An Open Letter: India's Next Defence Secretary ... From "Outside" the IAS
30th April, 2016
Kind Attn : Shri. Manohar Parrikar
Defence Minister, Government of India
It may be time for the Next Secretary of Defence, Government of India … to come from outside the IAS.
I would like to request you to think about this seriously for reasons outlined in this note.
The NDA government inherited a “bureaucracy problem” from the Congress controlled UPA Government. The Live mint article of Sept 2015 (link below) reflects this view by saying that the Bureaucracy is not allowing the Modi Government to function.
The only way to solve the Macro problem and avoid possible defeat in the 2019 General Elections … it to enforce Lateral Entry into the IAS at all levels in all ministries.
Need For Reforms in the Ministry of Defence
Anyone who visits the Ministry of Defence to do business or even talk about new ideas has a very bad experience.
I have personally had a very bad experience at your Ministry at the hands of a Joint Secretary when I went to talk to him about the Defence Economic Zone project.
This Joint Secretary was openly hostile to any new ideas.
A lot of people I have talked to have had a similar experience with IAS officers at the Ministry of Defence.
It is very necessary to start at the Very Top to bring in Change and New Ideas … We therefore need to start with the Secretary of Defence.
To do this, the position of the Next Secretary of Defence … could be filled through an Open Interview Process.
This will send out a very Strong message that Your Government means business and is interested in bringing New Ideas in accelerating the Reform Process at the MOD.
In fact all new administrative positions at the Ministry of Defence should be filled through open interview. This will dramatically improve performance and change our Military Establishment in a way not seen since independence in August 1947.
Henry Kissinger has said “In crises the most daring course is often safest”
Today our Security establishment is in a Crisis … and we need people who know their Jobs because of the massive security problems we have in the neighborhood.
The Secretary of Defence could be anyone whose previous appointments could be in the Home, Education, Agriculture, or Coal Ministry before doing a short sting at the Department of Defence Production.
The above paragraph however raises the question “What does this Secretary of Defence know about Defence and National Security?”
In saying this I would like to qualify my statement by saying that I have personally nothing against the Defence Secretary. He may in fact be a very nice and able administrator.
Putting India First
All this raises a question “Do the people of India not have a right to get the best person for the post of Defence Secretary?”
Someone with real knowledge and enthusiasm for promoting India’s Security Interests.
In my personal view India could lose the next war because we do not have the right person as Secretary of Defence and therefore this position, as soon as present Secretary of Defence remits office, needs to be filled through Open Interview.
We need to ask ourselves … Why should the Defence Secretary always have to be from the IAS? Is it written anywhere in some Sacred Text?
Need For Cabinet Decision … For 100 Such Appointments / Year
In fact we in India need such reforms in all ministries and not just the Ministry of Defence. If we just bring in one Defence Secretary from outside, the other vested interests in the bureaucracy will not let him function.
Therefore we need the most senior appointments in Government to be brought in from outside. These could be People who have proved themselves in other walks of life (Industry, Other Government Departments etc).
We need to bring in around 100 New Senior people every year starting in 2016. These people need to be brought in on Par with officers from the current IAS and fully empowered to take decisions.
Other countries are doing this for decades … and they have Excelled.
Marco Impact of Open Interview Process … In Govt. Jobs
If over the next 3 years, your government fills over 2000 government jobs through an open interview process it will create a very dynamic situation and speed up decision making tremendously at all levels of Government, as Lateral entry into the IAS gets institutionalized .
This single step will also create Millions of New Jobs within 3 years.
The Defence Economic Zone Project
In fact all posts should be based on real knowledge base of the particular domain like engineering and doctors and scientists and so many other domains have particular fields to excel . No general candidates can bring better results as he will only talk common sense base on inputs only . This the reason whole country is suffering with this type of Governance and see all around failure . Actually bureaucracy is only facilitators of politicians
I wish fundamental changes should happen that only can bring betterment
True, if the imagined psychosis of a coup by the Forces be overcome by the political leadership, the lateral entry of a senior General can be considered for the post of Defence Secretory. Has the government got the guts to overrule the bureaucratic objections?
