Lateral Entry in Civil services refer to a system where in personnel’s other than regular bureaucrats are hired for mid-level and above hierarchy due to various reasons like expertise, specialization in particular field etc.
Raghuram Rajan, Urjit Patel, Arvind Subramaniam, Manmohan Singh are some examples.
The idea of lateral induction is not new. It was recommended by the 2nd Administrative Reform Commission, high level committees appointed by different governments and a plethora of think tanks.
Merits of Lateral entry in Civil Services:
-> The 21st century economy need specialized skills and knowledge for policy making and administration as pointed out by first Administrative Reform commission.
-> Shortfall in numbers: There is an overall 20% shortfall of IAS cadre officers alone in 24 state cadres. The Baswan Committee (2016) has shown how large states have a deficit of 75 to over 100 officers and their unwillingness to sponsor officers to go to the Centre on deputation is understandable.
-> Expertise: Certain profile requires expert knowledge like Nuclear, Defense, Medicine etc.
-> Efficiency: Due to their exposure in respective field can provide out of box solutions.
-> Improved governance: The conventional wisdom on lateral entry is that it infuses fresh energy and thinking into an insular, complacent and often archaic bureaucracy. It enables the entry of right-minded professionals and the adoption of best practices for improving governance.
-> Policy view: They can provide different side of view towards policy affecting their fields especially. Example: A doctor will have better understanding about required policy in medicine field.
-> Competition: With regular bureaucrats and new entrants leading to better policy making and faster implementation. It will keep regular bureaucrats on their toes and encourage them to learn new things.
-> Result-oriented: They can be hired for quick short term results.
Demerits of Lateral entry:
-> Political favoritism: They might be inducted due to their political ideology, political connections.
-> Demotivation: For regular entrants and there might also be high attrition in bureaucracy.
-> Experience: The level of experience gained by regular bureaucrats during initial years dealing with common man problem will be absent in lateral entrants.
-> Result oriented: Always the results need not be tangible especially in government service. Lateral entrants see the tangible part.
-> Short-term results: Regular bureaucrats see long term results compared to lateral entrants.
-> Corruption and Nepotism: There are chances of them indulging in short term benefits and political executives might indulge in nepotism.
For certain positions there can be lateral entry but certain areas in government needs to maintain secrecy from outside world for which lot of experience by being insider to the system is required. So there should be balance between both. Specialists also needs to be given chance to serve for betterment of country.