Recent Online Ruckus Between IAS And IPS Officers Reveals A Bigger, Alarming Trend; Read Here

Since hostile online interactions are the norm these days, it takes something extraordinary to catch our attention—and what IPS officer D Roopa and IAS officer Rohini Sindhuri have served up is something truly shocking. The conflict between the two senior women bureaucrats in Karnataka has been so public, ugly, and embarrassing that it has even affected the state administration.

Opponents have sought to portray this disorderly brawl as evidence of a weak government in the midst of an intense election season. Both cops were swapped out yesterday in a move that appears to be a counter. What this shocking conflict has shown, however, is a bigger, troubling shift in the culture of civil service brought about by engagement in social media.

There are 22% less IAS officers in the country than the sanctioned level, according to a parliamentary standing committee last year, and the sanctioned strength is not enough to begin with given the increasing needs of Indian administration. The problem is that the private sector isn’t yet appealing enough or large enough to make government services seem unappealing (read: status, power, and job security). Competition is fierce for a small number of available seats, indicating that demand is high but supply is low. As a result, it is not a problem that there aren’t enough people applying. More people will need to be hired by governments.

But quality has emerged as an issue on par with quantity. D Subbarao argues that this page’s failure to alter incentives and sanctions has allowed incompetence, apathy, and corruption to flourish. This lack of functional independence between the political and permanent executives also affects the effectiveness of both branches. Yet, the All India Services (Conduct) Regulations, 1968, which are designed to govern both IAS and IPS officials, have taken a major hit due to the egotism encouraged by social media addictions. It’s more common to promote oneself than one’s work on social media. Some government employees’ online behaviour falls well short of expected standards of “political neutrality” as well as “courtesy and good behaviour.”

According to the allegations above, Roopa posted intimate photos of Sindhuri online. The fact that an IPS officer committed this act is terrible enough; the fact that police did not file a FIR while claiming to consult “the higher-ups for legal opinion” is even worse. Besides going around the proper channels, Sindhuri publicly attacked Roopa. Ugly social media boil-ups will affect more than just the individuals involved. Ministers and senior military personnel should take attention.