Lateral Recruitment in Civil Services: Standing the Test of Merit

Publication Date01 December 2020
AuthorShraddha Rishi
DOI10.1177/0019556120983966
Date01 December 2020
SubjectArticles
Lateral Recruitment
in Civil Services:
Standing the Test
of Merit
Shraddha Rishi1
Abstract
Keeping bureaucracy, the permanent executive, insulated from the influence of
the political executive has always been the focus of administrative reforms. A
transparent and fair system of recruitment based on meritocracy is a key to
shield administrators from political influence. This article analyses the essential
conditions required for the successful implementation of lateral recruitment in
India. It contends that merit, involving transparent and fair processes in recruit-
ment, is the bedrock of any efficient bureaucratic system. The article does not
probe deeper into the question as to whether the lateral entry should be intro-
duced or not, but assuming the lateral entry is a desirable practice for modern
civil administration, it discusses the conditions that lead to its success or failure.
It draws lessons for India from an exercise that already took place in its neigh-
bouring country, Pakistan.
Keywords
Lateral entry, civil service specialisation, merit-based recruitment, Indian
bureaucracy
Lateral recruitment is an important process that serves various purposes for the
efficient functioning of the bureaucracy. In civil administration, lateral entry
involves the bypassing of established procedures involving strict examination
through which civil servants are recruited to various levels of bureaucracy. The
primary purpose of it is to look for suitable candidates who fulfil certain specific
requirements of administration which might otherwise remain unfulfilled due to
established recruitment procedures. The bypassing of the strict examination
Article
Indian Journal of Public
Administration
66(4) 563–577, 2020
© 2021 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
in.sagepub.com/journals-permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/0019556120983966
journals.sagepub.com/home/ipa
1 Department of Political Science, Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, Gaya, India.
Corresponding author:
Shraddha Rishi, Department of Political Science, Magadh University, Bodh Gaya, Gaya 824234, India.
E-mail: shraddha.rishi@gmail.com

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