Yoginder K. Alagh | CHARWAK
There is palpable change in India. The new generation performs and demands better performance. It does well in sports and in the economy. The performance of India’s political culture therefore,has to meet expectations. So too the administrative system.
Management of the Civil Services by the political leadership leaves much to be desired. Many suggestions have been made,like transparent processes of promotions and transfers,vertical and horizontal mobility,and more open processes of performance appraisal. A committee that I chaired on Recruitment and Training of the Higher Civil Services for which some of the best people in India contributed,also endorsed many of the required changes,but a lot remains to be done.
In one area,there has been progress. The committee made suggestions for a 180-degree change in recruitment processes and life-time training of the Higher Civil Services. The lifetime training suggestions were accepted by the UPA Government and implemented. I was asked to chair a committee to operationalise it,and this later led to an oversight group which I still chair. The design was established in consultation with the Services training establishments and the corporate sector.
After every 10,17 and 25 years,every civil servant is expected to go through a 4-6-week training process where the entire batch comes back for training. There is great synergy in the whole batch being trained,for contacts are renewed. In a very unusual step,the Government of India accepted the costly process of involving some of the best institutions in the world. The Kennedy School of Harvard University and Indian Institute of Management,Ahmedabad,were invited to train the senior-most level.
The Maxwell School of Syracuse University and IIM Bangalore were asked to train the next level,and the School of Public Policy at Duke University and Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy trained civil servants with approximately 10 years’ experience.
We now have over two years of experience of this training,and it has been largely a successful experience. Attempts are being made to review the experience and to design programmes for the next triennium. The oversight group has suggested that Mussoorie’s Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy should be converted into a high level university or school of public policy with a governing mechanism chaired by a distinguished Indian like,say,Ratan Tata and with senior civil servants,directors of management institutes and human resources development and public policy specialists as its members.
Networking is being suggested as a method of training. No single institution may have the skills to train Indian civil servants who are individuals of exceptional merit and commitment selected through an open process. Public policy networks of the kind developed at institutions like the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy at Princeton University and CIGI in Canada may be of use. This idea came from Jim Basillie,founder of BlackBerry,who has also sponsored the IGLOO public policy network community.
We should attempt to think this through,for our future does to an extent depend on the performance of high-level babus. The village,the town and the globe will all have to be factored in effective public action. We will have to globalize efficiently and also protect the victims of the global bazaar.