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How to work like IAS officer — lessons taught to 8 lateral entrants recruited by Modi govt

In a 2-week training programme, the lateral entrants got a crash course on governance matters that will help them begin their journeys as joint secretaries.

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New Delhi: How to make cabinet notes, how to work around parliamentary procedures, why it is important to build relations and network with career bureaucrats and never get sucked into a sense of victimhood — these are some of the key things taught to the first batch of lateral entrants who joined as joint secretaries in eight central ministries last month.

In a two-week residential training programme organised by the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), the eight lateral entrants were given a crash course on governance-related matters that will help them begin their journeys as joint secretaries under the Modi government’s lateral entry scheme.

For the two weeks, their 12-hour days began at 7 am with a yoga session, and ended at 9 pm. Through the day, the lateral entrants listened to lectures, received assignments, reading material, and heaps of advice on how to navigate the seemingly impenetrable power corridors of New Delhi.

Recruited by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) earlier this year, the eight joint secretaries were given lectures by dignitaries and key government officials such as Nandan Nilekani, non-executive chairman, Infosys, and founding chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI); Parameswaran Iyer, secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Jal Shakti ministry; Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairperson of the State Bank of India; Bhaskar Khulbe, secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog; Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Adviser in the finance ministry, among others.

In addition, serving officials from the home ministry, finance ministry, cabinet secretariat, among others also gave lectures to the new batch.

“All these people who have been very important figures in policy-making in the country gave us insights into how the government actually functions, and how to get work done,” said one of the lateral entrants.

“The key message was to not get sucked into a sense of victimhood that we are outsiders… They said that even when an IAS officer comes to Delhi from their states, they remain outsiders for a while.”

Also read: Modi govt is shaking the foundation of India’s IAS-led civil service — one reform at a time 

‘Long, gruelling & informative’

Another lateral entrant, who described the training as “long, gruelling and very informative”, said it had the perfect balance of providing an insight into the foundational aspects of governance — reading the Constitution, how to navigate inter-ministerial communication, understanding the allocation of business, budgeting, etc. — and providing perspective.

“The most interesting element of the training was to hear and learn about actual case studies like the Aadhaar, GST, Swachh Bharat, etc,” said the second joint secretary. “It was obviously very inspiring to learn about these mammoth nationwide programmes from people who were key in unveiling them.”

Asked how the training received by them was different from that given to career bureaucrats, an official of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said the focus for the lateral entrants was on objective, and not so much on procedures.

“When IAS recruits are trained, they have to have an in-depth understanding of procedures because they are left on the field as DMs to enforce the law from day one of their jobs,” the officer said.

“Lateral entrants are going into ministries where everyone is very well-versed with procedures… So with a rudimentary understanding of procedures also, they can do what they have been brought in for — their expertise.”

While the training provided the lateral entrants a “perfect launchpad” to start off, they were told to no longer consider themselves as outsiders.

“From here on, we are a part of the government, and no longer outsiders… Through all the sessions, the idea was to make us a part of the larger ‘New India’ project,” said the first joint secretary.

“All the other tricks of the trade will be learnt along the way… Like we had no idea that IAS officers refer to each other by their batches — those kind of fun facts about the bureaucracy also we will learn along the way,” the joint secretary added.

Also read: IAS officers shouldn’t fear us, we’re here only to help, say lateral entrants 


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  1. In fact one can safely say that many criminals are created by these babus from the IAS. People who are driven to take law into their own hands when these babus who are responsible for delivering government services to the people not only fail to do so but also favor those who grease their palms. They can’t absolve themselves of their responsibility in the shoddy and corrupt government administration. This in spite of there being no Contempt of Babus Act.

  2. How to work like an IAS Officer ? Simply don’t work ………unless there is some personal benefits to be gained out of it !

    The new guys have two weeks to learn this simple thing that IAS guys know right from Mussoorie

  3. Surely the thing they ought to do is to behave NOT like IAS officers! That’s the point of hiring them in the first place.

  4. Dear Sanya Dhingra, thank you for sharing an informative post. I was moved after reading this blog. I am a serious IAS aspirant and have been working hard for the last two years. I feel more motivated and inspired to enter this prestigious position.

    • Hello Nithya, I’m a also a serious UPSC CSE aspirant. I belong to Motihari, Champaran( rural India).Here, a lack of coaching facility specially for UPSC. So I wanna your pointers on preparation. If we make a conversation on preparation strategy on UPSC CSE. It will be benificial for us.
      Contact me on- 7519410950(WhatsApp+ calling)

  5. Will they now have to learn horse-riding? Will they learn how to function as a Magistrate? Will they be sent on Military Attachment to the border areas? Will they learn how to subdue Naxalism and stand uo for the poor and weak? Etc, etc, etc??
    “Lateral Entry” –thats the brand they’ll carry.
    They’ll learn: There ai’nt no short-cuts into the class of the Heavenborn. Respect has to be deserved and won by proven merit and public record of service.

    • Sad in my opinion. How can contractual staff have loyalty to service ? Is this the way forward? We can see how bounty system as in USA has led to to their worsening situation in policy and decison making . There are creating a new class of sycophants. Cheers to brand new cadre of yes men

      • As if job security has made them any loyal to the nation or its people, their real pay masters/employers.

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