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In a major move aimed at bringing domain expertise to policy making, the government has decided to open its doors for private sector specialists in select departments, a senior personnel ministry official said. A proposal is being worked out to induct 50 such specialists from the private sector in government departments at the level of director and joint secretary, he said. Many of these posts are manned by civil service officials. A presentation giving details of the proposal was shown to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently by the personnel ministry, the official said. Private sector talent can be brought in on fixed- term contracts to supplement the government's effort of providing good and effective governance, he said. About 48 lakh employees work in various central government departments. Over 4.2 lakh posts were vacant as on March 1, 2015, according to latest data. The move to induct private sector specialists comes following a suggestion from the government's policy think tank Niti Aayog. "Today, rising complexity of the economy has meant that policy making is a specialised activity.
Therefore, it is essential that specialists be inducted into the system through lateral entry. "Such entry will also have the beneficial side effect of bringing competition to the established career bureaucracy," a draft agenda report on civil services reform by the Aayog had said. In areas requiring specialised knowledge, it is important to develop expertise among internal staff and induct lateral entry, the report said. "This specialisation by the internal staff needs to be complemented by lateral entry of highly specialised staff on fixed-term contracts. Specialists could be brought on three to five year contracts. Such a system will bring top talent and energy into the government and will lend new dynamism to the ministries," it said. The government has already been appointing private persons in some departments. Last month, an ayurveda physician, 'Vaidya' Rajesh Kotecha, was appointed as special secretary in Ayush Ministry. Usually a senior bureaucrat, preferably an IAS officer, is appointed to such a post. Last year, former IAS officer and renowned sanitation specialist Parameswaran Iyer was appointed secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Iyer, who had taken voluntary retirement from Indian Administrative Service (IAS), was appointed on contract basis for two years. The Centre recently also opened banking sector and central public sector enterprises for private sector specialists.