Proper systematic classification of personnel in government is essential for management of civil service in the modern state.

Types of classifications:
  1. Position classification: classification according to nature of the job
  2. Rank classification: According to employees.

Position classification

A position connotes a set of duties or responsibilities assigned to the employee. The position at a given time may be occupied or vacant and immaterial for purpose of classification. similar position form a class [a group of positions that are sufficiently alike in respect to their duties]. All positions in a class have similar pay scales.

Steps of position classification:

  1. Analyse and record duties and other characteristics of positions to be classified.
  2. Group positions into classes
  3. Write standard for each class
  4. Install by allocating individual positions to the classes thus described.

  1. Provides high degree of specialization suitable for technical jobs like engineering.
  2. Equal pay for equal work.
  3. Defines contents of job in detail
  4. Conducive for formulation of scientific standard on which various aspects like recruitment, training, manpower planning, promotion depend.
  5. More emphasis on merit and proper match between job requirement and qualifications of incumbent.
  6. Can adopt uniform nomenclatures.
  7. Well defined responsibilities for workers, government, management. Also lateral entry between private, government allowed.

  1. Hinders horizontal and vertical mobility.
  2. Classification needs time and may get outdated fast. Makes employees insecure about their jobs and they feel a pressure to upgrade their positions.
  3. Not suitable in developing countries where duties of many officers not defined.
  4. Not suitable for generalists.

Rank classification

Employee is classified on basis of rank in a hierarchy. Each employee is placed in a class. Salary, status depends on rank not position.


  1. Flexible, so personnel can be transferred across departments.
  2. More emphasis on generalists
  3. Faster to classify.
  4. Promotes loyalty to service and not a department.
  5. Attracts competent people.


  1. Not suitable for specialists.
  2. Violates equal pay for equal work.
  3. Doesn't specify contents of jobs in details so performance appraisal is subjective.
  4. Classification can create class distinction and feudal hierarchy.
  5. Overlooks claim of merit for holding a post. No match between requirements of job and qualification for candidates.

Note: Indian public administration leans heavily on cadre system. Its more status oriented than achievement oriented. Outdated selection criteria on purely academic basis.

India needs functional classification which will remove class consciousness and lead to smooth, harmonious and efficient functioning of service. It will also promote belonging-ness to the service as a whole. The following classes can be made:

  1. top executive
  2. senior executive
  3. executive
  4. supervisory personnel
  5. supporting personnel
  6. auxiliary personnel

  • Lack of specialisation is the big problem that confronts the IAS. The IAS was designed during the colonial era for the function of collecting taxes and maintaining law and order and so in the modern age these functions are still the primary concern of the service.

  • However in the current era the society has need for a bureaucracy that is an agent for bringing development and change. As the nature of administration changed the and economic reforms deepened and the state started yielding to the market forces, a need arose to increase the specialists in administration especially for policy making.

  • There are no main views regarding the Generalist vs Specialist debate: First view states that specialists suffer from tunnel vision and cannot take the broader view and hence should be restricted to advisory roles to the generalists. The specialists argue that only a functional expert can provide competent leadership in a domain and having an IAS head over a specialised area is an inefficient arrangement.

  • The way forward could be as suggested by the “Constitution review Committee” - Specialise a few generalists and generalise a few specialists. This can be done by allowing a recruit to first learn skills of policy execution and people management that is needed when working in field postings. Then as he rises to positions where policy decisions are taken by him, he could be allowed to increase his domain knowledge of a particular area.

  • Thus, his knowledge could be a blend of both domain expertise as well as execution skills. Similarly, a system of lateral entry into the service should be started to induct specialists at mid-career level. They should be encouraged to develop generalist skills such as policy execution, people management etc. by giving them field postings.