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Washington study praises Modi initiative to "reform" IAS, seeks GDP-based growth as performance benchmark

Modi addressing IAS probationers in Feb 2015
By Rajiv Shah
A new study by a top Washington DC-based think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has sought to give thumbs up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent review of the negative performance of IAS bureaucrats who have completed 30 years in service, with 13 of them “compulsorily retired” in 2015-end for their “unsatisfactory performance.”
Carried out by two of the think tank’s scholars – Milan Vaishnan, senior associate, and Saksham Khosla, research analyst – the study wants Modi to continue the process, insisting, “This process of dismissing officers who are negatively rated at predictable career benchmarks should be institutionalized so that it does not rest on the preferences of any one government.”
Titled “Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data”, the study, however, quotes critics as saying that the new process has been instituted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), is suggests “centralizing power in the PMO” which “does not bode well for an effective administrative machinery.”
It further quotes critics to say that recently there have been “frequent reshuffles at the joint-secretary level”, and there is a falling number of officers “willing to work at the centre” which is the “evidence of this weakness.”
The study also laments that it calls the “most visible and lamentable aspect of political interference in the civil service has been the phenomenon of punitive transfers”, underlining “Today, in 2016, there is a lingering view that corruption and politicization of the civil services have become more, not less, entrenched.”
It quotes from an expert analysis of career histories of 2,800 IAS officers – combined with data on political changes, proxy measures of bureaucrat ability, and a measure of the perceived importance of different IAS posts – to show “how politicians use frequent reassignments to pressure bureaucrats.”
Pointing towards “two major sources of bureaucratic inefficiency”, the study says, “First, because politicians seek to exercise a degree of control over civil servants, important bureaucratic positions are not necessarily filled by the most qualified officers available.”
It adds, “Second, junior IAS officers systematically underinvest in skill acquisition because loyalty to powerful politicians, as opposed to merit-based advancement, offers an alternative path to career success.”
“The extent of what is often referred to as the Transfer-Posting Raj is extraordinary”, the study notes, adding, “The probability that an IAS officer would be transferred in a given year was 53 percent, and this is increased by 10 percent when a state elects a new chief minister.”
“The average tenure of an IAS officer in any given post was a mere sixteen months, which stands in contrast to recommendations of various expert committees that have argued for fixed tenures as long as five years”, it underscores.
The study insists that one of the bases for considering “an efficient bureaucracy” should be “economic performance”, quoting from an expert analysis, which “calculated a ‘predicted effectiveness’ score using a combination of individual and organizational level characteristics.”
It adds, “This comprehensive measure of predicted effectiveness of senior IAS officers was positively associated with per capita state-level gross domestic product (GDP) and industrial growth. Predicted effectiveness was also positively associated with higher total annual public revenue.”
The study simultaneously says, “Data suggests bureaucrats with strong local ties to their communities often outperform outsiders when it comes to delivering public goods.”
Quoting a 2015 paper by Rikhil Bhavnani and Alexander Lee, the study says, the data of 4,800 serving IAS officers suggest “those IAS officers serving in their home state (known as their state of domicile)—enhanced service delivery between 1991 and 2001.”

Comments

All this is facile data/info. The truth is that these clerks have been the bane of this country ever since the country attained political freedom in 1947. The inheritors of the mantle of the former ICS-selected and trained to serve colonial powers- these criminals in the corridors of power have led to governance becoming a synonym for corruption and... treason! One doesn't have to go further than the implementation of the only citizen-centric and democratic law in the country- the Right to Information Act- to understand the enormity of the crimes of these thugs, scoundrels and traitors! Those interested in my trysts with these criminals through RTI Act may go through my blogs at raviforjustice.blogspot.in

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