The Union Government of India has issued a circular on the lateral entry for the direct appointment of joint secretaries to the top 10 vital departments in the bureaucracy built up though the systematic selection procedures of Union Public Service Commission. The lateral entry in bureaucracy is more dangerous than any other move the present government headed by BJP has mooted in other areas of the state governance.
When BJP assumed power at Centre, it abolished Planning Commission which had been a time tested mechanism for a long period after independence. In that place NITI Ayog was formed which has been issuing only routine statements at periodical intervals which the elected representatives in the government do not dare to.
The posts of Joint Secretary are vital positions which are being occupied by the All India Service cadres on promotion after putting in significant contributions at field level and at various layers of the governance at the level of State Governments and at Centre.
The announcement of lateral entry through a contract for 3 years, extendable by another 2 years would have substantial ramifications in carrying out the policy and planning measures by the BJP at the final year of its tenure of five years. The past selections of RSS – Hindutva minded personnel to various vital posts have caused sufficient damage in the respective fields.
The elected representatives at the Centre have certainly got a choice to bring about changes in the present executive machinery, but it should be within the Constitutional frame work and not in violation of any of its provisions. The probable violations in case lateral entry comes into effect are:
1. The Constitutional sanctity of UPSC will be weakened which is responsible for the recruitment of personnel for All India Service cadres.
2. The contracted personnel may hail from private sector, multinational companies in addition to government and public sectors. The mindset of lateral entrants would be incompatible with the existing executive machinery, paving the way for privatisation as per neoliberal policy with unnecessary influence from MNCs, detrimental to the making up of socialistic pattern of the economy.
3. Above all, the reservation policy adhered to in the recruitment of personnel will be blown out. The recruitments even at inadequacy from Other Backward Classes, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes would come to a grinding halt by the lateral entry. When the apex judiciary has given the verdict to adhere to reservation for the SCs/STs in promotion policy, the lateral entry violates the court verdict. The dispensation of social justice would be in reverse gear; the lateral entry is unequivocally a retrograde move.
The present BJP regime has bitter experience in case of direct appointment to special posts. A former governor of RBI was not willing for the extension of his tenure. One vice chairman of NITI Aayog, the creation of NDA government has resigned the position without citing any valid reason. The latest chief economic advisor has also resigned citing personal reasons. The overall inference is that the specialists are unable to cope up with the present rulers at the Centre. If the lateral entry is allowed for the first time in the core apex executive setup, the consequences would severely affect the entire administrative machinery, causing set back that could be not set right easily.
For a country like India any change to be brought in the State Governance has to be weighed in respect of the consequences that could affect the marginalised and under privileged sections of the society both directly and indirectly. In that count, lateral entry cannot withstand the test. The BJP government must withdraw the circular, initiating the lateral entry move. Any ruler who stokes the embers of social justice has to reap the consequences at the time of elections. Lateral entry has to be withdrawn in the light of social justice. Let better wisdom prevail upon the saffron rulers!