Defence ministry scuttles IAF move to head HAL

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by bhramos, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

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    The much sought-after appointment, which will give the incumbent control of a conglomerate that hopes to have a turnover of $6 billion in a decade, has been in the past few months engulfed in several rumours, allegations and even a court case that was quashed by the Supreme Court in September-end.

    The interview of eligible candidates, which itself has been postponed thrice, is likely to be held some time soon.

    This time, the accusations are that bureaucrats in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are deliberately inserting qualitative requirements aimed at preventing otherwise eligible Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel from standing a chance in the selection process.

    With incumbent chairman Ashok Nayak’s tenure set to end on October 31, the vacancy for the post was listed by the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) on December 9 last year with the last date for submitting applications set for February 7, 2011.

    The IAF had fielded Air Marshal M Matheswaran, senior Air Staff officer, Eastern Air Command, for the post. The IAF, which accounts for over 78 per cent of HAL’s business, has had a long-standing demand that one of its serving personnel (not retired) should be appointed HAL chairman. The last IAF representative to be chairman of HAL was Air Chief Marshal L M Khatre.

    Well-placed sources told Deccan Herald that more than one Chief of Air Staff had written to the MoD seeking removal of any discriminatory criterion between HAL’s internal candidates and IAF personnel while framing the eligibility rules.

    Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, earlier this month had said: “We have proposed that a senior IAF officer be considered for the post.”

    However, the PESB, in the list of criteria, says: “On the date of occurrence of vacancy (November 1, 2011), the candidate must have attained a minimum age of 45 and must not be more than 58 in case of an internal (HAL) candidate and 57 in case of an external candidate.”

    Sources allege that this is a deliberate move to prevent Matheswaran from being eligible for the post, as he turned 58 this March.

    “It is difficult for the IAF to find appropriate candidates below the age of 58 for the post and they are using precisely this to prevent IAF from fielding its personnel,” the source said.

    One of the things making it difficult for the IAF is that the post is reserved for a three-star general or equivalent rank officer, which in the IAF means an officer of the rank of Air Marshal.

    IAF’s plea is that the MoD consider IAF candidates as internal candidates and not external candidates.

    “The IAF is looking at nominating another officer who has been approved to become an Air Marshal. However, by the time the selection procedures are completed, the window for appointment could well be over,” sources added.

    The IAF’s intention in bringing in their man as chairman of HAL is aimed at ensuring that the organisation becomes more accountable to its prime customer.

    Air Chief Marshall Browne said: “We spend more than 70 per cent of our budget on the defence PSU and we are in the process of signing deals worth over $20 billion in the next few years, most of which would be undertaken by HAL.”

    Also, rumours are afloat that a lobby is pushing for an extension of the tenure of the current chairman HAL, Ashok Nayak. “With nobody within HAL eligible to take over as the chairman, several things are being worked out to prevent candidates from getting selected so that Nayak gets an extension,” a source in the know of with the selection process said.

    Deccan Herald had reported on December 17, 2010, about the PESB mysteriously or “intentionally” deleting the job description of the next chairman of the HAL a day after it had called for applications (December 9).

    According to sources, this was “probably” a move designed to delay the selection process and hinder the applications of external candidates. Sources added that it was likely that Nayak would get an extension.

    The other option would be that HAL’s Nasik Complex Managing Director P V Deshmuk could officiate as the chairman until the selection process for the new chairman is complete.

    Defence ministry scuttles IAF move
     
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