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Hailed by some as India’s steel frame and reviled by others as a relic of the colonial past, the Indian Administrative Service is an enigma for most. In this candid insider account, Naresh Saxena gives the IAS a human face and shares valuable ideas for administrative reform.’
All over the world, relentless commodification has cynicized the behaviour of states. Even though India is no exception to that, before asking “What can be done”, it is worth asking “What is Indian about this process?” because the formulaic answer is so often even less state.
Dr Saxena is an immensely gifted and accomplished authority on the Indian Administrative Service. Here he draws on his unparalleled breadth of experience—in the ministries of rural development, environment and forests, and revenue; as Director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration; and on the Minorities Commission and the National Advisory Council. The result is a perceptive, compelling and deeply humane critique of the Service and its place in India’s recent history.
A brutally frank and brilliant assessment by a very experienced civil servant of the failure of the IAS to deliver efficiently key services of health, forest rights, education and tribal rights and removal of hunger of the common man. Full of very interesting anecdotes on interface with politicians, self-introspection and suggestion on reforming the governance system. Emphasizes the need for administrative reforms including stable tenures, accountability, effective monitoring and information system and capacity building. A very compelling call for systemic change.
A truly unusual and provocative book, written with candour, commitment and clarity. N. C. Saxena’s superb account of the IAS places civil service reform in the context of a sharp and informed view of India’s larger politics and society and the need for greater individual and collective initiatives together with strong political and administrative will to implement systemic reforms. This impressive work will appeal to those with an interest in making the state more outcome oriented and accountable to the people.
“Our planners would be well advised to make compulsory reading, for all concerned, Naresh Chandra Saxena’s candid, thoughtful and balanced book, What Ails the IAS and Why it Fails to Deliver, which offers much insight… Saxena has sensible suggestions for improving the standard of governance.’
“Saxena doesn’t shy away from examining the politicization of the bureaucracy… His ideas for reform are well-thought-through and many, but conclusion is that all of it will need collective political will.”
“N.C. Saxena’s book presents a remarkable insight into the working of public administration in our country and the role of its most important player: the IAS… a must read for those who want to understand how the country’s public administration functions and a call to policymakers to bring much needed reform in Indian polity.”