1. Introduction
  2. Refer to the piecemeal reforms stated by various Committees.
  3. Suggest the changes you feel are required.
  4. Conclusion

The civil services are seen as the backbone of governance for the Indian state. Over time, and with changes in technology, economy and society, the quality requirements for selection of civil servants have changed.

  • 1951 Report on Public Administration by A.D. Gorwala: Recommendations: Recruitment to all grades of Government Services should be conducted in a manner which eliminates scope for patronage and suggested that this principle should also apply to temporary staff.
  • 1969 ARC’s report on personnel administration: emphasis on proper planning of personnel and cadre managements; Recruitment to the IAS/IFS and other non-technical class I services should be made only through a single competitive examination; upper limit to take Civil Services competitive examinations raised to 26 years; Direct recruitment to class II posts of section officers should be stopped & may be filled by promotion of Assistants. Recruitment to clerical and other secretarial posts should be through simple objective tests.
  • 1976 DS. Kothari committee Report: Two stage examination process-preliminary followed by a main examination; suggested changes in the training pattern for Civil Services.
  • Yoginder K. Alagh committee Report: testing the candidates in a common subject rather than on optional subjects.
  • 2004 Hota committee Report: Introduction of aptitude and leadership tests for selection.

Yet, the bureaucratic infrastructure has remained more or less the same and grounded in the mistrust of citizens. The piecemeal approach of tweaking subject papers, both in the preliminary and main rounds or changing the age and subject requirements will not cut it.

Changing the eligibility criteria: There is no direct link between a graduate’s area of study and the civil services. Higher education in India, with some exceptions, is not up to the mark. It can be concluded that changing the eligibility criterion to class 12 graduate would increase the recruitment base and thus promote equity and merit. Anyhow, the recruitment is done through rejection, which can be done at any stage.

Changing the age criterion: With the change in eligibility criterion, the logical age qualification would then become 17-21 years of age, for the general category. The government recognises a person to complete their class 12 by 18 years of age. A one-year margin on either side shall be provided to the students to accommodate brilliance or a late start. A young recruit is more susceptible to training and can respond positively.

Changing the training module, pattern and duration: The training duration for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) be five years, which, in case of other civil services, may be three to five years. In this manner, they may be conferred with a bachelor’s degree in case of a three-year module and an integrated master’s degree in case of the five-year module.

The real test is to bring reforms into the system of recruitment for the various branches of the civil service. Ad hoc-ism and subjective assessments are to be avoided. The challenge is how not to graft alterations on a 20th century system of recruitment criteria but to assess the requirements that we must fulfil if we are to create a truly modernised, performance-oriented 21st century civil service that conforms to the best global standards.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish October 15, 2022