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Pros and Cons of Lateral Entry in Bureaucracy

It has been two years since the Narendra Modi government announced its ambitious plan to reform the civil services by bringing in fresh talent through the lateral entry process, the move seems to have lost steam. There has been no such recruitment since eight joint secretary-level appointments in eight ministries last year.

In 2018, the government had said the lateral entry would fulfil the twin purpose of bringing in domain expertise in the civil services and addressing the problem of shortage of IAS officers at the Centre, but it said last year there were no further plans to recruit joint secretaries through this scheme.

So, let us dig the A to Z of Lateral Entry  

What is lateral entry?

It refers to method of joining organization by-passing its regular hierarchy for e.g. A diploma holder joining second year in engineering,, an economist joining finance ministry as joint secretary, a social worker joining Rural development ministry as Director.

 What are advantages of Lateral Entry

1.It will help in gearing bureaucracy to face challenges for e.g. according to the Baswan committee in UP there are vacancies of more than 100 officers in higher administrative posts.

2.It will bring new work culture, corporate ethics, professionalism in government.

3.It will promote competition in government between lateral entrants and insiders for promotion.

4. Recent challenges originating with change in society and international order such as cyber threat, artificial intelligence, trade diplomacy, intellectual property rights (IPRs), ‘Rise of Asia’ demands more expertise in bureaucracy than today’s generalist.

Is the concept of Lateral entry new to India ?

1.It is not new to central government as done before with good results but less frequently for e.g.Dr. Manmohan Singh, Vijay Kelkar Nandan Nilkeni were some lateral entrants who reached at highest positions

2.However at State government level not much success has been seen.

3. 2nd ARC report on personnel administration recommended lateral entry at or above joint secretary level way back in 2006

What are disadvantages of Lateral entry

1.Lateral entrants at middle level may not know challenges in policy implementation at field for e.g. consider there is project for irrigation in district often there is demand from every section of society such as politicians, villagers to pass project from their area which at times becomes difficult by convincing everyone in Democracy

2.Lateral entry may become another name for corruption by favouring their kin and kith in administration.

3.It may lower down motivation of talented and hardworking civil servants who are already working in organisation.

4.There remains question on tenure of lateral entrants since governments action often has long term effect specially policy decisions for e.g. controversy on spectrum and coal allocation policies few years ago.

 5.It is difficult in government organisation to measure performance as compared to private sector for e.g. it is difficult to tell and measure job of special secretary in any ministries.

What is way Forward

1.There is need for transparency in selection of Lateral entrants, UPSC will play important role here.

2. It should also be open to junior civil servants irrespective of any service for e.g. civil servant in Railways can play important role in reforming transport sector such as case of Ashwani Lohani an engineer worked as railway board chairman played important role in transforming Indian Railways.

3.Lateral entry should be long term such as for 10 to 15 years which will help entrant to become familiar with every pull and pressure from which government organisation suffer.

4.There is need to create a pool of Senior executive service(SES) on the pattern of

What we can learn from other countries which allowed lateral entry

Let’s learn from how it is going in AUSTRALIA 

Transparent selection, good performance appraisal, stable tenure

Impact it made 

Improved Australian economy and governance.

 Let’s learn from how it is going in NEW ZEALAND

 Clear objective, stable tenure, Good pay scale

Impact it made 

Newzealand economy became one of the fastest developing in oceania.

So, what we can conclude in the end

In principle lateral entry is a good move which we should support but there is need for further reform in governance along with politics which Supervises administration for meeting the goal of Gandhi’s India.

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