The fact that a system has existed for over
half-a-century (or arguably even more) and has quite successfully stood the
test of time, has been the principal argument put forward in support of
retaining the current system of a two year training period. It was argued
that it may not be wise to tinker with a system unless there are very cogent
reasons for doing so.
This is further buttressed by the fact that majority of
the respondents that the Committee interacted with also were generally
satisfied with the two-year duration of the training period and did not
present any strong case for reducing it.
It has also been argued that the training needs of the
present generation of Officer Trainees have become more complex and hence
any reduction in the training period may be ill-advised and may even present
less understood “costs” for the nation.
The Director of the Academy (who is a member of the
Committee) also supported retention of the existing two-year training cycle
in view of the strong feedback10 received on the existing duration by IAS
The Ayyar Committee and Second Administrative Reforms
Commission have also advocated retaining the duration of training at two
The Academy has recently obtained approval from AICTE to
award a Post-Graduate Diploma in Public Policy and Management to all IAS
Officer Trainees to formally recognize their two-year Induction training.
Any reduction in the duration to less than two years may not allow the
Academy (in line with AICTE regulations) to award such a PG Diploma.
It has also been pointed out that given the annual intake
of candidates into the IAS, any reduction in training/ probation period
would create a statistical “bulge” (representing a larger group than normal)
only in the first year (or cycle) and not result in any net increase in the
annual supply of trained civil servants subsequently.
Lastly, that most civil services in the country currently
have a training period of around two years has also been touted as a
possible argument against reducing the training period of IAS officers where
job requirements are arguably more complex.
Arguments in favour of reduction of training/ probation period:
Notwithstanding the strong case for retaining the status quo, there are equally
compelling arguments made out for reducing the duration of training. The ones
that merit consideration are as follows:
The fact that a system has worked well should not
preclude the need for objective review as to whether the time allocated for
each training course is delivering the best value for money, and whether
there is no possibility to economize on the same in any manner.
With the rising median age of entry of IAS Officer
Trainees (at around 28 years), many Trainees enter the civil service with
significant work experience, of both government and private sector, making
out a case for reduction in the overall training period.
There is some overlap between the inputs taught currently
during Induction Training and the revised UPSC General Studies syllabus.
The increased median age of entry further reduces the
total potential years of service that an officer may have in her/ his
career, also making out a case for reducing the training/ probation period
from the present two years.
The advent of information technology has enabled the
access and delivery of information and knowledge in a faster and more
effective way. This needs to be factored into the pedagogical aspect of
training at the Academy (and also in district training) and should
necessarily result in some savings in terms of time.
It has been the general refrain of many respondents12
that the one-year district training needs to be reviewed, especially in view
of an inordinately large time allocated for attachments at the district
level. It was felt that maximum learning came via exercising responsibility
through independent charges.
It was also observed that the content and duration of the
Winter Study Tour needs to be reviewed and some of the not-so-relevant
attachments dropped. Consequently, the duration should also be reduced to
It has also been suggested by many officers from the
younger batches of the IAS that most of the time of the Phase II course is
largely comprised of individual presentations by Officer Trainees and
deserves to be reduced.
An important argument advanced in support of the
contention is the introduction of a structured Mid-Career Training Programme
(with three phases at key inflection points in an officer’s career) wherein
the IAS officer would be required to attend the first round (known as Phase
III and of 8 weeks duration) upon completion of 7 years of service. In
addition, IAS officers now have access to short-term refresher courses after
4 years of service and are eligible for both short-term and long-term
programmes abroad upon completion of 7 years of service. Certain specific
training needs in the early years of service can be suitably addressed
through these refresher courses.
Lastly, from the State Governments’ perspective, given
the general shortage of junior-level IAS officers in most states, any
reduction in the training/ probation period may be welcome and would allow
for longer (or more complete) tenures of IAS officers as SDMs, which are at
the cutting-edge level in field administration. The Committee has noted that
in many states IAS officers are being posted as CEO Zila Parishads,
Municipal Commissioners or even as District Magistrates within a year of
completion of their Induction Training.
In sum, gains in resource productivity coupled with both “below the line” and
“above the line” benefits make out a strong case for reduction in the training