I fully agree
The vice grip of the IAS self styled all knowing Baboos should be removed from all departments of the government
These fellows should be removed from all decision making appointments and be limited to joint secretary level ,above which all appointment tents be from the country wide talent hunt
This applies to IPS too who are hand in gloves with IAS
Do read my BOOK “War-Conflicts-Security & the Military”- in which Lateral entry and Improving the standards of Bureaucracy are covered amongst other related subjects. best wishes..P.T>
All the ministriesust have staff from Dept. That is to say home from police,foreign from I FS,Def from Retd def, Rly from Rly,etc.Because they know well the functioning of that dept.
With def politicians are scared of coup.That is self created psychosis.
But ministries having person from dept will deliver better goods.
The man does make for a cogent arguement in favour of his proposal with some well thought through points!!
Dear Ashish Puntambekar,
While I do agree with the essence of the letter, how does one choose a person.
Based on what criterion?
Invariably the present criteria is selection by the ACC & it may be safe to presume that they have some criteria that they follow.
It could even be ‘he is my man’.
Getting the best person for the job is always a challenge & wherever this is fulfilled,chances of success are more.
The Defence Secretary could be an appointment to think about as this is published in IDR.
Take a similar example where the incumbent Secretary Drinking Water & Sanitation is an appointment which has been made out of the IAS. The person was with the World Bank for almost a decade. Ex IAS though, but a good bold move by the Govt, quite in line with the suggestion to make changes at the top levels.
Please allow changes to be made. Thought process to run through & let it be a continuous process. Change is the only constant.
Change is inevitable.
The incompetent must make way for the next person to prove his/her worth.
What is most essential in democratic process is ‘political will’.
True only Those candidates should be called up from the IAS who have had a tenure with the Armed Forces. And as a precursor every IAS must do a one year tenure in the army and 6 months attachment with the other two services. This shoulf make them familiar with the requirements othe services and the changing dimensions of security and strategic scenario. As I suspect majority of them will get themselves medically down graded in which case service penalty should be imposed on them.
For India to progress and unshackle it self from the bureaucratic strangle hold we need to have out of the box thinking and ideas. Filling up some of the top bureaucratic jobs from open selection would force the bureaucracy to shakeup and act to serve the best interest of the nation and for the uplift and progress of coman man. Today corruption is all pervasive specially in all Govern departments despite steps initiated by the current ruling political party.
BJP have to take hard steps and implement if they want to retain power.
Control black money by stopping all cash deals beyond Rs. 10000/, encourage use of credit card/debit cards by giving tax incentive. It is unfortunate many people are rolling in money when it comes to spending but there are mesily less than 1 crore people filing tax return and much lesser actually paying Tax.
New ideas will only flow when we have people of integrity and strength of character who care for downtroden.
Great food for thought Ashish. I fully share your view of radical change in bureaucracy.
Also, we must discus what can be the fallout or drawbacks of such lateral Entry, who will conduct such interview and how do we ensure that the appointment has been made purely on merit.
New India needs competence not the seasoned “Yes Minister”. Strong integrity commitment with competence alone can transform India.
IAS officers are Babus and are used to pushing files.There is need for someone to come without of box ideas to set the defence right .It is rediculous that a babu with experience in home ,textile etc is posted as Defence Secy and responsible for the defence of country.We need some one who can restructure the organization work to improve the quality and quantity of manpower and work to upgrade its equipment.R&D ,Ordnance Factories and other defence related organizations should be made accountable and also subjected to audit to find their contribution towards defence preparedness of the country
We all have had same bitter experience in Defense establishment in our life time! By heart, we wanted to do good things in life. Alas ! who cares for good work ? Corruption is the mother of all evil in this country, this was my personal experience in Defense Establishment. I had to live as vendor for not obliging them ! But never given up my principle of honesty.
Unless the corruption is removed from the Indian soil, don’t expect any good things happening in our country, either by incumbent government or future government.
