October 20, 2010

new civil services exam pattern

UPSC, the constitutional body responsible for recruiting the country’s top bureaucrats, has decided to change the syllabus for its Civil Sevices Exams and call it CSAT: Civil Services Aptitude Test.

The details are not yet known, but the aptitude test will be a major departure from the hitherto exam in which you had to mug up a subject [eg history or geography or botany…] and make detailed preparations for ‘general studies’ – the all-encompassing GK. As it appears, it will be limited to the preliminary examination, the first stage of the Civil Services Exams.

The Government has approved the UPSC plan for an aptitude test, but that’s all. It has failed to bring about administrative reforms and the country is paying price for that procrastination. The present system of bureaucracy is rooted in the colonial administration whose guiding principles were coercion, mistrust, feudalism, master-slave relationship with service seekers and other public at large, red-tapism and favouritism, retrograde assessment system etc. The free India could not get rid of the cobweb of archaic laws and rules, administrative procedures, and corruption-promoting elements such as licencing, discounts, free tickets, ‘discretion’ etc, mostly due to the total control of vested groups within the system – IAS, IPS and IFS [Foreign Service] being the most powerful of them. A large number of committee reports and two Administrative Reforms Commissions later, we are worse than what we were in 1947. At least gora sahebs of the British period did not have a hypocritical veneer that the bureaucrats and politicians of today have, and this veneer lets them do worst types of things without accountability.

The aim of the government does not seem to reform the system but to introduce something that looks more modern and fashionable. If the government is serious about civil services reforms, it must – to start with – have a joint management pool at senior level, allow lateral entrants, not allow IAS and IPS to become Ministers’ personal staff, immunise police and administrative postings from political interference, hold transparent selection from a wide range of aspirants for key posts in government and its bodies, limit tenure in sensitive posts, make its vigilance machinery very effective and yet less coercive, make use of new technology to reduce public-bureaucrat contact, and immunise some functions from all interference. Most of these steps do not need making any systemic changes in the way government functions but will bring about a new level of confidence in the government and will enhance the level of integrity and public service among our bureaucrats. The piece-meal changes to reform the system such as land reforms have not succeeded due to vested interests and no comprehensive system support to sustain the reforms. If we reform the top [as I have suggested above], that will also give the necessary will-power, confidence and support to major reform initiatives.

On the other hand, if the aim of most civil servants remains to get the best postings, seek and give favours, make money, enjoy power and keep their personal interest above public good, whatever system of examination we devise will not give us better civil servants. The CSAT will, it seems, end up confusing the aspirants than do any good. It will, perhaps, be good in one sense: it will give fair chance to boys and girls whose poor mugging facilities are compensated by their ‘aptitude’ whatever sense that makes.

No comments:

Post a Comment