Shankar Acharya: Economists in India - endangered species?

Shankar Acharya: Economists in India - endangered species?: With progressive 'encadrement', the pipeline for good economists in government has broken and a reversal seems impossible...

Managing talent deficit

Apropos Shakar Acharya’s article “Economists in India: endangered species?” (Business Standard, A Piece of My Mind, July 14, 2016), one appreciates the dispassionate presentation of a serious issue affecting governance and nation’s talent pool in equal measure. The problems are not confined to economists or their deployment in top positions in government, though.
The short term stay of incumbents as Chief Economic Advisor and RBI Governor in the recent past by example must be an eye opener for those handling their selection and posting. As all are not Raghuram Rajans, to be in a position to start swimming the moment they are thrown in troubled waters, a longer tenure for individuals being posted in top positions is a necessity. The earlier we accept this reality, the better for the country.
In India, policy continuity and overall ‘management’ in governance is being ensured by bureaucracy. Part of the credit for this should go to the British who introduced Indian Civil Service and to the political leadership post-independence which ensured continued existence of a reliable and efficient top level bureaucracy. A revamp of Indian Civil Services keeping in view the talent needs of all sectors including commerce and finance is overdue.
Times have changed. Constituency interests of different services within ‘Civil Service’, influence of various denominations of political leadership, the unstated ban on civil servants to express views unpalatable for the ruling coalition and government being forced to recruit candidates who fail to get recruited by reputed corporates or go abroad for higher studies have made government servants less efficient, as a class. This is evident from the struggles GOI goes through whenever a vacancy arises at top level in any of the statutory bodies or PSUs.
The outflow of talent and the return of some of those talented Indians abroad only for improving their CVs or taking up some stop gap assignments before joining another MNC or returning to greener pastures can also be traced to the low remuneration packages offered by GOI.

M G Warrier, Mumbai


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