Govt asks PSUs to put succession plans in place | Business Standard News

Govt asks PSUs to put succession plans in place | Business Standard News



My VIEW:

The above link will take you to a January 3, 2012 report on headless PSUs.

Now read my response to a revelation made by a central Minister yesterday, that is almost three years after the BS report quoted above:





Succession plans in PSUs


M G Warrier


 


Central government has on
hand a thorough revamp of selection and appointment processes for filling up
top positions in public sector undertakings(PSUs) including public sector
banks(PSBs). As the ills are a legacy of long neglect of health, to keep the institutions
going some quick first-aid kind of treatment is a must.


 


The revelations made the minister of state for heavy
industries GM Siddeshwara on December 2, 2014 about 32 central public sector
establishments(CPSEs) remaining with ‘no regular heads’(ET, December 3), though
will not surprise anyone, needs more attention and debate, at a time when the
new political leadership is seriously doing something to cleanse administrative
apparatus. In fact Central government has on hand, a thorough revamp of selection
and appointment processes for filling up top positions in public sector
undertakings(PSUs) including public sector banks(PSBs). As the ills are a
legacy of long neglect of health, to keep the institutions going some quick
first-aid kind of treatment is a must.


 


At the time of selection of the present SBI
chairperson, Finance Ministry had faced a unique problem of having only one
eligible candidate to ‘select’ from. The formality of  selection procedure was complied with by
relaxing the qualifying norms (relating to age and remaining period of service)
and considering more candidates. Ultimately the candidate satisfying the norms
without any relaxation was selected, temporarily dodging a controversy. Long
enough time has elapsed, the government in Delhi has changed and there is more
awareness about issues arising from mishandling of HR issues relating to top
levels. The year that has gone by could have been used by authorities to review
the eligibility norms for broad-basing the pool for selection of CEOs, not only
in PSBs, but in all organisations where GOI has major stake, keeping in view
the need to ensure longer tenure for incumbents and infusing efficiency at the
top.


 


There is a flip side to the story. The Indian
industry, trade unions and the intelligentsia give an impression that they are
comfortable with a ‘weak’ decision-making infrastructure in governance, especially
in government, regulatory and supervisory bodies and public sector organisations,
which can be influenced easily. The advantages are obvious:


·       
Such a
weak leadership in Government and decision-making bodies enabled India Inc. to
‘manageconcessions’ in the last Budget, estimated at over  Rs 5,73,000 crore, which is 10 per cent
higher than the total fiscal deficit of the Central government and would be,
perhaps, adequate to provide for meeting the entire pension liability of
Central government, as on date(According to a 2008 estimate, the net present
value of the pension liabilities of central government now being met on a Pay
As You Go basis was Rs 3,35,628 crore-6th Pay Commission
Report,2008). If GOI had management experts who can bargain with India Inc. on
a level playing field, a substantial portion of this amount of Rs5,73,000 crore
would have flowed to the country’s treasury.


·       
Democratic
process and professionalism are bad words in politics and for trade unions
which are, by and large, managed by political parties. Beyond some media
gimmicks and occasional ‘stoppage of work’, there are no serious efforts from
the side of trade unions to study issues and fight for solutions.
Democratization of and infusing professionalism in trade union leadership can
bring sea changes in the wages, prices and income policies of the country.
Political leadership will resist this as the present dispensation is easy to
manage and an unsatisfied and ill-paid workforce is the captive human resource
for election work.


·       
The
intelligentsia who claim to be the spokespersons of public opinion and fill the
media space, pretend to be ignorant of all these, as they, like old time
teachers, do not have to do much homework, if the status quo continues.


·       
Literacy
improvement is kept in the back burner, consciously. Perhaps industrially developed
states have lower positions in human development indicators including literacy.
This could be a subject for research.


These are some issues, if debated and
churned in a dispassionate manner, may take us to some changes in the
approaches to governance, which could help us in viewing issues like poverty,
healthcare, literacy, financial inclusion and generally economic development
from a different perspective.


 


Government should
aim at a long term policy for succession plans at higher levels in government
and pubic sector and guide private sector which are dependent on public funds
and government support to adopt transparent norms for top level appointments.


 


The policy should, besides factoring in eligibility
criteria and skill requirements take into account:


(i)               
The
need to allow extended periods beyond the present retirement age so that any
appointee is able to continue at the post for a minimum of 5 years. For the
purpose changes in the present retirement age may be necessary. The retirement
age in India has not been revised upwards for a long time for various reasons.


(ii)            
To
make succession smooth, empanel prospective candidates sufficiently early and
allow her/him to join six weeks to six months in advance of the retirement of
the person whom s/he will succeed.


(iii)          
Make  those appointed as CMDs/CEOs and other
positions like Chief Justice, CAG etc ineligible for appointment to positions
eligible for remuneration for a minimum period of 2 years post-retirement.
Compensating them with some allowance or pension during this period would be in
order.


(iv)          
GOI
should also think in terms of creating a Talent Pool, or at least a database by
drawing candidates from public and private sectors from which candidates can be
short-listed for considering for appointment to various top positions.


All these will take time. Coming back to
the first-aid mentioned at the beginning of this article, the following
measures should be thought of:


(i)               
Involving
UPSC and the concerned ministries and organisations, prepare panels of eligible
candidates for consideration for appointments against vacancies arising during
the next couple of years.


(ii)            
Get
preliminary clearances from agencies like vigilance and the present employers
of candidates.


(iii)          
Allow
retiring incumbents to remain in position, till new appointments are made.


(iv)          
Consciously
avoid giving ‘additional’ charge to ‘yours obediently’ officers.


(v)            
Give
weightage to professional competence and integrity over amenability.

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