The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended letters to all cadre-controlling authorities, directing them to immediately send IAS, IPS, and other all-India service officers on deputation to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh amid an acute shortage of administrative officers in these regions.
The letter sent to ministries and departments of railways, defense, commerce, customs and excise, posts, and telecommunications said that 'The new Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh are beset with acute shortage of officers.'
Cause for the Acute Shortage of Officers in the Valley
J&K has a cadre strength of 137 IAS officers, however, there are only 58 serving officers in the cadre. Of these, at least nine are on deputation to the Government of India. According to data analyzed by The Print, from 1987 to 2010, only one to two officers were inducted into the cadre most years, with the remaining seeing no inductions at all. However, between 2010 and 2015, the number of officers allotted to this cadre annually rose to four, only to drop again to one or two after 2015. In 2019, only one officer was allotted the J&K cadre. The main reasons for this shortage have been cited below:
Least Preferred Cadre Among Officers: It has been observed that while filling the DAF during the UPSC Civil Services Exam, most candidates do not keep Jammu & Kashmir as their preferred cadre. Other than the home cadre aspirants, most candidates put J&K as the least preferred cadre. Hence, while cadre allotment, only a few officers are directly recruited to this state.
In-General Shortage of Officers: Apart from J&K, there is an overall shortage of All India Services officers throughout the country. As per a report published in ThePrint, India currently faces a shortage of 1500 IAS officers. This shortage, therefore, impacts each state while the rationing of officers is practiced in cadre allocation.
Actions Being Taken by the Government to Curb the Shortage of Officers
AGMUT Cadre: According to the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, officers belonging to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), the Indian Police Service (IPS), and Indian Forest Service (IFS) in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir 'shall continue to function on the existing cadres,' till the Lieutenant Governor of J&K determines the final allocation of such officers between J&K and Ladakh. A year after the reorganization of J&K, the cadre allocation is yet to be completed. All new recruits will be allocated the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre as the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
Officers on Deputation: To address the current shortage of officers, the MHA has asked Railway Board chairman, Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG), secretaries of the ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Corporate Affairs, and Information and Broadcasting, chairpersons of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), and the Departments of Commerce, Telecommunications and Posts to depute Group A service officers to the two UTs to overcome the shortage.
Lateral Entry of Officers: To minimize the gap between the requirement of officers and the current serving, the Government of India has introduced the lateral entry scheme in the All India Services. The term lateral entry relates to the appointment of specialists, mainly those from the private sector, in government organizations. The government is looking for outstanding individuals, with expertise in revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, cooperation, and farmers’ welfare, road transport and highway, shipping, environment, forests and climate change, new and renewable energy, civil aviation, and commerce.
The issue of shortage of administrative officers in the J&K valley, as well as in other states is not a new concern. However, the MHA is gradually taking both short-term and long-term steps to address the issue.