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India! I dare you to be rich

Tag Archive: IAS

The role of Prajapati Trivedi in modernising India’s governance

I’m pleased that Prajapati Trivedi will continue to head the performance management system of India till August 2013. To understand his approach better, I looked through slides he prepared during his tenure in the World bank, and also read a newsletter on his website.

  • What Gets Measured Gets Done
  • If you Don’t Measure Results,You Can’t Tell Success from Failure
  • If You Can’t See Success, You Can’t Reward It
  • If You Can’t Reward Success, You are Probably Rewarding Failure
  • If You Can’t See Success, You Can’t Learn From It
  • If You Can’t Recognize Failure, You Can’t Correct It
  • If You Can Demonstrate Results, You Can Win Public Support

I'm in touch with him regarding the govrank concept. He has asked good questions. I hope to tap his brain on this potential lever to improve India's governance.

Govrank is a performance benchmarking system (like freedom or corruption rankings) which can then flow into performance management systems.

I believe it is crucial for government to establish strong measurement systems for performance.

In Victoria, performance agreements are signed between the Chief Minister and Secretaries. I haven't seen these agreements personally, but presumably these are sufficiently detailed. The Government thus "purchases" the specified "services" from the bureaucracy, and Secretaries are held to account for delivery.

India doesn't have such a relationship primarily because there are no contractual arrangements between bureaucrats and the government. That needs to change. (I have written about it extensively in BFN and briefly in Times of India).

Here's what Prajapati has been up to: ( extracts from an interview he gave):

What is the aim and purpose behind the functioning of the Performance Management Division in the Cabinet Secretariat?

Through the Performance Management Division (PMD), the Government has sought to evaluate the performance of various departments and ministries in a transparent and objective manner based on measurable and verifiable results and outcomes.

So, on what basis is the performance of different ministries and departments being evaluated?
The Results-Framework Document (RFD) is the main instrument for implementing ‘performance monitoring and evaluation system (PMES).’ It is essentially an understanding between the Minister and the concerned secretary of the department regarding the key objectives for the year, action required to achieve these objectives, inter-se priorities, success indicators to measure progress in implementing actions, and targets for the year.

How has the system worked?
We got the green light from the Prime Minister to implement RFDs in September 2009. First RFDs covered a period from 1st January – 31st March 2010, and were in the nature of a pilot.

Since then, we have made huge progress in implementing RFDs in both quantitative as well as qualitative terms.

This has not been an easy journey: we have had to train and educate officials in different departments on how to formulate RFD, strategy, with the focus being on the end stakeholder consultation. We have trained some 2500 officials in the past 24 months. I am impressed how seriously most Secretaries are taking this exercise.

What about motivation to deliver?
A score of 100% implies that the department has achieved all its targets. I agree that it is important to have performance-related incentives. You will be happy to know Government has recently decided to implement the recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission and introduce Performance Related Incentives in Government departments. To be eligible to receive monetary incentives, the departmental performance will have to be above 70 % against their RFD targets and they will be paid out of cost savings made during the year.

Addendum

 

Books by Prajapati Trivedi
 
Articles in Economic and Political Weekly
Performance Agreements in US Government  Vol – XXXVIII No. 46, November 15, 2003 
What is India s Privatisation Policy, Vol – XXVIII No. 22, May 29, 1993 
Lack of Understanding on Memorandum of Underdtandung, Vol – XXV No. 47, November 24, 1990 
 Public Enterprise Performance Information System-A Proposal, Vol – XXIII No. 48, November 26, 1988 
Public Enterprises in India-If Not for Profit Then for What, Vol – XXI No. 48, November 29, 1986 
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1982 IAS / Civil Services batch, with 30 years service, now Additional Secretaries

I was thinking about a particular batchmate yesterday and have investigated further. There are at least a few ways to do that. 

1) The direct way is google search.

2) Persmin Civil List (which is usually outdated) can help.

3) The third way is to directly check Indiagov, by department/cadre. 

4) Through babusofindia.com. A search on this has informed me that the 1982 batch has now started getting promoted to Additional Secretary positions. E.g. K. Skandan (who looks after J&K issues) is now AS. Well done to the 1982 batch! (Here are google search results).

Networking within the batch

I operate two networks for the 1982 batch: a website and a Facebook group. In addition, friend Dalip Singh runs a Yahoo group for the 1982 batch.

Dalip Singh, for those now aware, is author of best selling Emotional Intelligence at Work.

A 30 year celebration of this batch (we joined on 1 Sept 1982) is occurring soon. For security reasons I won't mention its location. If you are from the batch, join FB/Yahoo to get the info.

This batch is going great guns and continues to work hard for India's prosperity and governance. I too am doing this, but in a different way now.

