Current Affairs Current Affairs - 12 June 2018 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 12 June 2018

General Affairs 

No Plans To Privatise Railways, Says Minister Piyush Goyal
  • There are no plans to privatise the railways, Union Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal has said.

    Addressing a press conference today on the achievements of his ministry in the past four years, Mr Goyal said that there were no proposals for such a move and it would not happen in the future as well.

    "Let me make it very clear that there are no plans to privatise railways, either now or ever," he said.

    The railways seeking foreign investment in areas such as technological upgradation and modernisation had raised concerns over the national transporter being handed over to private entities. This concern was flagged by the railway unions which demanded more clarity from the ministry.

    Listing the achievements of his ministry, Mr Goyal said that there had been an increase of 59 per cent in the average pace of commissioning of new lines from 4.1 km per day between 2009 and 2014 to 6.53 km per day during 2014-2018.

    Mr Goyal, who addressed the regional media in 12 cities simultaneously through video-conferencing, also said that concerns over the government's ambitious bullet train project would be soon resolved and that the project was on track.

    "The bullet train project is on track. In this country there are always issues linked to any developmental project and new ideas. But we have to find solutions and move forward," Mr Goyal said.

    The minister also launched two mobile applications - 'Rail Madad' to help customers with complaints and 'Menu On Rails' through which passengers can see meals on offer on-board trains. 

PM Modi To Review Flagship Schemes In Meeting With Council Of Ministers
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will review the progress of his government's flagship schemes and the agenda for the last year of the current NDA rule at a meeting of the council of ministers on Wednesday.

    According to sources, the meeting will be held in Parliament House. All ministers have been asked to attend the crucial meeting.

    The meeting of the council of ministers, being held after a gap of seven months, comes in the backdrop of the recent setback in bypolls conducted in many states.

    Sources said the meeting may also deliberate on farm distress and the government's efforts to provide relief to them through various initiatives announced in the budget like 1.5 times higher minimum support price to farmers than the cost of production.

    Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana, Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Start-up funding scheme, Mudra Yojana among others schemes will be reviewed in the meeting.

Two Terrorists Arrested In Jammu And Kashmir's Rajouri District
  • Security forces arrested two terrorists at a checkpoint in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district today, police said.

    A joint check-post of Rajouri Police, 72 battalion of CRPF and Army (38 RR) was set up on Rajouri-DKG road in the early hours after weapons and ammunition were stolen by some terrorists from a police barrack during the night, SSP, Rajouri, Yougal Manhas said.

    Security personnel were conducting random frisking of vehicles when the two motorcycle-borne terrorists reached the spot and were signalled to stop, the SSP said.

    The duo sped from the spot and started firing at chasing security personnel, he said.

    However, police, Army and CRPF personnel overpowered the two.

    The arrested terrorists have been identified as 22-year-old Mukhtar Ahmed and 22-year-old Aijaz Ahmed Paaray of Shopian district, the SSP said.

    Both are involved in terrorism-related cases of Police Station Zainapura in Shopian district, he said.

    An Insas rifle with three magazines and 49 live cartridges along with two empty fired cartridges were recovered from their possession, he said.

    Police personnel deployed at police post BGSB Shrine Shahdra Sharif informed officers that an Insas with magazines has been stolen by unidentified men from the police barrack, he said.

    During initial interrogation, both the arrested terrorists said they stole weapons and magazines from the police barrack, officer said.

    The duo was to join Hizbul Mujahideen outfit in Shopian district and were in constant touch with HM commander Zeenat-ul-Islam operating in South Kashmir, he said.

"Democracy Not Possible Without Opposition," Says Amit Shah

  • BJP chief Amit Shah today asserted that the opposition has a key role in a democracy and said his party's slogan of "Congress-free India" means freeing the country of that party's "culture".

    He also said his some of the remarks on Congress president Rahul Gandhi should not be taken as a personal attack as he had only replied to certain questions posed by the opposition party leader.

    "'Congressmukt Bharat' means getting rid of the 'Congress culture'. Democracy is not possible without the opposition. It is a different thing that the Congress has been shrinking in the country," he said.

    "But it is the responsibility of Rahul Gandhi to keep the Congress alive, not mine," Mr Shah said, when asked if the BJP wanted to wipe out the opposition from the country.

