The opposition parties and ruling BJP are at loggerheads over the central government’s decision to open lateral entry in various departments for the ranks of joint secretary to the Government of India. While the opposition said that the move by the Narendra Modi government will lead to nepotism and subvert reservation in the system, the BJP argued that it is an opportunity to allow every citizen to effectively participate in the government to make it more efficient.
The Congress has said that lateral hiring is not new and had been done in past but only to bring experts on certain topics and giving them specific roles like Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahuliwaliya, Sam Pitroda and Nandan Nilekani. However, the current move of the government, party leader PL Punia said, is to “sabotage” the efficiency of the system and to “bring RSS, BJP and some industrialists” at the policy-making level.
He said that bureaucrats are given specific training and are well-trained on how the system works according to the government’s requirements. “This is just to sabotage the efficiently-running system and with a view to take people from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party and some industrial houses. So that they can directly influence the decision-making of the government,” he said.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury too expressed concern over the government’s decision. He tweeted that the move is an attempt to undermine the institutions like UPSC and SSC. He said that the government wants to fill the posts with ‘Sanghis’ – RSS-minded people. “Why are time-tested UPSC and SSC being sought to be undermined? To fill IAS ranks with Sanghis and undermine reservation too, in the BJP’s last few months in office,” he said in a tweet.
Yechury also argued that the decision of lateral entry is denial of rights to the SC/ST people who enjoy reservation in the government jobs as per the Constitution. “BJP’s attempt to subvert SC, ST and OBC reservations in the IAS is not the first. They have done the same for university professors as well, through similar devious methods. This, when we need more affirmative action, not less,” he said in another tweet.
Meanwhile, the BJP has defended the government’s lateral entry decision. Dalit BJP MP Udit Raj, who took voluntary retirement from the bureaucracy to join active politics, however, said that the decision should be subject to reservation. “Government is inviting the application for 8 joint secy as experts in subjects. While selecting them the rule of reservation for SC/ST/OBC should be applied. Now these have also reached the competence level in all fields.”
Jitendra Singh, MoS in PMO, said that the government’s decision to introduce lateral entry is an opportunity for every citizen to help the government to function more efficiently and make the system transparent. “It is an endeavour to get the best from whichever source available. It is motivated with focus on allowing every Indian citizen a fair chance to ensure their growth depending on their potential,” he said.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who himself is an IAS, too welcomed the government’s decision. He said that this will bring fresh and vibrant ideas to enable the government in making the system more transparent. “NITI’s experience with lateral entry has been extremely good. They bring in a vast number of fresh & vibrant ideas. This move in government was long overdue & I welcome it. Will catalyse UPSC entrants to specialise. Government must also allow deputation of its officers to private sector as well.”
The government on Sunday issued a notification to hire joint secretaries in 10 departments from private sector and state governments. The DoPT notification said that applications are invited to fill the join secretaries offices in 10 departments of the government from candidates who are graduate over 40 with minimum 15 years of experience at the same level in PSUs, universities, state government, private sector companies or international groups.
The openings are in following departments – revenue; financial services; economic affairs; agriculture, cooperation & farmers’ welfare; road transport & highways; shipping; environment, forests and climate change; new & renewable energy; civil aviation; and commerce.
The Joint Secretary posts are filled through competitive examinations like UPSC.