: Reason, Process, and Controversy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Lateral entry

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the Indian Express.

Background

  • Earlier this month, the UPSC issued an advertisement seeking applications for the posts of Joint Secretary and Director in central government Departments.
  • These individuals, who would make a “lateral entry” into the government secretariat, would be contracted for three to five years.
  • These posts were “unreserved”, meaning were no quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.

UPSC begins lateral entry

  • The new ad is for the second round of such recruitments.
  • Earlier, the government had decided to appoint experts from outside the government to positions of Joint Secretary in different Ministries/Departments and at the level of Deputy Secretary/Director in 2018.

Q.In light of the growing need for Lateral Entry in top secretarial posts, discuss the need for enhancing the professional competence of Civil Servants in India.(150W)

What is ‘Lateral Entry’ into government?

  • NITI Aayog, in 2017 had recommended the induction of personnel at middle and senior management levels in the central government.
  • These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services.

What are the ranks invited for this entry?

  • A Joint Secretary, appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), has the third-highest rank (after Secretary and Additional Secretary) in a Department.
  • It functions as the administrative head of a wing in the Department.
  • Directors are a rank below that of Joint Secretary.

What is the government’s reasoning for lateral entry?

  • Lateral recruitment is aimed at achieving the twin objectives of bringing in fresh talent as well as augments the availability of manpower.
  • Government has, from time to time, appointed some prominent persons for specific assignments in government, keeping in view their specialised knowledge and expertise in the domain area.
  • Indeed, the first ARC had pointed out the need for specialization as far back as 1965.
  • The Surinder Nath Committee and the Hota Committee followed suit in 2003 and 2004, respectively, as did the second ARC.
  • In 2005, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) recommended an institutionalized, transparent process for lateral entry at both the Central and state levels.

Why is lateral entry sometimes criticised?

  • Groups representing SCs, STs and OBCs have protested the fact that there is no reservation in these appointments.
  • Some argue that the government is opening back doors to bring its own lobby openly.

Mentor’s comment: Why is lateral entry necessary?

For the sake of political economy

  • Pushback from bureaucrats, serving and retired, and the sheer institutional inertia of civil services has existed largely unchanged for decades have prevented progress.
  • The importance of economic effectiveness has risen concurrently.
  • That stagnation means the civil services as they exist today—most crucially, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS)—are unsuited to the country’s political economy in many ways.
  • The need for having bureaucrats act as binding agents, no longer exist.
  • Others, such as socioeconomic development, have transmuted to the point where the state’s methods of addressing them are coming in for a rethink.

Conclusion

  • Pushback is inevitable since every smallest policy change is resisted in our country.
  • It is both a workaround for the civil services’ structural failings and an antidote to the complacency that can set in a career-based service.
  • The second ARC report points out that it is both possible and desirable to incorporate elements of a position-based system where lateral entry and specialization are common.

Way forward

  • India’s civil services need reform. There is little argument about this.
  • These are not entirely new in India.
  • Domain experts have been brought in from outside the services to head various committees, advisory bodies and organizations.
  • Internal reforms—such as insulation from political pressure and career paths linked to specialization—and external reforms such as lateral entry are complementary.

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Civil Services Reforms

West Bengal IPS Controversy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Read the attached story

Police personnel should not be made instruments of a political battle

Tug of war between political parties in West Bengal

  • The appointment of three IPS officers of the West Bengal cadre to various posts by the Union Home Ministry on Thursday has escalated the confrontation between the State and the Centre.
  • Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has termed the deputation order despite the State’s objection “a colourable exercise of power and blatant misuse of emergency provision of IPS Cadre Rule 1954”.
  • The constant hostility between the State and Central governments is now taking a turn for the worse ahead of the 2021 Assembly election.
  • The tug of war began after a convoy of BJP President J.P. Nadda came under stone pelting in the State on December 10. The BJP apparently holds the IPS officers accountable for the incident.
  • After an initial move to recall these officials was resisted by the State, the Centre has invoked Section 6(1) of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, which says that “in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government….”

