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HT EDIT-Lateral entry into IAS is a step in the right direction

April 18, 2019 06:23 AM


Lateral entry into IAS is a step in the right direction
Still, various measures are needed to improve policymaking and governance
Last week, the Union government announced the names of nine private sector specialists who have been selected for appointment as joint secretaries in central government departments. This decision to induct outsiders into the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is being hailed as a revolutionary step by the BJP government. But this is not the first time that lateral entrants have been inducted in senior positions in the government: Before these appointments, there was Manmohan Singh, Bimal Jalan and Nandan Nilekani to name a few. In fact, the idea itself is not too new: the second Administrative Reforms Commission (2005) recommended infusion of new blood into the system. The government has been keen on lateral entrants for two reasons: One, to shake up the existing system, and second, the growing need for specialists in decision making. While many have criticised the step, there is nothing wrong in inducting new people into the system.

But if the State is serious about improving the policymaking and governance, it has to address other fundamental issues: how to give career bureaucrats chances to specialise and at what level; how to stop frequent transfers; how to improve the quality of lower-level bureaucracy, how to ensure that IAS officers also have industry experience, and, more importantly, how to shelter the officers from political interference. Without these changes, the experiment will just remain just that — an experiment

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