A parliamentary standing committee expressed serious concerns over the persistent shortage of officers.
The government has clarified that it does not propose to lower the age limit for general IAS-IPS aspirants from 32 years to 27 years, as suggested by Niti Aayog. It had also said that recruits should be placed in a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post. Earlier, at least three committees had recommended reducing the entry age for the civil service as a “much-needed” reform. But the government believes accepting the recommendation would come with a heavy political price, which it is loath to pay. The clarification should come as a relief to aspirants who start preparing late and want to join the bureaucracy.
Yet, while clearing the air on recruiting civil service officers, the government has no answer to meeting the shortfall of more than 2,400 vacancies in the IAS and IPS cadres. the situation in the IPS is getting worse as the number of IPS officers in total has seen a dip compared to last year. However, the number of IAS officers have increased marginally.
According to the official data compiled by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, in 2017 there was a shortage of 908 IPS officers which has increased and reached 970 till January 2018. A parliamentary standing committee expressed serious concerns over the persistent shortage of officers.
UP babus feel the ire
UP chief secretary Anoop Chandra Pandey is reportedly disappointed with several colleagues in the rank of principal secretary, secretary, and special secretary as they have not yet filed their field tour reports on the status of the government’s flagship projects. In a letter to all 75 officers, Mr Pandey has pointed out that 16 officers in August, 31 officers in September and 47 officers in October 2018 did not provide their tour reports to the government.
According to Mr Pandey, chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed that in future such “negligence” during tours of the districts would invite an adverse report against the officers. He also pointed out that this showed that the nodal officers are neither sensitive nor serious towards their responsibility of touring the districts. He further drew the attention of his colleagues that he has been asked to personally monitor their field tours in future. In Yogi’s raj, babus can no longer afford to ignore the rules of governance.
Ex-babus rule the roost
The appointment of four new information commissioners and a new chief information commissioner in the central information commission (CIC) recently was a long-delayed act by the government. After the retirements of chief information commissioner R.K. Mathur and information commissioners Yashovardhan Azad, Sridhar Acharyulu and Amitava Bhattacharyya, the commission, the highest adjudicating authority in RTI matters, was left with three information commissioners, against a sanctioned strength of 11.
The appointment of information commissioner Sudhir Bhargava as CIC, and former IFS officer Yashwardhan Kumar Sinha, former IRS officer Vanaja N. Sarna, former IAS officer Neeraj Kumar Gupta, and former law secretary Suresh Chandra has filled the gap somewhat. However, not everyone is happy about the new appointments. The Centre seems to have ignored the pleas for adequate representation of non-bureaucrats in the commission in accordance with the Right to Information Act. The panel remains very much an ex-babus’ club.
However, the government has raised hopes that the remaining vacancies will be filled soon. But not many expect the government to fill the remaining posts from outside the bureaucracy.