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IIM, IIT graduates to sit with babus

A Govt project will soon enable nation's whiz-kids to brainstorm with the babus. Will this exercise promote quality governance?
None | By Vinod Sharma & Aloke Tikku, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 30, 2006 09:21 AM IST

The Government is opening its guarded precincts to youthful thinking. An internship programme will soon enable graduates from B-schools and other institutes of higher learning to share space with seasoned civil servants in the corridors of power.

The idea — that could see potential honchos sit through meetings at the PMO — is in an advanced stage of implementation and could take off within three months. That is the Government's target for appointing a consultant for talent scouting in IIMs, IITs and other centres of excellence.

The reforms lobby believes the move will achieve a lot more than familiarising the bright sparks with systemic issues. They may even end up joining the civil services, where a career, despite its myriad downsides, has its share of challenges and job satisfaction.

The presupposition, of course, is that these brilliant minds should have no trouble clearing the UPSC exams.

"That's why only scholars with exceptional records will be picked for internship," a senior official told HT. As a major bonus, the exercise will make Governmental processes transparent and "bring fresh perspectives to old problems of governance."

The first year might see only two dozen scholars gain entry. But eventually, each central ministry will have a maximum quota of five whiz-kids to work with them over a three-four month period for a monthly stipend of Rs 5,000. Their area of inquiry will be subject-specific, the overall guidance coming from officers designated as mentors. 

"They'll guide the interns and participate in knowledge sharing," the official said, visualising a liberal regime in allowing them access to files and meetings.

Over the years, the internship would be developed into a brand attractive for the best and brightest. In a way, it would be the maiden official venture to tap the market and showcase the civil services as a career choice in competition with the private sector.

Old-timers believe this should have happened earlier. Especially because the private sector doesn't think too highly of the bureaucracy.

The cerebral confluence is expected to help either side. It will make potential administrators understand better the system, often derided as a stumbling block in the way of quality governance. The outsourced talent will simultaneously afford the civil servants a peep out of their ivory towers.

That the experiment might succeed is evident also from certain trend reversals. There is, the official said, a steady stream of engineering and medical graduates entering the civil services after a rather disconcerting rush in the opposite direction.

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