April 20, 2016
Succession plans need a revamp

This refers to the report “Parekh, Seshsayee Shortlisted for the Post of IIM-A Chairman” (Economic Times, April 20, 2016). 
Government should aim at a long term policy for succession plans at higher levels in government and public sector including in organisations like IIMs. Going further, private sector organisations which are dependent on public funds and government support also need to be guided to ensure continuity at the top and adopt transparent norms for top level appointments. Tatas, Infosys and a few other groups in private sector have long term transparent succession plans in place.
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 during which period their services as ‘consultants’ should be available and adequate compensation as allowance or pension should be paid to them.
(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. As a first-aid measure, the following steps could 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 appointees take charge. Alternatively, the second-in-command be appointed on a regular basis during the interregnum with full ‘powers’.
(iv)           Consciously avoid giving ‘additional’ charge to ‘yours obediently’ officers.
(v)             Give weightage to professional competence and integrity over amenability.


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