Millennium Post

Short of motivation

Millions of aspirants burn the midnight candle to secure a berth in the coveted civil services list following success in the examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission every year. Services like Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Foreign Service and other central services are part of the Indian civil services. Despite limited vacancies, the number of aspirants rise year after year. However, a study conducted by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the nodal body that takes care of placement and promotion for civil servants, has a startling story to share.

There is an acute shortage of IPS officers as the majority of candidates selected for the job give another shot at the exam to get out of this particular service. The DoPT, in a recent survey, after scanning the forms of 150 IPS officers selected in the previous years, found that most of them were not keen on serving the police force. Instead they wanted to be the part of the administrative services. Prior to the DoPT findings, the home ministry had also studied the forms of the IPS officials over some years.

The findings are definitely alarming as IPS officers are directly responsible for maintaining law and order across the country. Experts believe that there are some major reasons behind the prevailing mind set. One among many reasons is the threat to life faced due to rise of Maoists  and other subversive groups. There are some instances of police officials being targeted by the Maoists.

The study also found that out of 150 candidates selected, only 12 were eager to join the police force. The findings suggest that 90 per cent of total officers did not give IPS as their first option. As per requirement a total of 230 IPS officers should be selected each year, but the UPSC has been recruiting only 150 officers. The total approved strength of IPS officers across the country is 4,730, but at present there are only 3,637 officers. There is a shortage of 1,093 officers. Despite the shortage, 550 officers from the cadre are discharging administrative responsibilities as OSD to ministers, PS to ministers and several such other assignments.

Focusing on selection of officers, home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had admitted before a parliamentary standing committee that there is a need to recruit those candidates into the police force who wish to join it with complete dedication. It was as a result of the ongoing shortage of police officers that the ministry of home affairs had proposed the creation of an Indian Police Service Limited Competitive Examination (IPSLCE) to be conducted by UPSC. The ministry’s separate special recruitment drive idea entails the selection of dedicated officers from Central forces such as CRPF, CISF, etc.

Following the direction of the home ministry, a special recruitment exam was conducted to select 80 dedicated officers. But the model was rejected by IPS associations across the country. The Assam IPS Association has challenged the selection drive citing reasons as to how come officers from other cadres are inducted into the Indian Police Services.

The former home secretary RK Singh had also taken the matter of shortage of IPS officers seriously. In his submission before the committee – comprising 10 MPs from Rajya Sabha and 31 from Lok Sabha – he had said, ‘We can try and recruit only people who have an orientation and commitment for that (policing jobs). An officer may have an orientation for policing, but at the same time, he may want to appear for the examination to attain admission into a service which, in his eyes, is better.’
Incidentally, Singh himself had first got into the IPS after clearing CSE in the 1970s. He took the exam again the next year and got selected for IAS. However, several such IPS officers are not as lucky and have to be in the police service against their wishes.

AK Verma, the president of Retired IPS Association, accepting the shortage of officers in the country, stressed on the need to speed up the recruitment process to fill the gap. At the same time he flayed the findings of the study being conducted by DoPT, saying that it should not be made an issue. ‘How can it be said whether the selected candidates are willing to serve the police force or not. Their selection is the result of an examination process. When they get into the IPS list, how come their willingness comes in the way of serving their duty’, said AK Verma.

The 1963 batch IPS officer, who also served as joint secretary, added that the selected IPS officials have to serve the police force only. But there are other opportunities for them too. The IPS officers can serve in administrative services, if they are scrutinised by a selection committee headed by the home secretary.

A report titled Recruitment Plan (2009-2020) for Indian Police Service prepared by Kamal Kumar, IPS (Retd) lays emphasis on the challenges of manpower planning for internal security organisation. The report says lower intake of direct recruits than required, over several years in the past is the major cause of crunch of officers in the country. The unscientific processes of fixing cadre strength is what is resulting in the loss of cadre strength.

Apart from the selection fiasco, the other reasons that force IPS officers to opt for other responsibilities rather than policing might be political pressures, watertight work schedule, etc. There could be numerous reasons but the fact is that in an era of extremism, officers should come out voluntarily to serve their motherland.
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