Reforms in the bureaucracy

  • IASbaba
  • March 30, 2021
  • 0
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  • GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive 
  • GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Reforms in the bureaucracy

A look at Defence Bureaucracy reform – CDS

  • Nearly 20 years after the recommendation of the Kargil Review Committee on higher defence management, Prime Minister announced the decision to create the post of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) in 2019
  • The decision was not so simple as many within the defence establishment were opposed to the idea of concentrating military decision-making in one person.
  • General Bipin Rawat was appointed as the first CDS for three years on January 1, 2020 and was also made Secretary of the newly-created Department of Military Affairs (DMA)
  • CDS was tasked with delivering on military reforms through transparent need-based hardware acquisition and creation of theatre commands for better synergy among the land, air and sea-based forces
  • The idea was to cut through bureaucratic red-tape and speed up decision-making in the defence ministry. 

What are the major concerns with Indian bureaucratic system? 

  • Lacks Result Orientation: The Indian bureaucracy continues to be driven by process rather than the outcome.
  • Lacks sensitivity & responsiveness to Public’s needs: The disconnect between the common man and the bureaucracy has not reduced as the bureaucrats are more interested in keeping the file perfect
  • Colonial Hangover: The bureaucracy still continues its legacy of British imperial past as officers sometimes function as part of an occupying power without any awareness of the position on the ground. 
  • Lacks Domain Expertise: In the age of AI and multi-formatted information, bureaucrats generally have inadequate domain knowledge of their areas of work often leading to inefficient policy making.
  • Status-quoist in their attitude: Serving bureaucrats resist infusion of fresh blood and ideas to guide them in their emerging roles and have inadequate communication especially with the Indian youth. 
  • Challenges even with existence of Political Will: Many ministers say they find their bureaucrats behaving like the permanent opposition, determined to tire out the political executives through excessive reliance on procedures & process. 
  • For ex: It took more than one year for the government’s human resource manager, the department of personnel and training, to make key appointments to the department of military affairs. 

Way Ahead

  • Appoint Third ARC: It is time for government to appoint the third administrative reforms commission to institute cutting-edge reforms in the Indian bureaucracy. And this time, government should make sure that the recommendations are actually implemented – and not just on paper like the second administrative reforms
  • Incentivize better performing civil servants: It is time for government to separate the wheat from the chaff by incentivising deserving senior officials through an alternative fast-track career progression channel. This will also lower the age profile of the top officials. 
  • Alternate System of Promotion: The government should also consider promotions to higher levels, that is additional secretary or secretary-level posts from a pool of four to five batches together and not on a year-by-year basis as is done now. This will give the government a larger pool of officials to make their selection. 
  • Contractual Appointments System: Perhaps, appointments at additional secretary or secretary-level could also be offered on a contract basis for five to ten years with compensation for premature separation or termination on each side. This will ensure accountability in terms of delivery on the ground.
  • Expand Lateral Entry: While the government has inducted officers through lateral entry at joint secretary levels or below, this should be encouraged at an additional secretary or secretary-level as a laggard top official will ensure that the lateral entrant has no work


India should have a new result-oriented bureaucracy when the nation celebrates the 75th year of Independence as the present architecture needs to be torn down and rebuilt

Connecting the dots:

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