Administrative instruments Vs. Political battles

  • The CM’s style of managing the police force has gained attention for the wrong reasons in the past.
  • Senior officials are seen as allied with the ruling govt and the oppositions determined drive to capture power in the State is multi-pronged.
  • The Supreme Court restrained West Bengal from taking any “coercive action” against several opposition leaders in criminal cases registered against them by the State Police.
  • The opposition continues to knock on the doors of the Court and the Election Commission of India to bring pressure on the State government.
  • By enforcing its writ on IPS officers, the Centre is sending a signal to all officers that their conduct will now be under scrutiny.

Never-ending issues between the state and the centre

  • The central schemes, Ayushman Bharat and PM Kisan Samman Nidhi are also a bone of contention.
  • The Bengal government has refused to implement them, demanding that the funds be routed through the State.
  • The CM has also complained of insufficient central assistance to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and cyclone Amphan.
  • The Centre’s earlier demand that the Chief Secretary and DGP attend a meeting in New Delhi on the State’s law-and-order situation increased tensions.
  • The partisan use of the personnel and instruments of the state by parties in power as is happening in this tussle is a disturbing signal for democracy and federalism.

Practice Question: The partisan use of the personnel and instruments of the state by parties in power is a disturbing signal for democracy and federalism. Elaborate.

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Civil Services Reforms

Our civil services need a reboot

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission Karmayogi

Mains level : Paper 2- Mission Karmayogi

The Mission Karmayogi seeks to overhaul the bureaucracy in the country. The article discusses its aims and the challenges it could face.

Context

  • The Union cabinet’s approval of Mission Karmayogi has raised the hope of a national bureaucracy that is adequately responsive to the country’s needs.

Need for the overhaul

  • The system’s focus needs to be role- rather than rule-specific,
  • Coordination should prevail over battles for control, and IAS officers ought to be enablers instead of red-tape wrappers. 
  • There has been a near consensus in the country that our system of policy implementation needs an overhaul.

What  is Mission Karmayogi

  • It is an upskilling initiative for government officials that aims to fix and galvanize India’s administration.
  • As envisaged, the Karmayogi training mechanism will cover an estimated 4.6 million officials at all levels.
  • Due to the scale of the exercise elaborate multi-tier command structure is expected to be put in place for it.
  • At its apex would be a Human Resource Council, headed by the Prime Minister.
  • Human Resource Council shall approve and monitor various skill-enhancing programmes as well as review the performance of employees routinely.

Challenges

  • Given the way our bureaucracy has operated for decades, Mission Karmayogi is likely to prove disruptive.
  • The idea of being subject to continuous evaluation by a central authority could unsettle some officers.
  • There has been some disquiet within IAS ranks over the Centre’s lateral induction of people for senior roles, perhaps the new mission will resolve such disgruntlement.

Conclusion

Gentralized supervision of such large numbers does not promise to be easy. Globally, centralization has been observed to militate against diversity of thought. And that’s vital to the governance of a country like India.

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Civil Services Reforms

Mission Karmayogi for Civil Services Capacity Building

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mission Karmayogi

Mains level : Civil services reforms

The Union Cabinet gave its approval for Mission Karmayogi, a new national capacity building and performance evaluation programme for civil servants.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The Mission Karmayogi recently seen in news is related to:

a) EPFO reforms

b) Labour laws reforms

c) Civil Services reforms

d) Artisans and Handicrafts

Mission Karmayogi

  • The mission is established under the National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB).
  • It is aimed at building a future-ready civil service with the right attitude, skills and knowledge, aligned to the vision of New India.
  • It is meant to be a comprehensive post-recruitment reform of the Centre’s human resource development, in much the same way as the National Recruitment Agency approved last week is pre-recruitment reform.

Why such a mission?

  • The capacity of Civil Services plays a vital role in rendering a wide variety of services, implementing welfare programs and performing core governance functions.

Major undertakings of the scheme

  • The scheme will cover 46 lakh, Central government employees, at all levels, and involve an outlay of ₹510 crores over a five-year period, according to an official statement.
  • The programme will support a transition from “rules-based to roles-based” HR management so that work allocations can be done by matching an official’s competencies to the requirements of the post.
  • Apart from domain knowledge training, the scheme will focus on “functional and behavioural competencies” as well, and also includes a monitoring framework for performance evaluations.
  • Eventually, service matters such as confirmation after probation period, deployment, work assignments and notification of vacancies will all be integrated into the proposed framework.
  • The capacity building will be delivered through iGOT Karmayogi digital platform, with content drawn from global best practices rooted in Indian national ethos.

