Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Is poor succession plan hurting HAL badly? Strong opposition from within to Nayak’s extension rumours

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is poor succession plan hurting HAL badly? Strong opposition from within to Nayak’s extension rumours

Give the man power to test his charac ter, so goes a saying. It goes well with most of the top brass of HAL, barring a few. The current ongoing crisis at the top is mainly due to poor succession plan in practice. For implementation of proper succession plan HAL needs inspiring leaders. Old-timers recall with fond memories the role played by late Air Chief Marshal Khatre and Dr Krishnadas Nair who led Company with glory. Both had contrasting style of functioning. “They had a vision and they were sensitive to the issues of people. Khatre was selfless, while Dr Nair was a pro-people in whatever he did,” says a senior HR official.

Others have come and gone, did a lot for themselves and little for the company in terms of putting a strong second line of leaders. “It is unfair to say; we don’t have capable leaders (junior to us). Just that, their capabilities are over-shadowed by self ego, favoritism and selfishness. What is hurting HAL the most is the employees are fast getting disconnected from the top management and even the company. You can’t blame HR for not having good policies. We had them in the past and still have them in files. It is the question of how much the top man or his coterie wants in actual dispensation,” says the official.

This clearly brings the focus again on Nayak, the man at the helm of HAL. Insiders are mincing no words at his authoritative functioning. Reads an email from one K.P.R: “It is not in good taste that we read the series on your website about HAL. But unfortunately to our bad luck whatever you are bringing out are facts. There’s lot of disillusionment among middle management and youngsters and if the management is not looking into it now, it will be bad for the Company,” says the mail.

While some of the emails are packed with anger and anguish, Tarmak007 also found many mails orchestrated. Reads another one: “Ashok Nayak is capable and that’s why he was selected as the chairman. What’s wrong if he continues for another year? There are so many projects that need his guidance (Jesus!). Are you trying to become a saint by running a series on HAL?”

Extension dreams: According to sources, a proposal has been sent to Ministry of Defence for increasing the superannuation age of chairman to 62. Sources also say that a separate proposal has already been mooted to increase the retirement age of all DGMs and above. Says an official: “I can confirm to you that we have asked MoD to increase the number of Directors from current 8 to 12. The other proposals, I cannot confirm.”

“In the last five years, the government has not extended the tenure of the CMD of any PSU as a matter of principle. If any exceptions are made now, then most of the 250-plus PSUS, Maharatnas and Navratnas will be behind the government sighting one reason or the other. As an example, if Nayak is given extension, then the government will be opening a Pandora’s Box,” say sources.

Says an email from P. Prabhu: “No serving director should be given any extension. It will be in violation of whatever succession plan we have. The government must ensure that HAL should be handed over to capable hands. There are many DGMS, AGMS and GMs who can be groomed to be HAL’s future leaders.”

Extension rumours are a regular phenomenon that happens in HAL whenever the top man is about to retire. While in the past many have tried hard and failed miserably, the current stalemate in PESB selection process is making the story-tellers busy.

According to an MoD official, Antony has the powers to given extension for 3 months under special circumstances. “If it is a regular extension, then the Cabinet Committee on Appointments (CCA) has to approve it. In the case of HAL, it is unlikely that the minister will give any extensions. No defence ministers in the past have done it, though there were proposals,” the official said.

If one goes by sources within HAL, there is a clear agenda to create a TINA (There Is No Alternative) situation. The big question is whether Antony will see-through the game plan, if at all there’s one? The onus is definitely on MoD, which for a long time has been turning a Nelson's eye towards the matters of HAL. The nation will be the biggest beneficiary, if Antony steps in and revamps HAL, like the way he did with DRDO.

While HAL might continue to be India's aviation leader for some more time, its fortunes would definitely erode, if men of steel, character and vision don't lead the Company.

(Next part: Saturday, September 10, 2011)

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