//India's top bureaucrats to need US seal of approval

India's top bureaucrats to need US seal of approval

Jatin Gandhi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, February 2, 2007     

Indian bureaucrats now need an American stamp of approval before they can qualify as top brass. Starting this year, three US-based universities will train officers at different stages of their careers and only those who get a ‘satisfactory’ report will be empanelled for promotion.

The government has chosen the John F Kennedy School of Government (KSG) at Harvard University, Duke University, and Syracuse University to carry out the task. Initiated by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the move is a follow-up of the recommendations of an expert panel headed by YK Alagh. It is part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s ambitious plan to revamp the bureaucracy.

The first module of training for 95 IAS officers with 28 years of service concluded last week. The four-week training programme on ‘Governance Challenges for India’ was held at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and was designed jointly with KSG.

The officers who attended it will need a certificate from KSG before they can move on to the next rank of additional secretary or secretary.

Many officers are angry. "There is a lot of irritation in the batch," a joint secretary who participated in the programme told Hindustan Times on Saturday. "Neither KSG nor IIM-A have the experience or competence to issue us certificates," the officer said.

Another officer said the programme was ‘out of context’. "The case studies were not from our situation. The complexities of India are very different," he said.

But the government is unfazed. On Wednesday, the ministry signed a similar agreement with Syracuse University, New York, and IIM Bangalore to train officers with 15 years of service in April. Duke University will conduct a programme for officers with nine years of service.

"There has been criticism… But this is just the beginning and things will get better," said LK Joshi, who signed the agreements as secretary of the ministry. Satyananda Mishra, who replaced Joshi as the ministry’s secretary on Thursday, was unavailable for comment.

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