I congratulate all my batchmates for keeping up the highest standards of service in the face of disruptions and onslaughts from all sides.

List of those empanneled

The list.

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IAS – the enemy of India

There is a word of caution I thought I'd share with those who are aspiring to join the IAS and other civil services in India – that they will effectively become ENEMIES of the Indian people. There is virtually no way to escape from that outcome.

A picture below that I shared on FB (It is a slight tweak of something I found on FB):

And now some comments I shared on FB:

We DO NOT need the IAS. It is a DISASTER. We need a merit-based contractual appointment system. The IAS is poison for India. With a modern administrative system India will do FAR better. And, of course, we need excellent politicians as well. (read http://bfn.sabhlokcity.com/

[Those who join the IAS are] the implicit SUPPORTERS of corruption and socialism.

[Those who want to join the IAS] must closely watch out for the 'system'. If you allow yourself to be co-opted and therefore serve the corrupt, you will become the enemy of the people.

Reminder: My Times of India article: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2007-07-30/edit-page/27952090_1_ias-officers-bureaucracy-public-sector

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End the monstrosity called the IAS if you want to save India from total ruin

The Indian Administrative Service might have made sense in 1947, in the face of the limitations of time to work out alternative, better forms of administration. But the IAS makes no sense now.

I think it stopped making sense perhaps from 1950. Three years  from independence was enough time for the Constituent Assembly to work out a better model of civil service for India, but clearly the Constituent Assembly did not put its mind to this question, and unthinkingly brought in unprecedented job security for this hopelessly outdated colonial service.

I've explained at considerable length in BFN why the IAS must go if it doesn't reform itself. But that was written in 2006-07. That position is outdated. Today I can see clearly that the IAS did not pay heed to the writing on the wall. There is no more time for molly-coddling this service (also given that the font of its learning, LBSNAA, is no longer clean).

This TOI article explains this clearly. Mammoth corruption – TENS OF CRORES OF RUPEES. The corruption in the IAS has now become so massive one can't even dream of it size. This is clearly the WORST CIVIL SERVICE in the world. And these CORRUPT IDIOTS want government to pay for the costs of their legal defense when facing prosecution, and that they should be examined by the CBI in their offices and not in the CBI's!

WHY ARE WE TOLERATING THIS ANTIQUATED, ANTEDILUVIAN, IRRELEVANT, INCOMPETENT AND LARGELY CORRUPT CIVIL SERVICE? 

Says Jayaprakash Narayan: "Civil servants are protected by Article 311 of the Constitution to give them independence. IAS officers get huge discretionary powers. They can't say 'We will have the power but no accountability'. They cannot absolve themselves of wrongdoing by saying 'We were following orders'." 

I don't think JP has said what needs to be said. This no time to merely chide or scold these die-hard corrupt incompetent people.

It is time to sent them home (or to jail).

Particularly when FAR superior alternatives are readily available (as detailed in BFN).

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IAS Culture of Graft, Revealed by an IAS officer

My father forwarded this email which raises important issues. But note that I don't agree with Pande's analysis which focuses on "sociological" not fundamental issues that lead to corruption and misgovernance – see my comment later.

The concept of the IAS itself is an anachronism in a democratic framework  

—– Forwarded Message —-
Sent: Tue, June 28, 2011 9:43:44 AM
Subject: IAS Culture of Graft, Revealed by an IAS officer

Are the services suffering too from a similar, increasingly more pronounced, cultural divide amongst its officers leading to increasing cases of moral turpitude? 

IAS design conducive to graft
by Amitabha Pande

TWO months ago, Neera Yadav, former Chief Secretary of UP, was convicted and sent to jail. Soon thereafter, BS Lalli, CEO of Prasar Bharati, was suspended on allegations of corruption. Both were my batch mates in the IAS and my memories of them as probationers are so completely at variance with the reputations they acquired later in their careers that it becomes both sad and difficult to reconcile the two.

Do social origins and the cultural milieu in which one has grown up have a role to play in the kind of IAS officer one eventually becomes? At one level, all bureaucrats have been corrupt in some way or another — favoring friends or kinsmen or persons of a particular region, using the perks and freebies offered by PSUs and so on. Worse, many have readily condoned or did not resist the corrupt behavior of those wielding political power. A few, however, become known for the voraciousness of their appetite for material acquisitions. What makes for this change in behavior? Were the symptoms, or the ‘lakshanas’ of such behavior always there?

Categories

When we joined the IAS in 1971, the entrants could be broadly grouped into three distinct, occasionally overlapping, categories. There were those of us whose parents had been/ were in the higher echelons of civil service or senior management positions in the boxwalla companies. Most of us had been to public schools and our undergraduate years had been spent in the elite colleges and universities of India.