Apex bodies under the mission

  • The Prime Minister’s Public Human Resource Council will be set up as the apex body to direct the reforms.
  • There will be an autonomous Capacity Building Commission to be established to manage the reformed system and harmonize training standards across the country so that there is a common understanding of India’s aspirations and development goals.
  • A wholly government-owned, not-for-profit special purpose vehicle will be set up to own and operate the digital platform and its content.

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Civil Services Reforms

Setting up of National Recruitment Agency

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRA , its features

Mains level : NRA and its mandate

The Union Cabinet has approved the creation of a National Recruitment Agency (NRA) for conducting a Common Eligibility Test (CET) for various government jobs.

Try this question:

Q.Discuss the role and function of the newly setup National Recruitment Agency.

National Recruitment Agency

  • NRA will be a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act, headed by a Chairman of the rank of the Secretary to the Government of India.
  • It will have representatives of the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance/Department of Financial Services, the SSC, RRB and IBPS.
  • It is envisioned that the NRA would be a specialist body bringing the state-of-the-art technology and best practices to the field of Central Government recruitment.
  • The NRA will conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for recruitment to non-gazetted posts in government and public sector banks.
  • This test aims to replace multiple examinations conducted by different recruiting agencies for selection to government jobs advertised each year, with a single online test.

Salient features of NRA

  • The Common Eligibility Test will be held twice a year.
  • There will be different CETs for graduate level, 12th Pass level and 10th pass level to facilitate recruitment to vacancies at various levels.
  • The CET will be conducted in 12 major Indian languages. This is a major change, as hitherto examinations for recruitment to Central Government jobs were held only in English and Hindi.
  • To begin with, CET will cover recruitments made by three agencies: viz. Staff Selection Commission, Railway Recruitment Board and the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection.  This will be expanded in a phased manner.
  • CET will be held in 1,000 centres across India to bid remove the currently prevalent urban bias. There will be an examination centre in every district of the country.  There will be a special thrust on creating examination infrastructure in the 117 aspirational districts.
  • CET will be a first level test to shortlist candidates and the score will be valid for three years.
  • There shall be no restriction on the number of attempts to be taken by a candidate to appear in the CET subject to the upper age limit.
  • Age relaxation for SC/ST and OBC candidates as per existing rules will apply.

Advantages for students

  • Removes the hassle of appearing in multiple examinations.
  • Single examination fee would reduce the financial burden that multiple exams imposed.
  • Since exams will be held in every district, it would substantially save travel and lodging cost for the candidates. Examination in their own district would encourage more and more women candidates also to apply for government jobs.
  • Applicants are required to register on a single Registration portal.
  • No need to worry about clashing of examination dates.

Advantages for Institutions

  • Removes the hassle of conducting preliminary / screening test of candidates.
  • Drastically reduces the recruitment cycle.
  • Brings standardization in the examination pattern.
  • Reduces costs for different recruiting agencies. Rs 600 crore savings expected.

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[pib] Appointment of the UPSC Chairman

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UPSC and other constitutional bodies

Mains level : NA

The President of India has appointed Pradeep Kumar Joshi as Chairman of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements:

  1. The Executive Power of the Union of India is vested in the Prime Minister.
  2. The Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (CSP 2015)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Backgrounder: UPSC

  • Established on 1 October 1926 as Public Service Commission, it was later reconstituted as Federal Public Service Commission by the GoI Act 1935; only to be renamed as today’s UPSC after the independence.
  • The UPSC is India’s premier central recruiting agency responsible for appointments to and examinations for All India services and group A & group B of Central services.
  • The Department of Personnel and Training is the central personnel agency in India.
  • It is also required to be consulted by the Government in matters relating to the appointment, transfer, promotion and disciplinary matters.

Appointments to the UPSC

  • As per Article 316 of the constitution, the Chairman and other members of UPSC shall be appointed by the President.
  • In case the office of the Chairman becomes vacant his duties shall be performed by one of the other members of the Commission as the President may appoint for the purpose.
  • Under Art. 318, the President is empowered to determine the number of members of the Commission and their conditions of service.
  • As per Art 319, a person who holds office as Chairman shall, on the expiration of his term of office, be ineligible for re-appointment to that office.
  • But, a member other than the Chairman shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman of the UPSC.
  • Also, the Chairman of a State PSC shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman or any other member of the UPSC.

