Achievements

‘Digitisation has stopped pilferage of funds, reduced corruption’

Stuti Ghildiyal, an alumnus of Apeejay Saket and an ICAS (The Indian Civil Accounts Service) Officer, explains how the Digital India initiative made lives convenient, curb corruption.

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Stuti is a 2015 Batch ICAS Officer. She is Deputy Controller, Budget & Accounts in the Ministry of Electronics and IT, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The ICAS is one of the Group ‘A’ Civil Services of the Government of India. It functions under the Department of Expenditure in the Union Ministry of Finance. It provides payment services, supports the tax collection system, performs government wide accounting, financial reporting functions, preparation of budget estimates and carries out Internal Audit in civil ministries of the Union Government. For the uninitiated, the Union Public Service Commission conducts the Civil Services Examination to recruit candidates to 24 top government services like IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, IAAS, ICAS etc. In an interview, Stuti talks about what propelled her to join civil services, the role of technology in reducing corruption, how to increase women’s participation in the workforce, and more.

Tell us about yourself.

After completing my schooling from Apeejay School, Saket, I pursued B.A. (Hons.) Economics from Kamala Nehru College, Delhi University and post-graduation from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Then, I worked in the finance division of a research publishing firm, dedicated to providing information and analysis on infrastructure sectors in India, through magazines, conferences, newsletters, research reports and websites. That’s when I started my preparation for the Civil Services exam. In my first attempt, I could only clear the Prelims. I got lucky in my second attempt. 

How did you decide to get into the Civil Services?

My father was in government service and that inspired me to opt for this field. He retired last year as Director, Ministry of Human Resource Development which is now the Ministry of Education. Secondly, my teachers in Apeejay helped pique my interest in Civil Services. Even before I knew what the UPSC Civil Services Exam was, they conditioned me to go for Civil Services. I believe they saw some potential in me. This encouraging atmosphere, both at home and school, is the reason why I cracked the exam. Also, while working in the private sector, I realised that my work there will not make an impact on a larger-scale. I was interested in  making a social impact. That was the tipping point and I decided to go for civil services.

Where did you get this urge to make an impact?

It was always there. Whenever I do something I give my all. So, when I am giving my 100 percent into something I want my efforts to be translated into something tangible. In the private sector, that’s not possible. You can best hope for perks and benefits and that’s not something that excites me.

Is it practical to prepare for the Civil Services Exam while working?

Talking about myself, when I started preparing for the exam I was working but I quit the job just before the prelims. The reason being, I didn’t have any financial liabilities. However, there are a lot of people nowadays who are preparing for the IAS exam with full-time jobs. Thanks to technology, many courses and learning modules are accessible online. Though at the end of the day, it’s all about maintaining your consistency by keeping smaller targets that are easily manageable. A fixed routine is important so that definite time could be designated to both work and study.

Elaborate on the role of technology in curbing corruption.

To a large extent, digitisation has stopped pilferage of funds and reduced corruption. For example, the Public Financial Management System (PFMS), a web-based online software application, was developed in 2009 with the objective of tracking funds released under all Plan schemes of GoI, and real time reporting of expenditure at all levels of Programme implementation. At present, the ambit of PFMS coverage includes Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes as well as other expenditures including the Finance Commission Grants. Anyone can monitor the flow of funds from the Centre to the lowest level of implementation. With the Direct Benefit Transfer program, GoI aims to make payments directly into the Aadhaar linked bank accounts of the end beneficiaries, removing any malpractices from the existing system such as diversions and duplicate payments.

Do you think that technology can totally eradicate corruption?

I don’t think that’s possible because there will always be scope for human discretion. However, technology can bring transparency in tracking and monitoring of funds. 

Do people get into the Civil Services due to the lure of power?

There might be some who get into civil services to wield power, but the majority of them join the services to bag the decision-making roles that impact people’s lives. Talking about my batch, I didn’t find anyone who joined the services purely to exercise authority.

How can we increase women’s participation in the workforce?

The government has taken a lot of steps to uplift the status of women and bring them into the mainstream, but there’s only so much that the government can do. To bring about a radical change we need a societal transformation. Talking about myself, I was lucky enough to be brought up in an environment where I was encouraged to chase my dreams. The Apeejay schools have the motto- ‘Soaring High is My Nature’, exemplifying the fact that the sky’s the limit in the pursuit of excellence. This motto is for every student, irrespective of gender. That’s why it’s important to create a conducive environment where women can freely express themselves.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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