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NaMo Administration and retirement age: Rumours Vs reality

By IndianMandarins- 23 Sep 2019


When one becomes a government servant, the most certain thing is tenure of service and retirement age. But today it has become the most uncertain thing albeit for the time being only. Changing rules of the game everywhere is the new normal. Making uncertain things certain (Demo & Article 370 are living examples) and certain things uncertain has been the hallmark of the NaMo Administration so far.


Lowering the retirement age of the Central Govt employees has been the most discussed issue of late. Several such versions are floating across media claiming each of them to be authentic one. It has heavily pre-occupied the mind space of govt officials and medipersons alike and none of them having any clear version about the truth of this piece of information. Even most of the senior members of Indian bureaucracy are anxious and inquisitive about the authenticity of what have been doing rounds for the last 4-5 days.


Social media is flooded with different versions. One such message reads, “DoPT has finalized proposals for implementation of 33 years service or 60 years age whichever is early for retirement on superannuation for all government employees. File sent to finance ministry for implementation w. e. f. 1.4.2020.”


Surprisingly, a list of senior civil servants was also circulated on social-media on Sunday announcing their new date of retirement. But it was also interesting that the list was only about IRS officers as if someone was trying to make them jittery.


Another document also found prime space in social-media having caption “DoPT seeks service profile of central services”.

Information and documents as above mentioned, intended to underline that retirement age (60 yrs or 33 yrs of service) was just a matter of announcement. May be true but at the same time Govt must come up with its true version. When ambiguity dominates public space like in the case of ‘Ganesh ji drinking milk’, the government version is announced to put thing in perspective.


Indianmandarins spoke to several senior bureaucrats across services and batches but most of them were unsure of any such move finding themselves among mute-spectators. When people sitting in high offices become uncertain even about certain things it castes its shadow downward as well.


In fact, several theories, though none of them convincing, are also being attached to the retirement age galore.


One such theory suggests that it may have been the game-plan of opposition ahead of Delhi Assembly elections as a big chunk of voters are from service class with influence. Earlier, same set of rhetoric of  retirement age did rounds ahead of Delhi elections.


The other theory doing round suggests that it might be a part of design to distract public attention from gleaming economic parameters. It is also being said that receiving Rs 1.76 lakh crore from RBI and big tax cut in corporate tax to boost economy, the government might have firm plan to address unemployment issue. This theory, to an extent, makes some sense as the move of lowering the retirement age may add up lakhs of recruitment every year.  But the flip side is that the government would have to cough up huge money for PF and gratuity payments.


Moreover, in case it turns out to be true early age entrants (at 22-24 yrs) who once exhibited competence and promising career prospects may be at the receiving end than those ones who entered civil service quite late. 


Another version too sounds convincing enough. A very senior civil servant told Indianmandarins that the NaMo administration has great appetite for experiments in governance and administration like in the cases 360 degree method, lateral entry, aspirational districts, IAS probationers as Assistant Secretary in Govt of India and many more. It has bigg appetite for bigger risks as well (e.g. Demo, GST and Article 370). And this debate over retirement age galore too could be part of NaMo administration’s scheme of thing but it seems to be at the nascent stage. The officials told Indianmandarins that it appears that the move could have been initiated from the very top that’s why most of the senior level officials are still less exposed to information on any such initiative.


Another official told Indianmandarins that as far as the new civil list with revised retirement date might be part of some ongoing exercise to gauge number of vacancy and monetary implications and floating the list of IRS officers must have been made viral from some IT enthusiast.


It may be recalled that following a similar sustained rumours Dr Jitendra Singh (MoS Personnel & PMO) had, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, put to rest all speculations on retirement age reduction (In December 2015) by saying that "the retirement age for Central Government employees was revised from 58-60 years in 1997 on the basis of recommendations of the fifth Central Pay Commission," and that there was no such proposal "at present" to reduce the age from 60 to 58 years.


So will NaMo Govt come up with any such official statement approving or disapproving any such proposal on retirement age once again?


Obviously, speedy action on the provisions of 56J has added to the panic related to the retirement age.


Whatever be the truth the ongoing scenario has left various questions which may be answered in phases and they are: Has NaMo administration finalised a new retirement policy for govt employees adding new provisio of ’33 years of service or 60 years whichever earlier’ been added’? Has DoPT sent the policy decision to the Department of Expenditure for evaluation and assessment of cost of mass retirement? Will it pass judicial scrutiny? Will the move boost employment and economy? And lastly, will the policy, if already finalised, be effective w.e.f. 01.04.2020? A big question mark everywhere. And one may say that ‘the buck must stop’ somewhere.

(CLICK to read related story)

Uncertainty over retirement age galore: Buck must stop?

(By Rakesh Ranjan, Editor-in-chief)

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