Will the Indian Civil Services have to give in to the evolution mandated by the 21st century?

In the first Prime Minister’s quest to create and institutionalize a few centers of educational excellence, under the Indian constitution the IIM’s and IIT’s hold a special constitutional status as institutes to promote education of the highest order in the country. The Indian Administrative Services in essence are the extension of the Indian Civil Services of the colonial rule.

Indians for a great many years have been disenchanted with the redtape-ism and the lethargic bureaucracy. The bureaucratic establishment as many scholars observe has formed an untouchably powerful halo of its own, which even the most powerful leaders usually fear to shake up, beyond a certain degree. Equally are claims made about legacy based politicians and bureaucrats, with balancing arguments on either side. However, electoral contest, is a constitutional right for all Indian citizens, and one is mandated to public scrutiny every few years.The Indian Civil Services are none the less a very prestigious system with the one of the most competitive entrance examinations in the world, selecting few of the brightest minds into the same system.Trying to open up the Indian Civil services to graduates from any or all colleges may create a havoc of indiscipline and pave way for nepotism.

Some of the leading intellectuals from around the world are selected for some of the non-civil services designations which have yielded many benefits like that of the Planning Commission (and its successor), RBI and other advisors in various capacities, like that of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Raghuram Rajan, Manmohan Singh(as planning commission deputy-chair), and the present chief economic advisor, Arvind Subramanian. Many of the fortune 50 and 500 companies across the eastern and western world are led by IIT and IIM graduates, which many Indian prime ministers in the past and present have acknowledged as a brain drain, as a statement of proud fact and not opposing the same by any means.

While corporates with budgets equivalent to those of the largest government departments, if not more, benefit from our constitutionally acclaimed institutions, such as Sundar Pichai of Google, which boast revenues upwards of $70 Billion and 57000 employees and Indira Nooyi of Microsoft which boasts revenue of over $60 Billion about 2,60,000 employees, amounting to 4-6 times that of the Indian railways annual financial outlay. Vinod Khosla and Vikram Pandit are just a few other such names. Why shouldn’t people of such caliber play a role in upholding the same constitution, that helped their educational excellence, in their own capacities by entering the government executive?

As there are pending bills in the Parliament, and few parliamentarians like the former UN Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor have indicated that the Indian Civil Services should try to open themselves slightly more.Would having a certain quota for the IAS, IFS, IPS and some others for graduates of the IITs or IIMs with a certain result, and other practical criteria probably add some fresh water into the stream of the Indian executive. Although this may not by itself bring radical changes but perhaps it may be the start of a new beginning, in Indian governance or the Indian Civil Services. Generating newer ideas and beginning a new constructive discourse in India’s developmental leap into the 21st Century. Maybe the words of Former Chief Justice Lodhain another context”No powerful person can obstruct the winds of reforms warranted by time.”, could possibly help us understand the argument in the above article.