    He was addressing a press conference at Ambikapur town in Chhattisgarh's Surguja district before leaving for New Delhi after his two-day visit to the city.

    To a query on constantly targeting Mr Gandhi in his speeches, Mr Shah said, "It should not be considered as a personnel attack. He (Rahul) put forth some questions to which I answered."

    The BJP has done good work and therefore, it is getting support of the people. "If we continue doing good work, people will continue to support us," he said.

    He said Mr Gandhi was asked to give an account of the four-generation rule of his family as it was in power for 55 years.

    "Being the present party chief, Rahul Gandhi had to answer about the Congress legacy and I have to answer on the BJP's legacy. It should happen in a democracy and there should be no objection over it," the BJP president said.

    To a question on the middle class apparently distancing itself from the Modi government, he said the centre has been working while keeping in mind benefits of all sections of society and a propaganda was being spread that the middle class has turned away from the BJP.

    "The party won elections with the support of the middle class in 14 states," he noted.

    Mr Shah also highlighted the benefits and achievements of various schemes launched during the four-year rule of the NDA government at the centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    He said maximum number of terrorists were killed in the last four years while (international) borders were protected.

    The government has a better Kashmir policy and has been keeping an eye on the situation in the valley, he said.

    Mr Shah took a jibe at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying when he used to go on foreign tours, nobody knew about it but when PM Modi goes abroad, "he is welcomed" by people of those countries and Indians based there.

    Hailing Chief Minister Raman Singh-led BJP government in Chhattisgarh, Shah said it has transformed a backward state into a developed one.

    Chhattisgarh was part of the erstwhile Madhya Pradesh. In 1980s, Madhya Pradesh was recognised as a 'Bimaru' state as a result of long rule of the Congress. When Chhattisgarh was formed and the BJP came to power in 2003, it rapidly headed on the path of development and made its way into the list of developed states, Shah said.

    Chhattisgarh has now become a power surplus state, Naxalism has been controlled, road network is being laid, agriculture production increased, and transport and communication services expanded in remote areas, he mentioned.

    Naya Raipur - the upcoming capital of the state - is being built and many more development works have been done by the Raman Singh government, he said, claiming that several state governments were taking lessons from Chhattisgarh.

    The senior BJP leader exuded confidence that his party would retain power for the fourth straight term in the state, in the Assembly elections due later this year.

    Mr Shah said after witnessing a huge response during his programme in Ambikapur yesterday, he was confident that the BJP will achieve the target of clinching 65 out of 90 seats in the state Assembly polls.

    The BJP chief yesterday arrived on the visit of Ambikapur. He had held a road show in the town followed by addressing a public meeting as a part of Raman Singh's 'Vikas Yatra' campaign to highlight achievements of the 15-year rule of his government, ahead of polls in the state.

First Batch Of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra-2018 Flagged Off
  • The first batch of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra-2018 was today flagged off here by Union minister of state for External Affairs VK Singh, who hoped the pilgrimage passing through difficult terrain of the Himalayas  concludes smoothly.

    Mr Singh also counselled pilgrims to remain physically fit and establish communion with nature to come out rewarded from the Yatra.

    The first batch comprising 60 pilgrims will reach Kailash Manasarovar via Lipulekh. There are two routes for Yatra-through Lipulekh pass(Uttarakhand) and through Natu La pass(Sikkim).

    "This year 3,734 applications were received. After draw of lots, around 1500 were selected for the Yatra," the minister said.

    Pilgrims will reach Kailash Manasarovar via Lipulekh in eighteen RPT eighteen batches of 60 pilgrims each. Ten batches of 50 pilgrims each will reach there via Nathu La, he said.

    The duration of the Yatra via Lipulekh is 24 days for each batch including three days in Delhi for preparatory work. This route passes through important sites like Narayan Ashram and Patal Bhuvaneshwar among others

    The route through Nathu La pass is motorable and suitable for senior citizens unable to undertake arduous trekking. From Gangtok, the route passes through scenic places like Hangu lake, and through the vast landscape of the Tibetan plateau.  Duration of this route is 21 days including three days in Delhi for preparatory work.


    Mr Singh said this time two experienced liaison officers, who have better knowledge of routes and are able to take care of the elderly, will be with the pilgrims.

