With the decision to induct nine external experts as joint secretaries in the Narendra Modi government, BJP's 2014 poll promise to open up administrative services to draw expertise from the industry, academia and society has come true. Lateral appointments of subject experts with fixed tenure in decision-making positions can speed up government functioning and make it more efficient. To that extent, it is a good move. But the government needs to be extremely cautious before making it a norm, rather than a special case.
First of all, there could be legal hurdles if such a move topples the prevailing reservation and quota system in government jobs. A bigger worry is the issue of conflict of interest. Voices within the ideological brotherhood of ruling BJP have already started raising red flags against appointment of people with known linkages with global consultancies and private corporations. Ignoring such early warnings may derail an otherwise good idea.