Anger at 'VIP' culture among HR staff at ONGC

Vol 25, PW 12 (19 May 22) People & Policy

Nobody likes the disruption of a job transfer, especially to a remote location where it's difficult to get healthcare or enrol your children in a decent school.

But the All India Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Employees Welfare Association (AISCSTEWA) is accusing ONGC managers in the HR department of abusing their privilege and power to safeguard themselves from hardship postings while happily transferring others. Unless the "VIP culture" is addressed before end-June (2022), the AISCSTEWA threatens a hunger strike.

Scheduled caste and tribal employees belong to sections of Indian society discriminated against for centuries, granted protection by the constitution after independence in 1947. On April 28 (2022), the AISCSTEWA central working committee (CWC) general secretary NR Patel wrote a 14-page letter to interim ONGC managing director Alka Mittal accusing senior managers of perpetuating a "VIP" transfer culture.

The letter's subject line points to an ONGC violation of its job rotation and transfer policy in a vaguely threatening tone. "Notice of hunger strike if executives sitting in Dehradun or Delhi for more than 12 years are not transferred within 60 days," says the letter.

Patel focuses on four names he claims have remained for unusually long periods in a single location: NC Baliarsingh, an HR general manager, posted in Dehradun for the last 15 years; Irshad Ahmad Khan, a chief general manager and HR production planner, posted at Dehradun for the previous 13 years; PK Kaha, a chief general manager posted at Dehradun for 12 years; and DK Agarwal, chief manager finance and accounts posted at Delhi for the last 16 years. Patel alleges Baliarsingh is a classic case of favouritism and nepotism.

"His name started appearing in tentative transfer lists in 2014 (Annexure-M) and continued till the last tentative transfer list in 2020, but ONGC has issued no transfer order for him in the last seven years," writes Patel. "It is shocking and annoying that instead of transferring him from Delhi/Dehradun sector to other sectors, he has been transferred from Dehradun to Delhi after 14 years and is assigned the job in the office of the HR planner, who decides the postings and transfers of thousands of employees."