Tuesday, 29 November, 2022
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IAS officers shouldn’t fear us, we’re here only to help, say lateral entrants

Candidates recruited by UPSC as part of the Modi govt’s lateral entry scheme say their appointments will supplement the system, not disrupt it.

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New Delhi: There is a sense of anxiety among IAS officers over the Narendra Modi government’s move to recruit domain experts into the civil services. However, the UPSC-recruited lateral entrants believe that their induction poses no threat to the country’s decades-old bureaucratic structure.

A few of the nine domain experts shortlisted by the UPSC earlier this year spoke to ThePrint on the condition of anonymity, given that they want to maintain discretion since the government is still in the process of appointing them. They said they view their appointments as an arrangement meant to supplement the existing system, and not disrupt it.

“We view lateral entry only as an intervention-based effort, not a disruption as it is sometimes construed. Our induction is only to make policy-making sharper and clearer, and to bridge the gap between industry, regulatory bodies and ministries,” said one selected candidate.

“All humans have the fear of unknown, but when the unknown becomes known and familiar, the fear dissipates,” the candidate added. “Ultimately, the senior civil servants are also human, so they may have some reservations… But once we join, and they see that we are only there to help, the fear will go.”

Asked if lateral entrants may not be allowed to function seamlessly by the existing bureaucracy, another candidate said: “This is the first time an institutionalised lateral entry is taking place in the Government of India, but it’s not like it hasn’t happened before. The perception that we will not be allowed to work or anything is unfounded. There has to be a two-way understanding that we are there to help in certain areas, and we will require help in some areas.”

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

What will they bring to the table?

While the government has pitched the idea of lateral entry as a way to fill gaps in governance which require high degrees of specialisation and field expertise, career civil servants have argued that being a generalist and an expert in administration is, in fact, a strength.

Asked what they can bring to the table that career civil servants may not be able to, the first candidate quoted above said: “We cannot comment on what we can bring to the table prematurely. But clearly, it has been felt for some time now that there are some gaps which require high-end specialisation.

“We will just bring an insider view, in some cases even the strategic view, to decision and policy-making.”

Asked if they would lack experience in governance, a third candidate said they would have others who have governance experience to guide them. “Anyway, it is not like we will be left to do everything on our own. Nothing that we suggest would go through without the secretary or minister’s approval,” the thid candidate said. “We will work like a team.”

The government is also going to provide a short training to these candidates on how the central government works.

Conflict of interest

According to the candidates, the government has so far not asked them for any declarations to prevent conflict of interest. However, several civil servants have cited that as a potential threat, since no cooling-off period has been stipulated either for the joint-secretary rank recruits or the 54 being recruited by the NITI Aayog.

“Even we see in the media that a lot of such questions on conflict of interest, reservation, etc. are being raised. Frankly, the PMO, UPSC, DoPT, etc. would be equipped to answer these questions,” said the first candidate. “It is possible that at the time of appointment, we are asked to give some kind of declaration.”

Others agreed that it is incumbent upon the government to formulate a mechanism to prevent conflict of interest, citing that it already brings in consultants to work on contracts, so it shouldn’t be something new.

According to the rules of recruitment for consultants in the NITI Aayog, which hires consultants extensively on a contractual basis: “In case the services of the consultant are not found satisfactory or found in conflict with the interests of the government, his/her services will be liable for discontinuation without assigning any reason.”

However, a retired IAS officer who did not want to be named said there is very little that can be done to prevent conflicts of interest if the recruitment is not carried out by a body like the UPSC whose integrity is beyond suspicion. “Now, the NITI Aayog is also recruiting lateral entrants. That poses a real threat of giving rise to a ‘committed bureaucracy’,” the officer said.

“We are not opposed to lateral entry. The objective may be laudable, but the process has to be beyond doubt too.”

