Home >Politics >Policy >IAS officers: Why Ashok Khemka isn’t the exception

Outrage over the 34th transfer of Haryana Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Ashok Khemka in the man’s 22 years of service is playing itself out across TV channels, websites, and newspapers, but the fact is that his average tenure, at around 234 days, is not very different from that of his peers—unless things have changed in the past decade.

According to data from the 10th report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission titled Refurbishing of Personnel Administration—Scaling New Heights, in 2006, 55% of IAS officers had average tenures of less than a year, with only 8% having tenures above three years. That proportion was actually an improvement over 1991 and 1978, when 58% of IAS officers had average tenures of less than a year.

Sure, the averages may be skewed a bit by junior officers being transferred as they move through the ranks —much like a management trainee at a consumer products company becomes a sales manager at the end of a certain period—but the statistic is still a telling comment on the vulnerability of India’s bureaucracy to the whims of politicians.

This week, Khemka, a 1991 batch IAS officer, was transferred to his 47th post—this time in the Haryana archaeology and museum department. He has held more than one position simultaneously 10 times, which explains why he has held 46 positions despite being transferred only 34 times. Khemka’s moves are consistent across six governments and four parties in Haryana. is a Delhi-based start-up that is developing a search engine for public data to make it more accessible to decision-makers.

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