What is “UPSC Civil Services Rationalization Plan” of the Central Government?

In an attempt to rationalize the nation’s prestigious Civil Services in the country, Central government is preparing a plan to cut down more than 60 Civil Services to just 3 or 4 categories.

In the last few years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has taken several steps to bring reforms in the Indian bureaucracy and civil services. Now the government is planning to 'rationalize' 60 plus All India Services and Central Services. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has prepared a five-year vision plan for reforming the Indian Civil Services structure.

One plan to rationalise is to divide the civil services into security-related, technical and non-technical, and with the aim of achieving better harmony.

Niti Aayog in its report “Strategy for New India @75” released in 2018, recommended that conducting a single exam with an All India ranking for the services. It states that “The existing 60-plus separate civil services at the central and state level needs to be reduced through rationalization and harmonization of services.”

Today there are more than 25 Group A civil services and more than 30 Group B services. The Union government might classify 60 plus civil services into three broad groups. The report further states ““Recruits should be placed in a central talent pool, which would then allocate candidates by matching their competencies and the job description of the post. Concomitantly, the number of exams for civil services should ideally be brought down to one with all India ranking. States may also be encouraged to use this pool for recruitments.”

According to the report, no decision has been taken regarding how to undertake the rationalization by the government. However, there are suggestive reforms that a possible solution could be to classify civil services into three groups.

One way of doing it is dividing the services into Indian Administrative Service, which would include all non-technical services; the Indian Police Service that would include all security-related services and the Indian Technical Services, which would include all technical services.

As per the report, there is a mismatch between positions and skillsets. Recruitment is not competency specific and often, the right person is not placed in the right job.

NITI Aayog recommends to recruit and employ the officers based on their skillset and education to utilize their knowledge in a particular service. For example, an officer holding a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism could perform well better in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting than employed under the Ministry of Defence. Likewise, an officer with a Law degree could do better in the Ministry of Law & Justice than in Ministry of Agriculture.

Lateral entry should be encouraged: Inducting specialists at higher levels of government will provide much-needed expertise.

The key to reform in civil services are encouraging officers to cultivate specializations based on their education and skills early on in their careers. Wherever possible, longer tenure postings need to be made based on the officers’ expertise. Although, it will also add up to ensure cross-sector mobility of the officers from areas where they will perform more than expectations.

Jai Hind!


Gaurav Chaturvedi


Supreme Court of India

New Delhi