"We have been trying this out in the NITI Aayog for the last two years. We've got a large number of people who have got a lateral entry here and our experience here has been extremely good. They bring in a lot of fresh and vibrant ideas... the world is moving at a very rapid pace. You have a huge amount of disruption taking place across the world. Areas of artificial intelligence, blockchain, tremendous amount of things happening and I think the government must be able to tap into all this through lateral change," he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Asked if any minimum qualifications are required, Mr Kant said, "There has to be a lot of flexibility to allow people to apply to the government."
"People with PhD degrees, people with huge amount of field experience, people who have done some unique work across the world and in India, let them all apply. The important thing is to do the process in a very transparent, very competitive manner. The selection must be very merit-based," he said, adding that the government can't be rigid about this.
"You'll get people with a lot of qualifications. You'll get people with doctorates, people with post-doctoral work, people who've done some unique work in the field, people who've done a huge amount of work in the private sector, people who've done work in the international organisations, people who've done work in NGOs. All that expertise and knowledge, we should allow that to come in and let that shortlisting be done by a professional committee."
Dismissing concerns about the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC tests, Mr Kant said the civil services examinations will continue.
"It's a very, very rigorous, very professionally conducted examination... there are 450 posts of Joint Secretaries. Everyone comes through the process of UPSC but the number of people who don't either sit for UPSC or who've gone and done different kinds of things at that particular point of time where they've either gone and done an MBA or they've done a PhD abroad or they've gone to MIT or Harvard or Princeton or they've gone to Ahmedabad and done different things. They've done their own businesses or joined a private sector. Why should the government not tap into that energy? Why should government not tap into that knowledge?" he said.
Asked about the Congress' criticism that this would allow the government to bring in "like-minded" people, Mr Kant said, "The process must be very transparent. It must be merit-based selection. Must be very competitive and I'm absolutely sure the government will follow a very transparent process, merit-based and you'll get some of the finest people in the world to be selected."