Lateral Entry Scheme: Indian Bureaucracy should learn how to behave

The recent move to appoint 10 personnels from Private Sector to Joint Secretary Level is a wake up call for Indian Bureaucracy. Babus, as they are typically known, have had a monopoly in the Indian Power echleon for decades. Their public perception is mostly negative, with frequent charges of corruption adding fuel to it. They are considered someone who remain completely disconnected to the masses and their behavior towards common people is not something which can be praised. Overall, they still remind us of the reminiscants of British Raj. If you are an Indian, it would be an astronomically impossibly odd that you didn’t hear of how corrupt our bureaucracy is or how some ‘babu‘ or some ‘bade sahab‘ is corrupt and nothing more than a public disgrace.

According to a report by Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy ranks bureaucracies across Asia on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the worst possible score. India scored 9.21.

In October 2010, just after the conclusion of Commonwealth Games in India, Eric Ellis wrote a post titled ‘A most uncivil service‘ on The Age where he talks about the Indian bureaucracy. Unfortunately, he has nothing good to say. He writes the following

India’s daunting civil service is supposed to be the pride of the nation – just ask its privileged nabobs – but instead its malfunction and malgovernance hold India back. Enter any average government office in India and one is struck by the mountains of yellowing paperwork, years of filing and unfinished work ground down by the sheer scale of chaotic India’s myriad issues that overwhelm.

It’s a wake-up call for the Indian Bureaucracy to reform itself in order to make more productive, efficient, accountable and connected to the masses. It also needs to keep up a check on the corrupt practices entangled at multiple layers within it. There can’t be a free ride on taxpayer’s money forever.

The ‘Lateral Entry Mode’ is said to be one of the biggest reforms by Modi government in a bid to bring fresh talent into the bureaucracy. While specialists from outside were often brought in temporarily, that happened once in a blue moon. For the first time, this happened on a considerably large scale

In 2014, the Centre had mooted the idea of allowing lateral entry from academia and the private sector at the joint-secretary level. Initially 10 such lateral entries were to be selected and had drawn criticism from the serving and retired members of the Indian bureaucracy. A total of 6,077 applications were received in response to the government’s advertisement. Only 2 per cent candidates were reportedly shortlisted for the interview, which was held in the first week of April.

Nine specialists have been recommended for joint secretary posts by the UPSC, that announced the result on Friday. They are Amber Dubey (for civil aviation), Arun Goel (commerce), Rajeev Saksena (Economic Affairs), Sujit Kumar Bajpayee (environment, forest and climate change), Saurabh Mishra (financial services) and Dinesh Dayanand Jagdale (new and renewable energy). Suman Prasad Singh has been selected for appointment as joint secretary in road transport and highways ministry, Bhushan Kumar in Shipping and Kokoli Ghosh for agriculture, cooperation and farmers welfare. These joint-secretary level appointees, will have an initial term of three years, which might be extended up to five years.