Skip to main content

Is international consultancy required for Tamil Nadu public sector undertakings?

By NS Venkataraman* 

It is reported that that Government of Tamil Nadu’s has appointed an international consultancy firm to study the state of public sector undertakings in Tamil Nadu and submit it’s report with recommendations and action plans to restore the health of public sector units in the state. The consultancy firm has been given a period of two years to study the details and submit it’s report. It is not clear what is the remuneration that would be paid to the consultant for the assignment.
Some critics are of the view that there are inherent issues in the functioning style of public sector units itself, marked by “lack of ownership feelings” amongst the top most executives, political interference and bureaucratic style of administration. According to these critics, the very fact that large number of public sector units in Tamil Nadu are sick and some of them have been closed due to heavy losses,only prove this negative view about the public sector units..
However, this critical view does not seem to be appropriate. In the case of Tamil Nadu, while several public sector units are sick, Tamil Nadu Newsprint & Papers Ltd. at Karur, a government owned company, has been consistently generating profit, has expanded capacity more than once, diversified it’s operations efficiently and the operational parameters are competitive.
While an international consultant has been appointed to study the state of public sector units in Tamil Nadu, the fact is that the problems confronting the units are known and the solutions are also known. With several decades of experience in operating public sector units in the state and with many persons with proven techno managerial capacity staying in the state to identify the issues and find the solutions, probably, there is no case for appointing international consultant.
Such overseas consultant need to understand the work culture, administrative pattern and political climate in the state from scratch and then come out with some solutions after two long years.
Probably, the overseas talent appeal to Tamil Nadu government more than the local talent for whatever reasons!

Sick unit – case study

Some of the important public sector units involved in the promising fields have been closed down such as Tamil Nadu Explosives at Vellore and a few others. A careful analysis of the reason why such units have been closed would give adequate inputs to identify the problems and arrive at solutions.
In the case of Tamil Nadu Explosives, no worthwhile efforts were made to update the technology from time to time and introduce new products in tune with the changing trends, particularly due to product obsolescence, which most other major explosive units in the country have done successfully. Obviously, the top management of the unit lave failed to take appropriate steps in time to forge ahead and lacked long term corporate strategies to sustain growth.
So many other similar case studies of lack of forward planning and inadequate long term corporate planning exercise can be described such as that of Tamil Nadu Minerals Ltd., Tamil Nadu Cements Corporation Ltd. and others. These organisations have enormous opportunities for expansion and diversification but there seem to be no sense of urgency and everything moves on snail’s pace, which inevitably lead to sickness.
It has become a common practice to appoint IAS officers as chief executives of industrial units in public sector.
As IAS officers lack domain knowledge, as chief executives they face a piquant situation where they have to know the problems from the subordinates, seek solution from the subordinates and implement them with little grasp of technicalities involved.
Managing industrial and commercial organisations are not subject of mere administration but need techno managerial experience and expertise and the requirements vary between one industry and the other.
The issue is not that IAS officers have been posted but the fact is that they are not given adequately long tenure to understand the issues, particularly since they lack domain knowledge with regard to the industry where they are posted. Most of them have been transferred too quickly, even before they would get a grip on the issues and solutions

Chief executive matters

Now, the question is that while the public sector undertaking namely Tamil Nadu Newsprint & Papers Ltd. is turning out good performance, so many other units are not doing so even though all of them belong to government of Tamil Nadu and IAS officers are the chief executives.
The point is that the expertise and capability of chief executives who are in charge of these units and who are responsible for creating a progressive work culture in the organization matters. Ultimately, the question revolves around the capability of the chief executive managing these units.
Certainly, IAS officers who are posted as chief executives in most of the public sector units are capable bureaucrats and can understand the overall issues and solutions.. However, they cannot get domain expertise in their short period of stay. In many cases, the IAS officers who earnestly try to settle down in their job of running the industrial enterprise are suddenly transferred which comes as a bolt from the blue for them. They are forced to jump from one position to other such as chief executive of industry to managing director of women development corporation and then sometime even as election commissioner and so on.
The ultimate solution is to create a cadre of IAS officers and industrial experts exclusively to manage industrial and commercial enterprises in public sector and provide them training and ensure that they will stay with the units for reasonably a long time. In the present situation,where a public sector undertaking may have 3 IAS officers as chief executives in two years, no one would be accountable.
Finally, the write up would not be complete without saying a word or two about the minister in charge of industry, who also need to have adequate background and understanding. Is it possible in present conditions where MLAs are appointed as ministers with little regard for their capability and their expertise to discharge their responsibility in the ministry where they are in charge.
Certainly, the international consultant will highlight all these issues after two years of study, which is already known to the industry experts in Tamil Nadu.
With constantly changing political scenario and those ruling the state, such suggested solutions could even end up as one that would not be implemented in letter and spirit.
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai



