Personnel Management
(Implementation in Forest Services)


By

Sandeep Saxena
Research Associate Marketing
ICFAI, INC-HQ
Hyderabad
 


The success of an organization depends on the capacities and capabilities of its personnel. Unless an organization devotes enough resources on the development of its human resource, it would not get the required output from its personnel. An organization's commitment to the development of human resource has to be reflected in its policies, procedures, practices, customs and ideals.

Recruitment, Induction and In-Service Training at National Level

Indian Forest Service:

Recruitment:-

Regular annual recruitment to the service is done through a separate all India competitive examination conducted by the UPSC, open to only graduates from science and technology backgrounds, but not to MBBS and allied health sciences. The number of candidates recruited fluctuate from year to year. There had been heavy intake to the service during the years from 1984 to 1987, when about 600 candidates were selected for appointment.

Induction Training:-

The induction training of IFS probationers is conducted at IGNFA, Dehradun. The syllabus and pattern of training is reviewed after about a decade. The present 'sandwich pattern' of training was introduced during 1994 and which consisted of the five phases during the probation period of three years. The five phases included are: the foundational course at LBSNAA, Mussoorie, 'on-the-job training' in the cadre State of the probationer, an advanced management phase at IGNFA, Dehradun. During the course 34 subjects with 1418 classroom lectures, and field exercises are covered. About 180 days are spent on field tours to different parts of India. Resource persons include IGNFA faculty as well as guest faculty drawn from institutes at Dehradun and outside.

In-service Training:-

Since 1986, the Government of India has been enhancing the efforts of the State Governments for capacity building of IFS officers through sponsoring of short-term refresher courses for officers of various seniorities. State governments also organize courses or depute officers for participation in various short-term refresher courses within India and abroad. Under the DFID assisted project implemented by the IGNFA from 1998 to 2004, Government of India have decided to regularly organize short duration (2-3 weeks) promotion linked training courses on 'Advanced Forest Management' (AFM) for the officers in their 10th, 17th, and 21st years of service.

Perceived Weaknesses:

• There is no proper recruitment strategy for the service and there has been a skewed intake of officers, which has resulted in stagnation in the service at various levels. 250

• Too much emphasis is given on classroom teaching and on basic subjects in which the probationers should have got adequate inputs at the school level. This is perhaps due to the fact that many recruits do not have basic education in forest related subjects. Inputs on forestry and wildlife related global issues and international conventions, environmental and social development and emerging issues, are inadequate.

• During tours, in many cases, the same type of activities are shown to the probationers at different places

• Participation in short-term refresher courses sponsored by the MoEF is quite low

• Even in the promotion- linked Advanced Forest Management courses being conducted at the IGNFA for IFS officers, there is no full participation.

• MoEF does not have any power to ensure full participation of the nominated officers.

• Support staff in the MoEF to deal with matters connected to in-service training, is quite inadequate

State Forest Service

Recruitment:-

State Forest Service (SFS) is the premier forest service of the State/ Union Territory governments. Recruitment is made by the concerned States/Union Territories under the provisions of the recruitment rules of each State/ Union Territory government, through the respective State Public Service Commissions (SPSCs), by conducting competitive examinations. Recruitment to the service is fairly irregular. Some States have discontinued direct recruitment. SFS is a feeder service to the IFS, as one-third of the posts in the IFS cadre in any State/ Union Territory cadre are filled up by promotion from the SFS through selection on merit-cum-seniority basis by a board constituted by the UPSC.

Induction Training:-

Induction training of SFS officers is conducted by DFE, in the SFS colleges at Coimbatore, Dehradun and Burnihat, governed by the 'Entrance and Training Rules for SFS officers'. The rules and syllabus for training are reviewed every ten years. The new syllabus and rules notified by the MoEF during July 2004 has come into effect from April 2005. The training of SFS officers at the entry level is for a period of two years, consisting of course modules on various forestry subjects. Six field tours covering major forestry zones spread over the entire country, are included in the course curriculum.

