Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Civil Service as a career . . . .An address to the Youth

I got this opportunity to address about 2000 meritorious students of all City Montessori Campuses of  Class 12th(ISC 2012 Batch) on 28th November , 2011  in Lucknow .The subject was career guidance , with special reference to the option of civil services as a career.One of my motivations was to inspire some of those bright youths , who have the character as well as the ideals to build the nation and serve the masses ,to join the civil services.
Two broad options before the youth of today are  to become an entrepreneur , or to go for a job .Entrepreneurship gives freedom  but involves uncertainties and insecurities .This is a whole , wide area , and I decided to speak about it at length in a separate session .
For those who want to go for a job , the two major  areas are the government / public sector on one hand , and the private sec tor / multinationals on the other hand.In India , in government sector , we have All India services and central services.The three All India services are IAS(Indian Administrative Service), IPS(Indian Police Service) and IFS(Indian Forest Service).The central services include IRS(Indian Revenue Service), IC&CES(Indian Customs and Central Excise Service), IFS(Indian Foreign Service), IRTS(Indian Railways Traffic Service)IPoS(Indian Postal Service),IA&AS(Indian Audit &Accounts Service) , etc.
At the state level , we have PCS(Provincial Civil Service) and PCS(J) (Provincial Civil Service Judicial).We also have PCS Allied Services like Transport , Taxation Service , etc.
At local level , we have municipal  services and Panchayat services.
It is very difficult to compare the services in the public /government sector with those in the private sector including those in the multi- nationals.In public domain , we also have non-profits , International agencies like the World Bank  and the UNO/UN agencies , Universities and professionals.All India services /central serviceslike  IAS/IPS/IRS have some unique edge over the private sector jobs.
1.There is a security of job under article311 of the Constitution of India .
2.Salaries have become competitive , especially after the Sixth Pay Commission .
3.These services enjoy status, prestige and recognition in the society .
4.These have administrative powers .They also have proximity to political power.
5.IAS offers tremendous variety of jobs like:
1)Governance , security against terrorism , Food security , Elections , Global climate change , Environment , Clean water and air .
2)Strategic thinking , policy analysis and policy formulation .
3)Developmental project preparation and implementation .
4)Education , health ,Poverty alleviation , HIV.
5)Protocol , representing state /country in national /international fora.
6)To serve the hungry,the poor,the sick , the illiterate.To bridge the gap between India and Bharat.To do this , "be the change you want to see' .To be the catalyst for social and economic change and to build the nation .
6.Civil services develop the personality and leadership at  a young age.You are the District Collector and Magistrate when you have the service of just four years.
7.You develop the ability to resolve difficult problems , to act under stress and to handle difficult situations.
8.Close touch with people brings cultural awareness.
9.After retirement , you get good pension , family pension and post retirement health benefits.
10.Political neutrality of civil servants preserves democracy .
11.All India services foster unity in the country .
12.ICS was constituted under Government of India act of 1858.The then  British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, speaking in the House of commons in 1935 said:"ICS is the steel frame on which the whole structure of government and of administration in India rests"It shows how important ICS was .Though not as strong , but still , IAS is quite strong frame of government structure even today .
In 2009 , size of IAS cadre in the country was 5159.Out of this two third are regular recruits and one third are promoted  from PCS and other state services. They occupy most of the top positions in the departments of Government of India, state governments , and at district level.
These are some of the strong positive sides of why the youth of today may opt for joining civil services .But the downsides are also there as below:
1.Nexus with political corruption .Erosion of ethics and values .
2.Discretion leads to nepotism, favouritism,partisanship,inequity and particularism.
3.Political intervention and administrative acquiescence, and at times connivance.
4.Politicisation , promoting the interests of political party in power in policy formulation and implementation .
5.Joining the culture of sycophancy, stifling creativity and individual objectivity .
6.Doing wrong , immoral and outright illegal things .
7.Frauds,violence and encounters.
8.Recuiting people on government jobs , not on merit but because they are your "own" people .
9.Alienation and demotivation .
10.Frequent transfers and insecurity of tenures.
11.Lack of professionalism .
12.Lack of transparency .
13.Lack of accountability.
14.Poor capacity building , incompetence and mediocrity.
15.Inefficient incentive system.
16.Systemic inconsistencies in promotion and empanelment.
17.Systemic inefficiencies ,delays and cost over-runs.
18.Dull , repetitive job with little scope for individual creativity and personality.
19.Posing in remote , small districts, where urban amenities are absent.
20.Jack of all trades , master of none.
Despite all these downsides , civil services continue to be front runner as a career .For example ,in 2010 examination 5.48 lacs persons applied .Out of these, 2.69 lacs appeared in the preliminary examination .Out of these,12491 qualified for the mains examination .Out of these ,2589 qualified for the personality test .Finally ,920 were selected in various civil services .717 were males and 203 were females .
What  course should one study before joining IAS ?In my views , you should study for a degree in any subject that you love .It may be arts , science , engineering , medicine, MBA , or any other degree .Nothing goes waste.
 You will become an IAS officer after six years or so ,when you will cross the age of 21 years.Till that time , you must plan how to achieve your dream of becoming an IAS officer.You must select the books you want to read for this purpose, and read them .You must decide which service to join.You must aim to get at least 60% marks in the examination.

Be an IAS officer of my dreams.Try to develop within you the following values:
1.Honesty and integrity
2.Efficiency and competence.
3.Positive outcome , result orientation .
5.Political neutrality
8.Idealism to build nation and society
How will UPSC ensure the seletion of such IAS officers?Some changes will be needed in the system of recruitment .The new system will call upon to measure the character , integrity and above mentioned values, and select the candidates on that basis as well, in modification of  present system .UPSC also  needs to measure the mission orientation of the candidates.
There is also a need to set up an academy in each state to inspire and train youth to be an IAS officer.
One important question will still remain .Is it possible to delink the performance of a civil servant from politics in a democracy ?I think , the answer to this question may come from some visionary  political leader like Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel .Till that happens , we have no option but to work with the existing systems.

After I finished my talk , there were a number of questions by young boys and girls , indicating their keen interest in the civil services as a career option .Even if 5 of them become IAS officers of my dream , my address would be  most satisfying .