The lateral entry scheme, announced in June, has been held up so far amid the UPSC’s struggle with ‘sketchy’ applications.
New Delhi: The candidates who applied for the Narendra Modi government’s lateral entry scheme for IAS and other civil services will have to send in fresh applications because the original advertisement was reportedly poorly drafted and understated the eligibility criteria.
In an advertisement issued by the Department of Personnel and Training in June, the government announced its decision to appoint 10 private sector specialists as joint secretaries in different departments of the Central government.
By 30 July, the deadline, an estimated 6,077 candidates had applied.
But the process has been held up as the Union Public Services Commission (UPSC) struggled to shortlist candidates on the basis of the “sketchy” and “unusable” information received, sources said.
Now, the Modi government has issued a fresh job advertisement seeking “detailed” applications.
But with just months to go for the general elections and no timeline for recruitment set by the government, it is unlikely that this pet initiative of Prime Minister Modi will see the light of the day before the new government is formed.
In a notification issued this week, the UPSC said, “The essential qualifications indicated in the original advertisement are the minimum and mere possession of the same does not entitle candidates to be called for test/interview.
“The candidate should, therefore, mention all his/her qualifications and experience in the relevant field over and above the minimum qualifications,” it added.
The commission also said that it may take a recruitment test to shortlist candidates.
The original advertisement just cited a graduation degree from a recognised university/institute as the qualification criterion, and did not ask for supporting documents.
The new notification seeks the testimonials for a candidate’s educational qualifications, as well as his/her professional experience.
“For experience, up-to-date… experience certificate, unambiguously indicating the nature of duties, dates and duration of experience, level/position, responsibilities etc issued by the employer may be uploaded,” the UPSC ad states.
“The information we had got from the applications that the DoPT invited was very sketchy, and not adequate to make any assessment, so we had to invite detailed applications,” a top official in the UPSC said.
The UPSC has made it clear in the notification that applications without supporting documents will not be considered.
“People can claim anything [about their qualifications], but one has to go according to documents… It is basic HR policy,” the official said.
The idea of the lateral entry scheme is to invite fresh talent into the government. It is also pegged as a measure to address the shortage of IAS officers in the Central government.
The concept itself is not new. Two prominent examples of lateral entry in today’s administration are Rajesh Kotecha, special secretary in the Ministry of AYUSH, and retired IAS officer Parameshwaran Iyer, who is a Secretary in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
The government’s advertisement for the 10 joint secretary positions was an attempt to institutionalise this practice.
The UPSC official approached by ThePrint said they would try to complete the selection process “in a timely manner”.
“The information we’ve sought now is specific and pointed,” the official added. “The forms we have sent are like the online recruitment forms available on the UPSC website for other things, so we’ll try and complete the process in a timely manner.”
Also read: Centre’s IAS officers shortage: Need for lateral entry of experts or should states fix gap?
ThePrint had reported earlier that once the July deadline expired, the UPSC and the cabinet secretariat were at sea about how to take the recruitment process forward.
“The reason why there was so much confusion is that the DoPT advertisement was not drafted properly,” said an IAS officer who did not want to be named.
“Had the criteria been specified properly in the first go, they wouldn’t have got so many applications to begin with…
“The government did not know what to do with 6,000 applications, many of which may have been not worthy of consideration…,” the officer added.
However, Abhishek Chandra, the secretary of the IAS Association, said even the new advertisement left one question unanswered.
“As bureaucrats, we have a two-year cooling off period, before which we cannot take a corporate job, to prevent conflict of interest,” he said.
“Would the same restriction apply to people who are being recruited from the private sector [when their assignment with the government ends]?” he added.
“In fact, for them since they come from the private sector the cooling-off period should be five years,” he said.
“If such a provision is added then a lot of people will not apply.”