Opening the doors of the bureaucracy for private sector professionals, the government on Sunday invited applications for 10 Joint Secretary-level posts through lateral entry as opposed to those inducted through the UPSC exam.
The opposition Congress criticised the decision, saying it was just to “sabotage” the efficiently-running system and with a view to “take in people from the RSS, BJP and some of the industrial houses of the country”.
However, the government said the proposal of lateral entry was aimed at bringing in “fresh ideas and new approaches” to governance and also to augment manpower.
“The government of India has decided to invite talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation-building to join the government at the level of Joint Secretary,” said a notification issued by the Department of Personnel and Training.
Joint Secretaries are placed at a crucial level of senior management in the government and lead policy-making as well as implementation of various programmes and schemes of the department assigned to them. They report to the Secretary or the Additional Secretary in the respective Ministries.
The Joint Secretary’s post is usually filled through the competitive exams conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The government notification said that candidates with expertise in specific areas of revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, road transport and highways, shipping, environment and forests, new and renewable energy, civil aviation and commerce can apply for the posts.
While candidates from state governments as well as central or state public sector undertakings will be appointed on deputation, the candidates from private sector will be appointed on contract basis, the notification said.
The NITI Aayog welcomed the move, with its CEO Amitabh Kant saying it was “long overdue”.
“NITI’s experience with lateral entry has been extremely good. They (candidates) bring in a vast number of fresh and vibrant ideas.
“This move in government was long overdue and I welcome it. (It) Will catalyse UPSC entrants to specialise. The government must also allow deputation of its officers to private sector as well,” Kant said in a tweet.
Congress Spokesperson P.L. Punia told IANS that there is a time-tested efficient system of recruitment of IAS and officers in other services, which is foolproof. Training is given keeping in mind the government’s requirement and they are all brilliant brains.
“This is just to sabotage the efficiently-running system and with a view to take people from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party and some industrial houses. So that they can directly influence the decision-making of the government,” he said.
Punia, a former IAS officer, said they (government) have also written in the advertisement that it is for ‘Indian nationals’. Normally, it is open to Indian citizens.
“What do they mean by ‘nationals’? Why have they not mentioned ‘Indian citizens’ but ‘Indian nationals’. So, we will have to examine whether they have something else in mind — whether they want to include NRIs,” he said.
Asked if he suspected foul play, the Congress leader said: “Yes”.