The Finance Ministry’s procrastination over top appointments in financial regulators probably means that the decision may now happen after elections by a new Government. Senior positions in the Reserve Bank of India, the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PRFDA), and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) have been inexplicably delayed despite the fact that the interview process concluded several months ago. The PFRDA requires a chairman and three members and is clearly the worst-hit due to the Government’s indecision. Sources say that interviews for the post of chairman were conducted a couple of months ago and the name that emerged as the frontrunner is Hemant Contractor, one of the managing directors of State Bank of India. Interestingly, after his retirement next month, his position at SBI would become vacant. Retired Finance Secretary R.S. Gujral is another contender too. S. Roy Chowdhury retired recently as Member-Life from IRDA and no one has been appointed to succeed him yet. Similarly Anand Sinha retired as the Deputy Governor from the RBI, and though the buzz is that RBI executive director R. Gandhi is the likely successor, in the absence of a formal announcement rumours abound.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is in a fix. The Kiran Aggarwal Committee, which was set up to review the content and duration of induction training of IAS officers, has suggested its report. The panel has recommended reducing the total training period of IAS officers from two years to one-and-a-half years. However, some have reservations about the proposal, notably Padamvir Singh, Director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie. However, the panel made this proposal after consultations with recent batches of IAS officers who want district training duration to be reduced from the present 54 weeks to 33 weeks. They believe that the long duration of training reduces the potential years in service for officers without any significant improvement in effectiveness. The panel’s recommendation is also being welcomed by State Governments which are burdened with shortage of IAS officers at the junior level. Which viewpoint will prevail?
Andhra Pradesh’s politics continues to simmer after the creation of Telangana State. Among other things, it led to the exit of Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy who has now floated his own party. Reddy’s exit has also ensured other changes in the State administration, which is now under Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan’s direct charge. One of first changes in the State is the reversal of transfers of two former Special Secretaries of ex-CM Kiran Reddy. Barely a day before he quit, Kiran Reddy had named K.S. Jawahar Reddy, a 1990-batch IAS officer who had served as his Special Secretary, as Secretary for Irrigation. Similarly, 1997-batch IAS officer N. Sridhar was transferred from the State Beverages Corporation to the State Education Department as Secretary. Both virtually last-minute transfers have now been reversed under President’s rule. No doubt, this is just the beginning of the changes that await babus in Andhra Pradesh in the days ahead.