Saturday, 31 October 2015

The myth of service parity with IAS.

The (near offensive) social media attacks from other services on the IAS compels me to put my point as given below: The myth of service parity: All services are different from each other and IAS is different from them all by the very nature of the job. To borrow the words of Dr. Rathin Roy, the Director of National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (and who is also the member of 7th pay Commission), 'It is the only service that has postive and non prohibitory interaction with the poorest/ weakest sections and at the same time with the richest and most powerful in the country'. The diversity it handles and the need to master the traits and domain knowledge needed to handle these diverse portfolios makes it unique vis-a-vis other services. No wonder it happens to be the first choice of almost all the civil service aspirants. It is this 'nature' and 'quality requirements' of the service that gives it an edge and not for the reason of being first choice of candidates or any colonial legacy alone. Our brethen from other services unfortunately dont seem to really appreciate this simple fact, which I suppose is known too well. They have all the right to ask for parity, but lets not give rationale a burial by falling to the argument of same exam or difference of only few marks to legitimise a faulty claim. One needs nothing but common sense to understand that someone who has the diverse experience of varied sectors can never be downsized to be made to be on par with someone who has experience and immersion in a single sector only. Its is for this reason the IAS has or needs to have an edge. Its a historical development and organic growth. Its not a result of the machinations of the service members. But the demand from other services for parity with IAS doesn't surprise me. At the time of joining service members of all services are, more or less, similarly placed in terms of their exposure and perhaps abilities. But as we progress further in our respective services, a chasm, which exists by default, again by the very nature of the service requirements of IAS, only widens as the years go by. It places the IAS at a different footing and the reason is purely the 'exposure' the IAS has by the virtue of the most varied 'immersion' its gets in geographical, socio-economic, cultural terms and most importantly because of the domian knowledge and first hand experience of handling multifarious sectors, including law & order and revenue collection, which no other service matches. One may also view it the other way that since the IAS has to handle multifarious sectors, sometimes separately and sometimes simultaneously, it needs to have the edge. A person whose is entrusted with the task of building a house in all respects has to be at a higher pedestal than an electrician or interior decorator, howsoever proficient the latter is in his job. So those who are seeking parity are either 'playing the blind man's bluff with the elephant' (that is the governance system of the country) or its just a desire to further service interest, which is expected. But the decision in this matter needs to be taken on its merit and without being influenced by biases or prejudices and least of them propoganda. A truncated IAS is a tooth less tiger. Its an injustice of equating an all rounder to a bowler. The edge the IAS has is a professional requirement and not something of a birth right privilige. Even the British had this common sense. The powers that be may consider this well and unfortunately if they decide otherwise, they may do well to abolish the IAS, instead of subjecting it to humiliation of such downgrading. © Nitin Jawale Note: The views are personal.