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Modi government has so far received just about 4,000 applications, had expected far greater interest

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has received just about 4,000 applications for its scheme proposing lateral entry to 10 joint secretary posts. But that isn’t the only problem with this ambitious plan.

A far more troubling proposition is the quality of these applications, top government sources in the know told ThePrint.

The applications, they said, barely match the standards expected of a candidate required to occupy senior bureaucracy positions in the Government of India.

They said that while individual applications are yet to be scrutinised, the government has not received enough applications from candidates of eminence — those who are well-known experts in their respective fields.

“It’s not that those who have filed applications are lacking in experience or qualification but it’s about people of eminence or domain experts,” an official said, adding that the Centre is hopeful that it would receive better applications before the deadline of Tuesday, 31 July.

As ThePrint had reported, some of those who have served in the upper echelons of the bureaucracy, without being from the services, include former prime minister Manmohan Singh, economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia, academic and economist Vijay Kelkar and geneticist M.S. Swaminathan among others.

Low numbers go against expectations

The low numbers are contrary to the initial perception that the scheme would get an overwhelming response from the pool of quality private sector talent that India has at present.

A senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the Centre had expected at least 1 lakh applications, including from quality and experienced professionals, for the 10 posts advertised, considering the reputation and veneration of top bureaucratic jobs in the country.

“Some people have uploaded the documents to avoid the last-minute rush but are yet to upload the applications. It is expected that the ministry will attract anywhere between 5,000 and 7,000 applications in the next four days,” said the senior official who spoke to ThePrint Friday.

“Hopefully, some interesting applications may come along as well,” the official added. Yet, it is doubtful that the figure will cross even the 10,000 mark by Tuesday.

When the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) first invited applications from private sector specialists for the 10 posts, two months ago, the move had divided opinion, with many supporting it, while others criticising it on the grounds that it would increase the scope for political appointments.

Though the idea of securing the services of the private sector talent through lateral entry wasn’t new, it was for the first time that a government had actually advertised select positions for the purpose.

The minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, Wednesday told Parliament that the decision to fill up the posts through lateral entry was aimed at bringing in fresh ideas to governance.

‘Fears of posts being fixed, uncertainty over tenure behind low numbers’

Experts say that a combination of a fear that the government may have already zeroed in on the candidates and uncertainty over tenure may have contributed to the poor response for the scheme.

A senior bureaucrat from the IAS said that perhaps there was a prevailing perception among private sector professionals that the “match has been fixed”, at least for some of the positions.

Talking to ThePrint, a senior bureaucrat from the IAS said that perhaps there was a prevailing perception among private sector professionals that the “match has been fixed”, at least for some of the positions.

“This was fuelled by the fact that the scheme was not advertised well. No senior government functionary had spoken publicly about the scheme after the advertisement that could have created some perception among the applicants about pre-deciding of the appointments,” the official said.

The official further said good-quality specialists from the private sector, who have put in at least 15 years in a profession, may not have found the three to five year tenure attractive enough.

“Why would an established private sector professional want to join the government for just three to five years and embrace uncertainty?” the official asked.

Another senior government official said the existing positions of joint secretaries across the government are occupied by experienced career bureaucrats.

“Specialists from the private sector may just be unsure if the work environment would be conducive for them and may be apprehensive of feeling left out,” the official said.

However, defending the government’s position, a senior official said that the response is not as bad and that individual ministries would assess if the candidates are qualified enough for them.

“Even if we are to take the latest number of 4,000 applications, there are about 400 applications per post, which doesn’t qualify as a poor response. As far as the quality of applications is concerned, they will be vetted by individual ministries as per their requirements before appointments are made,” a senior official from DoPT said.

“It is not possible to comment on the quality of applications at this point of time.”

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19 COMMENTS

  1. 4,000 applications is about 3,750 too many. If the expectation was that 1,00,000 applications would be received, well this is not like recruiting lower division clerks. India in the aggregate may barely have a hundred thousand people of the calibre to be Joint Secretaries to GoI. Pray, who will scrutinise even the 4,000that have been received, call a smaller number for an interview. From this column, it is evident that this is a half baked idea, it has not been thought through even the basic steps, just a gimmicky announcement of the One headline a day keeps ennui away. Governance is serious business. If we had faith in the basic fairness of the process – some call it a fixed match, many others want it to be done by the UPSC – it should be open to the government – which seems to have all the data in the world on all Indians – to itself do a scan and reach out to deserving candidates. Men like Vijay Kelkar are not found in APMCs.

  2. People in top echelons in open market are possibly aware that the IAS babus will still work at cross purpose to stymie the functioning of the lateral entrants, The country is witnessing how even Modi govt is stymied from within by the regular beaucracy

  3. UPSC is epitome of corruption & sluggish Congress chamchas.
    500 Applications are good enough as it is quality nor quantum that’s expected.

