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‘Lateral entry’ into bureaucracy: reason, process, and the controversy

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 23, Nov 2021
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The recent recommendation of 31 candidates by the Union Public Service Commision (UPSC) to be inducted into senior and mid-level positions in various union ministries is the second such attempt towards bringing specialists from private sector in the senior and middle level of bureaucracy. Earlier too, nine lateral entrants from private sector were inducted in 2019.

What’s the issue highlighted by experts?

Experts have warned about the procedure of recruitment.

They say, meritocracy demands that the recruitment procedure of selecting professionals should stand the test of merit through a fair and transparent procedure.

  • The fair selection and appointment of civil servants is the foundation of modern merit-based bureaucracy.

Therefore, any deviation from the established procedure must also fulfil the conditions of fair procedure of recruitment.

Need of the hour:

  • To be constitutionally correct and to increase the legitimacy of the move, the recruitment procedure of induction of lateral candidates should be initiated in the parliament.
  • A comprehensive legioslative process will not only help usher in clarity over various aspects of lateral entry recruitment but also legitimise the process and provide it with the endorsement of wider political forces.

What is ‘lateral entry’ into government?

  • Recommended by NITI Aayog, in its three-year Action Agenda.
  • The induction of personnel will take place at the middle and senior management levels in the central government.
  • These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services.

Need for and significance:

  1. Lateral entrants have specialised knowledge and expertise in the domain area.
  2. Meets the twin objectives of bringing in fresh talent as well as augment the availability of manpower.
  3. It provides stakeholders such as the private sector and non-profits an opportunity to participate in governance process.
  4. It will help in bringing change in organisation culture in Government sector culture.

Why is lateral entry sometimes criticised?

  • There is no reservation in these appointments.
  • They are seen as back doors for a political party to bring its own people openly.