The second social group in the IAS was also from an urban middle class background but with a strong non metro, medium sized city bias. Belonging to cities such as Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Kanpur, Nagpur, Sagar, Baroda or Mysore, their parents were mostly from professional, technical backgrounds working in the middle rungs of their organisations. They were deeply rooted in the emerging Indian middle class and the IAS was a very significant part of their aspirational growth.

The third group had closer links with the rural and provincial than the second. They were deeply and integrally connected to land and land relations. The IAS of their imagination was still rooted in a semi- feudal, patriarchal order. Their most distinguishing feature was their unease with the English language.

This threefold varna is probably sharper in retrospect than it was at that time and many of us fell in between these groups.

The distinctions were primarily cultural and the English language the main dividing line. Many of us in the first group were half ashamed of our elitist origins. To our social guilt tainted eyes a person like Neera appeared a shining example of someone who had fought her way out of a chauvinistic, patriarchal social order.

To understand what changed, tracing the career trajectories of the three groups can offer interesting sociological insights.

Those of the third group rarely sought careers in the central government, saw little benefit in acquiring specialized technical and professional skills, and had very close relationships with provincial political satraps and local traders and contractors (forests, mines, liquor, cement, kerosene, civil works). All of them displayed a tremendous appetite for acquiring landed property. The economic profiles of most changed dramatically between the beginning and the end of their careers.

Those of the second group, while not averse to central government careers, focused on jobs traditionally associated with power and status — Ministries of Home, Defence, Industry and cultivated low profile politicians powerful in the backrooms of party politics to secure posts in such Ministries and Departments.

For the majority of them wielding authority, was more important than making money. The corrupt among them concentrated on opportunities in Government procurements, industrial licenses and approvals etc. Unlike the third group, their accumulation was relatively discreet and modest in scale.

Those of the first group made a beeline for careers in the central government, as far as possible in Finance, Commerce, Industry or the Infrastructure ministries — jobs that offered the maximum potential for international careers and foreign postings.

Most jobs required dealing with international treaties and protocols and therefore superior skills in communication in English gave them a natural advantage.

Their relations with the political masters tended to be awkward until the Rajiv Gandhi regime brought in the generation of politicians with very similar cultural backgrounds.

The corrupt among them brought high levels of sophistication to corruption itself, making it knowledge- and skill- based.

While some may have salted away fortunes in tax havens, most corruption was a kind of lifestyle corruption rather than crass accumulation of property.

Generalizations

Several generalizations can be made from this descriptive account. One, that the differences in the internalized image of the IAS between the three socio- cultural groups were substantial and determined future behavior. Two, the language of discourse which persons like Neera and Lalli were used to, being steeped in provincialism, showed a very high degree of acceptance bordering on reverence for existing socio- cultural hierarchies.

The Public School/ St Stephen’s lingual environment, on the other hand, encouraged irreverence and reflected a less socially iniquitous culture. Three, each of these language based categories occupies its own distinct cultural and moral universe in which standards of what is acceptable behavior differ substantively and qualitatively.

A major part of the problem in the IAS stems from an inherent design flaw. The architecture of the IAS was consciously drawn from the ICS and it was premised on a social and cultural distance between administration and civil society on the one hand and between the political executive and the civil servant on the other. It was self- consciously elitist and relied on creating a kind of Brahmanical mandarinate which was specifically groomed for the task of governance. The critical mass had to consist of people who shared a certain cultural ethos.

Such a design was obviously at variance with the rough and tumble of the Indian democracy where Realpolitik was increasingly emerging as the only ‘Real’ Politics.

Instead of redesigning the architecture appropriately to the changing socio- political context, the IAS was sought to be retrofitted by tinkering with its basic design.

Flaw

The policy makers gradually sought to broaden the recruitment zone to include more and more of those with a vernacular background. This was done in the naive hope that by inducting persons of more vernacular social origins and giving them the same elite status the system could be made more sensitive to the underprivileged.

What has happened is the opposite. A new, more aggressive vernacular elite has replaced the earlier one, bringing in a whole new culture where pragmatism, expediency and moral elasticity are the presiding virtues and the exercise of petty tyranny and corruption a legitimate practice. The flaw in the design is in the idea of the elite in a democratic system not in the social composition of that elite. The concept of the IAS itself is an anachronism in a democratic framework and tinkering with its design makes it prone to ‘corruption’ in a very fundamental way.

To think that one can actually engineer an elite force which is trained into social conscientiousness and good governance and which remains immune to changes in the socio-political environment is not just naive, it is dangerous. Just think of the number of new, techno-savvy, culturally sub-educated, petty tyrants who get added on to the monstrous apparatus that is the Indian State and tremble with fear! What is the alternative? As that contemporary of the Bard said: ‘Another time another place… Besides, the wench is dead…’

Amitabha Pande is a Punjab cadre IAS Officer … now retired…

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Building a New Bureaucracy for India

I must unfortunately conclude that our British India bureaucratic system is beyond resuscitation; it has terminal ailments and can’t be resuscitated. It needs a total rebuild, from ground up. It has to be dismantled and a new public service system erected to replace it. With political commitment, such a reconstruction should be possible within five years as detailed in Chapter 6. I highlight the key changes needed at this stage.

