A doctor as the Union Health Secretary? Or an experienced airline pilot as Aviation Secretary? Civil servants at Central ministries may soon be from outside the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) too.
If Defence Minister A K Antony and the Group of Ministers (GoM) he heads have their way, that is.
An effort to “professionalise’’ the Civil Services like in developed countries has led the government to decide on creating a Central Civil Services Authority (CCSA) to oversee the higher bureaucracy. The CCSA, if formed, will effectively end the free run that the IAS has enjoyed for the top posts in the Civil Services, and make selection a competitive process.
Other members of the GoM include Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, Petroleum Minister M Verappa Moily, Parliementary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, Road Transport and Highways Minister C P Joshi, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances Vand Pensions V Narayanasamy. The GoM will meet on January 24, on the heels of the Jaipur Plenary session of the Congress where Antony is busy presenting a paper on coalition partners.
Antony’s unusual interest in the formation of the CCSA has spawned nightmares in the IAS; officers can’t but oppose a situation where their monopoly on the peaks of babudom may become a relic overnight. Once the CCSA in place, the empanelment panel—that now decides which officer will come to the Centre from the states and who goes to which ministry—will be discarded.