Kiran Aggarwal Committee Report - 2014 (Review The Content & Duration of Induction Training of IAS Officers - I)

Kiran Aggarwal Committee Report - 2014

Review The Content & Duration of Induction Training of IAS Officers - I Approach to Training

The Committee considers it important to articulate the broad philosophy that has guided its approach to Induction training. This essentially embraces three broad aspects, viz. Leadership Development Architecture, Competency Development of IAS officers, and Participant-centred Continuous Learning. However, in this debate and reassessment of the type of training and development to be provided to these officers over their career lifecycle, it is important to first highlight some pre-requisite changes that should ideally precede these decisions.

It is time for a refreshed, re-imagined purpose for the Indian civil services in the light of the profound changes that have taken place in the modern world. In this new era in India, where there is much complexity, volatility, division, rapid change and simmering discontent among large segments of society ; where some of the fundamental strengths – enduring institutions of quality – including the civil services themselves are under attack, there is also unbridled opportunity in a world transformed by technology and connectivity. There are many reasons for concern but they are ultimately trumped by the positives. There is, thus, a need to abandon cynicism and a lament for the “system” and “establishment” that will never change, and instead work towards realizing the individual civil servant’s highest potential. Many substantive advantages would accrue on this account along with the exponentially more potential advantages that India can develop. No institution is better positioned or equipped with the required talent to lead this charge to a bright future for all Indians, than the combined civil services.

While seemingly symbolic at a larger level, it is argued that a fundamental rediscovery, restatement and reaffirmation of the higher purpose as well as the roles and responsibilities of the IAS are needed. It needs to be accomplished by the officers themselves coming together in fresh unity and a committed spirit of excellence and collaboration. The IAS must guard vigilantly against erosion of ethics and the special role it has been mandated under the Constitution. To let its functioning be corrupted, or least misdirected even in a few instances, is to sow the seeds of an inevitable diminution in its unique role and responsibility in nation-building. That is likely the last thing, those who constitute the civil service derive their identity from, and take deep pride in, may want to see happen. This pre-requisite effort is an important gating consideration to designing vanguard and global best-in-class training and leadership development interventions for IAS officers.

A. Leadership Development Architecture

Induction Training at the Academy must be viewed as “a watershed training event” by all stakeholders in the training process. The Leadership Development Architecture (for detailed descriptor see Annexure C) being presented as an overall framework for the training of IAS officers comprises seven key guiding principles which are elucidated below:

  1. Purpose Affirming
  2. Comprehensive in coverage of the career life-cycle
  3. Competency-based
  4. Multi-stakeholder (including the individual in a more central role)
  5. Multi-mode and Multi-vector learning
  6. Outcome focused, Measurement-centred learning (integrated into design)
  7. Benchmarking best in class content with explicit focus on contextual and role relevance

B. Competency-based Training

The 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission and the National Training Policy, 2012 have strongly suggested adoption of competency-based approach to the entire gamut of human resource management, including capacity building of civil services. Competency consists of knowledge, skills and attitudes or behavioral traits. These competencies may be broadly divided into those that are core skills that civil servants would need to possess with different levels of proficiency for different functions at different levels. Some of these core competencies pertain to leadership, financial management, people management, information technology, project management and communication. The other set of competencies relate to the professional or specialized skills which are relevant for specialized functions such as building roads, irrigation projects, medical care etc. For bringing transformational improvement in the civil services, it is imperative to move to a competency-based human resource management system that ensures that each job is performed by a person who possesses the required competencies for that job.

The Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) has developed a Competency Dictionary for the Indian civil services and a tool-kit for its implementation that can be realized for designing competency training modules. The Competency Dictionary has identified 25 generic or core competencies which have been grouped in four set of basic features of civil services. These four set of basic features have been categorized as Ethos, Ethics, Equity and Efficiency.15 For more see Competency Dictionary.

For moving to competency-based approach, it would be necessary to identify the required generic competencies for first few years for performing duties and responsibilities that IAS officers will be required to do efficiently and effectively. Then these identified competencies would need to be matched with existing curriculum of the induction training programme and wherever the gap exists, the curriculum would have to be modified accordingly. This would ensure alignment of induction training program with the identified generic competencies for the first few years of service in IAS.

Competency Framework for Training of IAS officers

C. Participant-centred Learning

One of the main cornerstones of the suggested approach is the centrality accorded to the participant in the learning system. The Committee advocates a shift from Trainees being treated as “passive” actors in their training to becoming “active” participants in the learning process. This focus on the individual should entail mapping the entry-level gaps and then taking remedial action wherein the Trainee herself/ himself is incentivized, in conjunction with the Academy, to become the leading partner. Further, it is also proposed that training and learning must not always be seen as synonymous and coterminous. Rather, learning must be viewed as “a continuous and lifelong event” where the training conditions each Officer Trainee to treat every new position and challenge as a learning opportunity.

Duration of Training Period

The Committee has objectively considered the arguments made both in favour of retaining the two-year training period as well as those in support of reducing it (see part 7 of the Report) and also taken into account the general feedback received from various quarters. It must be mentioned (as stated in para 7 (ii) [e] earlier) that both the Ayyar Committee and the 2nd ARC have supported retention of the two-year training period. Director LBSNAA (who is a member of the Committee) has also expressed reservations against any proposed reduction in the duration of Induction Training, and his note has been placed on record . However, while taking note of these views, the other members are of the considered opinion that the training requirements must be in consonance with the changing profile of entrants, easier access to learning resources, and more dynamic external environment. Also, the time spent during both institutional training (at the Academy) and district training must be subjected to closer examination in cost-benefit terms, without impacting adversely in any manner on the desired outcomes.

