We are far better: IAS officers don’t feel threatened by lateral entry in civil services

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Published: April 19, 2019 4:43:23 PM

The Indian bureaucracy is unperturbed by the recent selection of nine private sector professionals as joint secretaries as they feel outsiders with no exposure to Indian reality cannot succeed in policy making at the highest level of government.

private sector specialists, joint secretaries, govt departments, Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Forest Service, Indian Revenue Service, Union Public Service Commission, government jobs, upsc, india newsLateral Entry into UPSC: Nine professionals from private sector have been recommended for induction into the government as joint secretaries.

The Indian bureaucracy is unperturbed by the recent selection of nine private sector professionals as joint secretaries as they feel outsiders with no exposure to Indian reality cannot succeed in policy making at the highest level of government.

When an officer joins the Indian Administrative Services (IAS), he gets wide exposure and remains rooted to the ground reality unlike private sector professionals who are not familiar with the problems of the common people, a senior IAS officer told Financial Express Online on condition of anonymity.

The government set up is completely different from the private sector, said another IAS officer. “Private sector professionals take decisions on the basis of profitability,” he said requesting anonymity.

 Recently, the Modi-government selected nine professionals mainly from the private sector to bring in fresh talent in the policy making. The UPSC has cleared the names of these nine professionals as joint secretaries in the department of revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture and farmers welfare, road transport and highways, shipping, environment, forest and climate change, new and renewable energy, civil aviation and commerce.  

Dissenting with the other officers, another senior level IAS officer welcomed the government’s move as he thinks that a professional coming from the private sector can bring into different perspective. He added that while a civil servant gets exposure in various departments, the private sector professional has a domain expertise and is more well-versed with a particular subject.

When asked whether they feel any threat to their positions because of the lateral entry, most of the officials said there is no threat because of the diverse experience in the administrative services and the stringent training one goes through initially.

“When we joined, this was the best job. We were the chosen ones. It’s now after globalisation that the private sector has gone to another level. Why should we feel threatened when we have a solid exposure and relevant experience. The private sector professional’s experience may come in handy in one particular area but we have a wider perspective,” another official added.

Many bureaucrats even suggested that the movement of top officials should be vice-versa and the IAS officers should be deputed in some top private institutions to prove their competence. All top positions in the government as well as private sector should be advertised in the newspapers and job portals and IAS officers should also be given an equal chance to compete for that position so that they can prove their mettle.

“Many top positions were recently vacant including ICICI Bank and Axis Bank. We should have been given the opportunity to take the reins of those companies. It should be open for everybody and the process of hiring then become more competitive and transparent,’ one of the bureaucrats said.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview with the Financial Express Online, the Economist Santosh Mehrotra, who also worked with the Planning Commission at secretary level during the UPA regime, said the IAS officers will not allow the professionals coming through lateral entry to work efficiently within the system.

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