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Rush for professionals triggers cronyism cry

The decision has sparked fears of a cloud on reservation policies and freedom of institutions
Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar.
Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar.

Basant Kumar Mohanty   |   New Delhi   |   Published 11.11.18, 09:31 PM

Human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar wants urgent recruitment of young professionals in autonomous organisations under his watch, a move being seen as a pre-election attempt to give jobs to foot soldiers of the ruling party.

The decision has also sparked fears that reservation policies could be flouted and the freedom of these institutions infringed on. The higher education department is also said to be considering a similar proposal.


Some of the autonomous organisations are said to be unhappy with the move. Even BJP Lok Sabha MP Udit Raj has opposed it, saying it would be in violation of reservation policies as the appointments were likely to be on contract basis where quotas don’t apply.

The HRD ministry has written to autonomous bodies such as the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Central Board of Secondary Education, National Institute of Open Schooling, National Council of Teacher Education, National Bal Bhavan and the Central Tibetan School Administration seeking information on how many posts are lying vacant with each and the nature of the vacancies.

“Honourable HRM (human resource development minister) has desired the engagement of young professionals in the ministry of HRD. In this connection heads of autonomous organisations/subordinate offices are requested to kindly furnish the job profile and requirements for the recruitment of young professionals for their respective organisation/office… urgently,” stated the letter dated October 16, 2018.

The letter has been issued by Arnab Dhaki, under-secretary in the HRD ministry.

School education secretary Rina Ray recently met representatives of the autonomous bodies and asked them to furnish the information sought by Javadekar.

A ministry official told this correspondent that it was yet to be decided what qualifications would be required, what would be the nature of the jobs, how many people would be recruited and what would be their salary.

Officials attached to autonomous organisations told this correspondent that they conduct their own recruitments as and when required. The HRD minister or the ministry does not interfere in their affairs. The HRD ministry is not a recruitment agency either, they pointed out.

The Staff Selection Commission and the Union Public Service Commission recruit persons to be employed in various regular positions in the ministries. Since there is no indication that these two panels would be asked to make the recruitments to the autonomous organisations, many pointed out that the regular appointment procedure would not be followed.

“It is the first time such a letter has been sent to us that says the HRD ministry wants to recruit young professionals in autonomous bodies. The letter does not clarify from where the money to pay their salaries would come from. There is no budgetary allocation for such staff,” said a senior official of an autonomous body.

BJP parliamentarian Raj has objected to the plan.

“The HRD ministry should ideally recruit through the SSC or the UPSC. But here they have decided to recruit at their level. These appointments will be on contract basis. This is wrong. This is being done to bypass reservation rules,” Raj said.

“If at all they (the HRD ministry) recruit at their level on contract basis, they should provide for reservation,” he added.

Rajesh Jha, a member of Delhi University’s executive council, said the plan seemed to be to recruit people on political considerations rather than on merit.

“It is clear the ministry is bypassing the usual recruitment routes to make political appointments. This should stop,” he said.

Former CBSE chairperson Ashok Ganguly said the autonomous organisations had specialised operations and they had the wherewithal to choose suitable persons.

“The autonomous organisations have the authority to recruit their staff. The CBSE is an educational and examination body. It recruits people who know the nuances of the examination system. It is not a directorate of the government. Making recruitments on behalf of the autonomous bodies is not correct,” Ganguly said.

In response to specific questions from The Telegraph, R. Subrahmanyam, secretary in the higher education department under the HRD ministry, said the ministry had “not so far approved any scheme to recruit young professionals”.

“But there is a proposal to replicate the Niti Aayog model to bring fresh young perspectives into policy-making,” he said.

“Inducting young professionals on the line similar to Niti Aayog would bring skill sets not available with the ministerial staff…. The experience of Niti has proved that getting such young professionals has brought fresh insights into government policy formulation,” the email response said.

Asked if the hiring would be done in keeping with the regular procedure, Subrahmanyam said: “No they don’t come under regular recruitment.”

He said there would be a “fool-proof mechanism for selection based on objective criteria” as and when the scheme is considered.

Subrahmanyam denied the allegation that BJP-RSS workers would be recruited. “This is far from truth. Any recruitment into the official system will be done based purely on merit,” he said.

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