The Narendra Modi government’s move to invite lateral entries needs to be welcomed. Presently, the government is looking to fill 10 positions at the joint secretary level in important departments such as economic affairs, revenue, financial services and commerce.

Since policymaking is becoming increasingly complex, it is essential to have people with specialized skills and domain expertise in important positions. Specialists coming from outside are likely to bring fresh ideas and help improve outcomes. Further, rather than being dependent on officers of a particular service, this gives the government a wider pool of talent from which to select officials.

However, it will be important for the top leadership to make sure that lateral entrants get space to perform. It is likely that the existing elite in the bureaucracy will not like this change. This is an important experiment and will be closely observed by various stakeholders.

State governments would also do well to attract talent from outside to improve policy outcomes, as at the aggregate level they get to spend more than the centre.

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