Implement with caution
The idea of bringing able people from the academic or corporate sectors into suitable positions in government is basically sound, provided it is done with sincerity of purpose and transparency
WHEN we write about governance in the country, we should try to be absolutely honest, and realise at the same time that it is a privilege and have to treat it with respect. Opinions based on personal experiences with people and agencies should not cloud our vision. I know that to be brutally objective is extremely difficult, but try we must. Unfortunately, most of our civil servants are not made that way. I have seen very senior colleagues reiterating their personal views on every issue without appreciating emerging facts. For example, a number of retired officers are extremely uncomfortable with Narendra Modi. They refuse to see anything good or progressive in Modi’s policies.
Why are bureaucrats scared of the impending entry of experts from outside the government system as Joint Secretaries in the Central Government? Are they afraid that their incompetency will be exposed when they start working alongside? Have they forgotten that they were chosen by a rigorous merit based recruitment system where many of the present day technical and managerial experts had also competed? Why should the system operate in favour of retaining and promoting incapable career civil servants despite the ready availability of subject matter specialists in the open market? There are examples of specialists doing excellent work in government. Conversely, there are equal, if not more, number of examples of bureaucrats performing outstanding work in the private sector. Sadly, anecdotal logic can establish anything you want. In a Parliamentary democracy, politicians must preside over policymaking as they are supposed to know what people want. But ministers need advice—wise, impartial, objective, honest and fearless advice. In democratically governed countries like India, that comes largely from the permanent bureaucracy. However, in ministries like Finance, etc., engaging technical experts as advisors is an accepted practice.
Those in favour of the move of lateral entry at higher bureaucratic policy making levels in government believe that since the generalist-administrator model of governance has failed to achieve the objectives of good governance, it is expedient to bring domain experts in various areas to formulate innovative policy instruments of development
IT is learnt that the Prime Minister's Office has recently asked the Department of Personnel and Training to put up a proposal on the induction of outsiders at the Deputy Secretary and Joint Secretary level, in ministries dealing with economy and infrastructure. The move came in the light of a Department of Personnel report indicating a serious shortfall in the number of officers at the middlemanagement level. It may be the first time for attempting lateral entrance in an organised