27 April 2021 ~ 0 Comments

Private sector specialists will helm Modi’s reform push

In September last year, the Modi sarkar gave the go-ahead to its most ambitious bid to reform the bureaucracy – a national capacity building programme. Finally, the programme has got under way with the creation of Capacity Building Commission (CBC) under the National Programme for Civil Service Capacity Building aka “Mission Karmayogi”.

And given the government’s recent obsession with domain experts from the private sector, the man appointed to head the new CBC is no babu, but Adil Zainulbhai, the chief of the Quality Council of India (QCI), which is an autonomous body under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. He is a former chairman of McKinsey India and a known supporter of the Prime Minister. The CBC will have two members – Ramaswami Balasubramaniam and Praveen Pardeshi – with only the latter being an IAS officer (of the 1985 batch).

For those who look for patterns in these things, consider that Zainulbhai’s appointment came on the same day as the announcement that Mallika Srinivasan will be the chairperson of the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), the first time that a private sector specialist has been appointed as the head of the board that is responsible for appointment of top management posts in the Central Public Sector Enterprises.

Looking back further, there was another clue when in February Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the IAS in the Parliament, no less. The message then is clear: the government has firmly announced its intention of bringing in more domain knowledge specialists than continue to depend on the “heaven born” who are generalists by training. They will no doubt put up some resistance, but Modi is bent upon breaching this wall and bring in much needed reforms.

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