  4. Let the scrutiny be fair and justified. Competent officials be given opportunity to join the post in order to perform as well as bring the desired result. All applications must be taken into consideration and the final pannel should be prepared after due weightage to the merit, competence and performance. It is a good idea.

  5. Haha…Nice joke. “Didnt get ias quality candidates”. I wonder how quality is defined. Another innocuos attempt by the authors to defeat lateral entry. There is talent everywhere. Just give them the opportunity and they will rise to the occassion. By the way how many posts have you opened 7 or 12. Conpared to the miniscule offering…the applications are ample and sufficient.
    Please encourage specialists or just xlose those specialist engineering medical and law colleges… telling them specialists are a misfit and are not required to build a society and for administration.

  6. The response looks good. These applicants must be free from corrupt mind. Given a chance they wish to prove their mettle. They have the guts to say NO to bad proposals in public interest and go back if situation warrants. Truly a great experiment.

  7. No sane private sector achiever manager will like to work under corruption ridden govt babudom with CBI breathing down their necks while dancing to the tunes of political masters.
    Also, the well entrenched IAS lobby will never tolerate such a lateral entrant .

  8. Who will work under uneducated people. Only mediocre applicants that too for a small length of time. Start up failure yet again

  9. All positions are already fixed and the tenure is not fixed . So why any expert came for this post inspite of lower pay than they earn from private sector.

  10. It’s a known secret that they are looking for candidates with RSS affiliation. So why anyone will apply, just to feel humiliated after being an expert in it’s field.

  11. The beauty of this Legacy of RAJ(IAS,IPS Babudom) is that a MA sociology individual gets to serve in Ministry of Surface transport/ Aviation by virtue of being a BABU! A dentist is plying his trade as an Anti Terrorist COP,Such is the Parody of Indian Administrative Machinery..Ha Ha.!There also once was an idea mooted for Lateral Entry into IPS from Army and CAPFs to tide over acute SHORTAGE of Police officers. The self entitled IPS lobby ran to like Petulant Children to their political daddies shouting injustice for lack of fair representation of minorities and reserved categories. And NOW fate if those poor chaps who cleared that ill fated UPSC LET exam for police are left in lurch with MHA scrapping the Idea in retrospect. Thus LESSON LEARNT is No self respecting professional should even tread near these schemes.NO WONDER the government can get no worthy applicants. Time is long gone when we should have overhauled these vestigial remnants of the COLONIAL BABUDOM. But if some government is really SERIOUS then still some good can be salvaged.The entire administration machinery requires a shake up.with only the professionals with vertical specialisation being posted to the concerned department.
    Wake up Please OH countrymen.!.lest it’s Too Late.
    Jai Hind!

  12. It’s a noble idea and thought. It is completely dependent on the Chief Secretary of the Ministry. His leadership style and his vision. However the process is very embarrassing or the candidate is made to feel very embarrassed in the entire process. The panel doesn’t have requisite seniority or senior personnel to interview the candidate. The panel goes ballistic on bei G personal and very sarcastic too. The grade equivalence with private and public sector is not made yet, but they want to hire talent from outside. This is possible if you are known to a senior secretary level or technocrat or strong reference with a few in Government Agencies or Institutions or Departments. Else you have “no way to hide” only face the wrath or public vs private careers/expectations/compensation disparity issues are talked in the open amongst panelists, etc. So I would like to but I won’t and I would also discourage other friends. Think multiple times before the actual plunge.

  13. There may be many problems as perceived by the applicants. (a) Having to deal with politicians. (b) Fear of being opposed by the present lot as no one likes outsiders.

  14. Site is not responding from the last two days which clearly indicates that match has been fixed or Government is not taking the responsibility seriously to take real talent to task. Further these positions are key positions & had to be filled with transparency.

  15. As an Ex-civil Servant who left his Job long back after serving for 14 years, let me share briefly my perspective. The feeling that the all powerful and entrenched Bureaucracy will not let you operate and you will always be a suspect step-son in the system is overwhelming. The Government, no matter how clean its intent may be, has a large credibility gap to fill and so the feeling that the Sangh Parivaar has already chosen its candidates deters the better placed candidates from applying. That the experiment may not last should the Government change and the selected are left in the lurch as an unwanted legacy of the previous regime is an additional factor.
    It is a tentative beginning which seeks to add another truss to the so called “steel frame” which has merrily roughshod over the march of history though the country moved from a colony to socialist state (pseudo albeit) to a free market system of sorts.
    All said, with all its flaws , the experiment may fail. But in the long run the idea must succeed for us to be counted as a better governed country.

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