The key principles behind the new system will be deceptively simple:
  • Recruit the best people to leadership positions on salaries comparable with the private sector.
  • Let these leaders then similarly recruit the best people they can find; and so on, down the chain.
  • Spend all possible effort to develop these people into Level 5 leaders so they can become role models for others, and thus help to transform the competence and culture of the entire bureaucracy.

Recruit Senior Roles from the Open Market, and Abolish Tenure 

A first step would be to hire extremely competent people as public service leaders – people with multifaceted leadership ability including high quality people-management skills, significant policy knowledge and demonstrated strategic thinking skills. Obviously, such people have to be paid well. The open market intake should apply in the first instance only to senior executive positions but in a phased manner to allpositions. All senior appointments will have to be contractual, with the contracts permitting the government to let the executives seek better opportunities elsewhere (polite language for dismissal!) for underperformance without any rights created against such dismissals.
 
From what I know about the Indian system, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to find such people within the Indian civil services. Even IAS officers trained abroad are generally not in the league I am referring to. The hunt for talent would therefore have to focus on our private sector which has been developing an excellent reputation internationally. A few Indian academicians of international repute with extensive industry experience could also be potentially tapped. Such academicians will bring the latest policy knowledge and comparative understandings of the world, which are likely to prove crucial in designing strategic policy directions. The third category to look for would be Indians working in the private sector abroad in very senior positions.
 

Pay Senior Public Servants Salaries Comparable to the Private Sector

It will be crucial that salaries between the private and public sectors are broadly equalized – no open market intake can succeed without this. Such parity would of course apply only to senior executives appointed on contracts. No Pay Commission-type across-the-board hike should be contemplated. People must always be paid in terms of their productivity; the salary must be deserved. This policy will also help reduce corruption (the elimination of corruption will depend on a much wider set of reforms, including the electoral reforms touched upon in the previous chapter).
 

Reduce the Number of Departments

Ahmed Shafiqul Huque, an Associate Professor in McMaster University in Canada,has identified an explosion in the number of departments in the Indian Government over the years:
The number of departments in the central government of India grew from three (Public, Secret, and Revenue) in 1774 to eight in 1833, while the central secretariat was reorganised into four departments, namely, Home, Foreign, Finance, and Military in 1843. The number of departments rose to 10 in 1919, and 18 in 1947. These were subsequently re-designated as ministries. There were 20 ministries and departments in India in 1952, 54 in 1978, and 70 in 1993.[i]
Despite the great complexity of modern societies, increases in the complexity of the government machinery are not justifiable, as we saw in the Australian example. The disease of reckless expansion of the government machinery in India goes well beyond an increase in the number of departments. There has also been an exponential increase in the number of senior executive positions. Multiple departments with multiple secretaries exist today not to meet any genuine need but for the following two reasons:
  • First, to accommodate the large number of IAS officers recruited from the mid-1960s onwards who have been promoted through the automation of seniority.
  • There are also increasing pressures on Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers who often lead coalition governments today, to accommodate MPs and MLAs who want Ministerial berths in return for support – leading to pressures to create even more departments.
  • The solution to this fungal growth of low performing departments and officers is to significantly reduce the number of departments as well as positions of secretaries and joint secretaries. This can happen only with outstanding leadership, which means that open market recruitment will have to come first. That will have to be followed by very careful restructuring of the machinery of the government including the professionalization of departments. Only after that can the much tighter new structures be put in place.
* * *
The problems of ineffectiveness, lack of innovation, and corruption in the Indian bureaucracy can be speedily reduced through reforms such as these. Some people have pointed out to me the Herculean difficulties involved in such reforms. To paraphrase the key objections: ‘These reforms are too radical for the Indian situation. Who will select these top quality people; in particular, can we trust our Ministers to do this task well? What about Constitutional barriers to reform? What about the IAS itself – will its enormously powerful lobby allow these changes to happen?’ In reply I would suggest that India can seek assistance from other countries which have taken such steps in the past. As Professor John Halligan has kindly written to me, ‘the Australian reforms have been implemented over twenty-five years. It is important to lay the foundations for reform and to build on them with various levels of change’.
 
[Note: This is an extract from my book, Breaking Free of Nehru


[i] Huque, Ahmed Shafiqul, Asian Journal of Public Administration. Vol.16, No. 2, 1994, pp.249–59. 
 
Addendum
 

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