Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Do Away with the IAS Exam
Yesterday evening,I had a chance to talk to my friends grandfather who served in The Indian Army during the Second World War.Our conversation drifted from one topic to another, until like most "argumentative Indians" ,we were discussing politics.And what followed was pure shock and disbelief,as twining his left mustache the old soul said "Beta jin logo ne angrezo ka zamana dekha hya ,woh aaj ka deskh dekh kar udas hote hya " ( those who have seen the British India,are just saddened at the plight of current Independent India")As I drove back home on thea cold December night,I thought about what the old man had just told me and eventually found him quite correct.
Independent India under the shroud of so called "democracy" ,is actually a nation of power hungry veterans,its a land where misuse is a rule rather than an exception.Its a jungle rule out here..."Survival Of The Fittest",...where your fitness is determined by your networking with the netas and babus.If we do a deep analysis ,none would be more responsible for the current crisis than the so called exclusive Indian IAS Officers.
The Indian Civil Services were started by the Britishers to select people from the Indo British Empire who could effectively implement policies framed in a foreign land.Over the years ,as with most Indian laws India adapted the system completely without realizing the need for changes that a dynamically changing democratic country like ours required.In addition the Indian Government over the years did away with various checks that the Britishers had put on their Civil officers to control the misuse of power,something that is so inherent in nature of all Indians.
Over the years ICS has been transformed to the IAS,the "bada sahib" and the "collector sahab" has transformed to "Indian Babu" and the motly "Ambassdors" of yester years have given to suave "lancers" but the "RED LIGHT" still lingers on .Despite the increasing temptations and ever increasing challenges that CIVIL SERVANTS have to face everyday the UPSC has changed little in the selection process of the top civil servants of the country.No wonder the UPSC and IAS Exam have failed the country.For every Sandhya Jain of RTI fame ,we have 100 corrupt Goswamis.With such a high faliure rate,clearly the process of filtering the candidates to top posts in India ,needs a major revamp.
Before I go on to out rightly criticizing the current selection process,let me analyze the principal requirements that an IAS officer must be endowed in today's challenging work environment.
1)High analytical skills and ability to come up with practical innovative solutions to meet challenging needs of Indian Sub Continent (rather than blindly copying standard western solutions)
2)Ability to keep an integrative moral and ethical standard under high performance and political pressures
3)Advanced knowledge of the particular field in which the IAS officer is supposed to deliver solutions
4)Ability to identify and respect the ground realities of Indian people and various supporting staff whose services are required to implement a particular solution
5)Ability to differentiate between social and commercial achievements of a particular task
6)Ability to implement a challenging solution while working in cross functional teams with people from different cultural backgrounds and people of different educational levels
The current IAS selection process is a three staged one.Beginning with a multiple choice preliminary paper which tests candidates on general studies and an optional subject (where most candidates take high scoring papers like psychology etc )followed by a main exam which tests candidates on two languages,a General studies paper and optional papers.The candidates who qualify the main exam then have to attend one interview.The candidates qualifying interview are allocated to various Civil Services on basis of combined scores of Main exam and Interview
A little thought on the above process and we can easily conclude that the process fails to test candidates on almost all of the above counts.While their is no stage (except a short interview) where candidates are tested on their analytical ability,what is worse is that candidates are tested on parameters which are useless.What is the need of testing candidates on optional subjects like psychology ,mathematics or history.I fail to see any significant role being played by knowledge of these subjects in performance of duties expected of a civil servant.Whats worse ,UPSC is known not even use the simple process of normalization while comparing performance in different optional subjects.(Is UPSC headed by fools or what..normalization is the basic of stats)To prove my point..would administrators like Sardar vallabh Bhai Patel or ancient strategists like Chanakya have been able it to make IAS .If not ,your system is flawed and needs to be revamped.Most aspirants point out that the flaws of written exam is made out by a rigorous final interview ,which is conducted by the who's who of modern India.I beg to differ on this.One interview can never successfully test candidate on multiple and challenging parameters on which a candidate is expected to deliever.Moreover IAS interviews are notorious to being conducted on the whims and fancies of panelists rather than a scientific selection procedure.Moreover most of the times the focus is more on testing the candidate on his knowledge rather than his approach to a problem,his creativity,his analytical ability and his moral integrity.
Most of the Western Counteries including our beloved UK ,that gifted us the Civil Examination system have done away with similar systems of selecting their civil servants.Among othe flaws already discussed above,the present system fails to allocate and use specialized knowledge of the candidates to specific domains.For eg a doctor can be made head of civil engineering dept and vice verse and then shifted to public reforms after a year.Most Western Countries now follow a competitive direct recruitment or Campus recruitment process.What do you think would be better recruiting IIT/IIM grads for running specific departments or babus selected from an old cracking system,the whole world has left behind.The top MNC's of the world recruit direct talent from our campuses and are certainly much more efficient than the "babu" system.So why is the government so shy to offering direct opportunities to our IIT/IIM grads who would love working with government but not waste few years of their lives preparing for a useless exam
So we need a revamp and we need it quick .Heres what I think should be done with the current system:
1)The openings at IAS level be filled in two ways and a specific ratio be mantained to the way in the use of following ways:
a)direct recruitment from premier Indian Campuses like IIT's,IIM,s,NIT and other premier universities (Planning Commission has already started recruiting from IIm's and IIt's)
b)The openings be filled by promotion of high caliber people already present in specific departments
2)Institute high growth accelerated programs for making the IAS service attractive.Establish quantitive performance matrices which be used for pay hikes,payment of variable pay and promotions through out the careers.Abolish the phenomena time bound promotions.In addition any IAS officers who fails to deli ever below a set standard be asked to leave the service
3)Recruitment be done as per requirements in specific departments.This MBA's be hired for heading administrative positions in districts while doctors be hired for administration in helathcare etc
4)A specific recruitment programme with tests on analytical ability,problem solving and psychometric be established to give chance to those candidate who are not studying in premier universities but have ability to deliver
5)A specific ratio be maintained for candidates selected through campuses and recruitment programmes
The above reforms might sound daring to some and foolish to others but they are really a need of the hour.In a competitive world which India hopes to dominate in near future if our "babus" continue to lurks in howlish circles of corruption ,greed and misuse of power,I have only one thing to say "GOD SAVE MY COUNTRY"..WAKE UP UPSC..perhaps somebody is listening