With a goal of directly appointing skilled officials at higher posts, the Kerala cabinet had in December last week decided to constitute the Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) along the lines of the all India Civil Services such as the IAS.
There were strong protests from different employees’ associations against the decision. But the cabinet that met again on 4th of January decided to go ahead with the decision despite the protests. The cabinet also decided to hold discussions with the organisations of government secretariat employees on January 13. The service organisations of the Congress and the BJP observed a token strike on Thursday to protest the decision. Although the pro-CPI-M, CPI outfits were not part of the strike, they too are agitated over the decision and have openly expressed it too. The KAS will cover the appointments of 29 major departments in the secretariat, including administration and finance. The appointments in ten per cent vacancies in second class gazetted posts in all these departments will be conducted through the KAS. The examination will be held by the Public Service Commission, with a graduate degree being the basic qualification. Those who qualify will be given a 1.5-year long rigorous training. The decision to increase the quality of state administrative sector along the lines of the IAS should be welcomed by all means.
Protests from employees’ organisations irrespective of party lineage were expected. In fact, it was the Oommen Chandy government that first took the decision to form the KAS. But the UDF government had to withdraw the decision owing to the protests from the employees. It should be noted that the pro-Left outfits were in the forefront of the protests against Chandy. Those having a good opinion about government officials would be very few in our society. The employees, with their ‘service’, are ‘uniquely skilled’ in obtaining the dislike of the people. Although the authority among the organisations is possessed by pro-Left outfits, they have undoubtedly failed in bring in any ‘Left qualities’ in their functioning so far. It is presumed that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan might have taken notice of that. That could be the reason he, aiming the revival of the government service sector, put forth several suggestions and directions ever since he took oath as the CM. He had reacted sharply against the celebrations and other businesses of the employees during the working-time. It is a known secret that even the pro-Left outfits were not so pleased with the CM on such matters. But they had to bow down before the ‘stern’ CM. The latest decision on the KAS can be considered a continuation of the CM’s stand on the matter.
The root cause of the opposition against the KAS is the uneasiness of the senior officials in losing their soon-to-get promotion-posts to fresh and energetic youngsters. What keep our civil service sector always alive are the discussions and anxieties over promotion, increment, bonus, allowances and other benefits. No serious discussions happen anywhere about issues like how to provide government services to the people and how to solve their problems as quickly and effectively as possible. All the service organisations and political outfits, despite the party lineage, are to be blamed for this state. It will be over-confidence to believe that all these issues will be solved at the moment the KAS is implemented. However, it is for sure that the new step will bring in a fresh energy in the civil service sector in the State. That will bring in new thoughts and visions. Hence, the government should go ahead with the decision, no matter what. It should not bow down before the conservative approaches and power games of the service organisations. If both the UDF and the LDF governments could not implement a decision due to the opposition of staff organisations, that would be an insult to our democratic system.