Lateral Entry in Civil Services – UPSC GS2

Lateral Entry:
  • The term lateral entry relates to the appointment of specialists, mainly those from the private sector, in government organisations.
  • Government is looking for outstanding individuals, with expertise in revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, cooperation and farmers’ welfare, road transport and highway, shipping, environment, forests and climate change, and new and renewable energy, civil aviation and commerce.
Advantages of Lateral Entry:
  • Addresses Complexity:
    • People with expertise and specialist domain knowledge are required to navigate the complex needs of present day administrative challenges.
  • Meets Personnel Requirement:
    • Lateral entry will help in addressing the problem of shortage of IAS officers at the Centre.
  • Organisation Culture:
    • It will help in bringing the values of economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the Government sector.
    • It will help in building a culture of performance within the Government sector.
  • Participatory Governance:
    • In the present times, governance is becoming more participatory and a multi actor endeavour, thus lateral entry provides stakeholders such as the private sector and non-profits an opportunity to participate in the governance process.
Issues Involved:
  • Need for Transparent Process:
    • The key to the success of this scheme would lie in selecting the right people in a manner which is manifestly transparent.
  • Difference in Organisational Values:
    • The value systems between the government and the private sector are quite different.
    • It is important to ensure that the people who come in are able to have the skills to adjust to a totally different system of functioning. This is because the government imposes its own limitations.
  • Profit Motive vs Public Service:
    • Private sector approach is profit oriented. On the other hand, the motive of Government is public service. This is also a fundamental transition that a private sector person has to make while working in government.
  • Internal Resistance:
    • Lateral entry is likely to face strong resistance from in service Civil Servants and their associations. It may also demotivate existing officials.
  • Issue of Conflict of Interest:
    • The movement from the private sector raises issues of potential conflict of interest. Thus, a stringent code of conduct for entrants is required.
  • Narrow Scope:
    • Lateral entry at only top level policy making positions may have little impact on field level implementation, given the multiple links in the chain of command from the Union Government to a rural village.
Way Forward:
  • Lateral entry is not a panacea for the ills of governance. However, it opens a small window to get the best from the American and British system and puts pressure on the system to reform and perform.
  • For lateral entry to deliver and more importantly win the confidence of the most oppressed sections of society, it must be fair, transparent, and egalitarian. Agencies such as UPSC can play a role based on a selection process approved by Parliament.

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