Originally Published 2004-09-02 06:50:04 Published on Sep 02, 2004
The central government is considering a proposal to select aspiring IAS and allied services candidates after the 12th standard with a view to catching them young for a career in the bureaucracy. Presumably, a new academy will be established for this purpose because the Mussoorie academy has a different charter.
IAS Recruitment should be through Armed Forces
The central government is considering a proposal to select aspiring IAS and allied services candidates after the 12th standard with a view to catching them young for a career in the bureaucracy. Presumably, a new academy will be established for this purpose because the Mussoorie academy has a different charter. The best option and one that is readily available is to train the young recruits at the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla, Pune, which provides the finest all round education at the under-graduate level in India. In fact, it would do the budding central services officers a world of good to do some national service in the armed forces for about five years during which they would be exposed to a disciplined way of life, gain hands-on experience of man-management and good leadership, imbibe values and ethics and learn to be officers and gentlemen. They would also contribute handsomely to national security and help to reduce the officers' shortage in the armed forces.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The endemic shortage of officers in the armed forces continues to have a deleterious effect on their warfighting capability, particularly on the army's performance in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern States. As the shortage of officers is primarily in the ranks of Captain and Major, the solution apparently lies in a re-vamped short-service entry scheme which offers lateral induction into civilian jobs after five to eight years of service in the army. Such a scheme would confer the twin benefits of filling all the vacant positions and reducing the pension bill.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> The most pragmatic option is for the central government to absorb all the officers scheduled for early release from the three services. The best method with multifarious benefits to the nation would be to make "military service" compulsory for all aspirants for the Central Services, including the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS), other Allied Services, the Central Police and Para-military Forces (CPMFs) and other similar organisations.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Recruitment to the IAS, IFS and the Allied Services should be channelled only through the armed forces, for men as well as women. Entry into the army, the navy and the air force should be through the Combined Defence Services examination for the NDA conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). On graduating from the NDA, the cadets should receive further training at the respective academies of the three services and then join these as commissioned officers. After five years of service, all volunteer officers should be given three chances each to appear for the UPSC examinations and interviews for lateral transfer into the IAS, IFS and the Allied Services. Those who do not wish to leave or do not qualify would continue to soldier on in their respective service.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Assuming that the bait of eventual transfer to the central services would be a lucrative enough inducement for talented young men and women to join the armed forces, such a step would not only completely eliminate the shortage of officers over a few years, but also considerably enhance the quality of the junior leadership of the three services and, later, of the central services. However, such a move is bound to meet stiff resistance and would require supreme political will to implement. Since the Prime Minister is himself eager to improve the quality of intake and the training standards of the central services, he must provide the leadership to ensure that this pragmatic measure can be pushed through politically. <br /> <br /> Graduates of the NDA receive B. Sc. degrees as the armed forces require a fairly high threshold of the knowledge of science. The NDA syllabus can be suitably modified to accommodate the special managerial requirements of the central services. Particularly at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, and the corresponding academies of the navy and the air force, a recognised management diploma can be included in the syllabus and, if considered necessary, the duration of training can be increased to two years to enable the Gentlemen Cadets to acquire an MBA degree. <br /> <br /> At present, officers from the NDA get commissioned at 21 to 22 years of age. Those selected for the central services after five to seven years of active service in the armed forces would be absorbed into the IAS at about 27 to 29 years of age. This would be only marginally higher than the present average age of IAS officers on joining. Services officers joining the central services will be trained leaders of men, some of them baptised under fire, and would have had the unique privilege of commanding men - perhaps the greatest honour that any man can strive for. Above all, they will have the opportunity to serve the national cause in many strife-torn corners of the country and will gain first hand experience of the problems of the local people. Their acquaintance with and insights into the unique diversity of India's culture and traditions, reflected in the armed forces, would surely stand them in good stead in the remaining 30 to 32 years of their service.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> It has been accepted by all perceptive observers of the national scene that in these times of a failing national character, with rampant corruption, political expediency and widespread nepotism ruling the roost, the three services have played a stellar role in holding the nation together as a viable political entity. A disciplined way of life, highly advanced and pragmatic man-management techniques, a no-nonsense approach to problem solving and active secularism, have helped the services to avoid falling prey to the maladies afflicting the other organs of the state. The officers transferring to the central services from the armed forces will carry with them these impeccable attributes and will undoubtedly succeed in transforming the manner in which the bureaucracy conducts the business of administration.&nbsp; <br /> <br /> Compulsory military service for entry into the central services will also give civilian bureaucrats a better understanding of India's defence and security interests and will create a permanent bond of camaraderie between the civilians and the servicemen. It is a win-win situation and an idea whose time has come. <br /> <br /> <br /> (The author is Senior Fellow, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi.)&nbsp; <br /> <br /> (Courtesy: Tribune, Chandigarh, August.27, 2004) <br /> <br /> <em>* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.</em>
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