‘New India strategy’ for civil services against states: PMK

Chennai: The PMK Thursday said several recommendations for civil services found in the NITI Aayog’s ‘national strategy for new India’ were against social justice and autonomy of states.

Opposing recommendations like lowering the upper age limit for general category to 27 from 32 and rationalisation of separate state and central services, PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss said, “these are not only against social justice…but also poses danger to the basic features of Indian democracy including autonomy of States.”

Recommendations like bringing down the upper age limit were nothing new and even the P S Paswan Committeee had advocated it in 2016, he said adding it was not considered by the government due to opposition from several outfits including his party.

By the time a man or woman completed graduation in India, he or she would be between 21-23 years of age depending on the stream they had chosen, he said. For instance, a person would be 23-year-old by the time she or he completed medicine, he said.

If the age-limit was lowered, a general category aspirant who had done medicine would be able to appear for the civil services exam only twice considering the preparatory period of about two years, he said adding “this will be social injustice.”

Rather than accepting the demand from several quarters to increase the age limit to 40 for SC, ST, OBCs and 35 for the general category it is not proper to reduce the age limit, he said.

Presently, 32 is the upper age limit for general category, 35 for OBCs and 37 for SC, ST. Citing the recommendation of rationalisation and harmonisation of separate civil services at the Central and State level, the PMK leader said it is tantamount to ‘usurping’ the powers of state governments.

“This is against the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations,” he said. Under the head, ‘reduce the number of civil services,’ the NITI Aayog’s strategy referred to the existing 60 plus separate civil services at the central and state level and said these needed to be reduced through rationalisation and harmonisation of services.

“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,” it said.

On 19 December, the NITI Aayog unveiled its ‘National Strategy for New India’ defining objectives for 2022-23. Covering 41 crucial areas including governance, it suggests the way forward for achieving the objectives during the 75th year of Indian independence in 2022.