Removal of members/chairman

  • As per Art. 317, the Chairman or any other member of a UPSC shall only be removed from their office by order of the President on the ground of “misbehaviour” after the Supreme Court inquiry report.
  • The President may suspend the Chairman or other member of the Commission until a report of the Supreme Court is received.

Distinguishing features

  • The commission reports directly to the President and can advise the Government through him.
  • Although, such advice is not binding on the Government.
  • Being a constitutional authority, UPSC is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s higher judiciary and lately the Election Commission.

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Civil Services Reforms

What is Civil Services Board?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Civil Services Board and its functions

Mains level : Civil services reforms

Punjab government notifying Civil Services Board providing for a fixed tenure of IAS officers has left its leaders in the state upset.

Practice questions for mains:

Q. Discuss how fixed tenure for Civil Servants helps provide better administration.

What is the Civil Services Board (CSB)?

  • Civil Services Board is responsible for the entry-level recruitment and subsequent job promotions below the rank of Joint Secretary.
  • As per a state government notification dated June 2, CSB will be headed by Chief Secretary, with Personnel Secretary, and either Financial Commissioner (Revenue) or Home Secretary (who so ever is senior in the pecking order) as its members.
  • The board provides for the state to follow the Centre’s guidelines on giving a fixed tenure of at least two years for cadre officers.
  • They cannot be transferred before that and if anyone recommends their transfer then the board will examine and affect it.
  • The final authority is the Chief Minister.

Why had the previous government in the state declined to follow the Centre’s guidelines?

  • The previous government had refused to follow the guidelines on the argument that appointment and transfer of IAS officers are a prerogative of the state.
  • If their term is fixed, it had argued, it will not only create functional and administrative problems but also overstep the authority and jurisdiction of the state government.

Why are the leaders upset?

  • The political leadership of the ruling party in the state has usually always had a say in postings and transfers of district officials in the state.
  • The opposition has been known to lend supremacy to its leadership over bureaucrats in the state.
  • But ever since the ruling government has taken over, the grouse of its leaders has been that they do not get due respect in their own regime.
  • This has led to several confrontations in the past.
  • With the fixed tenure rule and Chief Secretary’s board having all power to examine a recommendation for a transfer, the leaders feel their influence has been reduced to nought and all power handed to the CS.

How do they see the board to be lending officer’s supremacy over them?

  • If any officer is to be transferred before completing his minimum tenure, the board will record the reasons for the transfer.
  • It will seek views from the concerned officer and then give a judgement on whether the tenure of the officer is to be ended mid-way.
  • The final authority will be the CM.

What is the government’s argument in its favour?

  • It says if the officials have a fixed tenure they will be able to provide better administration.
  • They will also feel safe and try to stick to the rules instead of pleasing political bosses.
  • It says every official requires 3-6 months to get into the groove at his new place of posting.
  • If he stays there for two years, it would mean better delivery and stable tenure to people.

What do the officials say?

  • They feel the rules will not be followed in letter and spirit unless a few officers go to the courts and ensure that the guidelines are followed.
  • They say that neighbouring Haryana had the board in place but the guidelines were not followed.

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

Note4Students

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.

About CPGRAMS

  • CPGRAMS is one of the flagship initiatives for the reformation in governance started by the Indian central government through addressing the grievances of the 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.

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Civil Services Reforms

[pib] Nagpur Resolution for empowering citizens

Note4Students

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.

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Civil Services Reforms

[op-ed snap] Uncaging India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Civil Service Reforms

Context

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.

Reform

  • 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.

Conclusion

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.

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Civil Services Reforms

In news: National Recruitment Agency (NRA)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NRA

Mains level : Need for centralised recruitment

Context

  • 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.

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[op-ed snap] Forging the steel frame

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Mussorie Academy - Civil Services

CONTEXT

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

Background

  • 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. 

CONCLUSION

  • 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. 

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Govt. sacks tainted officers

Note4Students

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.

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Cabinet Secretary

Note4Students

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.

Functions

  • 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.

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

Note4Students

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

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

Note4students

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


Context

  • 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

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Civil Services Reforms

Government plans to rename Indian Forest Service

Note4students

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


News

  • 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.

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