The capacities vary, aptitudes differ and the capabilities of course are at variance. This is how the mindset of a local KAS officer is chiseled out by the system over the period of time while being differentiated from the IAS counterpart. Even the best of KAS officers are the victims of the organizational apathy and have been reduced to junior level clerks with higher status. These upper status clerks sitting across the desks lack the enthusiasm or drive to participate in important decision making and shrug off the leadership responsibilities. Not that they lack wisdom and capacity but they lack the will and ability to strike against the system that has dreadfully shaped them into timid and coy little cogs having the sword of transfers and postings, at the mercy of politicians, hanging over their necks.
Kashmir Administrative Service, the so-called elite Administrative service of the state has despicably turned into the service that has been pinched and punched all along by the wanton political flogs and the bureaucratic churns to appease individual nepotistic and corrupt ends. To a good extent also, this service has lost its sheen to the selfish motives of its own members. Union members and leaders have failed it for their own postings and promotions, for their own benefits and privileges. Winking away to grave irregularities and fighting their individual interests have demeaned their positions rendering these unions toothless and aimless.
Another factor responsible for the rot in the cadre is the mutual fight between the members over the issues of their seniority. These issues have been deliberately raked up by grave manipulations to keep the members busy in pulling each other's legs so that the gaps remain open in the system for unholy manoeuvring. Why does it take years together to restructure and streamline the seniority list that is established with the flaws due to manipulations in the past. It should not take decades to rectify the mistakes committed by some unscrupulous office holders. In order to restore the faith and confidence of the officers who are held hostage for none of their faults, the task should have been taken on the utmost priority even if it costs disaffection of some, close to power centers, self-centered people plaguing the system.
The most capable, honest and diligent KAS officer cannot be assimilated into the tight compartmentalized IAS domain with its own set of impregnable walls. The reason is simple, IAS has not lost its sanctity to the political indulgences and undue interferences. They are not left to the exploitative whims and fancies of bureaucrats and their moderations who with every twist and turn of rules squeeze out space for backdoor entrants. On the other hand, the Kashmir Administrative Service has become so prodigious a service with such a big heart that even doctors with MBBS degrees could penetrate into its bosom without a slight belch. The system has taken to such a low that a KAS officer could be traded with a doctor and with the swap in positions, the officer could be asked to operate upon a patient in the theatre while the doctor administers 'city'. No leverage is deemed necessary to be given to the trainings, skills, administrative acumen and the impact of such decisions on the psyche of the officers who endlessly wait for their growth only to find their heads being smashed against the blocks placed in their line of progression.
There are hundreds of 'cadre' posts being manned by the 'non-cadre' officers who in one way or the other have been able to push their shoulders in. The genuine KAS officers are waiting in the disputed seniority lists at lower hierarchies while the higher posts are blocked by the people who have come from obscure backgrounds. That is one face of the coin. The other is more gruesome. Many officers from departments that are not enlisted in the technical quota category, have been able to sneak into the services in the garb of technical quota or some other means. Ask their mentor they are ready with rules made over the period of time to benefit them.
The members of the KAS cadre also lack unity which goes to their detriment. The senior officers look down upon the junior officers and create hurdles in their growth, while the junior officers don't respect the seniors. The officers of the same batch fight over seniority, slot and posting issues. On the contrary a senior IAS officer ensures the new incumbent to the service is warmly embraced into the fold, taught and molded in such a fashion that he knows how to remain at the top and this in turn ensures the IAS cadre to remain 'elite' in actual sense. The officers of the same IAS batch weave glorifying stories and publish on their face-books on the postings of their batch mates. The junior IAS officers consult their seniors on every issue they face in the course of their career so as to remain on the same page in the line of their services. All this is to learnt by the KAS officers. There is a lot of muck in the cadre too which needs to be cleaned if the glory of the service is to be restored.
(S.S Qadri is a post graduate in Management Studies from the University of Kashmir)