Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam: Paper - III (General Studies – II) - 26 July 2019

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS Mains Exam

Answer Writing Practice for UPSC IAS & UPPSC Mains Exam

UPSC Syllabus:

  • Paper-III: General Studies -II (Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations)

Q. India’s lateral entry programme has the potential to introduce new thinking and new expertise into key ministries. In this context, discuss how the idea can be successfully implemented on the ground. (250 words)

Model Answer:

  • Introduction
  • Possible advantages
  • Related challenges
  • Way forward


The lateral entry mode, which pertains to the appointment of specialists from private sector in government organisations, is an attempt by the government to bring in fresh talent into the bureaucracy. While the nine lateral entrants, all set to join government soon, the latest attempt to reform the bureaucracy has raised more questions than answers

Possible advantages:

  • Civil servants enter public service as generalists and have grassroots realities. Building specific domain expertise starts quite late for career bureaucrats.
  • To bring in fresh ideas and new approaches to governance. Expert advice and opinion for efficient administration and fulfilling the aspirations of people
  • The present system of frequent and arbitrary transfers hinders gaining of the relevant experience by incumbent officers. They spend less than 16 months, on average, in any post; and studies shows only 24% of postings are viewed as “merit-based” by bureaucrats themselves.
  • Former instances : Lateral entry into finance ministry produced illustrious public servants like Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Vijay Kelkar
  • Outside talent from the private sector is more likely to be target-oriented, which will improve the performance of the government.
  • Lateral entry scheme, if implemented properly, may foster more competitive spirit, break the complacency of the higher civil servants and eventually prove to be a pioneering initiative in public interest.
  • Question often raised in this context is whether the higher bureaucracy is equipped to comprehend complex economic and technical issues in order to properly aid and advise the Minister. Doubts are raised whether civil servants can handle diverse portfolios from civil aviation to power to defence.
  • The three-year action agenda released by NITI Aayog in August 2017 said “policymaking is a specialized activity” and “lateral entry will have the beneficial side effect of bringing competition to the established career bureaucracy”.
  • Lateral entry at the level of Secretary has met with some success earlier:
    • Besides, Secretaries to the Departments of Atomic Energy, Science & Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research, Health Research, and Agricultural Research have always been scientists of eminence.
    • Similarly, in departments like the Railways, Posts, etc., all senior positions are manned by Indian Railway or Postal Service officers. Therefore, there is nothing very original in the new initiative to allow entry at the level of Joint Secretary.

Related challenges:

  • Many serving Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers see this move as threatening their hegemony.
  • Experts criticize this move as the beginning of the end of a neutral and impartial civil service with the likely induction of loyalists to the current dispensation.
  • Doubts have been expressed if private business houses would plant their people in order to influence government policies.
  • Differences in work culture may often come in the way. The width and depth of field experience which the civil services provide is not available with outside talent.
  • Interests and motivation vary from person to person. Therefore, short term entry of officers through lateral entry might lead to corrupt practices.
  • The private sector who ran Air India, Indian Airlines and Vayudoot proved to be failures. Lateral entry into civil services undermines reservation policy.
  • If a person from a private infrastructure company is appointed in an infra ministry it will lead to questions of morality, ethics and conflict of interest.”
  • Lack of transparency, honesty and political interference in the selection process. Nobody knows why a particular individual was selected and why others more qualified were left out.
  • It is difficult to assess the performance of a secretary to the government due to complex nature of the job. So it would be difficult to measure the performance of lateral entrants.
  • If the selection is politically motivated, it may degrade the system.

Way forward:

  • Government must ensure that only candidates, the likes of whom are not available in the existing system, are appointed. If they turn out to be truly outstanding, there should be provisions to induct them permanently in the government, with approval of the UPSC, and consider them for higher postings.
  • Government must also allow deputation of its officers to private sector as well so that they get exposure to market practices and fresh ideas.
  • The remedy lies not through lateral induction but through more rigorous performance appraisal and improved personnel management.
  • The government can consider lateral entry to head certain mission-mode projects and public-sector entities where private-sector expertise actually matters.
  • The process of selection needs to be transparent. A credible statutory agency like UPSC should be entrusted with the responsibility of recruitment.

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