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India’s bureaucracy actually isn’t as big as you’d think

Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Off to work.
By Madhura Karnik
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

For a country of over 1.2 billion people, India doesn’t actually have too many government personnel.

The recently released Seventh Central Pay Commission report (pdf) has said that India has a total of 3.3 million government personnel. If we exclude the employees in the railways and postal departments—these two units employ the most—India has 139 government personnel for every 100,000 people, according to the report. This compared to 668 government personnel for every 100,000 citizens  in the US.

Here’s how the numbers break down for all the departments:

“The ‘core’ of the government, so to say, is actually very small for the Government of India, taken as a whole,” the report said.

Only 23,860 personnel worked in the secretariat of ministries as of September 2015, the report pointed out. These are the people who essentially work on drawing up, monitoring and implementing government policies and include directors, section officers, assistants, secretaries and joint secretaries among others.

The railways and the postal department are the biggest employers in the central government with 1.5 million personnel in 2014. The ministry of home affairs—which includes all security-related units including police and defence—is also a big recruiter, the report said.

But India’s government services are actually short-staffed.

There is a huge gap between the sanctioned positions compared to the actual numbers. For instance, as of Jan.1, 2014, the government had 4.04 million sanctioned positions, but only 3.30 million people in these positions.

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