Minister overrules panel, picks wife of bureaucrat for Bal Bhawan top job
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Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister M M Pallam Raju has overruled recommendations by the ministry's own official selection panel to appoint a senior IAS officer's wife as director of National Bal Bhawan (NBB).
On December 3, 2012, HRD ministry's selection committee recommended the name of Rishi Kumar Vashisht, deputy director of the Centre for Cultural Resource and Training (CCRT), as Bal Bhawan's director. The minister, however, overruled it and picked Usha Kumari MC, principal of a Navodaya Vidyalaya and wife of senior IAS officer N Baijendra Kumar, for the post.
Baijendra Kumar, a Chhattisgarh cadre IAS officer, is now principal secretary to Chief Minister Raman Singh. Kumar was with the Union HRD ministry when Arjun Singh was the minister. When contacted for this report, Kumar refused to comment.
According to the documents, copies of which are with The Indian Express, additional secretary Dr Amarjit Singh, on December 12, 2012 — after the selection committee submitted its report to the government — put up the note before Raju for approval of Vashisht's appointment. "It is proposed that the selected candidate Shri Rishi Kumar Vashisht may be appointed as director, NBB on deputation for a period of three years. This would be in public interest as the functioning of NBB has already suffered considerably on account of absence of a regular director," Amarjit Singh recorded on the file.
On December 3, the committee headed by NBB chairperson Geetha Dharmarajan — comprising Singh, social activist Nafisa Ali, educationist Prof Krishna Kumar and Sangeet Natak Academy secretary Jayant Kastaur — had sent three names in "order of merit". Vashisht was at the top of the list, followed by Usha Kumari MC and Jyotsna Tiwari. The committee observed that "in case he (Vashisht) does not join, then the panel will be operated as per merit list."
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