Lateral Entry in Civil Services: Meaning, Advantages & Disadvantages

The introduction of lateral entry recruitment on various mid and senior rank positions in the government departments has attracted mixed reactions from society. In this article, we have discussed the meaning, merits, and demerits of Lateral Entry in the UPSC Civil Services.  

Created On: Mar 2, 2021 11:07 IST
Lateral Entry in Civil Services: Meaning, Advantages & Disadvantages
Lateral Entry in Civil Services: Meaning, Advantages & Disadvantages

The term lateral entry relates to the appointment of specialists, mainly those from the private sector, in government organizations. 

Why in News? 

Recently, the Government of India has submitted a requisition for Lateral Recruitment of Joint Secretary and Director level officers. The official notification states “Online Applications are invited from talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation-building to join the Government at the level of Joint Secretary or Director, Group ‘A’, in the under mentioned posts in different Ministries/Departments with Headquarters at New Delhi on Contract Basis.” 

This is the second batch of recruitment for the lateral entry and prior to this eight persons, mostly domain experts, were selected for various Departments and Ministries.

What is “UPSC Civil Services Rationalization Plan” Proposed by the Union Government?

What does Lateral Entry in the Civil Services mean?

The term lateral entry means the appointment of specialists and experts, mainly those from the private sector, in government organizations and ministries. The government aims to recruit outstanding individuals, with expertise in revenue, financial services, economic affairs, agriculture, cooperation and farmers’ welfare, road transport and highway, civil aviation, commerce among many other sectors to serve for the benefit of the country.

Advantages of Lateral Entry Recruitment

Recruiting Experts of the Field: The government’s idea is to bring in domain expertise from the private sector to the Central administration, with the objective of inducting specialists to improve efficiency and create competition in governance delivery.

Minimize the Shortage of Officers: According to Department of Personnel and Training data, there is shortage of about 1500 IAS officers in India. Lateral entry would minimize the shortage of IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers working on deputation in the Centre. 

Transparency in Service:  Allegations of corruption, mediocrity, stagnation, and inefficiency have been made against the Civil Servants. A study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace addressed the need for reforms on various fronts in the civil services. Transparency in services is one of the bases for the recommendation.

Disadvantages of Lateral Entry Recruitment

Transparency in recruitment: One of the many reasons for the opposition against lateral entry recruitment is the transparency is the lateral entry process. It is essential to select the right people in a manner that is manifestly transparent. 

Demotivation for Existing Officers: The direct recruitment of officers at mid-levels of the bureaucracy will affect the existing balance of officers. This can also demotivate current officers who would have struggled hard to get through to the services in the first place after clearing the UPSC Civil Services Exam.

The 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. 

Way Forward:

There is no doubt that India's civil service, which serves as the backbone of the government, requires reform. This is crucial to the country's progress and development. Even if lateral entry is allowed, it must be done in a well-defined manner to avoid nepotism and further corruption. To meet their needs, many developed countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, use lateral entry. Internal reforms to improve systemic efficiency, as well as a defined structure to allow lateral entry of professionals into the civil service, are urgently needed.

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