Friday, August 21, 2009


As a part of the monthly lecture series , Prof D P Agrawal, Chairman, UPSC was the guest speaker for the month of, November, 2008. He spoke on the topic “ Challenges of Recruiting and Retention of Manpower for Public Services”.

Introducing the distinguished guest to the audience the CGDA delved on the relevance of the topic of the day in the light of current shortage of Group “A” officers in DAD. Pointing to the deficit she mentioned that against the authorized strength of 426 direct recruits only 273 officers were posted at present. This shortage operated at two levels: first, the demands placed to DoPT in 2003 – 07 for allotment of full quota were not fulfilled and secondly, the probationers left the services mid-way.

“Change “ both at the macro and the micro level was the keyword of the Chairman ‘s address as he underlined how managing manpower had become very crucial in the wake of significant changes taking place over the world from which India has not emerged unaffected. However, we need to introspect as to whether we have kept up with this global pace of change for only then would we be able to devise possible strategies to overcome new difficulties.

Delineating the difference between a constitutional organization like Union Public Service Commission, which has the onus of recruiting manpower for senior level, and HR he pointed that HR not only managed recruitment, but also looked into other aspects as retention, motivation and making life comfortable for its employees. He found the UPSC recruitment system to be somewhat strange as it had very little interaction with the selected candidate and had no mechanism to assess their aspiration fulfillment or find out the difficulties encountered

He also drew the audience ‘s attention towards lack of banking on knowledge. He pointed out that once these officers left – either by superannuation or attrition - no system prevailed whereby the knowledge and skills that these officers have acquired during their career span could be banked.

Posing a question to the audience he proceeded to define the public services. as a service that was to be undertaken by the government with the objective of no profit. He however lamented that the participation of the public at large is non –existent in such services and emphasized that undertaking a public service is more difficult ,for at no point of time is the public who is the client in this regard ,is the partner in this project. Elaborating his point further he said that when one enters into a service contract with the provider one is fully aware of the end result, but providing public service seems to be more complex as the expectation seems to be like a long wish list.

Reiterating the “change” tenor of his talk, he pointed to the inevitability of the rise in aspirations and expectations with the rise in literacy and information levels. But due to unavailability of standard models of growth the public service provider is still at large about the quality of life that he is expected to provide. However, this expectation of improvement in the quality of life is not coupled with a pervading sense of discipline in developing economies. So as public service providers one needs to make efforts to define and bring out this connect between kind of service and quality of life relationship. This relationship, he felt, would reflect on the performance of the public service provider and is vital to identifying the processes and delivery mechanism. This he underlined was the first element that needs to be appreciated with the growth of economy.

The second element is the assimilation of multi-cultural identities and varied age-groups in the work-force. In a private sector there is complete freedom of movement and hierarchical structures are not very rigid, teams are also built and demolished as per needs. Nonetheless, the public services still need to get into this groove for here, hierarchy is more of a fear than a deliberate attempt to perform .As the winds of change sweep working processes, they need to understand that they cannot hope to keep working in the same situation with the same kind of people and the grey area of hierarchies need to be re-addressed. Requesting the audience to appreciate this change, he fore-apprised them of the possibilities of their future colleagues being different as they would have the potential to convert information base into knowledge base. The change he felt was already happening as services get off-loaded.

For India to become a world leader we need to create conditions where people have freedom to innovate, operate, be flexible, take risks and share information. In the context of sharing information, he delved upon ACR writing and felt confidentiality is against the spirit of RTI and we shouldn’t be trying to evaluate employees in public services without assigning them particular targets. He felt lots of CAT and court cases were a fall out of this confidentiality and hoped that information should not only flow, it should flow honestly. A leader, he felt, must identify resource people and appreciate and respect them.

He felt that for growth of any organization attrition is a must, it is an advantage, but lamented that unfortunately it is lacking in the public sector.

He concluded his speech my making a very pertinent point that organisations are not valued because of their liquidity but because of their resources. Organisations can grow only when they continue to do knowledge mapping. The talk was followed by a question and answer session.

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