Among the excess baggage that has been handed down to us from the past is our esteemed IAS (Indian Administrative Service). However why, I consider it will be on its way out might seem interesting.


IASes (the top strata of civil services consist of about 5,000 officers) usually are people who know the domain well and can be good at implementing. Politicians are driven by their strategic voting interests. Through them, we never get to know whether the policies developed are sound or whether they will prove to work. There is a lack of professionals who are good at developing public policies; can provide multiple policy alternatives or better, evaluate possible policy options. This lack of public policy professionals is appalling when you compare the developed West and India with their numerous institutes and think tanks of this genre. This underdeveloped market of today in India is comprised of your newspaper analysts or NGOs. However they cannot provide the rigor that envelopes the policy debates that usually take place in developed countries.

This is more important when you see bureaucrats being transferred within various ministries. Only a bureaucrat can transfer his knowledge from agriculture to education, because he is a part of the File Transfer Protocol, which is not suited for developing specific policies for specific sectors.

Hence the need today is to develop a class of public policy professionals with domain expertise in transport, education, health, telecommunication etc. With more than a score state governments who can employ these professionals, governance might come to be more policy-based rather than politician-based. The shift is apparent when you see a trickle of MPs developing a staff who can provide policy expertise to them. Businesses which have more interaction with public policies will benefit from this section as in citizens who will be more informed of various policy implications.

Most reform measures in our discussions are relegated to the “what” of reform and not the “who”, as in “who” should carry out this particular reform. The idea obviously is not to have an Indian Policy Service, but let the market (private institutes) provide them. They will do for public policies what entrepreneurship and management institutes did for business. State governments can choose from this public policy market the best professionals who can serve them. Any takers for this next market out there?

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The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of CCS.

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Naveen Mandava

Naveen is Co-Founder at XamCheck, an organization that partners with schools, supporting them in processes they follow, with learning materials and processes that are all crafted to work together as an interconnected system to drive learning. He is a Doctoral Fellow from RAND Graduate School in Santa Monica, United States of America. He has worked extensively on assessment based decision support for governments, non-profit organizations and schools chains in India and the USA for over 10 years. He has been a Lead Consultant with the World Bank’s Innovations for Poverty Action Consortium, a Policy Analyst with RAND Corporation and a Research Manager at Centre for Civil Society.