NEW DELHI, Nov 21: Responding to a series of questions in the Rajya Sabha today, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh who is also Minister In-Charge Personnel / DoPT, said that Lateral Entry appointments pose no threat to serving IAS or other officers and that the Lateral Entry appointments should be seen as supplementation and not as threat or replacement of the existing services.
Clarifying that the provision of Lateral Entry is meant to attract the best of the best talent available, particularly when, of late, several of the government assignments require specialized skills and expertise, Dr Jitendra Singh cited some of the innovative schemes introduced by the Modi Government like Ayushman Bharat, Soil Health Cards, etc, which require skills that may not always be readily available and the lateral entry may help in achieving the desired targets laid down for these ambitious schemes.
Allaying the apprehension that Lateral Entry selections would be made, by “pick and choose”, Dr Jitendra Singh said, on the contrary, the truth is that the Lateral Entry process was approved by the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) in 2011, when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister and it was the then PMO which decided that 10% of the posts at the Joint Secretary level will be open to Lateral Entry and would be identified by the Cabinet Secretariate. The present PMO under Narendra Modi, he said, has in fact, institutionalized this process and made it more transparent and objective by bringing in the provision of selection through Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in keeping with the laid- down norms, parameters and criteria.
Similarly, Dr Jitendra Singh pointed out that it has been wrongly interpreted in a section that the Modi Government has introduced appointments from outside to favour certain individuals whereas, the truth is that the Lateral Entry appointments from outside the services have been taking place for several years and the majority of these happened before this government came in 2014. Some of the famous Lateral Entry appointments in the Government of India, he recalled, included former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who was appointed first as Chief Economic Advisor in 1972 and then as Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in 1976 when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia as Economic Advisor in 1979, Vijay Kelkar as Finance Secretary in 1998, Bimal Jalan as Finance Secretary in 1991, etc.
Turning down the suggestion for reservation in lateral entry appointments, Dr Jitendra Singh explained that this was not viable since such appointments fell under “Single Post Cadre” and were done from time to time depending upon the requirement, which cannot be the same as in the case of IAS or Civil Services where the number of vacancies/posts were identified before conducting an All India Civil Services Examination and accordingly, the distribution was made under different categories including General, Scheduled Castes, OBC, etc.