    An applicant for Kailash Manasarovar Yatra requires to be in the age group 18-70 years.

    Apart from the External Affairs ministry, the Home and Defence ministries as well as governments of Delhi and Sikkim also make arrangements for the pilgrimage.

Business Affairs

ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar may face Rs 25 crore penalty if found guilty: Report
  • Weeks after the Sebi served a notice to Chanda Kochhar, it has been reported that the ICICI Bank CEO and MD could face a maximum Rs 25 crore penalty if charges are found to be true. The market regulator last month sent a notice to the ICICI Bank and its CEO Chanda Kochhar, seeking their response on matters relating to alleged non-compliance with certain provisions of the erstwhile Listing Agreement and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015.

    Mint today reported that under the current notice, the Sebi has no power to ask ICICI Bank top executive to step down but it can impose financial penalty. A maximum penalty of Rs 25 crore or three times the ill-gotten gains can be levied under Sebi rules, but in Chanda Kochhar's case, the quantum of the penalty may be at the discretion of Sebi's adjudicating officer, the report said.

    The Sebi's last month notice was based on information furnished by the bank or its MD and CEO to diverse queries made by Sebi concerning dealings between the bank and Videocon Group and certain dealings between Videocon Group and Nupower- a company run by Chanda Kochhar's husband Deepak Kochhar.  

    The ICICI Bank CEO is currently facing probe from the CBI and Income Tax for alleged impropriety in restructuring loan to Videocon. Today, a report emerged that the US market regulator SEC, too, has started looking into the case as ICICI Bank is also listed in the US. The SEC has approached Sebi for some clarificatory details which would be shared with the bank and its CEO for further process.  

    Chanda Kochhar came under scanner after whistleblower Arvind Gupta in a letter to the Prime Minister alleged that the ICICI Bank declared Rs 2,810 crore outstanding loan to Videocon Group as NPA months after Deepak Kochhar amassed huge wealth through some shady transactions with Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot. The loan was issued in 2012 when Chanda Kochhar was heading the bank. The loan was linked to a possible quid pro quo between Venugopal Dhoot and Deepak Kochhar, and Chanda Kochhar was accused of favouritism and conflict of interest.  

    Last month, Gupta wrote another letter to the Prime Minister and levelled fresh allegations of quid pro quo on Chanda Kochhar. He has claimed that the ICICI Bank had favoured Ruia brothers of Essar group for 'round-tripping' investments into Deepak Kochhar's NuPower Group - a firm which is at the centre of current Videocon loan probe.

    Acting on the second letter, the ICICI Bank constituted an independent enquiry to probe the allegations. The independent enquiry will use forensics, review emails and record the statements of the relevant personnel. "The enquiry would also cover all connected matters in the course of the investigation to bring the matter to a final close," the bank then said.

HomeBIZ WRAPEconomy and PoliticsStory
Highly-indebted Air India invites bids from banks for short term loan, sets its own terms!

  • It's hard to find companies in India who can match the privileges of public sector units (PSUs). Air India's recent tender to raise Rs 1,000 crore short-term loans is a shining example of what an organisation can do if it's backed by the government.

    The document inviting bids for a one-year loan says that "banks are requested to submit their financial bids which should be linked to MCLR/GSEC (marginal cost of funds based lending rate/government security) rates latest by 4pm of June 13, indicating the amount of GOI-guaranteed short-term loans that they are willing to offer and the all-inclusive rate for the loans." The document further says that "Air India reserves the right to repay/refinance the loan during the tenure of the loan without any pre-payment penalty or requiring any notice period."

    The wording of the tender reflects an attitude that only a PSU can carry. To say the least, AI is a loss-making airline which already has an outstanding debt of Rs 48,781.3 crore as on March 2017. The only thing that AI can possibly brag about is its EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation)-level profitability for the past three years till 2016/17. For instance, the national airline posted EBITDA profits of Rs 2,096 crore in 2016/17. For the same financial year, its net losses stood at Rs 5,765.2 crore. With crude prices remain at elevated levels; the profitability of the airline sector has started to come under pressure.

    In a fair world, banks would scoff at such tender but AI is not an ordinary enterprise. The airline is fully owned by the government, and therefore its loans, unquestionably, are backed by the government too. Despite its bad financial condition, the banks might not be apprehensive in lending to AI because the government always has taxpayers' money at its disposal even if AI is unable to pay back the loan on its own.

