the head of the beleaguered Air India after incumbent Rohit Nandan’s extended tenure ends on August 21, 2015. Nandan is a 1982 batch UP cadre IAS officer.
PESB had earlier rejected the idea of civil aviation ministry to find a candidate through a search panel. But now it seems, PESB is yielding to civil aviation ministry’s wishes (or demands?). Usually, when PESB finds no suitable candidates after interviewing short-listed candidates, it asks the administrative ministry to get more names who are then interviewed. Recently, it was done in case of selection process of Oil India Ltd’s CMD. But in this case, the ball was sent to civil aviation ministry’s court.
The three candidates who were interviewed on Tuesday were NK Jain, director (personnel) in Air India, Saptarshi Roy, ex-executive director of power major NTPC and 1989 batch Andhra Pradesh cadre IAS R Karikal Valaven. Valaven, a principal secretary-ranked officer had earlier served as Managing Director of AP Beverages Corporation Ltd.
So, what does this move mean? Will Nandan, who has already been on extension since August last year, get yet another extension beyond August 21, 2015? Or, will a joint secretary level officer of the civil aviation ministry be given additional charge as Air India’s CMD? It's quite a common practice that when there is no full-time CMD of a PSU, a joint secretary (many say a pliable joint secretary) of the administrative ministry is given additional charge to head that PSU.
But mind it, Air India is a major loss-making PSU. The national carrier’s net loss for 2013-14 was whopping Rs 6,279 crore. So, is it not a concern that the government and its selection panel have failed to spot a suitable candidate for the post of its CMD?