Not getting impatient

There is no word yet on when the nine selected candidates for the departments of financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, cooperation and farmers’ welfare, civil aviation, commerce, environment, forest and climate change, new and renewable energy, road transport and highways, and shipping will actually be given their appointment letters. But they are not getting impatient.

“The work is going on in full swing. It is only understandable that it will take time for the government to figure out the modalities,” said one candidate. “It is best that work like this is not done in haste.”

Also read: Subramanian Swamy was right. Modi’s lateral entry plan will make reservations irrelevant


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  1. I have read the comments and observation and critic of lateral entry of IAS but the subject which untouched is the physical and on ground experience and expertise of the field is paramount. A new candidate will get training but not on ground expertise. In my view candidate selected are on the basis of memory retention only which are not appropriate to the subject.

  2. The decades old bureaucratic structure in India was borrowed from British Colonial Rule. So there are number of loopholes in the system which are crystal clear. One word is very common in their notes…Wait. This particular word is the root cause of policy paralysis, their arrogance, lackadaisical attitude towards problems solutions …..and hundred more. So lateral entry is the need of the hour. It should have been adopted many Years ago. The babus should take lesson from them as they are big assets for us.

  3. The IAS officers should fear the lateral entrants. The IAS officers don’t consider them as Public servant rather consider public as there servant. Recently, an IAS officers Ms.Panda, spent RS.70 Lakhs of public money to renovate the collector house. I have met this lady. She is also ill mannered.

  4. First UPSC is a corrupt and inefficient institution. & all corrupts are brothers in arms. The #IAS are alarmed that their inefficiency, lack of knowledge and passion, their narrow selfish interests, and sycophancy which they expect from subordinates will be exposed. I ask- Do we need #IAS #IPS at all? No. Technocrats with administrative training will function much better. In place of #IPS, service officers should be appointed. Our police stations should be manned by ex servicemen. The paunch will be replaced by punch. If India has not became a developed county even after seven decades, the IAS are the major reason. And UPSC should be disbanded.

    • IAS Over the years in India had added themselves to asses is what every indian is feeling.
      They are the fountain head and epicenter of corruption and they will desist from renovating the system.

  5. This is process .let it would be performed.
    The idea was borrowed fro our Beloved. Ex.P.M.Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His aim was Ratan Tata industrialist. be inducted to administration. So this process should continue.
    On opposing some old people says Britishers were better .Shall we go under Britishers. Answer no.similarly we should accept New process conducted by Govt.

  6. While lateral entry will definitely bring in changes in administration, there should be some ratio of lateral entrant to direct recruit so that noticeable changes can be felt in the near future.

  7. No doubt civil servants are also experts from various fields, and some may fail in the critical times.For this induction of experts at a higher level, to run Govt depts like corporate is not advisable.It is pitty to note that why civil servants have not strongly objected to this induction. Will govt induct experts in police service too?

  8. The allegations that the integrity of lateral entrants have not been checked is just fallacious and nonsense. It is well proved that the UPSC is sending only dead woods to the government and majority of them turn corrupt. Thus UPSV or for that matter no agency can check the future conduct if an individual and past conduct is not a guarantee for future.

  9. IAS babus are always apprehensive about other people entering their turf due to so many reasons, but important among them are two. One, the proximity to power and thus enjoying all the political power without any responsibility or accountability. Two, being all-pervasive in planning, deciding, execution or implementing them, there is abundant scope for corruption, which is known over the world but shared with none. This aspect of sharing the loot with others make them shaky because it was always their monopoly. But times have changed and they can not stop induction of wise and intelligent people with real field knowledge instead of government continuing with history and geography graduates.

  10. UPSC is most reliable institution.All types of experts appear in IAS/IPS /IRS and IFS.So lateral entry can be political motivated .So I am not agree on this process.

    • But these experts, how many of them have you seen in real life atleast experiencing what the common man is enjoying
      for eg Water crisis, have never seen any ias and ips standing in que with empty pot to asses firsthand the problems of citizens leave alone the rickety public transport system or govt schools or govt hospitals.

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