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.
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.