Pradeep Thakur & Bharti Jain
NEW DELHI: At least 56 IAS officers have left their central postings prematurely for their respective state cadres since May 2014 when the Narendra Modi-led BJP government took office.
Most of the officers who have opted for repatriation are senior - in the rank of joint secretary and above. This 'back-to-the-parent-state' movement is rare. According to details available on the department of personnel and training (DoPT) website, just three IAS officers left the Centre prematurely in 2013 and only one between August and December 2012. The numbers spiked to 13 between January and May 2014, in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha polls which resulted in a regime change.
A top DoPT official argued that the "exodus" did not necessarily signal an unwillingness to serve under the Modi regime which has sought to change the way the government functions. "It may have been to take up assignments at senior levels, including as chief secretary, in the state," he said.
An examination of DoPT's repatriation orders shows that seven officers went back to take up chief secretary's position in their respective states.
A source the defence ministry said at least four joint secretary-rank officers had left for their parent cadre because it had become difficult for them to put in the "hard work" required under the present dispensation.
The problem for the government is not about vacancies alone. Few from the states appear to be eager to take up senior openings being created in Delhi by the increase in repatriations. As against the 30 vacancies in the joint secretary rank this year, only four IAS officers have come forward; and of them one has picked Bengaluru as her preferred choice of posting.
Also, delays in empanelment - the threshold officers of all central services need to cross to be eligible for the rank of joint secretary and above - has shrunk the available pool. Non-IAS officers are usually reluctant to take up assignments at the Centre as they often have to work under IAS officers two to five batches their junior.
"Indian Telecom Service is the only significant catchment area left, that too because the government has been attempting to downsize their service and merge them in BSNL and MTNL," a non-IAS officer said.
A review of additional secretary rank posts in the central ministries show they are all occupied by IAS officers, despite the fact that 26 non-IAS officers have been empanelled in the last two years and have offered their services. It's the same at the joint secretary level. Out of the 30 slots available, 23 are occupied by IAS officers.
Non-IAS officers often complain about the "hegemony" of the IAS, saying it runs contrary to the emphasis periodically placed on having specialists helm positions requiring domain knowledge.
ECONOMIC TIMES, JUL 11, 2015