Shanker is ONGC chairman for only 12 months

Vol 21, PW 1 (05 Oct 17) People & Policy

As expected, Shashi Shanker has taken charge as ONGC chairman.

But expect him to start worrying about his future soon enough. Shanker's appointment was confirmed in writing by a wing of the cabinet's appointments committee attached to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on September 25.

Crucially, the confirmation letter contains an ominous rider: his extension after one year depends on the oil ministry's quarterly assessments of his performance. Some say this is a clear sign the oil ministry wants to keep ONGC under its control.

Amusingly, the original letter, signed by DoPT secretary Rajender Kumar, named Shanker but did not specify his current job designation, forcing the ministry to hurriedly send out another letter clarifying the appointment was for, 'Shashi Shanker who is director technology and field services.' Several sources at ONGC and industry have reacted sharply to the decision to appoint Shanker only for one year. "What if the ministry is unhappy with his quarterly review?" wonders an ONGC source.

"Will he be removed? How can anyone work under such circumstances?" Others ask if the PESB will be forced to begin hunting for a new ONGC chairman again in a few months. Everyone knows the selection process can take up to a year, if not more.

Before becoming director technology and field services in December 2012, Shanker was a general manager in ONGC's drilling department.

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