‘IAS Can't Become Indian Ashirwad Service’: Protests Erupt Against Lateral Entry of Joint Secys
The government had recently issued an advertisement, opening the joint secretary posts in ministries to the private sector. It stated that 'talented and motivated' officials working in MNCs can be directly recruited in administrative services of the government.
Rozgar Mange India, an ad hoc group of government employees and activists, held a protest march in Delhi.
New Delhi: Protests erupted in the national capital against the central government’s plan to introduce direct ‘Lateral Entry’ at the Joint Secretary level for ten ministries on Thursday as demonstrators said it would "render the UPSC as a helpless body" and "rupture the reservation process".
The government had recently issued an advertisement, opening the joint secretary posts in ministries to private sector. It stated that 'talented and motivated' officials working in Multi-National Companies (MNCs) or corporate houses can be directly recruited in Administrative Services of the government.
Shouting slogans that they would not allow the Indian Administrative to turn into the ‘Indian Ashirvad Service’, Rozgar Mange India, an ad hoc group of government employees and activists, held a protest march in Delhi.
They said the move would lead to only "loyal and faithful to government" individuals associated with MNCs "willing to invest in BJP's 2019 campaign" getting appointed.
Union Public Service Commission, the body which trains and selects IAS, IFS and other officers have not been primarily given a role in the lateral entry process. Protestors termed this exclusion as a "well planned move" of the government to “bypass the UPSC".
"UPSC used to select candidates before. Now there is no mention of who will appoint them and it's anonymous. Government will select their own members. In UPSC too, around 40% seats were reduced. There will be no independence and autonomy of such a structure," said Niraj Kumar, member of the protesting group.
Another question that was raised on the lateral entry process was the date of reservation.
"What will happen to the reservation in the structure? This is there in the constitution from Article 315 to Article 323. But the constitution has gone for a toss under this government,” said Sucheta De, convener of the group.
“Why do you want to destroy the constitution to appoint your own bureaucrats? Joint Secretaries are such an important part and keeping them aloof from reservation will destroy the very constitutional spirit of reservations,” she added.
Joint Secretaries are a crucial cog in senior management at the Centre and they lead policy-making as well as the implementation of various programmes and schemes.
The primary criteria for selection to be joint secretaries according to the government advertisement was that the individual needs to be talented, motivated and be willing to work for the country.
However, protesters demanded a rollback of this move as this "would lead to bypass any screening process”. "They want talented, motivated and must love the country. So according to the government, UPSC is useless and government will decide this now," said one UPSC aspirant.
The group stated that earlier cadre allocation in UPSC was done on the basis of ranks but now the government has made it dependent on performance.
"It will now depend on how well you match the ideological preference of your trainer and not on rankings which have determined cadre allocation till now. This shows that the present government has clear intention to influence the expected neutrality of bureaucracy and appoint people in important positions based on loyalty to the ruling party," said another former government employee who did not wish to be named.
This year’s UPSC advertisement also had massive seat cuts. The seats this year were reduced to 781 as compared to 1291 in 2014. This is a 40% reduction in vacancies.
Earlier, NITI Aayog also recommended lateral entry of professionals as joint secretaries to tackle the shortage of officers. But way before all of this, in 2015, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal recommended replacing bureaucrats with professionals and sector experts to infuse fresh energy and ideas in governance.
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