At a time when the prime minister himself has rolled up his sleeves to improve the performance of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the state-owned telecom major could find itself short of talent at the top soon, thanks to a bureaucratic mess.
While the PM is set to review BSNL’s performance on Wednesday, applications of all 31 Indian Telecom Service (ITS) officers for the post of director (enterprises) on BSNL’s board are set to be rejected. Reason: the department of telecommunications (DoT) sent their applications to the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) after the last date.
“It may kindly be noted that the applicants do not appear to be at fault in this regard and hence, I request you to consider these applicants so as to facilitate selection from a wider range of officers,” PJ Thomas, DoT secretary, has written to Chewang Phunsog, chairman of PESB.
Ever since the formation of BSNL in October, 2000, the posts of BSNL directors, including that of its chairman-cum-managing director, are held by ITS officers.
“If the applications are rejected on minor technical grounds due to delays on the part of DoT and BSNL, then PESB cannot get the most suitable candidate for the post of BSNL board,” said B.K. Syngal, former CMD of BSNL.
“We had forwarded all the applications to DoT by due date. We want a broad-based selection process,” said a BSNL official. “BSNL needs directors who have high techno-managerial capabilities and proven leadership capabilities.”
“Restricting the number of candidates to a bare minimum, in this case only six instead of 37 qualifying candidates, gives rise to apprehension on the fairness of selection,” said the ITS Association in a letter to the DoT secretary.