At Niti Aayog they have become Rai Sahabs”: Former bureaucrat Anil Swaroop to Kailashnath Adhikari, MD,Governance Now

India, September 2020: Former bureaucrat Anil Swaroop has called for reforms in civil services with a focus on leadership skills and not analytical skills. He has said that expertise and analytical skills can be outsourced but the attitude has to be developed.

Swaroop, who is the ex-secretary, School Education and Coal and founder chairman ‘Nexus of Good’ movement has said while speaking to media that at present right from selection to the time of retirement handling of civil servants is not worthy of mention. ‘’In our manner of selection of civil servants, there are only accidental leaders. We select people who can write the exam in those three hours. The nature of questions is such that they test analytical skills but not leadership skills.” He was in a webinar with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now

Responding to a question on if the government allowing lateral entry in bureaucracy and Niti Ayog bringing down the retirement age limit to 60 years at the state and central levels will help improve governance, Swaroop said, ‘At Niti Aayog they have become ‘Rai Sahibs’. The problem in civil services is not about expertise but about the approach and that is critical. The ethos has to change. Because as you rise up the ladder you need to manage men and women so you need leaders, not experts. I am not against their lateral entry but if they are not brought in a manner that is objective and transparent in the process there could be serious trouble.” He also criticized the fact that no thought is given before postings.

Swaroop also said that technology must be implemented in government offices to weed out corruption. The unusual situation brought in by COVID has emphasized on the use of technology in all walks of life and the use of time to reinvent. I am talking of using technology and transparency..virtually eliminating corruption.. railways managed to handle corruption through technology.. both the departments of coal and education that I headed, I dispensed with old papers files. Everything was digitized ..what aren’t the ministries digitizing their processes and their files because much of the corruption is on account of .. ….which we call speed money…. since I made the processes transparent the world knew which officer was sitting on which file for how much time.. I am convinced that with use of technology we can mitigate the ill effects of corruption substantially” said Swaroop who has authored two books, ‘Ethical Dilemmas of a Civil Servant’ and ‘Not Just a Civil Servant.’