Running with the hare & hunting with the hounds

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In times of global economic distress when the Indian Government ought to deal with a heavy hand with defaulters and swindlers among profit-driven private players in the oil and natural gas sector, it is strangely caught supping with the devil. Instead of getting its act together in the Krishana-Godavari oil exploration deal with the country’s economic major Reliance, the Government is faced with sort of sanctions by the former as it is seen running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. The developed economies of the West, including the US and Europe, have been suffering an unmitigated crisis due to lack of government control over the capitalist system. India may have managed to come out unscathed by the global recession, but the endemic corruption in dealings both in the Government-managed and private sectors reflects poorly on the nation’s economic health. The government’s role – both in its UPA 1 and UPA 2 avatar – reveals more than it conceals the formal internalization of corruption in the system. The 2G spectrum allocation and CWG scams and the gigantic KG-D6 row have left the ruling coalition with the egg on its face. 

As oil prices around the world may further soar in 2012, it is imperative for the Union Government to check corrupt practices in all fields of economic activity, especially in exploration and exploitation of scarce natural resources, including oil and natural gas. Moreover, with Assembly elections in five States in the offing and the rising prices of petroleum products and other essential commodities for which the common man has to bear the brunt the Government at the Centre must pull up its socks if it has to avoid biting the dust at the hustings.
Year 2012 rings in with the alarm bells set for 2014.

suhaib Ilyasi

Why not Independent Directors in time?

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India is today proud to have many public sector companies that have high quality managements and can give any private companies in the same industry segment a run for their money. The NTPC, BHEL, ONGC, IOC, BPCL and GAIL are some such examples, having excelled in their businesses despite being hamstrung by government interference and influence in their decision making. The Central Government’s apathy and casual approach towards these companies are once again visible, this time on the critical issue of composition of the board of directors which presides over the efficient management and future of any company.

The role of Independent Directors on the board of a public sector undertaking (PSU) assumes even greater significance in view of the Government’s interference in the functioning of these companies. Independent Directors can act as a counter influence and balancing factor in the interest of the company. But it is an irony that the role of the Search Committee which recommends the names of Independent Directors for public sector companies itself is under a cloud. The recent appointment of some Independent Directors with questionable credentials has raised a big question mark on the process of selection by the Search Committee. At the same time, major PSUs waiting to launch their IPOs and FPOs are waiting for appointment of Independent Directors. The role of the Department of Public Enterprises is also

debatable. PSUs urgently need fresh capital to face increasing competition, a tough business environment and a tight liquidity scenario. Disinvestment is one way which not only ensures an inflow of capital but also brings in more efficiency and transparency. But PSUs like the BHEL, ONGC and RINL are unable to raise capital through IPOs/FPOs because they are short of Independent Directors and are thus not eligible to tap the capital market under the guidelines mandated by market regulator SEBI. It is indeed intriguing that the Government fails to appoint Independent Directors in time even when they are appointed for a fixed tenure and thus the Government knows well in advance when a particular Director will retire.

The Government needs to pull up its socks. Independent Directors should not only be appointed as soon as a vacancy is created but those who make the cut should be of impeccable credibility and track record. With this issue, Bureaucracy Today is introducing a new column for the aspiring bureaucrats. Senior bureaucrats will share their experiences, explain how they cleared the UPSC exams and will give insights into how the candidates who have cleared the mains should handle the interview. We hope aspiring bureaucrats will get invaluable guidance through this column.

Suhaib Ilyasi

J Bhagwati, IFS is all set to be India’s next envoy to London

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The jockeying for India House, the seat of the Indian high commission in London, seems to be over with the government apparently zeroing in on J Bhagwati, India’s current envoy to Brussels.

Bhagwati, who has been India’s ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and to the European Union for over three years, has an impressive and varied resume that includes stints in the finance ministry and in the World Bank.

A 1976 batch officer of the Indian Foreign Service, Bhagwati served as additional secretary in the external affairs ministry and boasts of extensive experience in financial and economic matters with specialisation in capital markets.

The lobbying for India House had moved into top gear after Nalin Surie stepped down as India’s high commissioner July 31 and retired from the foreign service. He was offered a six-month extension but he declined.

Since then, many senior diplomats were eyeing the prized London posting — including Pavan K Varma, currently India’s ambassador to Bhutan and a former director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), and Sujatha Singh, India’s high commissioner to Australia.

However, after a careful review, the government has now chosen Bhagwati as the successor to Surie in India House, highly placed sources said.

With Bhagwati’s appointment near certain, the stage has been set for other key high-profile diplomatic appointments.

There are no announcements yet, but there is speculation that Navtej Sarna, India’s envoy to Israel, may become ambassador in either Dhaka or Thimphu.

Pankaj Saran, currently joint secretary in the PMO, is also keen on an ambassadorial posting in Bhutan.

Sujatha Singh is expected to take charge in Berlin. It’s not clear who will succeed her in Canberra but the name of Biren Nanda, India’s envoy to Indonesia, is doing the rounds.

Gurjit Singh, additional secretary in charge of East and South Africa in the external affairs ministry, is heading to Indonesia as ambassador.

Vishnu Prakash, the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry, is expected to go to Seoul as India’s ambassador.

Syed Akbaruddin, a senior diplomat who was in Vienna with the International Atomic Energy Agency, is likely to succeed Prakash as the public face of India’s foreign office.