    Last October, AI has sought proposals from banks for "urgent" working capital loans worth Rs 1,500 crore, and received money from Bank of India.

    But why does AI need short-term loans? The purpose is not mentioned in the document but several reports suggest that the airline has been going through a severe cash crunch over the past few months. AI has delayed employee salaries for three months in a row, and is reportedly seeking Rs 2,000 crore of additional funds from the government. As part of its 10-year turnaround plan starting 2012, the airline has already spent over Rs 26,000 crore out of Rs 30,231-crore bailout package.

    The government has recently failed to attract bidders for selling its 76 per cent stake in AI. Sources say that due to the disinvestment process, plans to raise loans were put on hold as banks were cagey about lending to the carrier. With the disinvestment process in limbo, AI is seeking fresh loans to keep operations running.

    One can only imagine the plight of a private sector company as leveraged as AI asking for a loan. And here's a loss-making PSU inviting bids as if banks need AI more than AI needs banks!

RBI to soon announce game-changing decision for Paytm, Freecharge, other e-wallets
  • Last October, the Reserve Bank of India announced that it would allow interoperability among prepaid payment instruments (PPI) in phases, including e-wallets of private players. At the time, the expectation was that interoperability among KYC-compliant PPIs would be implemented by mid-April.

    The industry has been waiting with bated breath ever since. According to The Economic Times, the wait is nearly over since the much-anticipated interoperability guidelines might be announced soon. "The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has already cleared the safety security aspects of taking wallets onto the interoperable platform. The RBI is ironing out a few final issues before releasing operational guidelines. This is expected to happen within a month from now," a banker told the daily. Another source pointed out that with mobile wallets having already brought in the mandatory Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for their customers, the central bank could just be waiting to get all the players develop similar technical capabilities.

    According to Ajay Adiseshann, Founder & CEO, PayMate India, interoperability would allow users of one wallet app to transact with users of a different wallet app. This facility is currently functional under the state-owned Unified Payment Interface (UPI), available only to banks and those e-wallets built on the UPI platform. So, it has long been speculated that interoperability would inevitably lead to a far greater adoption of mobile wallet technology and cause the overall market to mushroom. Payments Council of India chairman Navin Surya, in fact, pointed out last October that the reform could pave the way for PPIs contribution to digital payments jumping up 30-40 per cent in next 5 years, up from the current share of less than 10 per cent.

    That is why wallet companies, currently reeling under the revised and more stringent KYC norms of the apex bank, are keenly awaiting this reform. "We were told that with full KYC we would eventually be given wallet interoperability which will make our systems almost at par with bank payment applications and Unified Payment Interface. Till that happens, our business is facing stress," a senior executive of a payments company with a PPI licence from the RBI, told the daily.

    In fact, several pure-play wallet companies like MobiKwik and FreeCharge have already joined the UPI platform by becoming third-party service providers for banks. "I believe India will see a hybrid model for the next three to five years between prepaid instrument players and UPI players and slowly businesses will move from their guarded ecosystems to an interoperable one and that could see digital payment adoption expanding like what we saw in the case of ATMs," Vivek Belgavi, partner for fintech at PwC, told the daily.

    But even if the guidelines are out soon, experts say that companies may need another 3-6 months to stabilise on the new platforms. It will, after all, be quite a change for the stakeholders to go from competing aggressively with each other to collaboration with trust as the cornerstone.

UAE to invest in Maharashtra infra projects
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, now on a trip to the Middle East, USA and Canada to attract foreign investments into the state, has managed investment commitments in ports, infrastructure and urban housing -- including slum redevelopments projects -- from the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) key decision makers and business leaders.

    A communication on the CM's visit said Devendra Fadnavis and the Indian Ambassador to UAE, Navdeep Suri, discussed investment opportunities in Maharashtra for Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), UAE's sovereign wealth fund with US $850 billion in assets. ADIA is committed to invest US$ 75 billion in India through the National Investment and Infrastructure fund and has partnered with HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank in Mumbai to invest in some of the identified areas like affordable housing sector. Fadnavis also held discussions with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, Chairman of MBM Group, to attract the royal sovereign fund to invest in Maharashtra's infrastructure projects like the Mumbai Nagpur Super Communication Expressway and the Slum Rehabilitation and Renewal project in Dharavi.

