Wednesday, 23 November, 2022
HomeIndiaGovernanceArun Goel, lateral entrant joint secretary in commerce ministry, resigns after a...

Arun Goel, lateral entrant joint secretary in commerce ministry, resigns after a year

Arun Goel, former vice-president of ShopClues, had joined the govt last year, but DoPT officials say he left due to ‘bureaucratic tangles’.

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New Delhi: Just over a year after the Narendra Modi government appointed nine domain experts as joint secretaries as part of its lateral entry reform, the expert appointed to the commerce ministry has resigned, sources in the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) told ThePrint.

Arun Goel, who had left his job as vice-president of e-commerce venture ShopClues to join the government through lateral entry, was frustrated by the “limited career avenues”, sources told ThePrint.

When approached for a response, Goel declined to comment.

A DoPT official told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity: “He left due to the bureaucratic tangles involved in government functioning, and felt that his ideas were rarely received since career bureaucrats were not too amenable to out-of-the-box thinking. For someone who was very senior in the private sector, there were too many hierarchies and processes for him perhaps.”

A second government official added: “The ministry brass would not buy Goel’s ideas even if they found his inputs valuable. That is why the ministry did not want him to resign — his ideas did bring value. The matter then reached the PMO, and his resignation has now been accepted.”

The sources also said Goel had decided to go back to the private sector and join an MNC abroad.

ThePrint also approached the DoPT spokesperson through a phone call and a text message for a comment, but there was no response.

T.R. Raghunandan, a retired IAS officer and author of the book Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Bureaucracy But Were Afraid To Ask, said it’s a pity if Goel has left due to personal hostilities.

“If he has left due to bureaucratic complexities then it is obvious. A lot of things that have become complexities now were meant to be legitimate checks and balances, but because they are used mechanically, they become needless complexities,” Raghunandan said.

Also read: Lateral entry will not help improve governance. Comprehensive human resource management will

Lateral entry reform has lost steam

With Goel’s resignation, there are just seven lateral-entry joint secretaries left in the government. The initial announcement was for the recruitment of 10 individuals, but the Union Public Service Commission had ended up picking only nine. Of these, the lone woman recruited through lateral entry had declined to take up the offer.

Meanwhile, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) is hearing a case regarding alleged irregularities in the recruitment of three other officers.

In September this year, ThePrint had reported how the lateral entry scheme launched by the government in 2018 — hailed as a major civil service reform — had lost steam, as there had been no movement on further recruitment through this process.

Career civil servants senior to the lateral entrants had told ThePrint that they had become “like any other IAS officers”, simply signing files that came to them.

Another joint secretary in the government said on the condition of anonymity: “The reform is easier said than done. I think more groundwork needs to be done before lateral entry can be a success. The government and private sectors are worlds apart. They cannot meet by just bringing in ten people here and there from the private sector.”

Retired IAS officer Raghunandan, meanwhile, said while he is a supporter of the spirit behind the lateral entry scheme, “there should’ve been a healthier system of recruitment and training put in place”.

“Becoming a joint secretary is intimidating for an IAS officer too, because the processes are that intimidating. So, these people should’ve received better training,” he said.

This report has been updated to accurately reflect Goel’s response.

Also read: Lateral entry, biometric attendance won’t fix Modi’s bureaucracy issue. Reinvest in the state


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  1. Very simple solution. Revamp the age old process of recruitment on the line of British Govt who created ICS to rule tis country. Today u need people to govern the people through democratic means so u need honest, dedicate d, committed people who are welded to the values of life rather looking for greener pastures. It is always the yes man who rises to top in the present scenario and this is the reason that always reshuffle takes place whenever there is a change of political leadership in the state or country. These bureaucrats who are supposed to be apolitical are mostly tow their lines with the ruling class., so on so forth.

  2. Dismantel the IAS cadre and promote any Group A government servant into IAS after 10 years of service in Group A, By then the officer shall have amassed more experience in his field than an Assistant commissioner , all officers will still be in an age where they can contribute and take decisions with confidence and will not be at perils of a few egoists. Else keep doing experimentation and this cadre will never allow any thing to change in the system . Everyone knows how these lateral entrant have been sidelines by so called career Bureaucrats in the Ministry and they have got an uncertain future . IAS officers will never allow any thing that doesn’ t suit their egos thanks to their recruitment procedure which has made them supreme. Any one who , irrespective of his cadre , if allowed to take decisions and made responsible will do great justice with his stream of work, Bureaucrats should be limited to administration and not be allowed to influence any policy making decisions which should be left entirely to professionals if IAS system cannot is too strong to be dismantled .

  3. Career in private sector is an outcome of performance.The same may not be true for career bureaucrats.A keen look at the list of JS empanelment of Govt officers will show that the career non performers who avoided the field conflicts at the cost of the organisation have the maximum possibility of making into the list.
    Hyper soft approaches to curate an individual image have fallout of sub standard mandate delivery,compromised quality and out right project failures.
    It is not by chance alone that India boasts stalled projects of more than 15Trillion INR.The empanelment has become an annual exercise in mechanical application of processes.
    What percentage of those empaneled finally opt for the CSS?
    Public resources are not free.Why waste scarce public resources when the meaningful empanelment (that is the proportion that actually become a joint secretary) is extremely poor.
    Even among those who are selected in CSS as JS the proportion that complete the tenure is abysmally low.
    How it reflects on the current process and mandate delivery capacity is a matter of debate.
    Processes become an end in themselves and a means of livelihood.Clones running a mechanical process,finding satisfaction in its complexities , uncertainties and opacity and generating panels after panels of clones.
    Clones going out and occupying positions and framing policies and rules so complex that they become an end in themselves.Unconcerned and oblivious to the ever increasing list of stalled projects,NPAs and creating an ecosystem of paralysed policies.
    1.Do not empanel a Govt officer who is not willing to go for CSS.
    2.De-List from the panel those who do not apply for CSS within two year of empanelment.
    3.Ban for five years those who refuse the CSS posting once selected.
    Rule No 1 for having winning performance in the field.Do not create Team of unwilling horses.
    No wonder the Real performers are leaving at the first opportunity.

  4. Good move …. IAS at the district level s a meaningful job, but at the senior levels is a dead end … ok if you are into doing nothing, but not if you want to accomplish something or crave intellectual or other challenge.

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