‘Omnipresent shadow of vigilance causing max damage to public sector’

Air India chief Ashwani Lohani has made a veiled attack on Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for a CBI probe against the national carrier, saying “omnipresent shadow of vigilance” is causing “maximum damage” to public sector.

Lohani’s strong words in a blog post ‘Pinning the executive down’ came a day after CBI registered a case on a reference from the CVC for procedural irregularities in the procurement of software for Rs 225 crore in 2011.

Without naming the CVC, he said, “I am unable to appreciate the basic premise that we require a non-executive to keep an eye on every single aspect of working of the executive and that we should have checks and balances that are highly tilted in favour of the checks.”

Starting his blog with “those who idle shall commit no mistake”, Lohani said whether the “variety of watchdogs” were able to reduce the levels of corruption is a “matter of debate but the “fact remains that they have been successful in stifling deliverance almost everywhere”.

He said ever-lasting shadow of vigilance and investigative agencies over the “minutest” processes undertaken by the executive is “one single factor that has caused the maximum damage to the public sector”.

Echoing executive’s frustration, he said commercial organisations need to be swift in decision making processes to face competition from the private sector. “…but how the hell and also why the hell would an executive take a decision if he knows that it would be dissected in hindsight, motives would be ascribed even where there are none and he may even face a life of ignominy for a long time later, if the investigative agencies so desire,” he said.

Describing the lodging of the case as a “shock”, he said there could be “procedural lacunae” but there is “no apparent malafide” in it. The investigation is bound to “hit the company hard” as it would further strengthen the belief that “following processes is important and deliverance can take a back seat”.

Lohani said “merely following the laid down system guarantees personal safety is sadly becoming the norm” in public sector.

He said Air India has been a victim of “gross indecision in recent years” and only lately it started to “come out of its slumber”. It “will also take a hit, I am absolutely certain, as an outcome of the unfortunate turn that this case has now taken”, he added.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jan 15, 2016)

PS: The blogpost (of Jan 14) was later deleted


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