'Urgent: private sector talent wanted at PSUs!'

Vol 18, PW 26 (27 Aug 15) People & Policy

Money is no obstacle for industry captains in the private sector who are happy take a pay cut in the national interest by heading a state-owned oil company, claims Prosad Dasgupta, former Petronet-LNG managing director.

Dasgupta is supporting calls for the government to invite private sector talent as it struggles to fill CMD roles at Oil India and Hindustan Petroleum. Speaking to this report, Dasgupa recalls how he was selected as director finance and later MD in 2005 at quasi state-owned Petronet-LNG – a private company in theory but with the oil secretary as chairman.

“I had no oil industry or PSU background when I became Petronet-LNG director finance,” says Dasgupta. “All my previous working life was in the private sector.

” On August 24 the PESB received applications a third time for the post of Oil India managing director after its earlier choice (Mrs) Rupshikha Borah was rejected by the PMO. September 18 is the new CV submission deadline for HPCL's top job after nine candidates were interviewed and rejected on August 6.

These vacancies are open only to employees of state-owned companies, the central government or armed forces, and all-India services like IAS. Across industry there's a feeling Narendra Modi wants technocrats, not bean counters (Borah) or HR people (who applied at HPCL).

“If there aren’t enough technocrats available," adds one former bureaucrat, "there’s no harm attracting private sector talent."