In-service Training:-

High priority is not accorded to in-service training of SFS officers, by the State Governments. However, under the EAPs implemented/being implemented by some State forest departments, a substantial number of SFS officers have been exposed to new trends and techniques in forestry through short-term and long-term courses/study tours. For the last 15 years, MoEF have also been organizing theme-based short-term refresher courses in the SFS colleges. 251

Perceived Weaknesses:-

• In most States, directly recruited SFS officers stagnate as Assistant Conservators of Forests (ACF) in the junior scale, of the State service and as Deputy Conservators of Forests (DCF) in the senior scale, for long periods. Many States have not even granted selection grade to SFS officers, although similar grades have been granted to their counterparts in administrative and police services.

• The States do not seem to have any recruitment strategy for the SFS and in most cases vacancies are being filled through promotion from the level of FROs. Because of various considerations and pressure groups, direct recruitment to the SFS has almost stopped in most of the States.

• Participation in the in-service training courses organized by the MOEF, is very poor. Main reasons include inability of the States to bear to and fro travel expenses of officers and the officers themselves, if posted to coveted posts, avoid participation in such courses.

• Forestry personnel in the State forest services in almost all the States are facing acute stagnation, which is resulting in frustration, lowering of efficiency and erosion of discipline. The recruitment and career progression policies of various forestry services i.e. SFS and subordinate forestry services, should be reviewed by the States to ensure that the personnel get at least four pay scales after completion of a fixed number of years of service and minimum two promotions in their careers, irrespective of availability of posts/vacancies at higher levels.

• The State Governments should come out with detailed action plans for recruitment to the SFS, other subordinate forestry services and the ministerial staff for the SFD, for the next twenty years, keeping in view the availability of personnel, future requirements and stagnation in the forestry services.

• There has to be a full-fledged division with competent and adequate staff in the office of the PCCF for management of State forest services, and ministerial staff including their career, placements, promotions and for organizing regular in service training courses. The State Government should have detailed 'placement policy' for various categories of officers and staff, so as to provide security of tenure and continuity on a post.

Forest Range Officers

Recruitment

The respective State/Union Territory governments are responsible for management of the cadre of Forest Range Officers. Selection to this level is made by the State Public Service Commissions (SPSCs) by conducting a competitive examination. Only graduates having science subjects can compete. A few States have temporarily discontinued direct recruitment to this cadre.

Induction Training:

Induction training of FROs is still the responsibility of the MoEF, being conducted through the DFE and governed by the 'Entrance and Training Rules' notified by MoEF 252 from time to time. A new syllabus and rules notified by the MoEF, are applicable from April 2005.

In-Service Training

In most of the States no regular refresher courses are organized by the State Governments for the FROs. Only in the States where the EAPs have been implemented, they have been exposed to some new techniques and the latest trends in forestry and wildlife management. For the FROs, the MoEF also organizes a few theme-based short-term courses in the colleges under the DFE.

Perceived Weaknesses:

• There seems to be no proper long-term strategy for recruitment to this cadre, which is the most important executive level in the SFDs.

• Recruitment to the service is not regular, with the result young blood is not easily available at this level.

• In spite of the initiative taken by the Government of India in enhancing the efforts of the States in capacity building of its officers, State Governments do not take these courses seriously and participation of FROs in the short-term courses is quite unsatisfactory.

Placements, Transfers and Postings

At present there is no clear-cut policy regarding placement of officers and staff on various jobs except for some norms for the transfers and postings of the ministerial and the protection staff in the States. Transfers and postings of these are done as per the administrative convenience of the authorities empowered to effect such placements.

Specialization in Forestry Personnel

There is an increased realization in society, corporate bodies and indeed, even in government, of the virtues of specialization, the importance of which will increase as the society and its needs become even more numerous and complex. An employee not only must be allowed to specialize if he so chooses, but the employer also must facilitate his task and structure its personnel policies to achieve this. Even "general" services like the administrative and the police have allowed specialization to evolve. The police and para- military forces like RAW, BSF, ITBP, CBI, CRPF, CISF etc, have provisions where the police officers can get permanently absorbed or go on deputation for long tenures.

