Kiran Aggarwal Committee Report (2014) "IAS Professional Course (Phase II)"

IAS Professional Course (Phase II)

(i) Rationale for sandwich pattern: The “sandwich pattern” that was introduced in 1969, essentially seeks to blend theory with praxis by allowing for a short period of institutional training following the year-long district training. The IAS Professional Course (Phase II) or simply Phase II, as it is better known, essentially seeks to provide an opportunity to Trainees to discuss and deliberate issues, with the benefit of their first-hand experience in the state, and seek more enduring solutions to administrative problems and challenges. It further allows for sharing of experience, in terms of good administrative practices, so that Trainees may have the benefit of “vicarious learning”.

(ii) Duration: As pointed out by the Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. RVV Ayyar, the duration of the Phase II of the Professional Course has reduced over time from four months at the beginning, to 8 weeks presently. As informed by the Academy, the duration has hovered between 8-10 weeks over the last two decades.

(iii) Experience Sharing: One of the key objectives of the Phase II course is to allow a platform for Trainees to share their experiences across a plethora of issues and sectors. This is expected to foster discussion and reflection on how the same issues are being addressed in other states, or even in other parts of the same state. Trainees are normally asked to make structured presentations on the subject of their district assignments which is followed by a short discussion. Even in the case of Law, Trainees in smaller groups make presentations of a selected case decided by them, highlighting therein the key legal and procedural issues.

(iv) Seminars: An important highlight of the Phase II course is the seminars organized by the Academy. It is important to mention that traditionally only a seminar on being an effective SDO was organized during the Phase II course, with the logic of providing a forum for a more focused discussion on the challenges that Trainees would face while discharging their first responsibility as an SDO. This entailed bringing in some 20-25 SDO from all state cadres, of batches immediately prior to the one being trained, to share their experiences and to also provide a more nuanced view of the problems likely to be encountered in the field. However, given the shortage of IAS officers in junior batches (ostensibly on account of lower recruitment over a decade), the period of SDO-ship has been truncated in many states and IAS officers are posted as CEOs of Zila Parishad or on equivalent positions and also Municipal Commissioners, often within a year of completion of probation. In some state cadres, officers are even posted as Collectors within two years of completion of probation. Hence, the responsibility of the Academy stands slightly enhanced to prepare Trainees for their future assignments (in the next 4-5 years) before they come for their first round of Mid-Career Training in Phase III (upon completion of 7-8 years of service). Resultantly, the Academy also conducts Seminars on being effective CEOs of Zila Parishad, Municipal Commissioners and District Magistrates. Each Seminar normally lasts a day and Trainees and guests are divided into smaller groups (on regional lines) to allow for closer discussion. These seminars are generally very well-received and have been found to be practically useful.

(v) Foreign Study Tour: In line with the growing trend among various civil services to provide foreign exposure to their Trainees, the Academy introduced a Foreign Study Tour for IAS Officer Trainees in 2010. Trainees accompanied by faculty members, travel in two groups to countries in South-East Asia, normally to Singapore (as a developed country) and Vietnam or Indonesia (as a developing country) for a period of 10-12 days. The Tour entails both classroom instruction on various aspects of public administration and also site visits to government institutions. The Academy normally coordinates the foreign visit in collaboration with partner institutions (academies) in these countries. Trainees are expected upon return to write an assessed Foreign Study Tour Paper highlighting the administrative practices that they found most interesting and those that can be adapted or replicated in the Indian context.

(vi) Evaluation: The Phase II course is evaluated by way of Director’s assessment which comprises weightage for presentations, Foreign Study Tour Paper, classroom participation, performance in ICT and language examinations and other co-curricular activities within the course.