The lateral entry of professionals will make the Indian bureaucracy better, more efficient.
Novel way to bring in good governance
On June 10, the Narendra Modi government announced what can be termed as one of the most metamorphic decisions ever taken concerning the bureaucracy. The government allowed the lateral entry of professionals in governance. The decision had long been pending and debated too. While previous governments had put it on hold, the Modi government acted on it. The government is expected to hire professionals in the fields of finance, revenue, civil aviation, etc for joint secretary-level post as per the listed eligibility criteria.
Like every other decision taken by the government since May 2014, this decision too was not welcomed by the Opposition, which has made whataboutery about every reform a cliché. I feel this decision can pave way for a revolution in the government’s functioning and will surely help in increasing the pace of deliverance of results. The civil service system is seen by some as one of the legacies the British left in India, but facts contradict these claims. After liberalisation in 1990s’ many sections of the bureaucracy had been stagnant and failed to deliver appropriate and the expected results.
This very reason harbingered the debate that was going on since many years and has now finally culminated into the government seeking an alternative to the IAS.
The civil services exam is one of the most tough-to-crack exams in the country. Teaming of experts from the private and government sector will surely prove fruitful and increase the efficiency with which the government functions. Also, it will usher in a fresh new approach in governance.
Since the jobs have been kept contractual, it will surely cut off red-tapism, which has for years impeded government functioning.
Also, the contractual nature of the job will ensure that the hired person delivers what is expected for if he/she fails to deliver some other deserving and competitive candidate will be put in his/her place.
The appointment of joint secretaries through lateral entry will surely increase the competitive spirit among employees who have been there through traditional means. This will compel the under-performers to deliver what has been expected of them or face the music. Also, a dialogue between the expert lateral entry candidates and the ones who have entered by traditional means will bring in new concepts of working, and thus help in fast deliverance of work.
I know many people will oppose this step just for the sake of opposing it, but the data and facts will be there to answer it.
History is witness to how stupendous emanations ushered in governance when specialised domain experts like Arvind Subramanian, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Nandan Nilekani were brought into government organisations.
As Paul Meyer said, “The future is built on the flow of new ideas”, every revolutionary thought finds its way to being a reform. Right now, we should take a minute to thank the government for setting things on the right track.
The writer is national convenor, IT and social media committee, BJYM
It must be opposed by all means
Manoj Kumar Jha
The recent DoPT advertisement inviting application for “lateral entry” in the government was described by Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant as “an opportunity to attract the best talent”.
If we pay attention to the enthusiastic reactions of the voices that were instrumental in directing public policy in favour of private business interests, we can understand the importance of having a malleable, pliable bureaucracy.
Like everything else that this government does, this “invention” too is mired in a series of falsehoods.
There is nothing in the design of the existing processes of entering the higher bureaucracy (either through direct recruitment or through promotion) that has prevented India’s bureaucrats from excelling at their jobs.
The idea that this kind of lateral entry will enable “more meritorious” people with higher degrees, better expertise and experience in the private sector to come into the bureaucracy than those that come through the UPSC’s competitive recruitment process is flawed. This discourse is not unknown to those who have heard the anti-reservation arguments in India.
The path of SC/ST and OBC officers coming in through UPSC is full of challenges that arise from caste-based social inequality in India.
The lateral entry is an “invention” of the BJP government that is clearly aimed at undermining the protective provisions of our Constitution designed to promote social justice. This must be seen together with other stratagems this government has used to undermine reservations in higher education and public sector jobs, stopping short of scrapping reservation through legislative revision and amendment in the Constitution.
Those who care for social justice for the historically oppressed in India must know that behind this BJP “invention” is its bid to reverse the progress made by the backward sections of society.
These inventions include such tricks as collusive lawsuits that undermine the protection given to SC/STs against atrocities, and constant revision of reservation regulations in higher education.
A bureaucracy “committed” to one political party’s ideology is the very antithesis of the idea of the bureaucratic governance machinery whose very nature is rational, impersonal and impartial.
The lateral entry is an invention that must be opposed by all means. What we are witnessing is an operationalisation of the janus face of the RSS’ deeply divisive ideology in governance. What cannot be legitimately admitted in a just system of governance will be given a lateral entry thought this system. We must not also lose sight of the fact that this “lateral entry” arrives in the public domain without travelling through the parliamentary corridors or any engaged discussion with civil society groups. Hence the wider feeling amongst subaltern groups is that it is merely a façade for ensuring the lateral entry of the sleeper cells of the organisations affiliated to the BJP and the RSS.
The writer is a Rashtriya Janata Dal MP