26 September 2023

INDIA: PS reform ‘the need of the hour’

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A Parliamentary Standing Committee has urged the Indian Government to recruit “specialised generalists who have domain-specific knowledge” into the Public Service in order to increase the efficiency of the bureaucracy.

The Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice also suggested grouping Ministries into clusters and assigning Public Servants with domain-specific knowledge to specific clusters.

The committee said reforming of the administration was “the need of the hour”.

“India needs specialised generalists in the Public Service having domain knowledge and work experience in a particular field, and not either a generalist or a specialist,” the committee report said.

A senior Public Servant who did not wish to be named said officials had been asking for this for a long time.

“Renowned poet and writer, Ashok Vajpayi (pictured) was made Secretary of the Department of Culture in Madhya Pradesh a long time ago,” the Public Servant said.

“He was responsible for opening a successful hub of cultural creativity in the State.”

“What would have happened if Vajpayi had been posted to the Coal Ministry?”

The committee said arbitrary postings could be debilitating and could affect the career trajectory of Public Servants as well as damaging general administration.

A member of the committee who also did not want to be named asked what was the point of deputing an officer to a Ministry where he would take a year to learn and understand the problems of that Ministry.

“Then, when he will be transferred to some other Ministry, he will take another year to understand problems of that Ministry,” the committee member said.

“Once assigned to a particular sector, a Civil Servant should spend the rest of his career within the sector concerned,” the member said.

“This system will enable Civil Servants to acquire skills, expertise and professional excellence in a particular domain.”

New Delhi, 13 March 2020

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