Lateral Entry Into The Business Of Nation Building

The controversial advertisement by Government of India inviting professionals from private sector into the bureaucracy on a contractual basis of three, extending upto five, years is an interesting one. While much debate has erupted on the possibility of a hidden agenda behind this move by ruling political coalition, the idea, by itself, looks neat and merits attention. Not going into the politics behind the move, this composition also is in no way casting any aspersions on the competence of our UPSC bred Civil Services babus. After all, a substantial credit must be given to those visionary Civil Servants for India’s impressive growth despite severe handicaps like poverty, illiteracy, complex social fabric, poor infrastructure, etc.

What is needed is the lateral thinking in addressing some of the current and future issues. The selection and training of our Civil Servants is focused on good administration capabilities . They have been successful in administering the nation. What will be needed, going forward, is a lot of out-of-box thinking and a lot of courage to take decisions that may be risky in current context but likely to pay great social dividends in future. What is important is that we need good leaders as much as good administrators in our bureaucracy. Nation building is a serious business and competent businessmen should shoulder the responsibility.

I know of an entrepreneur who was the District Governor of a Rotary International district. He is a successful businessman with 14 factories across India and over 1000 employees. Though Governor’s term is only for one year, it is a known fact that one virtually needs to take sanyas from one’s business/profession for atleast three years. I never saw stress lines on his face for all three years. He managed his business and was a leader of over 5000 Rotarians together successfully. A great businessman and a great manager of his time, people, resources, etc. indeed. Similarly, the best brains in finance, engineering, management, medicine, etc. from CA, IITs, IIMs, Medicine, Architecture, etc. are resources that nation must to use.

Having met hundreds of such leaders, I have noticed one common trait in most of them. They get bored very fast. One challenge needs to follow another. They thrive on their pumped-up adrenaline. ‘What is Next?’ is the question that troubles them constantly. If the answer to this question is Nation, then many among them will find it exciting. I, for one, would. As a Joint Secretary in-charge of heading a Ministry division, it will be quite exhilarating to solve nation’s challenges in banking, equity markets, public health, productivity, PSUs, rural development, etc.

All said and done, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Nandan Nilekani, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Y. K. Alagh, Sam Pitroda and others were all ‘imported’ into governance of specific tasks. And they did excel. Truly, lateral entry into governance of India is a lateral thought in nation building. Are you applying? July 30, 2018 is the deadline.