    Dubai-based DP World, one of the leading global operators of marine and inland terminals, has agreed to invest in logistics parks in Nagpur and develop logistics hubs along the transport corridor from JNPT to the interiors by nursing dry ports of Wardha, Jalna, Nasik and Sangli. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DP World, has agreed to invest with MSRDC and Govt. of Maharashtra's SPV to develop logistics parks in Maharashtra using ADIA funding. The park will help ease congestion at Jawarharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), one of the busiest ports in the country. DP World, which operates two terminals at JNPT, had earlier committed to invest up to $3 billion in ports, terminals, transportation and logistics businesses in India.

    The Chief Minister also signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the Thumbay Group, a UAE based diversified business conglomerate with interests in education and healthcare. Fadnavis will travel to Canada and the United States where he will interact with key business leaders and visit institutions to attract investments in infrastructure and information technology,  said the communication.

    Maharashtra had signed 4,106 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) involving an investment of more than Rs 12.10 lakh croren during the three-day Magnetic Maharashtra global investors' summit in February.

Sensex closes 39 points higher, Nifty below 10,800; Airtel, Sun Pharma top gainers
  • The Sensex surrendered early gains to close modestly higher at 35,483.47 today amid mixed global cues. Optimistic buying in blue-chip stocks ahead of release of industrial production data for April also drove stocks higher, particularly in early trade. Global investors were keenly monitoring developments around the historic US-North Korea summit in Singapore on June 12. The Sensex had opened on a healthy note at 35,472.59 and rose to the day's high of 35,704.84 on unabated buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs).

    However, towards the fag-end, profit-booking erased most gains and the index finished at 35,483.47, up 39.80 points, or 0.11 per cent. The 50-share NSE Nifty, which reclaimed the 10,800-mark intra-day, settled at 10,786.95, showing a gain of 19.30 points, or 0.18 per cent. Bharti Airtel, Sun Pharma and Dr Reddy's were the top Sensex gainers.

    VK Sharma, Head Private Client Group & Capital Market Strategy at HDFC Securities said, "The markets realized that an outright positive deal may not emerge from the talks at Singapore that begin tomorrow, even if the talks are termed as successful. At one points of time, all the sectors of the Index were in the green. The Media, Pharma and FMCG were the star sectors, rising 1%, 0.5% and 0.3% respectively. Realty and Metals were laggards, falling 0.6% and 0.4% respectively. Bharti Airtel with a gain of 3% led the Nifty constituents. Bajaj Capital rose 1.9% and Grasim edged up 1.9%.

    Among the losers, Tata Steel lost 2.25% as pressure mounted on Tata Steel's JV partner in Europe, Thyssenkrupp, to negotiate better terms. UPL and HCL Tech slipped 2% each.

    The Rupee appreciated by 10 paise and Crude declined by 0.61%. Though the Nifty closed in the green with a positive advanced decline ratio, the day's action of defending its gains comes across as a weak point. The Nifty could tread some more water tomorrow."

    The midcap and small cap indices closed 14.79 points lower and 86 points higher, respectively. Meanwhile, DIIs bought shares worth a net Rs 459.44 crore, while foreign portfolio investors sold equities to the tune of Rs 222.50 crore on Friday, provisional data showed.

    Abhijeet Dey, Senior Fund Manager-Equities at BNP Paribas Mutual Fund said, "Trading for the week started on an upbeat note as key benchmark indices traded with strength on sustained buying demand in index pivotals. However, markets are expected to witness volatility in the coming week as global developments influence investor sentiment. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet for an historic summit in Singapore tomorrow, 12 June 2018. The meeting takes place after tensions emerged between Trump and Western allies in the aftermath of a G-7 meeting and has widespread implications on global trade and economic stability. On the same day, UK Prime Minister Theresa May faces votes that could derail her Brexit policy. The outcome of these meetings might have an impact on market direction and strength, this week. Domestic markets finally gave up most of their gains to close the day near the flat line. Barring the IT and metals index, all other sectoral indices on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) traded the day with gains."

    Market breadth was positive with 1529 closing higher compared with 1147 ending lower on BSE. 156 stocks were unchanged.

