25 September 2023

INDIA: Senior PS positions to be open to all

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The Indian Government has ended a monopoly on Public Service recruitment stretching back to colonial times when it announced it would invite “outstanding individuals” to join the bureaucracy at senior levels.

It said the 10 new jobs would be at Joint Secretary level, crucial to policymaking and implementation of Government programs.

Until now these posts have been filled by career bureaucrats who worked their way up after joining the Public Service through the hallowed examination system conducted by the Union Public Service Commission.

The idea of lateral entry into the Public Service has been under discussion on and off for years, but this is the first time it has been acted on.

Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said he was keen to bring in “fresh ideas and new approaches to governance”.

The notification from the Department of Personnel Training said those eligible to apply included “individuals working at comparable levels in private sector companies, consultancy organisations, international or multinational organisations above the age of 40 years and with a minimum of 15 years’ experience”.

The recruitment would be done on a contract basis for three to five years and would be for 10 Departments — including Revenue, Financial Services, Economic Affairs, Commerce and Civil Aviation.

The Public Service system was considered one of the best British legacies to independent India, given its lack of experience in governance and huge need for socioeconomic development, but in recent years critics say it has become stagnant with a need for more specialised knowledge.

The announcement received a mixed response from political leaders and on social media.

While most hailed it as a welcome step that would bring in much-needed field experts in governance, critics said the system could work only if the method of selection was impartial, objective and transparent.

Prominent Bihar politician and critic of Mr Modi Tejashwi Yadav tweeted: “This is a violation of the Constitution and reservation.”

“Tomorrow they will appoint a PM and Cabinet without conducting elections. They have made a joke out of the Constitution.”

New Delhi, 11 June 2018

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