Sideways too

Traditionalists in the civil services community have decried the scheme of “parachuting people”.


UPSC shortlisted candidates' recommendations for recruitment to the DoPT. (Photo: ClearIAS)

Atul Ranjan

Appointments to the country’s bureaucracy made through lateral entries have seen a spike. This was revealed in a response to an RTI application by this writer. The shocking revelation showed an incredible bump of 222%.

Lateral entry is a mode through which personnel from the private sector are selected for administrative posts in the government without going through the conventional civil services exam, very rigorous interviews, and the bureaucratic setup. The aim is to recruit fresh specialists after considering their expertise in their respective domains.

According to the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), a total of 38 appointments have been made to date. Out of these, nine were appointed in 2019, and the rest 29 in 2021. And 2022 witnessed six appointees being granted an extension!

However, the DoPT, under the Ministry of Personnel Public Grievances and Pensions, didn’t provide any data for the period before 2019 saying it did not maintain any such data/list for the said period.

Since its reelection, the Modi government, reportedly, has been taking a series of steps to enhance bureaucratic competency. Officers facing grave charges of graft, fraud, etc. have been forced to pack their bags under ‘operation clean-up’. While the tainted officers are being done away with, the ‘inefficient’ is being filtered through a ‘360 degree appraisal format’. News of senior officers being shunted to inferior departments while those retired being granted extensions is a direct outcome of the newly adopted mechanism.

Political grapevine has it that in a meeting with senior officers after being reelected to office in 2019, the Prime Minister explicitly mentioned that babus “spoiled” his first five years but he wouldn’t let that happen again.

Against this backdrop, lateral entry appointments assume significance and can be expected to only rise. However, ‘traditionalists’ in the civil services community have often derided the scheme of “parachuting people”. Several social justice parties and advocates of affirmative action have also criticised the growing trend since lateral appointments are not made under any quota. It is no secret that the government skirts such hiring from reservations by making all openings single posts.

In a reply to this writer’s RTI application, UPSC (Union Public Service Commission), the nodal agency entrusted for such hirings, said that- “As the posts were temporary and purely on contract basis no reservations were there in lateral entry (sic).”

The appointments have been made for the post of Joint Secretary (13), Director (19), and Deputy Secretary (9). The Department of Economic Affairs and Commerce, four each, witnessed the highest lateral entries.

For the total 50 recommendations made, the UPSC, in its reply, revealed that over 5,719 applications were received. With 3,983 applications, the post of Joint Secretary emerged most sought-after.

With lateral entries becoming almost the new normal, one has to wait and watch how India’s hallowed civil services which is a legacy of the colonial era would evolve with time.

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