The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), in a reversal of its earlier decision, has accepted the appointment of Sandip Trivedi, 52, as director of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).
RK Sinha, secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy and TIFR Council member, confirmed the news.
“The council felt that the spirit of the procedural requirements for the appointment of TIFR director was met,” said Sinha. “Accordingly, a detailed request was made to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for a review of its earlier decision. The ACC was kind enough to review the matter and decided to approve the proposal for the appointment of Professor Trivedi.”
HT, in March, had reported that the PMO had rejected Trivedi’s appointment as the director on technical grounds, a first in the history of the premier scientific research institution. The PMO wanted TIFR to advertise the position, similar to its directive to the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, and Bangalore-based Jawaharlal Nehru for Advanced Scientific Research.
While Trivedi is yet to accept the appointment, a section of scientists are unhappy with the PMO’s decision. In fact, senior scientists at the institute had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, raising concerns over the selection process.
“We are aghast and disappointed by the flip-flop by the PMO,” said a senior scientist, requesting anonymity. “A person’s academic excellence has nothing to do with how they run an institute. We need someone with a vision who can take the institute to the next level.”
Last year, the TIFR Council, chaired by industrialist Ratan Tata had formed a three-member search committee with scientist and Bharat Ratna CNR Rao as its head, along with K Kasturirangan, member (science) planning commission, and Srikumar Banerjee, former chairperson of Atomic Energy Commission. Trivedi had taken over as director in January.