PESB rejects all candidates for the post of Chairman & Managing Director HAL

Lalit Shastri

Tejas – single engined, light weight, highly agile, multi-role supersonic fighter, LCA-Tejas Division Bangalore

The Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), headed by Mallika Srinivasan interviewed Sajal Prakash, Chief Executive Officer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited; S Anbuvelan, General Manager, HAL; and Sanjeev Razdan, Chairman & Managing Director, Pawan Hans Ltd. (PHL) but did not recommend any of them for the post of Chairman & Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), instead, the Board has advised the Ministry of Defence to choose an appropriate course of further action for selection, including the formation of a search-cum-selection committee (scsc) or any other appropriate step to fill the post.

Point to be noted is that the two HAL engineers interviewed at the PESB meeting are known for their competence and have reached where they are by their competence and hard work.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) a Navaratna status Public Sector Undertaking, comes under Ministry of Defence.

After the Minute No. 1 of the PESB selection Meeting held on Wednesday 10 August 2022 were put in the public domain, questions are being raised in knowledgeable circles and there is also an apprehension of a diabolic plan to fragment the best performing PSUs and parcel out their units and facilities to corporate sector by depriving them of the right kind of leadership.

It is reliably learnt that the corporate office of HAL did not forward the application of Director Finance for this post through proper channel. He was therefore disqualified from attending the interview for no fault of his. Ministry of Defence, it seems, is upset with HAL on this issue. But then question arises why would anyone torpedo it’s own candidates unless there is some sinister agenda. Both PESB and Ministry of Defence owe an answer to this.

Significantly, major projects in HAL are in the offing. Its a crucial period for HAL and insiders point out that these projects will get a beating if they bring an outsider at the helm of HAL at this juncture.

In the pipeline is AMCA Mark 2 – the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft. The target is to develop a fifth-generation stealth, multirole, air superiority fighter for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy which will also include 6th Generation niche technologies.

HAL is also developing the Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH), a medium-lift helicopter currently. It is a major project under Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020. As per the new policy, a private sector entity will form Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with HAL by acquiring 51% stake after getting minimum order assurance from Indian Armed Forces. The company will be free to export 25% of the production to a third country.

Since 1 April 2021, after Mallika Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director of Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited¹, took over as Chairperson PESB, there have been a dozen occasions, when interviews have been held to fill the top posts in Public Enterprises but all the candidates have been rejected and the concerned ministries have been advised to choose an appropriate course of further action for selection. Soon after Ms Shrinivasan took the reins of office, the first such case came to light when none of the candidates who gave the interview for the post of Chairman and Managing Director, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited, was found fit for selection.

Those interviewed in the selection meeting for the post of Chairman and Managing Director, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited on 4 June 2021 were:

Mrs. Pomila Jaspal, Director(Finance), Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited; Om Prakash Singh, Director(Technology & F.S.), Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited; Pankaj Kumar, Executive Director, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited; Anand Gupta, Additional Director General, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited; Omkar Nath Gyani, Executive Director, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Limited; Manoj KumarR Dubey, Director(Finance), Container Corporation of India Limited (CONCOR); Niraj Verma, Principal Secretary, Indian Administrative Service; and Avinash Joshi, Principal Secretary, Indian Administrative Service.

¹ TAFE, the company headed by Ms Mallika Srinivasan, is not at the top but is the fourth among the top 5 tractor companies in terms of retail sales performance and as per latest figures, it has the lowest growth performance compared to the top five companies.

Tractor Sales Data released by Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA), 4 August 2022

Download documents showing candidates not found suitable for posts to be filled by PESB since 1 April 2021: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

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