February 24, 2020
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The Durbar Hall Pundits

Despite some inroads, the bureaucracy is still Brahmin-heavy

The Durbar Hall Pundits
In the IAS, Brahmins still rule. From the senior-most bureaucrat in the central government to the officials who advise the prime minister, bureaucrats from the community are continuing with a tradition many say they were born into. According to one, the dominance of Brahmins can be traced back to the British who recruited literate Indians in lower positions of administration. "As Brahmins were educated, they were quick to take the opportunity offered. Back then it was easy for them to compete in the ICS," he says.

A quick head-count reveals that right from the present cabinet secretary to other key positions like secretary, RAW, defence research and development, agriculture and cooperation, economic affairs, revenue and legal affairs, Brahmins hold key jobs. As many as 37 top officials in the list of secretaries and officers of equivalent rank in the present administrative set-up are Brahmins. Going by figures quoted by the Backward Classes Commission, Brahmins account for 37.17 per cent of the bureaucracy. Other forward castes too constitute a substantial chunk.

In the department of science and technology and other research wings funded by the government too, Brahmins are very visible in the upper echelons. Many believed that back in 1990 V.P. Singh opened the gates for OBCs to aspire for a slot in the most coveted jobs in the government. But according to serving bureaucrats, it will take another five years for those who got into the civil services through the reservation quota to become joint secretary-level officers.

But the winds of change are blowing. This year 144 candidates who cleared the civil services examinations are from other backward classes. Even the candidate who topped was an OBC. As a senior official remarked, perhaps 2010 may throw up an altogether different bureaucracy—one that is more inclusive and representative. Till then, it’s Brahmins who will dominate.

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