Controversy Over ‘Lateral Entry’ Into Bureaucracy – Free PDF Download


What happened?

  • Earlier this month, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) issued an advertisement seeking applications “from talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation building”
  • For 3 posts of Joint Secretary and 27 of Director in central government Departments.
  • These individuals, who would make a “lateral entry” into the government secretariat, would be contracted for 3 to 5 years.
  • These posts were “unreserved”, meaning were no quotas for SCs, STs and OBCs.

What is ‘lateral entry’ into government?

  • NITI Aayog, in its three-year Action Agenda, and the Sectoral Group of Secretaries (SGoS) on Governance in its report submitted in February 2017,
  • Recommended the induction of personnel at middle and senior management levels in the central government.
  • These ‘lateral entrants’ would be part of the central secretariat which in the normal course has only career bureaucrats from the All India Services/ Central Civil Services.
  • A Joint Secretary, appointed by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), has the 3rd highest rank (after Secretary and Additional Secretary) in a Department, and Functions as administrative head of a wing in the
  • Directors are a rank below that of Joint Secretary.

What’s government’s reasoning for lateral entry?

  • On July 4, 2019, Minister of State for DoPT Jitendra Singh told Rajya Sabha that “Government has, from time to time, appointed some prominent persons for specific assignments in government, keeping in view their specialised knowledge and expertise in the domain area”.
  • In a separate response to a similar question, he said:
  • “Lateral recruitment is aimed at achieving the twin objectives of bringing in fresh talent as well as augment the availability of manpower.”

Has the government so far made any ‘lateral entry’ appointments?

  • The new ad is for the second round of such recruitments.
  • Earlier, the government had decided to appoint experts from outside the government to 10 positions of Joint Secretary in different Ministries/Departments and 40 positions at the level of Deputy Secretary/Director.
  • The ad for the Joint Secretary-level appointments, issued in early 2018, attracted 6,077 applications.
  • After a selection process by the UPSC, nine individuals were recommended for appointment in nine different Ministries/Departments in 2019.
  • One of these individuals, Kakoli Ghosh, did not join;
  • The rest — Amber Dubey, Rajeev Saksena, Sujit Kumar Bajpayee, Dinesh Dayanand Jagdale, Bhushan Kumar, Arun Goel, Saurabh Mishra and Suman Prasad Singh — were appointed on a three-year contract.
  • Arun Goel resigned in December last year to return to the private sector.


  • Groups representing SCs, STs and OBCs have protested the fact that there is no reservation in these appointments.
  • After Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted a link to the government’s notification on February 5, saying “Lateral Recruitment for Joint Secretary Level and Director Level Posts on Contract Basis. Interested candidates can apply from the 6th of February 2021 to 22nd March 2021.”
  • Bihar Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav shot back:-
  • “You should explain whether UPSC selection procedure is failing to ensure ‘willing, motivated & talented’ candidates for ‘nation building’, or hand-picked ones are more so? Isn’t it another ploy to sideline & reduce reservations for deprived sections?”
  • Former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav tweeted,
  • “BJP is opening back doors to bring its own people openly. Who cares about those candidates who are preparing for years?”

So are these contractual appointments not open for quotas?

  • In a May 15, 2018 circular, the DoPT noted that, “In respect of appointments to Central Government posts and services there shall be reservation for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe/Other Backward Class candidates in temporary appointments which are to last for 45 days or more”.
  • This was a reiteration — with OBCs added — of a circular issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs as far back as on September 24, 1968.
  • However, there is a reason why these posts are claimed to be “unreserved”.
  • As per the currently applicable “13-point roster”, there is no reservation up to three posts.
  • Information provided by the DoPT state, “In a single post cadre, reservation does not apply. Since each post to be filled under this scheme is a Single Post, reservation is not applicable.”
  • Each of the nine individuals appointed in 2019 was recruited as a separate appointment.
  • Had they been considered as a group of nine, there would have been at least two seats for OBCs and one seat for an SC candidate as per the Centre’s reservation rules.
  • Likewise in the latest advertisement, if the 27 Directors were considered as a single group,
  • Seven posts would have to be reserved for OBCs, four for SCs, one for ST, and two for EWS category, as per the 13 point roster.

But is it alright to have Lateral entry?

  • In the past too, experts were inducted at senior positions into the government without any advertisement.
  • Many of them, such as Manmohan Singh, Bimal Jalan, Lovraj Kumar, Vijay Kelkar, Montek Ahluwalia, left a good impact and contributed to the governance substantially in senior positions.
  • But also some of them later joined the ruling party and served as ministers.
  • Russi Mody from the Tata Group headed Air India back in 1993, and in 2002, V. Shahi, chairman and managing director of the Bombay Suburban Electric Supply (BSES) was made power secretary for five years.
  • As a general rule, scientific ministries, such as space or atomic energy, are less hierarchically organised and have allowed lateral entry of professionals more liberally.
  • Thus, the experiment of inducting outsiders into the government is not new.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission too had recommended lateral entry at senior positions.
  • Also, there is an acute shortage of middle-level IAS officers with 18 to 25 years of seniority,
  • As the annual recruitment to the IAS in the 1990s was curtailed to just about 60-70 as against the present recruitment of about 180 per batch.
  • This was done under the illusion that economic liberalisation would vastly reduce the need for central staffing.

Q) Which of the following statements regarding Civil Service Exam in India is correct?

  1. The recruitment to the ICS through a competitive examination started only after 1855.
  2. The ICS exam was held in India only after 1922.
  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 & 2
  4. None of the above




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