GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
THE issue of ‘lateral entry’ or direct recruitment into bureaucracy or civil service at the Centre has hogged the headlines for some time. More than one of the administrative reforms commissions have mooted the idea of lateral entry at the medium level, and the Niti Aayog had seconded the proposal. Now, the department of personnel and training has invited applications for 10 posts of joint secretaries from outside for a three-year contract, expandable to five years depending on performance, in some key ministries from state and public sector undertaking officers, and private sector individuals, among others. It is worth noting that all the posts called for are expertise-oriented, and at the JS level the officer will have significant opportunities to infuse dynamism and innovation. The higher level posts, special secretaries and secretaries, do not require the field expertise and enthusiasm. The contemporary era belongs to economic reforms and development. The central government, many times, must have felt how badly some of its ministries were handicapped by the lack of out-of-the-box suggestions. Inefficiency, corruption, job security, inflexible emoluments, stress on seniority, unaccountability and scarce motivation have hit our bureaucracy. There is little outside say in matters routine. Quite a few outstanding officers are shifted before they stand to gain from the know-how of the ministry. It may also be that a given task may not match the aptitude of an officer but a different one, albeit out of reach, would. The bane of governmental administration is “horses for courses” theory does not fit into its scheme. It is pertinent to note that senior district judges serve many state governments as law secretaries because the legal and judicial knowledge of theirs cannot be expected of the IAS officers. The Centre already has an ayurvedic specialist as special secretary, Aayush, and a former IAS officer, also a sanitation expert, as secretary, ministry of drinking water and sanitation. Unmindful of criticisms and lobbies, the Centre would do well to stay the course.