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Is PESB chairperson unhappy, thinking of quitting?

By Rakesh Ranjan- 26 Sep 2021
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New Delhi (26.09.2021): Unconfirmed reports, floating in the corridors of power, indicate that the PESB's first-ever woman chairperson Padma Shri awardee Mallika Srinivasan, who also happens to be the first from the private sector to honor the post, isn't exactly happy with the prestigious, but equally demanding and a troublesome job.

Probably, the complex selection process, coupled with the enormity of time involved, might have driven her to recognize and conclude that the job isn't worth her time and attention, particularly because of the fact that she has to manage her own enterprise TAFE Ltd.

Besides, she is on the boards of Tata Steel, US AGCO Corporation, USIBC, the executive board of Hyderabad-based ISB, Governing Board of IIT-M, Bharathidasan Institute of Management (BIM), Trichy, and a member of the Governing Body of Stella Maris College, Chennai.

Clearly, she has too many things to attend to and always urgently.

If well-placed sources are to be believed, in a memo to the DoPT, she has reportedly expressed her anguish at PESB's business framework, which tends to be sub-optimal in the screening and selection of candidates.

Given what she has come to face, she has reportedly made it clear in her official memo that at best, she might consider involving herself with the selection of CMDs and MDs, but definitely not of directors of various PSU boards. The latter is a time-consuming process, besides exposing oneself to different levers of power and influence, not always a pleasant, much less easy, experience for a person of her stature and background. 

If it is true as rumored that she has sent out a displeasure note to the DoPT and is strongly inclined to bid goodbye, it casts a shadow on the present dispensation’s ability to insulate the post from various political pressure-groups, the known malign influences and streamline the PESB work culture to make the organization an efficient vehicle of screening and selecting persons for top appointments in CPSUs.

It is pointed out that the PESB conducts at least interviews for at least 3-4 days every week, involving on an average 7-8 shortlisted candidates for each appointment. Even if the interview of a candidate lasts only for 30-40 minutes, it consumes 4-5 hrs engagements 4 days a week leaving.

For a person like Mallika who, as pointed out in the earlier part of this report, has a lot of things to attend to, it might have become too much to bear, more because of the sub-optimal selection framework and work culture, marred at the same time by malign and unprofessional influences. 

There are two ways for the government to deal with her memo. Ignore it at its own peril and let her go. Or use the opportunity to credibly and verifiably insulate the PESB from malign influences to let her continue with her excellent performance.

(By Rakesh Ranjan)

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