Headless at the Helm, Courtesy Picky Government

It seems either the government’s expectations are too high or the qualifications of those screened till now way are too low.

Published: 17th May 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2015 08:54 AM   |  A+A-

Headless at

NEW DELHI:Several bodies of academic and cultural importance, and public sector enterprises (PSE) are headless. But the Modi government is yet to make up its mind on any appointments as it hasn’t found suitable candidates for these positions.

It seems either the government’s expectations are too high or the qualifications of those screened till now way are too low. At times, say sources, the political ideology of the candidate may be of importance as well. Whatever be the reason, the government seems to be in no hurry and is taking its time to find suitable candidates for the vacant posts.

The government has been searching for people to fill up vacancies at the helm of several PSEs, cultural and academic bodies but is unhappy with the quality of resumes so far.

Of late, there have been many instances when the government did not like any of the candidates who appeared for the interviews. The most recent instance was the interview for the post of Director, National Book Trust (NBT), where the candidates included the wives of two state-level BJP leaders.  The NBT has been told to call for another round of applications.

Similar is the fate of the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT). It has been without a chief since October 2014, when Praveen Sinclair, the then boss, resigned. Though the search for a chief started in October itself, the government is yet to find a “proper” head.

“There are many who fulfil the academic criteria, but this government looks for something beyond academics,’’ an HRD Ministry official said. According to the official, getting the nod of the RSS for appointments, especially for posts in cultural and academic institutions, is crucial. But it is not just the cultural bodies that are seeing fruitless interviews.

The Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) that selects personnel for the posts of CMD and directors in the PSEs is finding it tough to get hands to man many a PSE, including Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL), Air India, Oil India Ltd (OIL) and National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCC) and Scooters India Ltd (SIL).

The most recent interview held was for the post of the CMD of MECL. Though there were several candidates from other PSEs and even the private sector, the interview board was not happy with any of the candidates and has decided to “see a few more candidates”.

Similar is the fate of the interview for the Air India CMD. Despite interviewing many officials, including IAS officers, the PESB could not find anyone suitable and asked the ministry to appoint someone on deputation.

Interviews held for finding heads for NPCC and SIL, too, have yielded no results. “This government is looking for men of action for its top posts. Since most of our Class A officials are not used to much action, they are deemed unfit,” said a government source.

 The source cited the example of the interviews held for the posts of Secretary for the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and CSIR Director. Having failed to get suitable candidates despite interviews, the Centre had called for open nominations from the science community.

“DST and CSIR are responsible for building national capacity and capability in science, technology and innovation. So the government did not want to choose anyone who turned up for interview but only the ‘very best’ from the science community,” said a source. According to him, the government’s decision to wait was worth it as it found suitable candidates in the second round.

Another IAS officer who had tried for the post of Air India CMD, however, had a different take. He said one’s political correctness matters more these days. “For the UPA, political ideology did not matter. They have appointed many Communists and even RSS people to top posts. But with the BJP government, such leniency can’t be expected,” he said.

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