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The 104-year-old CSS awaits cadre restructuring; officers protest at North Block

By IndianMandarins- 04 Mar 2024
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New Delhi (04.03.2024): Due to the lingering decision making in cadre restructuring, thousands of the CSS Cadre officers are demonstrating at North Block today for their demands like time bound promotion, NFU, ban on deputation, CSS Day besides their prime issue of Cadre Restructuring that are pending for the last one decade. Over 12,000 Central Secretariat Service (CSS) Cadre officers are desperately waiting for their due service benefits. The super structure of the bureaucratic framework relies heavily on CSS Cadre for its smooth functioning. The 104-year-old Cadre, considered as the institutional memory and backbone in the functioning of Central ministries and departments, has seen only three phases of cadre restructuring (CR) in previous decades whereas the 4th cadre restructuring is under process.

The CSS Forum, an umbrella organisation of CSS officers, made three successive attempts in the past one-and-half-months to reach out to the highest offices. Letters were sent in quick succession showing desperation of the Cadre officers to get a conclusive outcome of the CRC before the New Delhi dispensation slips into election mode. Interestingly, in the October 2023 meeting with the delegation of CSS Forum and DoPT Minister, the forum was given assurance for early action.

The Centre had constituted a four-member Cadre Review Committee (CRC) on 27.10.2022 to manage the rising demand of manpower across various ministries and departments and to suggest ways and means for the better cadre management and smooth career progression of the CSS officers. The CRC vide its orders dated 11.11.2022, 29.11.2022, 21.12.2022 and 19.01.2023 sought requirement of additional manpower from various ministries and departments and comments from various stakeholders. If sources are to be believed the Cadre Review Committee (CRC) received the requisite data and feedback by June 2023 itself. Since then, eight months have passed but the meaning outcome decision is still awaited.

Apprehending further delay, the CSS Forum wrote letters to Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Dr P K Misra, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 18.01.2024, 19.02.2024 and 14.02.2024, respectively seeking their time and personal intervention with a hope that it could break inertia of the high-level Cadre Restructuring Committee (CRC).

The CSS Forum in its letter dated 14.02.2024 urged the Prime Minister for his personal intervention to take the proposed Cadre Review to its culmination. While writing to the PM, it underlined how his personal intervention had paved way for the long pending mass promotions to Assistant Section Officers (ASOs) of the 2013-2016 batches. It drew PM’s attention as how a number of welfare schemes and projects initiated under his regime has necessitated the requirement of additional manpower across (approx.) ninety departments.

It may be underlined that as per data submitted by several ministries/departments, it is projected that they require approximately 40-50 per cent additional manpower to shoulder the burden effectively. It further underlined that stagnation in career progression across all grades namely Assistant Section Officer, Section Officer, Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Director. Due to this logjam, numerous officers are serving in the same grade for more than ten years due to the non-availability of posts/vacancies despite fulfilling eligibility for promotion.

The Forum in its letter to Dr P K Misra stressed upon the emerging need for young and tech-savvy officers; a proper mix of experienced and competence in the new era of digital revolution thus necessitating the creation of new posts and Cadre Restructuring.

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