Majority of the IAS officers belonging to the reserved categories miss out on appointments at apex levels because of their inadequate service span. In the 1960, not a single IAS officer belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe categories was eligible to hold the post of secretary in the Government of India.
The eligibility percentage of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe officers to hold the secretary's post went up in subsequent years, but it still remained low as shown in the accompanying table.
The average age of entry into the IAS in 1960 was 23.6 for general candidates while it was 29 for Scheduled Caste and 28.5 for Scheduled Tribe candidates.
In 1983, the average of entry was 25.81 for general candidates, while it was 29.1 and 26.6 for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates.
In 2000, it was 25.9 for general candidates, 26.3 for SC, 25.8 for ST and 25.9 for OBC candidates. In 1995, reservations for the OBCs were introduced for the first time.
The higher age at the time of joining the services left the officers belonging to reserved categories to serve lesser years than their general counterparts.
The age limit for writing the civil services examination in the 1960s and the early 1970s was 24 years for the general category candidates with a relaxation of 5 years for candidates belonging to the Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes, During the last three decades, there has been a progressive increase in the age limit.
Presently, candidates from the general category are permitted to write the civil services examination until the age of 30 with relaxations of 3 and five years respectively for candidates belonging to the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Schedule Castes/Schedule Tribes.
The Administrative Reforms Commission in its 10th Report has noted, “As a result of this increase in the age limit, there has been a discernible change in the age profile of the fresh entrants. In fact, while the average age of a fresh entrant was about 24 years in the 1960s and early 1970s, it is now about 27 years. In addition, these late entrants will have a shorter service span, which means that they may not have adequate opportunities to contribute to policy-making at higher levels. It can be seen that, while for 1961 to 1972 batches of the IAS, about 21 per cent of the Schedule Caste officers and 41 per cent of the Schedule Tribe officers were eligible (percentage of civil servants eligible for consideration for empanelment at the level of a Secretary to Government of India)…, in the last six years, these percentages have come down to 15 per cent and 21 per cent respectively. Admittedly, these percentages only indicate the eligibility of civil servants with regard to their age; it is quite likely that the results in the actual empanelment would be significantly lower.”
The ARC report has stated that there has been a retrogression in the age profile of officers belonging to these categories with very few of them being available for posts at the level of secretary and still fewer finally making it to that level. “This clearly militates against the interest of civil servants of categories who, because of their inadequate service span, miss out on appointments at apex levels”.