Crucial to revisit roots, embrace core Hindu principles: love, compassion, harmony

A note on religious leaders'  Satya Dharam Samvad in Haridwar: *** In a groundbreaking gathering, more than 25 religious leaders including Swamis, Acharyas, Pujaris, Gurus, and Sadhvis from all over India convened to discuss the tenets of Hinduism on September 16th, 2023, in Haridwar, to discuss and discern the current trajectory of Hinduism. This brand new initiative, the Satya Dharam Samvad, was inspired to organize its first assembly in response to the December 2021 Dharma Sansad, where hate speech and calls for violence against the Muslim community contravened the essential principles of Hinduism. Religion is being used to incite riots among Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, etc. In the face of such hatred, Swami Raghavendra felt that something meaningful should be done in the present climate. 

Commodification of road accident deaths: The hidden health hazard of motonormativity

By Chandra Vikash*  Jahnavi Kandula, an Indian student from Andhra Pradesh, studying in America was killed in a road accident by a police motor car in January 2023. Now, 8 months after the accident, a bodycam video of Daniel Orderer, who is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, has gone viral on social media. He was laughing at her death and saying that “she was 26 years old, anyway… she had limited value… just give her $11,000 (ie Rs 9.13 lakh)”.

Maoist tendency of mechanically adhering to Chinese path ignores Indian conditions

By Harsh Thakor  The C.P.I. (Maoist) formed in 2004 with merger of the C.P.I. (M.L) Peoples War and the Maoist Communist Centre has demonstrated courage in intensity compared to any great revolutionary struggle in the history of the world. It leads the largest armed movement of a Peoples Guerrilla Army in the world today and proved themselves as the true torch bearers of the Indian Communist movement.

We need to resurrect Neruda, give birth to poets of his kind amidst neofascist rampage

By Harsh Thakor  On 23rd September we commemorate the 50th death anniversary of Pablo Neruda, whose contribution to revolutionary poetry was path breaking. Pablo Neruda’s poetry manifested the spiritual essence of revolutionary poetry and how poetry was a weapon for a revolutionary struggle. The story of his life illustrated the spiritual transformation undergone a human being to transform him into a revolutionary and how environment shapes the lie of revolutionary.

Understanding universe, time, space: A crucial, unresolved question before humanity

By Prof Sudhanshu Tripathi*  A crucial question before humanity, still unresolved, is to comprehend the true nature and expanse of Time and Space in Universe. If both are indeed limitless, there is no question then to go beyond them. Because both Time and Space are indeed the two key determinants in this mundane world which define the very expanse of the life period of all living organisms and non-living entities and their relative spatial area producing mental and extra-mental consciousness. 

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Informal efforts to help children of remote Bundelkhand village unable to go to school

By Bharat Dogra  Rajaram Ka Purva is a remote rural hamlet in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh inhabited by the poorest of the poor. Almost none of the children in this hamlet are able to go to school. The reasons relate to poverty, distance of the nearest school as well as the unsafe path to school.

2024 elections in India: An agenda for justice, peace, democracy and environment

By Bharat Dogra  As debates leading up to 2024 union elections in India preceded by some important state assembly become intense, it is not enough to talk about election alignments among various political parties and their seat adjustments; the questions relating to the most important priorities and a future agenda based on justice, equality, peace, environment protection and democracy must get the most importance.

Job opportunity in unexplored territory... to bulldoze hurdles on way to Akhand Aryavart

By Abdul Puncharwala*  Baba and Mama the Jai-Veeru Jodi of Shuddh desi politics bring an excellent opportunity of employment to all the bright matriculate drop-outs busy with their Insta and YouTube reels. Keep your phones aside for a moment and read this advert carefully. It is going to change your life forever.

By undermining Dravidian politics, can Tamil Nadu regain glory of Kamaraj governance?

By NS Venkataraman*  For over fifty years now, Tamil Nadu has been ruled by two Dravidian parties namely DMK and AIADMK alternately. Before the Dravidian party came to power, Tamil Nadu was ruled by the congress party and had experienced the golden rule by K. Kamaraj who was succeeded by Bhaktavatsalam for a short period.