In a major initiative to put an end to stagnation in the careers of Rajasthan Administrative Services (RAS) officers, the Congress Government here has posted as many as 13 of them as district Collectors and heads of departments, postings hitherto reserved in the State for officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The Gehlot Government’s decision, a deviation from the practice over the past 15 years, comes in the wake of continuing litigation which is frustrating all attempts to promote senior RAS officers to IAS.

The act, which is bound to help Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot further to change the anti-government employees image he had unwittingly acquired during his previous tenure, finds seven senior RAS officers as Collectors -- of Banswara, Tonk, Jalore, Dholpur, Sikar, Dausa and Jaisalmer — while six others have been given postings as directors and heads of various departments.

Announcing the decision along with new postings for 33 IAS officers in the State the other day, Mr. Gehlot made it clear that the step in positing RAS in higher positions was a policy approach to help the RAS cadre which has been fast losing its charm among the young due to job stagnation. The promotion of eligible senior RAS officers to IAS, pending in the State for the past 15 years due to endless court cases and stay orders, was one of the promises made by the Congress prior to the State Assembly elections not long ago.

Empathising with the State cadre staff, Mr. Gehlot also promised further steps in improving their career prospects by setting up departmental promotion committees (DPCs) and introducing a policy of time-bound promotions.

In fact, Mr. Gehlot made good use of the opportunity as many senior posts are lying vacant at present because the State does not have sufficient IAS officers. Out of the 260-strong IAS cadre, as many as 58 posts are said to be lying vacant. There are 53 of the senior RAS officers waiting for their turn to be promoted into IAS. The total strength of the existing RAS cadre now is 850.

“This is a timely action from which the districts and departments would benefit from the experience of senior RAS officers. In fact this will restore the respectability of the State services which have been losing their prestige all these years due to lack of promotion to IAS,” noted Satyanarain Singh, former Member of the Rajasthan Board of Revenue. Mr. Singh, who got a timely promotion from RAS to IAS during his service period, said that soon after the State came into existence RAS cadre officers used to get postings as Commissioners, Directors and Managing Directors of boards, departments and various corporations respectively. In later years the IAS officers took over these offices as well.

The State has had some outstanding IAS officers who were promoted from RAS such as Munnalal Goyal, K. L. Kocher and Mr. Singh himself, to mention a few. The promotions then used to take place on the basis of RAS merit formula and outstanding Annual Confidential Report. Even the directly recruited IAS officers used to get postings as Collectors after eight years of service. “The promoted officers used to be given postings as Collectors in ‘B’ and ‘C’ class districts while more important districts were the domain of the direct IAS, though there were a few exceptions to this too in the past,” he said.

During the previous BJP regime in the State it was generally felt that the set norms for positing of IAS officers were flouted by the Administration by way of replacing senior officers with juniors and vice versa as district Collectors and HoDs.