Talent is often recognized with a pinch of salt, especially when it comes from the unexpected quarter. So when a recent personnel ministry report said that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar account for one-fourth of the IAS in the country, it was attributed, by many experts and bureaucrats, to the lack of alternative career opportunities in these two states and feudal mind-set, especially in the latter.
This seems to be the over-simplification of the fact. What these ladies and gentlemen failed to see is that Delhi, the national capital, with all the opportunities under the sky, population-wise produces maximum (233 in the population of about 1.4 crore) number of IAS––triple and four times more––than these two states. But in India, most of our intellectuals come out with half-baked assessment.
When Bengalese, Tamils and Andhrites had been making it to the bureaucracy in a large number, that is till late 1980s, they were praised as brainy and hard working people. Who is not aware that Bengal, in those days, was the most industrialized part of the country and there was a large number of alternative options for the youth. Yet many would opt for Civil Services then. When today most of those options have gone from that state the number of those qualifying Civil Service exams have gone down sharply too.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi during his February 1-2 Bihar visit made a point: Why the people of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh can not rule their own respective states in a better way, when they can produce maximum number of administrators in the country?
There may be really a large number of answers to it; even a counter-question can be asked, whether they are really being administered as badly as it is made out. What about many other states which produce lesser number of administrators, have less population and fewer problems, yet are governed as badly, or even worse, than these two states. Once again: what about post-Singur West Bengal of today?
But that is a debatable and political point and needs more time and space to discuss. The ground reality is that Uttar Pradesh with 15 per cent and Bihar with 9.4 per cent account for the highest number of IAS in the country. But Uttar Pradesh, which has more than double the population of Bihar, in that way, produces much lesser number of administrator than the latter.
The latest personnel ministry figures for 4,443 IAS officers show that while 671 of them are domiciled in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar contributes 419 officers to the service. The figures include names of state service officers promoted to the IAS.
Tamil Nadu, once number one, now ranks third with 290 officers, that is much behind Bihar, while Andhra Pradesh occupies the fourth slot with 269, followed by Delhi ( 233), Rajasthan (233), Punjab (228), Maharashtra (222), Haryana (158), Madhya Pradesh (152), Kerala (143), West Bengal (117) and Gujarat (76).
If Uttar Pradesh and Bihar together have one-fourth IAS the combined population of these two states too is about 25 per cent. So in that way the figure is not something to feel surprise about. The fact that they were just late-starters in the field of education is often ignored by our analysts.
Delhi, on the other hand, with just over one per cent of the population of the country, produces 5.24 per cent IAS––far ahead of Bihar and UP. But then there is a readymade logic for Delhi’s grand success: Parents of a large number of aspiring civil servants are based in Delhi. Most of them are already in government service. Delhi also happens to be the education hub of the north, an official posted with the Union Public Service Commission was quoted in the media.
What he missed is that most of the students in JNU, Delhi University and IIT (Delhi), who qualify for IAS, are domicile of their respective states and not Delhi.
Another argument is that Biharis opt for IAS because they are feudal minded, but what about so many IITians, who started qualifying. Many students hailing from the backward castes started cracking IIT exams in 1990s even before the implementation of reservation for the backwards there––it only had for the SC,ST till a couple of years back. The Patwas (Hindu weavers) of Patwatoli in the outskirts of Gaya started cracking it from the early 1990s. I was the first journalist in India to cover that phenomenon for the Asian Age in June 2002 and there was no feudal there. It was followed by Anand-Abhayanand team-work in Patna. No it was the efforts of the people, not any government.
If people of Bihar, with much less land-holding per person––even less than half––of Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan can be dubbed feudal minded than the less said is better. True many people do opt for government jobs. But then there is palpable presence of Biharis in all the top jobs be it in the media, multi-national companies, medical sciences, research and other private jobs. What our analysts tend to forget is that absence of private jobs or alternative in Bihar does not come in the way of talented youths in the 21st century world when all avenues are available to travel out. He or she would not sit in the obscure village of Araria or Kaimur district to crack IAS because there is no option left in Bihar.