But the sources said that last minutes changes in the appointments could not be ruled out.

suhaib Ilyasi, Bureaucracy Today

Khan saheb has not charged a single paisa to sing an Indian patriotic song in my film 498A-The wedding gift

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There was a story in Times of India about Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb singing our Indian national song. The story has ignited a debate at the following link. Some ignorant are commenting that all Pakistani singer come to our country to earn money. I do not know about others but let me correct such misinformed that Khan Saheb has not charged a single paisa to sing an Indian patriotic song
in my film 498A-The wedding gift. He did it because he loved the lyrics. I believe we all Indians owe him a great deal for singing a patriotic song that will uplift our self esteem as Indians!

SC to examine procedure for appointing SEBI chief

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The Apex Court said on Friday that it will examine the new procedure for appointing the chief of Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The court will take up the case on November 21.

The Attorney General has told the court that the Centre will file an affidavit within two weeks.

Today, the court heard a petition filed by former Air chief S Krishnaswamy and two others. The petition says, as per the new procedure adopted for selecting SEBI chief, a five-member selection committee is put in place instead of an old, three-member committee.

The petition further says, Finance Minister has been allowed to nominate two persons in the selection committee, and hence, the market regulator’s independence is taken away.

It also states that SEBI is controlled by few persons in the Finance Ministry and extension was denied to SEBI’s ex-chief CB Bhave to protect illegal actions of private players. The petition claims that functioning of SEBI is hampered by political interference and unholy nexus between corporate houses and political bigwigs.

Suhaib Ilyasi

The plaguing negativism in Indian bureaucracy

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The plaguing negativism in Indian bureaucracy.

The plaguing negativism in Indian bureaucracy

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The plaguing negativism in Indian bureaucracy Is India developing on the pretext of being a conformist nation denying to break through the established standards of conduct?Are we a nation which is dreaded of taking bold decisions? At least this is what is visible if we look at the current state of affairs as far as the bureaucracy is concerned.The aftermath of this phenomenon may not be strikingly visible today but it will have its effects on the surface after two years from now. Public sector Chairmen and Managing Directors seem to be vary of taking bold decisions on important business deals thus hampering the growth of their undertakings and lack a go-getters attitude which is necessary for all the PSUs to take that leap to expand their business offshore. Bureaucrats are dithering to move files with key financial implications
and are dreading a future quandary which may put their career growth at stake. The caution continues with ministers as well. It is true that those guilty of jumping the formidable line for personal gains should be taken to task but it is equally unfair to paint every bureaucrat with the same brush. The result of which is that hardly any bureaucrat is audacious enough to resolve the stalemate in any of the key matters. Suhel Seth in his column rightly points out, “It is not about the deed. It is always about the intent.” Even the self-proclaimed crusaders against corruption are not untouched by controversies over their personal gains. Kiran Bedi has been rightly pointed out as one such example by many in the media and governance.

However, the negativism among fellow bureaucrats is something that the newly appointed Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Pulok Chatterji, has to deal with. While former Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar was known for his fire-brand capability of taking decisions under tight circumstances, it is to be seen how his successor, AK Seth,manages the billet and the task of encouraging bureaucrats to emerge from the current hysteria. In this context, we should note a contrast in Karnataka where former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa was saving his face by protecting some of his shady Cabinet Ministers but a bureaucrat was dutifully obeying the Supreme Court orders of a ban on mining activity in Bellary. Deputy Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas, IAS, seized trucks carrying 9,000 metric tonnes of iron ore to the “(in)famous” Reddy brothers’ corporation. Even when the people in power were trying to bamboozle his tenure in Bellary Biswas’s courage made the apex court put a ban on his transfer or posting to another district. Meet this month’s Bureaucrat of the month for his courage and dutifulness, a trait every young bureaucrat must take a cue from.

DK Mehrotra to be next Chairman, LIC

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A high level panel headed by Finance Secretary RS Gujral is understood to have zeroed in on acting chairman DK Mehrotra to head the country’s largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation.

The panel interviewed 5 candidates including Mehrotra for the post of regular Chairman.

Besides Mehrotra, Sushobhan Sarkar, executive director, international operations, D Vijayalakshmi, executive director, investment, Thangam Matthew, executive director, underwriting and reinsurance and D D Singh, zonal manager, south, appeared in the interview, sources said.

Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) Secretary Alka Sirohi, Financial Services Secretary DK Mittal, IRDA Chairman J Hari Narayan, among others, were part of the panel, Bureaucracy Today sources said.

Suhaib Ilyasi

Haryana govt transfers 14 IAS, 31 senior IPS

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In a major administrative reshuffle, the Haryana government on October 28 transferred 14 IAS and 31 senior police officers, including 27 IPS.

The 14 IAS officers includes Deputy Commissioners of nine districts.

Ram Niwas, awaiting order of posting, has been posted as Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary Development and Panchayats Department. Jhajjar DC Chander Parkash has been posted as Secretary, Haryana Board of School Education, Bhiwani in place of Shekhar Vidyarthi, who is the new Deputy Commissioner of Yamunanagar in place of Sameer Pal Srow.

Bhiwani DC CR Rana becomes Special Secretary to Health Department and Mission Director, NRHM and Commissioner of Food and Drugs Administration in place of Rakesh Gupta, who becomes Deputy Commissioner, Faridabad.

Kaithal DC Amneet P Kumar will be new HUDA Administrator, Faridabad vice Ajit Balaji Joshi will be the new Jhajjar DC. The transferred police officers include IGPs of Karnal, Rohtak and Hisar Range and SPs of Rewari, Hisar, Faridabad and Gurgaon.

Chidambaram to decide on Armed Forces Special Powers Act

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Chidambaram to decide on Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

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