NEW DELHI: One of the reasons for the scaling up of Dalit anger, according to a BJP Parliamentarian, was the lack of jobs as consultants were being hired overlooking the reservation policy. To test the veracity of the statement, look no further than the Niti Aayog.
According to an investigation by TNIE, a significant chunk of the think tank’s workforce is comprised of young professionals who have been appointed without adhering to the reservation norms. Responding to TNIE’s query filed under the Right to Information Act, the Aayog said that as on February 5, as many as 46 young professionals (YPs) were working with NITI Aayog.
In a separate email response to Express, NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar confirmed that the reservation policy was not considered while hiring these consultants.
“Young professionals are engaged by NITI Aayog in terms of rule 178 under procurement of consultancy services... It’s not regular employment against the sanctioned posts, hence, norms of reservation are not required,” he said. While these professionals are hired for two years, their term can be extended to five years.
The Aayog admitted it did not consult the Union Public Services Commission while laying down the norms for the recruitment of young professionals, many of whom provide the back-office support to the CEO and vice-chairman of Niti Aayog. Interestingly, one consultant has been hired to look after the social media tools of CEO Amitabh Kant and vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar.
The revelation assumes significance as it comes at a time when RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch has accused the Aayog of pushing ‘corporate agenda’ in government policies.
Responding to TNIE’s query on what systems are in place to ensure the consultants are not influenced by corporate lobbyists, Niti Aayog vice-chairman’s office said: “Niti Aayog takes declaration of conflict of interest from individuals. In case of specific complaints, please bring it to our notice for necessary actions.”
Niti Aayog declined to divulge the criteria for selecting consultants. To TNIE’s query on the education qualification of these professionals, it said, “Information is not available in compiled form and compilation of the same will disproportionately divert resources of the NITI Aayog.”