Caste shadow hangs over GAIL director BD post

Vol 17, PW 25 (31 Jul 14) People & Policy

Caste politics and ‘discrimination’ accusations could yet scupper executive director Sanjib Datta’s chance of becoming GAIL’s next director business development.

Until now Datta’s ascension to this prized position looked assured. In June he won critical anti-corruption clearance following his selection on February 14 to replace S.

Venkatraman who retires in September. But for the past month Datta’s file is with oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan who has delayed sending it for cabinet endorsement because of a surprise intervention by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) - set up to protect the interests of disadvantaged minorities - acting on behalf of Gajendra Singh, a rival candidate for director BD.

On July 18 the Commission (set up through an amendment to the Indian constitution on February 19, 2004) asked the oil ministry to scrap Datta's selection and call fresh interviews, arguing the PESB unfairly refused to recognise Singh's Master's degree in technology as equivalent to an engineering degree and placed him in the 'relaxed' category instead of the 'equivalent' category. The NCST also accuses GAIL of "bias" in its decision to recommend only eight of 16 candidates to the PESB, alleging that GAIL chairman BC Tripathi favoured Datta by bending the rules to exclude five senior executive directors: RK Kashyap, BP Singh, NK Aggrawal, Manoj Jain and S.

Narayanan. Singh declined to comment and calls to Datta went unanswered.

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