New Cadre Allocation Policy Old Wine in a New Bottle
This year UPSC has asked candidates appearing for Civil Services mains examination 2017-18 to wait for finalization of cadre policy before indicating their preference in their DAF. It is reported that a new policy for cadre allocation has been finalized by the Central government for IAS, IPS and other officers, aimed at ensuring “national integration” in the country’s top bureaucracy. Officers of all-India services—the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Forest Service (IFS) — will have to choose cadres from a set of zones instead of states. The officers of the three services are currently allocated a cadre state or a set of states to work in. They are posted on central deputation during the course of their service after fulfilling eligibility conditions like minimum number of years, performance appraisal etc .
The existing 26 cadres are being divided into five zones in the new policy proposed by the Department of Personnel (DOPT). All states and UTs have been put into Five Zones with a view to ensure that officers just do not go to their nearby states only. The new policy will seek to ensure that officers from Bihar, for instance, will get to work in southern and north-eastern states, which may not be their preferred cadres, It is being said that this policy will ensure national integration of the bureaucracy as officers will get a chance to work in a state which is not their place of domicile. The new policy would thus help in upholding the rationale behind the all-India services. All-India service officers are supposed to have varied experiences which can be earned when they work in a different state, which is new to them. The officers may not be able to experiment new things if they work in their own domicile state,”
Under the new policy, candidates appearing for the civil services examination will have to first give their choices in a descending order of preference from among the various zones. Thereafter the candidates will indicate cadres in order of preference from each zone. A candidate can list all 26 cadres, following this process.
The preference for the zones will remain in the same order and no change will be permitted there. If a candidate does not give any preference for any of the zones/cadres, it will be presumed that he has no specific preference for those zones/cadres. If candidates are not allocated any one of the cadres for which they have indicated a preference, they shall be allotted along with other candidates any of the remaining cadres, arranged in an alphabetical order, where there are vacancies, the policy said. Candidates will be allotted their home cadre on the basis of merit, preference and vacancy in the category. The policy is likely to be put into effect from this year.
Thus the objectives are national integration, gaining of varied experiences away from domicile state , home state only to meritorious among selected , opportunity for innovation , all India perspective etc . Cadre allotment policy has always been fiercely debated among selected officers and never liked by those who are selected but wilinili they have to fall inline .
The All India Services were created to ensure impartial administration, national integration, political neutrality and nonalignment, integrity and uprightness, seclusion of vested interests, all India perspective, and high level of commitment and motivation and scope for innovation and capacity to take a stand on issues affecting masses and nation as a whole, avoidance of parochialism etc. They have been entrusted with the tasks of system maintenance and adaptation, handle crises of state building and distribution , participation and consensus building in different roles.
Prior to 1985 the cadre allotment policy was based on zonal system of cadre allocation by dividing entire country into 5 zones and every body had to indicate preference for zone and states in that zone in order of preference. After that the roaster system was introduced by allowing 1/3rd in merit their preferred home state and rest any other state out of roaster worked out by DOPT in consultation with UPSC. Thereafter the system was further fine tuned to discourage home state allotment.
The problem with the present system was complaint by north eastern states or far-off states in not getting meritorious candidates or motivated and willing candidates, lot of candidates seeking exit through various routes like marriage, deputation, short term inter cadre transfer or joining Pvt sector. Various committees in Govt. of India, young officers and groups were not satisfied with present system which is quite opaque , complicated and at times unfair . As a result new policy is being conceived The proposed new policy of cadre allocation is nothing but old wine in a new bottle, and does not serve any of the purposes and objectives for which civil services were created. Cadre allocation has a serious impact on morale of the officers and plays a vital role in performance and delivery, besides creating a sense of fairness and justice among the officers. It also impacts social bonding and value systems of young officers and ongoing process of norms and value internalization process throughout the life of a civil servant.
The proposed policy does not fulfill any of the objectives of the cadre management policy. We cannot have a system run efficiently by unwilling horses. The system of cadre allotment has reduced IAS into a state service selected through all India examination. Once allotted a cadre, the Central Govt. leaves the officers at the mercy of local state Govt. which does not have an All India perspective and mostly local politicians resent All India Service Officers. By the transfer and placement at the discretion of state CMs, the filling of APAR by State politicians and dilution of service conditions by grant of disciplinary and promotion powers to State Govt, the All India Services have been demolished and Central Govt. remains a mute spectator in the name of federalism and in fact one may be inclined to say that it unwittingly works in tandem with the state Govts to further break the steel frame of India .This has serious effect on integrity, performance and all India perspective of officers. Now the cadre allocation policy if not transparent, objective and fair to all will further erode the efficiency and motivation and will not arrest the corrosion of the steel frame.
The Zonal system being introduced can be a welcome step and a right move if Zones are treated as cadres of 5 -6 states and the officers are permanently allocated Zones as cadres rather than a State . They should be placed in the states in a Zone as per their preference and merit. Placement in a zone may be restricted to states as per merit and preference subject to available vacancies , communicated in advance. Initial lock in period in a state in a zone should be 5 years and maximum lock-in in a zone should be 10 years . After working in initially- allotted states for a minimum period of 5 years,they should be sent to other states of the allotted Zone as per preference, merit and availability. The Zone should be unit of a cadre instead of states and intra zonal transfer can be effected through a transparent zonal council as provided in the constitution with a Govt. of India nominee. So long as an officer works in a state, the Govt. of that state will be cadre-controlling authority for placement transfer and other delegated functions along with Zonal Council and Govt. of India being final authority as it is today. Once Zonal tenure is over , the officers may be considered for other Zones based on their preference and comparative merit . Working in each Zone other than parent zone for at least 3 years should be mandatory for all except for females in tough zones.
Thus inter zonal transfers after 5 years be allowed and no officer be allowed in a state for more than 10 years during his entire career. This will ensure real all India perspective, varied experiences, political non-alignment and neutrality , integration with nation and prevent development of vested interests . This will also ensure proper motivation and avoid heart burning on cadre allocation and demystify cadre allocation. This will not give undue advantage or preference to any candidate or area or disadvantage to any region. The Monitoring of records today is very easy due to digital and IT enabled platforms.
Similarly all SC officers should mandatorily spend time in states other than their home states for 2/3rd of their remaining services to ensure detachment, exposure, integrity and an all India perspective.
The service rules regarding appraisal and promotion need to be made really all India in orientation, objective, less dependent on whims of state governments and the involvement of central Govt. and UPSC at all levels must be made mandatory. Only then cadre allocation will become meaningful and services will serve the purposes for which our founding fathers visualized it, otherwise the crisis of governance in delivery of public goods will continue unabated, as World Bank has long ago described. The motivation level of officers having been allotted less preferred cadres will always remain low and suspect resulting into defying the objectives and purposes for which civil services were created.
The geographical and cultural diversity and developmental differences among various states, the differences in scales of development, per capita income and State GDP all these go on to create a sense of frustration, disadvantage and inequity in terms of place of working resulting in a very high degree of displacement and alienation, weakening of social control and radical alteration of value system inducing negativities and anomic behavioural pattern affecting overall performance. Therefore, cadre allocation requires an objective , neutral and fair systemic overhaul whereby every selected officer should be provided with an even platform and opportunity to work not in just one state or zone but all over India based on skill, performance and vision in a transparent manner. Mere allocation of one state as cadre is against the very concept of All India Service. Now the Zones should be the unit of a cadre and the individual state Political neutrality, objective and efficient performance with all India perspective and high level of motivation will be ensured by objective cadre allocation policies and fair service conditions which the cadre allocation policy must entail.
By Ravishankar Srivastava