The State/Union Territory Forest Departments have almost the sole jurisdiction over one fourth of the country's landmass. They have, therefore the task of not merely managing the existing forests and propagating others, but to perform numerous other duties related to efficient management of these natural resources that have evolved with the emergence of a welfare State. Besides, with the progress of the nation's economy and the aspirations and needs of the society on the one hand, and the increasing understanding of the importance and complexity of forests and the natural environment and the threats faced by them, on the other, the role of the personnel who manage these natural resources and heritage has become much more onerous, diverse and complex.

A Forester, say in-charge of a division, has to perform diverse functions ranging from protection and conservation of existing forests, raising nurseries and plantations, managing natural forests, harvesting and marketing of forest produce, close liaison with the people living in close vicinity of forests, undertaking developmental activities for the tribal managing non-timber forest produce and habitats of wild animals, to managing finances, personnel, etc. The intention of having specialization should not be to narrow down his horizon of capabilities in a particular sphere only, but to equip him to excel in a specialized job besides having adequate knowledge and skills to handle other assignments related to forestry.

In the forestry services, efforts have not been made to encourage interested officers to specialize in the area of their interest. The FD has established divisions and wings for Social Forestry, Research, Wildlife, Training, Working Plans, Soil Conservation, etc. But postings and transfers are not on the basis of suitability or training, but cadre management. Unwanted people are dumped in branches, which are not deemed to be of importance, from where the officers in question use all their lobbying powers to escape to more desirable posts. While there needs to be a debate over this emotive subject, the following broad subject areas for specialization are recommended.

1. Forest conservation (including protection, harvesting and sale of forest produce);

2. Extension forestry (including plantations and nurseries), JFM, grassland and watershed management and eco-development outside of reserve forests; 256

3. Wildlife management (including management of PAs and their buffers and corridors, collection of basic data, control of wildlife trade and taxidermy, implementation of international conventions, etc.);

4. Research, Training, Working Plans, Technical support to Agro- and Farm Forestry.

All the four branches/fields of specialization would be territorially exclusive and this would reduce the dangers of overlapping, diarchy and "turf" battles. Category one can continue with the traditional role of forestry. Category two requires a great interface with the local people and the expertise of sociologists, as well as the specialized management of rangelands which has been hitherto ignored and this would mostly be in the forest areas outside of PAs and Reserve Forests. The wildlife personnel would have full jurisdiction of the PAs and the buffers and corridors, as well as over the neglected areas such as control over illegal trade. Research would have its own identity in the fourth category. The trainers would also be mainly from this category and the making of Working Plans would at long last have a scientific angle and given importance. In any case, it is a posting abhorred by the forest service.

It could be argued that specialization on the lines mentioned above or any other, could be achieved under the current set-up without amending any rules or procedures for recruitment, training or service. In reality, if past record is any indication, it will not happen unless certain fundamental changes are brought about. Specialization, as envisaged, must have four prerequisites:

1. Recruitment of personnel having both commitment to and training/education in the specific specialized field, he or she is being inducted into.

2. Longevity of tenure in the individual specialized branch.

3. In-service training in the individual field of specialization

4. Prevention of "dumping" of unsuitable and untrained people in the individual specialized branches.

It may be argued that it would not be feasible to manage the forest services in watertight compartments and that amongst the upper echelons of the IFS it would lead to stagnation.

It may be said here that the feasibility of having one or more sub-cadres of the IFS was examined in the 1970s by the Department of Personnel, Government of India, and found to be feasible. The IFS itself, however, has been steadfastly against this. The Government has to decide how to achieve a definitive long-abiding specialization and not provide a faηade of it with a fluidity which will allow "birds of passage" to flit from post to post, as is the practice today.
 


Sandeep Saxena
Research Associate Marketing
ICFAI, INC-HQ
Hyderabad
 

Source: E-mail July 20, 2006

  

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