Look at the present pathetic scenario about corruption charges made against the previous government. Millions of Euros wasted on the middle men & so on & so forth & the end result is nil.
Likewise our Armed forces are the most sufferers by not procuring relevant goods on time. Unlike our late Sam Bahadur, our chiefs are having absolutely no voice at all.
This is the drawback & unfortunate for this country.
I cent percent agree with your wise thoughts that you penned in your letter.
Jai Hind !
I agree with your comment why babu should fill the Defence Secretary post. There are many eminent honest and who think for the nation defence officers. Since they are rich and varied experience I feel the Defence Secretary should be selected from this strata. Officers from the defence forces could be selected and inducted laterally at various levels to provide the much needed expertise on defence matters.
I offer below an extract from my book Sustainable Defence (USI, 1999). Cannot say that the proposal has had much general support, but we have high hopes from our current Defence Minister.
As Lt Gen Sinha has observed, the position of the Defence Secretary is such that the authority of CDS and the Chief of Staff of the three Services is virtually concentrated in one individual who is totally unprofessionai.” One solution could be to replace him with an individual who has the requisite professional background. The post of a Secretary General in the Ministry of Defence should therefore be established, to be filled for a tenure of two years by rotation by a Service Chief on retirement. The misgivings regarding creating a top military position would be allayed, and the Chiefs of Staff would retain their status as the seniormost serving officers in their respective Services. The Secretary General, a civilian, would provide the vital bridge or interface between the political leadership and the military. Adjusting the tenures of the Secretary General with the tenures of the three Chiefs of Staff need not present insuperable difficulties.
Agree in total- Brilliant !!
I agree with the author and yes his facts and views are good, but has he ever stopped and pondered why a democratic nation like us made that appointment. I am an Army officer’s brat and thus, know the politics that the bureaucrats play with the defence people, for decades bureaucrats have tried to stop defence people from getting full benefits like them as they do not agree that these should be given to us, but they still are jealous of us. Our politicians fear that if the post of Defense Secretary goes to a defence person, then a military coup can happen, therefore, they want the power to be diluted. The point of the author is to conduct open interviews for the post of most powerful ministry, thus it overrules the hard work of IAS aspirants and thus creates an unbalanced situation. The most viable solution is to introduce the knowledge and importance of the work of Indian Defences and thus motivate more and more people to cater for that post, just like aspirants are eager for the post of Indian Foreign Services in IAS cadre. India is a country full of talent and passion and thus, I believe that this govt can tap into that potential to cater to the needs. #BelieveinIndia.
An excellent idea. In fact I would suggest that the selection process too be left to civilian experts who are engaged in the business of selecting top level CEOs for top companies around the globe. The Defence apparatus which the Defence Secretary would be managing is no less than a top business house in the world. This would allow professional selection process besides avoiding multiple political and other pressures to get favourites in.
GOVT OF THE DAY AS WELL AS THE POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT AT LARGE IS DRIVEN BY THE BUREAUCRATS WHO Are UNWILLING TO SET THEIR CADRE IN ORDER , FRAGMENTED AND DRIVEN BY SELF INTEREST AND INSTINCT TO PRESERVE THEIR SUPREMACY IN EXECUTIVE AND GOVERNANCE. THE CADRE AUDIT for PERFORMANCE IS NOT VISIBLE TO thePUBLIC , LEAST NO OF BABUS HAVE BEEN FOUND GUILTY BY CVC,CBI OR ED/CAT till date.
THE MILITARY AIM FLOWS FROM NATIONAL AIM WHICH IS SET BY POLITICO BUREAUCRATS,
CAN A NSA BE FROM THE ARMED FORCES GIVEN THE COMPLES SECURITY SCENARIO WHICH THE IPS OR IAS CAN BE BOOKIS AT BEST LEAST EXPOSED TO THE ENVIORMENT AND CARREER ENHANCEMENT PROFILE IN VARIOUS MINISTRY
THE TRI SERVICE STRUCTURE NEED S TO BE REORGANISED TO BRING GREATER PROFESSIONALISM