New Delhi: There has been a lukewarm response to the Modi government’s fresh push to induct domain experts from the private sector into the government, with approximately 1,200 applicants for 30 posts advertised by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
In February this year, the government had advertised 30 posts at the level of joint secretaries (JS) and directors as part of lateral recruitment for ministries, departments, PSUs and autonomous bodies. While three of these are posts of joint secretaries, the rest 27 are for the posts of directors. Those looking to join were to apply by 31 March.
According to sources in the government, the UPSC has received approximately 1,200 applications. In the last round of lateral entry, when the government had in 2018 announced 10 vacancies for the posts of joint secretaries, the UPSC had received 6,077 applications. As reported by ThePrint in 2018, even this was seen as a small number by the government, which was expecting over a lakh applications for these senior government positions.
A senior government official who requested anonymity, however, said that the latest number is not very small considering the applications are for the posts of directors.
“The posts are not as well-known or considered as prestigious as joint secretaries, which is perhaps the reason. But that also means that there are a few non-serious applicants,” the official said.
While the UPSC is supposed to hold interviews for shortlisted candidates, sources told ThePrint that due to the ongoing surge in Covid-19 cases, there has not been much progress on the front.
“The applications came in only by 31 March. Since April, there has been a surge, so it will take a bit longer. The UPSC has postponed other interviews and examinations as well owing to the pandemic,” the official quoted above said.
ThePrint sent text messages to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) spokesperson Shambhu Chaudhary for a comment, but there was no reply till the time of publishing this report.
The posts in a number of ministries
Lateral entry positions at the level of joint secretary have been opened in the ministries of agriculture and farmers welfare, commerce and industry and finance.
For the director posts, positions have been advertised for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Department of Financial Services, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of School Education and Literacy, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Civil Aviation and in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
It is at the level of directors for which the government has been facing a severe shortage of officers. Last year, in order to address this problem, the central government made a change in the way officers are picked for joint secretary-level positions. The government tweaked its empanelment policy to ensure that only an officer who has served as director or deputy secretary for two years can become a joint secretary.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)