10 July 2018 ~ 0 Comments

Lateral entry: MEA tried it first

Lateral entry: MEA tried it first

The Centre’s recent decision to enable lateral entry into senior positions in the government has set off a debate. But few may recall that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had already tried this, in a limited manner, a few years ago. The ministry hired some 12 officials as subject experts in the policy planning and research division. However, the difference is that these officials do not have decision-making or administrative powers. This, some say, defeats the idea of lateral entry. Almost all of India’s ambassadors in major world capitals are from the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). A noted exception is the Indian envoy to Saudi Arabia. Ahmad Javed belongs to the Indian Police Service (IPS).

Interestingly, the ministry allowed this “lateral entry” following a suggestion by a parliamentary committee headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. The panel had called for expanding the foreign service as the staff shortage was hampering India’s diplomatic outreach. Reportedly, Brazil has 1,200 people in foreign service, China 6,000 people, and the US 20,000. India, on the other hand, has a mere 800 diplomats against a sanctioned strength of 912.

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