Sunday, May 5, 2013

RAILWAY POSTING SCAM: Rail official’s arrest bares rot in govt appointments

New Delhi: The arrest of a senior railway official brings into the open one of the worst-kept secrets on government appointments.

It’s not just the neighbourhood station house officer who is handpicked by political masters, but the central government too has its share of appointments that are often shrouded in controversy. From secretaries of key ministries to heads of public sector banks and state-run companies and regulators, the rot has spread—at a faster pace in recent years—far and wide.

While nobody is willing to come on record, often money or sweetheart deals swing appointment processes, which go through multiple layers. Often, there are hushed whispers of huge money changing hands and private companies willing to be partners, hoping to encash their investment some time later.

Mahesh Kumar, a member of the Railway Board and a secretary-rank officer, occupies the top rung in the hierarchy of the state-run transporter and sits on its apex decision-making panel. Irregularities have become the norm

Over 15 years ago, it was the revenue department where appointments even at junior level were said to have been rigged with top officials involved in fixing transfers. In fact, the MDMK’s Gingee Ramachandran was forced to resign after allegations surfaced that his personal assistant was facilitating appointments. He, however, made a comeback into the NDA government after no evidence of his involvement was found.

Since then, irregularities seem to have become the norm in the financial sector as well as appointments to top posts in state-run companies. There are murmurs of officials accepting favours to appoint “chosen ones” in larger entities. “Instances of persons with mediocre records through their career getting plum jobs while top performers end up in insignificant departments or small public sector companies have increased,” said a former bureaucrat.

There have been whispers about former bank chiefs who restructured loans of private companies ahead of an election getting rewarded with post-retirement jobs, including one of them making it to a regulatory agency. Another chairman almost made it but for a lastminute objection by the CVC.
Surojit Gupta & Sidhartha TNN

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