Vol. 6 | Issue 5 | Aug 2012
career goals amitabh thakur
Adieu, civil services
Nowadays, we routinely get news of officers leaving the civil services half way through their career. Is this a reflection on the civil services as a career option?
‘Yet another IAS officer of Maharashtra cadre, Subrat Ratho, has opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). In a July 2 letter to Chief Secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia, Ratho, an officer of 1986 batch, has offered to quit and set October 12 as deadline for the Government to take a final decision on his offer.’
‘An IAS officer, SE Sekhar Babu, who is presently Secretary, AP Information Commission (APIC), has reportedly put in his papers, seeking voluntary retirement from service by this month-end.‘
‘Dr K Ashok Vardhan Shetty, a 1983 batch Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, had five more years to retire. A Principal Secretary in the state’s municipal department, Shetty, an engineer and MBA, simply wanted to quit the Government. In September 2011, he applied for voluntary retirement.’
‘One more 1983 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of MP cadre is learnt to have tendered his resignation. He is likely to join the multinational company, Honeywell. According to sources, Dhiraj Mathur, who is presently on study leave in the United States, has put in his papers. Before Mathur, two officers of the same batch — JP Rai and Sunil Tondon — had quit the service and are presently working in the private sector.’
‘Ramanachary, a senior IAS officer and Principal Secretary of the endowments department has opted for voluntary retirement.’ And finally one from the State that I belong to- Uttar Pradesh: ‘Raju Sharma, a 1982 batch IAS officer and due to retire in 2019, sent his resignation to the Government requesting it to accept the same at the earliest and forward it to the Department of Personnel at the Centre.’
Why do IAS officers (and for that matter IPS and other such premier service officers) leave their service midway? To answer this question, we need to go into the question of where do IAS, IPS and such other elite services today stand vis-a-vis other career options. For this, I would like to analyse the position of civil services from the eyes of the country’s youth.
IAS to me was always a dream job and I always wanted to be in this service. However, I could not make it to the IAS and had to settle for the Indian Police Service. But I remember, as a young student studying at IIT Kanpur, that I was among a clear-cut minority who still thought of going into the civil services.
That was way back in 1985-86. It was period when some of my friends, who came to know that I wanted to opt for the IAS, looked at me in a slightly abhorring manner. The reason possibly was that the IAS was already being associated with corruption and nepotism had already gained ground. Young, bright students felt that if they joined the IAS, they might possibly get entrapped into corrupt means. Equally important, the feeling that IAS officers had to toe the lines of the political masters and had to work as per their dictates was widely prevalent. They being independent spirited and having various other career options decided not to opt for the civil services but to go for careers that they found to be much more lucrative. In the late 1990s, from what I saw around me at IIT Kanpur, the most cherished among these career options was going to the US to pursue higher studies and look for greener pastures. For others, the first option was to enter the IIMs and then join one of the big corporate houses.
Thus, the Civil Services were not among the top career options of the brightest lot. Another interesting feature was that among those students who were interested in going to these services, a large majority came from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which most people perceived to be backward states.
However, in 2009-11, when I was doing a fellowship in management at IIM Lucknow, I found that that while the civil services were still not among the most sought after career options for the young would-be managers, the students were less inclined to go to the US. Instead, the first career option was to get a big-fat job in a multinational.
This is also probably the reason why some officers who had joined IAS are seeking to resign midway. These are officers who now believe that they have much better career options available to them outside the civil services. This is truer for officers who don’t believe in adopting unfair means and refrain from corrupt practices or are not able to run after their political bosses. Most of these officers are opting for corporate jobs while some are opting academic pursuits, either in India or abroad.
Today, IAS are seeking to resign midway as many of them now
believe that they have much better career options available to
them outside the civil services
But, there also some officers who opt out of the civil services to make a career in politics. We have umpteen examples of IAS officers becoming successful politicians. Many IAS officers, who are in constant touch with their political bosses, looking at them from close quarters day in and day out, start getting the feeling that when this particular person can become a politician and hold all the powers, why can’t I? They do understand the fact that despite being better educated and more qualified, they still have to follow the dictates of the politicians, who take the lion’s share of all the credit for a job well done.
Again, there is the third kind of officers who leave their job. These are possibly the ‘mavericks’. Some of them join an odd religious cult or go and start living in a tribal village or start working for the upliftment of the poorest class at the grassroots level and so on. To the best of my knowledge, so far no IAS officer has left the service to join organisations that follow extreme policies in the same way as bright students from the JNUs, IITs and other places have been seen doing, but such news might come up in the future.
This possibly sums up the reasons for the IAS officers leaving their jobs midway, much before they were to superannuate. It is only those who have the patience to wait and watch that reach the top echelons of the bureaucracy while those who have quit mid-way probably have no regrets because they are enjoying life in their own way. g
(Amitabh Thakur is an IPS officer from UP)