In view of these compelling reasons , the Committee recommends reduction in the total period of Induction Training from presently two years (103 weeks) to around one-and-a-half years (75 weeks). This is proposed to be apportioned across various components of Induction Training as follows:

A. Institutional training at the Academy

The Committee recommends revision of the inter-se allocation of time in the training courses at the Academy as follows:

i. Foundation Course: The Committee proposes retention of the existing duration at 15 weeks.
ii. IAS Professional Course (Phase I): The Committee finds some slack in the total duration of Phase I and proposes reduction in it from 26 weeks to 21 weeks. This would be as follows:

  1. Academic instruction: 12 weeks
  2. Winter Study Tour: 7 weeks
  3. BPST: 1 week
  4. Block Leave: 1 week

iii. IAS Professional Course (Phase II): The Committee finds that a large quantum of contact hours is consumed by individual presentations. It recommends reduction in the total duration of the course from 8 weeks to 6 weeks. This would include:

  1. Presentations, Seminars, Group Work, et al: 5 weeks
  2. Foreign Study Tour: 1 week

B. District Training

In view of the strong feedback received from recent batches of IAS officers about the relatively sub-optimal effectiveness of attachments in the district and the relatively higher utility of independent charges for on-the-job learning, the Committee has revised the duration of attachments and independent charges. The Committee recommends reduction of the period of District Training from 54 weeks to 33 weeks which is as follows:

  1. Joining time from Academy to State: 1 week
  2. Institutional training at State ATI (including State Darshan, Debriefing, et al): 5 weeks
  3. Attachment with Collector and subordinate revenue offices: 4 weeks
  4. Attachment with miscellaneous district offices (of line departments): 4 weeks
  5. Attachment with State Secretariat: 1 week
  6. Departmental Examinations: 1 week
  7. Independent charge of BDPO: 8 weeks
  8. Independent charge of Tehsildar: 6 weeks
  9. Independent charge of Executive officer of Municipality: 3 weeks

The details of the revised training cycle (over 75 weeks) have been provided in Annexure E.

The Committee would like to specifically comment on the issue of award of PG Diploma to the IAS Officer Trainees in the event of a reduced training duration of 75 weeks. In all likelihood, this may not present any complication with regard to the award of a PG Diploma by the Academy. However, in case AICTE considers a 2-year period as mandatory, the Trainees could be given an additional assignment over the next 6 months (post completion of training) and the Diploma certificate could be awarded (after evaluation) upon completion of the stipulated period of two years.

Content of Training Courses

The Committee recommends the adoption of the syllabus prescribed by the Ayyar Committee with some modifications made therein. This has factored the feedback received from Officer Trainees and IAS officers from various states. This is given at Annexure B and may be gainfully utilized by the Academy while preparing future course designs. The revised syllabus, as suggested by the present Committee for the Foundation Course and Phase I is given at Annexure F. With regard to each of the training courses, the Committee would like to make the following recommendations:

A. Foundation Course: The recommendations qua the content and design of the course are as follows:

  1. The design of the course and curricula must be outcome-based, i.e. what the Academy expects an Officer Trainee to achieve at the end of the course, and which could be evaluated.

  2. The design of the course, in addition to the curricular inputs, must focus on developing the desired competencies. Maximum importance must be placed on inculcating the right values among Trainees at the start of their service careers. In particular, Officer Trainees must be sensitized more effectively on ethics, on gender issues and to the needs of the differently-abled. An effective module covering these aspects should be developed in the context of challenges of public management in India.

  3. The FC should work towards developing a spirit of teamwork in the Trainees and effectively utilize the presence of other services for taking up problems of inter-service relevance, especially utilizing the presence of police and forest service officers.

  4. Officer Trainees that have an advanced degree in a particular discipline (eg. Economics, Law, etc) must be screened through an entry-level testing system and, if required, be assigned well-designed project work in lieu of attending certain basic classroom lectures.

  5. Teaching in all disciplines must blend theoretical instruction with more skill-and application-oriented inputs (eg. drafting affidavits or affidavit-based replies in Law) to better prepare the Trainees to deal with the challenges of real life situations.

  6. Cases or projects from the Academy must be used to effectively demonstrate the practical aspects of project management.

  7. Greater emphasis must be placed on improving both written and oral communication skills as well as the presentation skills of Officer Trainees.

B. IAS Professional Course (Phase I): The Committee recommends the following:

  1. As in the FC, the Academy must clearly enunciate the learning outcomes for the professional course against which the Trainees could be tested. The design (including the course content) must clearly be aligned with the learning outcomes.

  2. The focus of learning must shift from delivering informational content to focusing on administrative challenges, inter-state variations across sectors and the reasons thereof, studying best practices and associated adaptive challenges, and acquiring proficiency in the required skills sets.

  3. Values and Ethics must form a strong focus area for the overall course design. Specific instructional content should be developed using experience of delivering specific programmes on ethics in the government and corporate sector. In addition, emphasis on development of soft skills should be continued in Phase I.

  4. Specific inputs on dealing with the media and exposure to processes related to the lower and higher judiciary should also form a focus area in the teaching curriculum.

  5. The Winter Study Tour should cover, as part of its itinerary, North East and Jammu & Kashmir to sensitize Officer Trainees to the special challenges of these regions.

  6. The number of attachments may be reviewed (or reduced) by the Academy and attempts must be made to incorporate exposure to Trainees to well-acclaimed interventions (that have received PM Awards in the last 3-4 years) as part of the itinerary of the tour.

  7. In physical training, a specific module on yoga and meditation may also be included.

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