Assessment of the Civil Service - Selection and Training - VISION

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Assessment of the Civil Service - Selection and Training

What is the issue?
  • Senior civil servants assume leadership positions right after they join, but the testing criteria is far from assessing the skill required for the role.
  • In this context, here is an assessment of the priorities and challenges in the civil services at the selection and training phases.
What are the present drawbacks?
  • There has so far been no concerted or sustained effort to manage senior civil service in a comprehensive manner.
  • The steps have been only ad hoc in nature; the lateral recruitment is also one such effort.
  • What really needs to be done is to look at -
    1. the manner in which recruitment takes place
    2. the in-service training, transfers, assessment of officers
    3. incentives and disincentives
What should the selection priorities be?
  • Almost all the IAS officers occupy leadership positions right from the beginning of their careers.
  • Even in the Secretariat jobs, each officer has to lead a team.
  • Hence, the objective should be to select such persons who have leadership qualities or have the potential to become leaders.
  • A leader, in this context, has to be able to build a team and carry it along with her/him by motivating those working with him.
  • S/he has to excel in communication skills beyond the written one.
  • S/he has to be ethical in behaviour with a positive attitude.
How is the selection at present?

  • Most of the above requirements are not tested at the time of recruitment.
  • The entrance exams primarily select brilliant individuals by testing written communication skills, some analytical skills and general awareness.
  • It tests the examinees capability to “crack” the exam, and various coaching institutes assist them in doing so.
  • But a leader requires much more than that.
What is to be done?
  • Recruitment - The tools to assess the above discussed skills which are in use in the private sector and elsewhere in the world should be adopted.
  • Training - The officers have knowledge and they are capable of acquiring more of it.
  • What is required is the transformation of attitude as an officer, the necessity and utility of ethical behaviour.
  • Given the high maximum age of entry into the civil service, this process becomes difficult and challenging.
  • In this line, the training should be centered around inculcating leadership skills.
  • It has to be focused on imparting skills and attitude that would enable the officer to evolve as a leader.
  • Periodic upgradation of skills and learning from each other should be the focus of in-service training.
  • This is imperative in the context of a fast-changing world both in terms of technology and management.
  • Certainty - The inclination and aptitude of the officer needs to be monitored to determine his/her postings and assignments.
  • Once assigned a task, he/she should be left to deliver.
  • Frequent transfers interrupt the implementation process and leaves way for politicisation of bureaucracy.
  • An agency, like the UPSC, can be assigned to prepare a panel from which the government can select an officer.

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