The number of candidates shortlisted for the coveted civil services this year is the lowest since 2012. The lowest intake comes at a time when the Union government is faced with an acute shortage of All India Services (AIS) officers who are willing or available to serve at the Centre.
As per the results of the 2021 Civil Services Examinations (CSE) conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), only 685 candidates have been recommended for appointment to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Central Services - Group A and Group B. In 2014, 1,236 candidates were recommended while in 2012 the number stood at 998. In the years 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. 2019 and 2020 the number of candidates recommended for appointment to the civil services stood at 1,122, 1,078, 1,099, 990, 759, 829 and 761 respectively.
There is not only a sharp decrease in the selection of candidates but also a gradual decline in the number of posts advertised for the CSE examinations.
For the year 2021, the results of which were declared on Monday, the number of vacancies reported by the government to be filled in stood at 749. In 2020, as against 836 vacancies, only 761 candidates were selected whereas the numbers for the year 2019 stood at 927 vacancies and 829 selections. The UPSC conducts the examination on behalf of the government.
‘Rightsizing’ human resources
A senior government official said the reduction in intake is as per the government’s policy of “rightsizing” human resources.
Around 5 lakh candidates appeared for the preliminary examination held in October 2021 out of which 9,214 persons qualified for the written (main) examination and 1,824 candidates appeared for the personality test. Nearly 10 lakh candidates had registered.
Earlier this year, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had proposed amendments to the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954 relating to the Central deputation of IAS officers.
Through the amendments, the IAS, IPS, Indian Forest Service officers could be deputed to the Union government and Central ministries without necessarily taking the State government’s nod.
The IAS (Fixation of Cadre Strength) Regulations, 1955 provide for a Central deputation reserve not exceeding 40% of the senior duty posts of a cadre/joint cadre and the DoPT has said that the State governments have not been sponsoring adequate number of officers for Central deputation to meet the requirements of the Government of India.