    Global markets

    Global markets mostly rose Monday as Donald Trump prepared to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following the American president's outburst at Canada's prime minister over trade. European markets were boosted by an Italian official's declaration that the country has no intention of leaving the euro.

    Germany's DAX was up 0.4 percent to 12,818 and Britain's FTSE 100 gained 0.8 percent to 7,743. Paris's CAC 40 added 0.3 percent to 5,464, while Italy's FTSE MIB jumped 2.2 percent to 21,820. On Wall Street, the future for the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.1 percent and that for the Standard & Poor's 500 index was flat.

    Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.5 percent to 22,804.04 while the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5 percent to 3,052.78. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.3 percent to 31,063.70 and Seoul's Kospi advanced 0.8 percent to 2,470.15. India's Sensex added 0.7 percent to 35,689.79 while benchmarks in New Zealand and Southeast Asia also gained. Australian markets were closed for a holiday.

    General Awareness

    Lateral entry into Civil Services
    • Context: In an apparent bid to bring in expertise from the private sector individuals and infuse talent into the country’s bureaucracy, the government has invited “outstanding individuals” to join the government at the joint secretary level at the Centre.

      In this regard, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has invited applications for 10 senior level positions in the Departments of Economic Affairs, Revenue, Commerce and Highways among others.

      Eligibility:

      The eligibility criteria includes “Individuals working at comparable levels in Private Sector Companies, Consultancy Organisations, International/Multinational Organisations with a minimum of 15 years’ experience” besides those working in central public sector undertakings, autonomous bodies, statutory organisations, research bodies and universities.
      The notification specifies a minimum age of 40 years and minimum qualification of graduation from a recognised university or institute while higher qualification will be an added advantage.
      The recruitment will be on contract basis for three to five years.

      Background:

      So far, these posts were held by joint secretary level officers, who were career bureaucrats, who join the service after passing UPSC exam. The post of joint secretary (JS) is crucial for policy making and implementation of government programmes and schemes, with most crucial decisions in ministries and departments taken by bureaucrats appointed JS.

      Significance of this move:

      Though the idea of lateral entry of private individuals into the administrative framework has been under discussion for some years now, this is the first move towards implementing the idea, which is generating curious debate on the pros and cons of the move.

      Need for alter entry in civil services:

      Shortfall in numbers: There is an overall 20% shortfall of IAS cadre officers alone in 24 state cadres. The Baswan Committee (2016) has shown how large states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have a deficit of 75 to over 100 officers and their unwillingness to sponsor officers to go to the Centre on deputation is understandable. Lateral induction is, therefore, a small step towards essential housekeeping in central government staffing and ought to be supported.

      Target oriented: Outside talent from the private sector is more likely to be target-oriented, which will improve the performance of the government. Also, more competition will encourage career civil servants to develop expertise in areas of their choice.

      Improved governance: The conventional wisdom on lateral entry is that it infuses fresh energy and thinking into an insular, complacent and often archaic bureaucracy. It enables the entry of right-minded professionals and the adoption of best practices for improving governance.

      Challenges and concerns:

      Disturbed balance: The proposal for lateral entry at senior decision-making levels, besides increasing the disconnect between policymaking and implementation, will also result in inequitable sharing of the benefits and burdens of government service, with permanent civil servants left to bear the burden of “humble” implementation and lateral entrants getting access to “glamorous” policymaking positions, without having roughed it out in remote and rural India in the rough and tumble of Indian democracy.

      Deters the available talent: By suggesting a contract-based system for positions of joint secretary and above, the signal would be sent out that only mid-career positions would be within reach in about 15-18 years of service and there would be considerable uncertainty about career progression thereafter. Coupled with unattractive salary scales and non-entitlement to defined pension since 2004, this would become a potent trinity to deter talented persons from aspiring to civil service careers.

      Difficulty in assessing performance: Also, it is not easy to assess the performance of a secretary to the government, given the sheer complexity and amorphous nature of the job. The induction of lateral entrants would not by itself suffice for better performance orientation and enhanced accountability. It would be as difficult to measure the performance of lateral entrants as it would of career civil servants.

      What’s important?

      For Prelims: Nothing Much.
      For Mains: Lateral entry, pros, cons, concerns, challenges and solutions.

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