More than half of senior secretaries and heads of key departments in the Narendra Modi government hail from a science background, with a chunk of them being IIT alumni, an analysis by The Print has revealed.
According to the report, which took inputs from several government websites, 48 of the 84 secretaries in central government departments studied science before writing civil services examination. At least 28 of them were engineers, while the rest pursued Zoology, Biotechnology, Physics, Botany, MBBS and Ayurveda.
Of the 28 engineers, 22 studied engineering in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – 13 from IIT Kanpur, seven from IIT Delhi, and one each from IIT Madras and IIT Bombay.
The alumni of IIT Kanpur include Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, a 1985 batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre, Defence Production Secretary Raj Kumar, (1987, Gujarat), Rural Development Secretary Nagendra Nath Sinha (1987, Jharkhand).
While Ashutosh Sharma, head of Department of Science and Technology worked as a professor of nanotechnology at IIT Kanpur for 30 years.
Dr ABP Pandey (1984, Maharashtra cadre), director of revenue in the Ministry of Finance, Skill Development, Praveen Kumar (1987, Tamil Nadu cadre) are IIT-Kanpur pass-outs.
While ISRO chairman and secretary of the Department of Science K Sivan is an IIT-Bombay alumnus, K Shivaji (1986, Maharashtra cadre), the director of administrative reforms and pension and pensioners’ welfare under the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and the secretary with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, is an IIT-Delhi pass-out.
Civil servants, both in service and retired that The Print spoke to said the trend of science students clearing civil services is not new and has been in vogue since the 1980s.
They assert that students with a science background have been “relatively more competent” in passing the UPSC examination as they are more conditioned in writing competitive examinations.
“It has been a trend since the 1980s. A similar trend can be seen with the Staff Selection Commission Exams (SSC), Railways and other recruitment examinations – 70 per cent of those clearing SSC are engineers. Students from every discipline take part in the examinations, but it is important to note what optional subjects they are choosing. These subjects, in several instances, help them score better,” a former official told The Print.
About IIT students clearing the UPSC exams, AK Singh, who runs a training institute for UPSC aspirants says it is because they have a “prior experience of going through a tough selection process.”
“Students from IITs are the brightest minds, so they do well in the civil service exams as well,” adds Singh, an IIT-Kanpur alumnus who cleared the UPSC exam in 1983.
“This trend had gone down in the 1990s simply because of the opening up of the economy and privatisation, which gave tech students a lot of career options. But by the 2000s, when the economy started slowing down, we saw an increased number of science students coming back to this field,” he told The Print.