Public sector chiefs deserve better: Business Standard

Public sector chiefs deserve better: Quarterly appraisal of ONGC's new chairman beats logic...

HR at the top

This refers to Shyamal Majumdar’s piece “Public sector chiefs deserve better” (Business Standard, Human Factor, September 22). Institutions are made of people and successful institutions have talented and efficient people providing leadership at the top. This is equally applicable for organizations in private and public sectors irrespective of their age or size and recent experiences in India give enough supporting evidence to prove this.
Since 1950’s India has recognized the prominent role public sector need to play in economic development and supported development of strong public sector organizations in core sectors like banking, oil exploration, defense, space research  and so on. Success stories of PSUs in India conflicted with the commercial interests of the private sector in India and abroad. 1970’s and subsequent decades saw conscious moves by the rich and the powerful lobbying against PSUs and tasting success in weakening the institutional structure in the public sector.
There was no better way to make PSUs weak than making their top managements spineless. Top positions in PSUs and even regulatory bodies like RBI became pre-retirement transit homes for senior bureaucrats. These ‘yours obedientlies’ accepted briefs from GOI forgetting the mandated roles of the institutions they presided over. In the banking sector, with the exception of SBI, no PSB was allowed to retain own identity and were pawns in the hands of junior finance ministry officials.
Occasional emergence of one Vinod Rai here or a Raghuram Rajan there asserting their rightful positions were deftly handled by vested interests (read money power) with the help of an obliging media and subservient political leadership. This explains the short-term tenure appointment of individuals in top positions in PSUs. Many accept the positions either to improve their CV for the next assignment (sometimes abroad) or as a reward for ‘favours showered’ earlier. Interests of the organisations they preside over, normally is not one of the top priorities that weighs in their selection.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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