How Pranab's sullied family-run IIP fixed PSU recruitments
The Indian Institute of Psychometry (IIP) — of which Pranab Mukherjee, finance minister, is a chairman — manipulated the selection of management/engineering trainees for the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), based in Mumbai, in the late 1990s.
The institute followed it up with another round of manipulation in 2010 — this time it was the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), based in Vishakapatnam.
DNA reported on Tuesday when Mukherjee was the finance minister in 1983, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, under the finance ministry, certified IIP and asked the CEOs of various public sector undertakings (PSU) "to consider obtaining the assistance of the IIP" so that the standards of selection and evaluation had "a
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The manipulation levels were so high in SCI and RINL that both PSUs banned the institute.
In fact, RINL went a step further: it fined IIP. Since Mukherjee is the chairman of the institute's advisory committee, it will not be wrong to say he was aware of the malpractice.
Also, Manjula Mukherjee, IIP's director, is a close relative of the finance minister.
DNA tried to find out his take on the matter, but his office —the finance ministry — did not respond to emails or phone calls.
But what does IIP, which claims to be a non-profit organisation, get by manipulating the selection process?
The Integrity Pact (IP) cell of Transparency International India (TII) that looks into complaints of corruption in PSUs, corporate frauds and recruitment scams says it is money.
Manipulating the recruitment process fetches IIP officials huge sums of money, Ashutosh Kr Mishra, director of the IP cell, said. "PSUs get filled with non-deserving candidates who usually get involved in corrupt practices over time," he said.
Appointing right candidates at the entry level is important because these candidates later become directors/chairmen of PSUs. "Selecting incompetent candidates works against the interests of PSUs," Misra said.
The illegal selection of trainee navigating officer cadets for the SCI first surfaced in 1998 when some candidates complained that a couple of IIT students had taken the written examination on behalf of candidates.
The SCI's vigilance department found that the IIP, which had bagged the contract to carry out the recruitments, was a habitual offender. The vigilance report termed the IIP's selection process invalid and said complaints of impersonation were true.
In 1996-97, the selected candidates were mostly from the eastern region, the bulk being from Bihar. One of IIP's current directors is from Bihar. In 1997-98, the bulk of the selected candidates were from Delhi. Though 1,192 from Mumbai took the written exam, only 13 made it to the merit list.
The report spoke of candidates failing miserably in interviews though they had scored 70% or above in written exams. In fact, three candidates even admitted they had hired people to take the written exams on their behalf.
In 2010, the RINL management cancelled a written exam for the post of "khalasi" following question paper leak reports. The company fined the institute.
Moreover, RINL's vigilance department recommended a CBI inquiry into the incident. "But the agency refused without citing any reason," a RINL official said. "The management was left with no option but to file an FIR at the local police station."
Finance minister and IIP
IIP was formed in 1978 by Manjula Mukherjee, a close relative of Pranab Mukherjee
Pranab Mukherjee later became a chairman of the company’s advisory committee
In 1983, when Mukherjee was the finance minister, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, under his ministry, certified IIP as “an institute of considerable public utility” and advised all CEOs of PSUs to obtain its services
Thereafter, IIP got contracts from SCI, NALCO, Air India, RINL, Indian Airlines
The company was found to be involved in manipulating recruitments of various PSUs
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