From rules to roles
New iGOT 2.0 framework is aimed at creating a proper interface between government service providers and the citizens and situations they serve
An oft-cited critique of the Indian cricket team is that the middle batting order is weak and that the tail-enders can be dismissed like a house of cards. Likewise, while the selection and training of the topmost echelons of governance (All India and Central Services, viz IAS, IFS, IPS, IRS et al) put them at par (if not better) with their counterparts in the rest of the world. The real issues were with our middle batting order and the very long tail. In the lived experiences of farmers, workers, entrepreneurs and citizens, the interface with the revenue, police, education and health providers left much to be desired and the common refrain was that in its obsession for rules and processes, the 'purpose' was lost!
"Training for rules had to make way for a framework in which each member of the government (from the beat constable to the staff nurse, the section officer and the postmaster general) understands their role", was the refrain in the address of Dr C Chandramouli, the Secretary of the DoPT in his inaugural address at the Conference of Cadre Controlling Authorities(CCAs) and the Central Training Institutes(CTIs) at Vigyan Bhawan on 4th February as he outlined the FRAC (Framework of Roles, Activities and Competencies, including Skills) as the new paradigm under which the government was committed to providing training to every single employee based on her role as she moves along her career path. Obviously, the training of 27 million employees is a major challenge and cannot be addressed without leveraging the power of technology and collaboration with institutions and individuals who had or are willing to create content relevant to the competencies required for each role in the government. He spoke at length about the iGOT 2.0, a comprehensive learning platform that enabled cadre controlling authorities, domain departments and training institutions across the country to deliver training in online, face to face and blended manner.
In his inaugural address as the Principal Secretary to the PM, Dr PK Mishra stated that "civil services played a key role in India's growth, prosperity and social development, and that the government was keen to refresh their capacities in line with the rapid changes taking place in society". He pointed out that technology made it possible for governance to become transparent and cut down both transaction cost and transaction time. In the valedictory address, Cabinet Secretary Rajeev Gauba was forthright in stating that training had to be relevant to the current and likely job profile of the officer, 'silos' had to be broken and younger officers had to be in the forefront of making governance systems future-ready. Appreciating the efforts of the DoPT in getting this conclave of relevant officials and trainers together for brainstorming, he emphasised that while the government was committed to training, it was important that career paths and training programs were in tandem with each other. Academic programs had to be chosen for "relevant content", rather than "campus location". He urged the CTIs to work together with their stakeholders to roll out iGOT 2.0 for improving the functional competencies of the employees at all levels.
Earlier in the day, Additional Secretary, K Srinivas spoke at length about what had already been done, beginning with Aarambh, the Common Foundation Course curated by the LBSNAA in October last year which saw all the officer trainees from 22 services of the 2019 civil services batch come together for their Himalayan Trek, village visit and the five -day immersion on technology and leadership in government at the Statue of Unity at Kevadia in Gujarat. All civil servants, irrespective of their cadres had to work with each other for transforming 'India@75' into a five trillion-dollar economy with a focus on equity and sustainability! He made everyone conversant and comfortable with the new jargon of training- competency framework, skillsets, data exhaust, data emit, swim lanes, Omni channels, design market place and My time, My Place, My device learning!
Your columnist chaired the post-lunch session and invited Monika Dhami to showcase the Sargam and Gyan portals of the Academy and reiterated the need to understand the behavioural, functional and domain competencies for each responsibility. This session had presentations from technology providers (Taranto) and content providers (J-Pal) and clarifications to questions about the architecture and roll out of the program by my erstwhile colleague Santosh Mathew (currently with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), who explained the finer points and nuances about the preparation and roll-out of the online programs. He explained that the system had the inbuilt ability to respond to the needs of the learner and also to understand the extent to which the programs were relevant to the job!
Last, but not the least, the credit for the flawless organisation has to be acknowledged. Rashmi Choudhary, the Joint Secretary, conducted the proceedings through the sessions flawlessly. Shriprakash Dubey, whose cheerful demeanour won many a heart, while thanking the participants and resource persons, said that so far, everyone had functioned as a banyan tree but it was time now for all to look at the forest and place the banyan tree within its larger eco-system!
Dr Sanjeev Chopra is the Director of LBSNAA and Honorary Curator, Valley of Words: Literature and Arts Festival, Dehradun. Views expressed are strictly personal