10% quota’s fine, but government cutting jobs too

Government jobs are growing less. The lure of 10% additional quota in employment, currently offered by the Centre through a constitutional amendment, will have little meaning with the strength of the central government, which is the biggest employer in the country, has decreased by over 75,000 since 2014.

The number of central staff, as per actuals declared in the Union Budget for 2018-19, came down by 75,231 as related to the strength on March 1, 2014. In every year’s budget, the government declares the approx strength of the establishment for the current year with actuals provided for the previous year and a projection for the next year.

As per the 2018-19 budget, the actual strength of the establishment, including the railways and excluding the defense services, was 32.52 lakh across 55 central ministries and departments. This was a reduction of 75,231 compared to 33.3 lakh employees as on March 1, 2014. Like the promise made every year, the strength projected for 2018-19 is over 35 lakh, an increase of 2.50 lakh. In the last four years, the government has been projecting hiring of additional manpower of around 2 lakh every year. The actual strength of the central staff has, however, been decreasing.

A major reason for the depletion could be the preference to hire employees through contractors, particularly helping staff like peons and drivers. Posts have not been filled up for several years to replace retiring employees, rather, in many cases, people have been re-employed after superannuation as consultants. The railways are the highest loser with its manpower remaining at the level of 2010 as on March 1, 2018. A major trimming (of 23,000) happened in 2017 when it was down to 13.08 lakh employees from 13.31 lakh in 2016. The government did not make any projection to increase the strength of rail staff in the last budget.

So, where is the projected additional manpower of over 2.50 lakh coming from? As per the government estimates, the increase is likely to occur mostly in the police forces (central paramilitary) from 10.24 lakh to 11.25 lakh, an increase of over a lakh. The direct tax department is anticipated to grow from 45,000 employees to 80,000. The indirect tax department – customs and central excise, is estimated to grow from 54,000 to 93,000. The list includes other departments like I&B and the foreign ministry among others.

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