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Issues in IAS Cadre Management

IAS Cadre Management


The government is planning to make changes to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) (Cadre) Rules of 1954, specifically in section 6(1). These amendments aim to enhance its authority in managing the central deputation of IAS officers.

What are the IAS (Cadre) Rules?

One distinctive aspect of the All India Services, including the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Foreign Service (IFS), established through the AIS Act, 1951, is that individuals in these services are recruited by the Central Government but serve in various State Cadres.

To ensure the presence of IAS officers at the Central level, specific provisions are outlined in the IAS (Cadre) Rules, 1954. The exact number of officers to be assigned to the Central Government is determined through collaboration between the Central Government and the respective State Government.

Recent Changes in Cadre Rules

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has suggested modifications to the 1954 IAS (Cadre) Rules, which could limit the states’ authority to reject the Centre’s requests for officers on central deputation. This adjustment is prompted by a shortage of mid-level IAS officers, particularly Deputy Secretaries and Directors, and the inadequate availability of officers for central deputation to meet the Centre’s needs. In some cases, states such as Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have not been sending the names of IAS officers who are willing to serve on central deputation to the Centre.

Causes of Shortage

Reduction in Annual Recruitment:

  • The primary reason for the current shortage of IAS officers can be traced back to a significant decline in annual recruitment numbers after 1991, plummeting from a range of 140-160 to a mere 50-80. This drop was based on the mistaken belief that economic liberalization would lessen the government’s role.
  • Fast forward to January 1, 2021, and we were grappling with a 23% shortage of IAS officers. To address this issue in the short term, it’s imperative to boost annual IAS officer recruitment to approximately 200 for a few years.

Cadre Review:

  • Many states, including Tamil Nadu, are currently facing a shortage of IAS officers due to the absence of a cadre review. This essential process allows the central and state governments to collectively designate specific key positions as Cadre Posts, exclusively for IAS officers.
  • In Tamil Nadu, positions like Commissioner of Disciplinary Proceedings, Commissioner of Archaeology, and Commissioner of Museums fall under this category.
  • To address this issue and ensure a sufficient number of IAS officers are available for critical roles, it’s crucial to conduct a comprehensive cadre review. This review will enable states to reallocate IAS officers from non-strategic positions and effectively tackle the shortage problem.

Direct Recruitment:

  • One significant factor contributing to this issue is the halt in the direct hiring of officers for Group B within the Central Secretariat service, which began in 2000.
  • Additionally, the prolonged legal disputes since 2011 have caused substantial delays in the standard promotions of officers within the Central Secretariat.
  • As a result, many of these officers no longer occupy numerous Deputy Secretary and Director-level positions within the Central Secretariat.

Non-utilization of State Civil Servants:

  • The government could tap into a valuable resource by better utilizing officers who have moved up to the IAS from State Civil Services, but they’re not making the most of this opportunity. There are approximately 2,250 officers between the ages of 35 and 55 who bring a wealth of practical experience but are confined to their home states.
  • To unlock their potential, a smart solution would be to require these officers to spend at least 2 years on central deputation as Deputy Secretaries or Directors right after their training at Mussoorie and IAS appointment. Their promotion within their state cadre should be linked to completing this essential central deputation period.
  • This approach can efficiently address the shortage of Deputy Secretary and Director-level officers at the Central level, with exemptions for those officers over 50 years of age. It’s a win-win solution that optimizes the expertise of these officers for the benefit of the nation.

Administrative Barriers:

  • The Central government itself has created various administrative hurdles, including stringent conditions, counterproductive incentives, yearly expiration of job offers, extended suspension periods, and mandatory breaks.
  • Expecting newly recruited IAS officers to serve as Deputy Secretaries or Directors for a minimum of two years between their ninth and sixteenth year of service to qualify for Joint Secretary positions at the Central level may not be the best approach.
  • This is the phase when they hold roles with substantial job satisfaction, authority, reputation, and benefits. Consequently, many of them opt not to take on Central assignments, making it challenging for them to become eligible for Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary, and Secretary positions in the future.

Proposed Solution

Mandatory Central Deputation:

  • One proposal recommends that IAS officers who are directly recruited should spend a minimum of three years on Central Deputation within the first 25 years of their service.
  • Their eligibility for promotion to the Principal Secretary grade in their state cadres would be contingent on fulfilling this requirement.
  • This change is aimed at encouraging IAS officers to consider Central deputation during a convenient timeframe, while also ensuring a consistent supply of officers to serve on deputation for the central government’s benefit.

Direct Selection:

  • The center should consider appointing Joint Secretaries, Additional Secretaries, and Secretaries directly from experienced IAS officers at a similar level or rank within state governments.
  • By implementing a selection process similar to the one used for Deputy Secretaries and Directors, this approach would tap into a broader and more skilled talent pool for the central government.
  • Furthermore, it would allow these officers to bring their valuable state-level experiences to benefit the central government’s services.

Way Forward

Addressing the issue of unmet CDR obligations doesn’t require complex solutions. A productive dialogue between the Cabinet Secretary and Chief Secretaries, or a meeting led by the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers, could suffice. The Inter-State Council, established under Article 263 of the Constitution, is designed to handle such Center-State matters. Instead of proposing amendments, exploring alternative solutions should be the focus. Prioritizing cooperative federalism and national unity is crucial to this endeavor.

Read Also: Parliamentary Panel Report on Police Reforms

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