Revamping the state
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The government has begun reviewing the records of about 67,000 employees, including Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, with the intention of identifying non-performers and corrupt officials. That’s well and good, but these are baby steps.
IAS and IPS career graphs still depend too heavily on seniority despite the availability of data and analytics that could be used to assess merit effectively. The fact that a government employee’s performance is reviewed only twice during service according to current norms highlights the lacunae here. In addition, as political scientists Milan Vaishnav and Saksham Khosla have pointed out, there is a 53% chance that an IAS officer will be transferred in any given year. Naturally, this makes political loyalty a vital skill for bureaucrats.
Comprehensive reforms are essential for addressing these and other issues. They have been suggested before—from the National Police Committee in 1978 to Supreme Court directives in 2006—to no effect. Occasional measures like the current review will not suffice.