|UP Singh, IAS|
AFTER 20 months of running India’s second largest public sector explorer, Oil India Ltd (OIL), with an adhoc CMD, the government has issued a fresh advertisement looking for suitable candidates from Central Public Sector Enterprises, Group “A” services (joint secretary on a deputation) or officers from armed forces holding the rank of major general or above to fill up the post of chairman and managing director (CMD) currently being held by petroleum ministry’s additional secretary and 1985 batch Odisha cadre IAS Upendra Prasad Singh. Singh, considered to be the most powerful bureaucrat in the petroleum ministry because of his…long association with minister Dharmendra Pradhan, has been shuttling between OIL’s headquarters in Noida and New Delhi’s Shastri Bhawan which houses the ministry of petroleum. The advertisement, a copy of which is also placed in DoPT's website, states that the experience in oil sector is only desirable for the applicants.
Oil India has been under stress for quite some months, and it reported a 17% drop in October-December quarter net profit at Rs 410.7 crore (from Rs 498.3 crore in corresponding period previous fiscal). The total sales, however, increased to Rs 2,583.75 crore from Rs 2,489.9 crore during the same period.
According to the advertisement to spot a full-time CMD, the age of the candidate is given a wide range — 45 years to 57 years. The candidate with technical/MBA qualifications will have an added advantage. But the knowledge on oil industry is only “desirable”, making the post open for candidates with no knowledge of oil and gas.
The last date of application is March 10, 2016. The search-cum-selection committee is also allowed to make nomination of suitable candidates on its own. “The Committee may also recommend relaxation in eligibility, age, and qualifications/experience criteria in respect of Outstanding candidates”, the advertisement further notes, thereby allowing a free hand to the panel to choose the candidate as it wants.
Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), the government agency which selects CMDs and directors in public companies, held the first interview of short-listed candidates way back in November 2014 to recommend the CMD of Oil India. But it did not find anyone suitable. And between November, 2014 and September 2015, the PESB held interviews thrice to choose the right candidate. After wanting to see more candidates in the first two rounds, the PESB finally recommended the name of Rupshikha Saikia Borah, a director in Oil India, as its new CMD. But the petroleum ministry did not give a go-ahead to her appointment for the top post in the PSU, for the reasons not known in public domain.
Instead, the petroleum ministry appointed UP Singh, then a joint secretary in the ministry, as a part-time CMD. Singh, 54, originally hails from Bihar, and has been an Odisha cadre IAS. He did mechanical engineering before getting into IAS.Singh was joint secretary in the ministry of steel since 2011, but once the new government came to power, he was laterally shifted to the ministry of petroleum in place of 1988 batch IAS A Giridhar who was prematurely repatriated to his cadre, Andhra Pradesh, in the month of June 2014.