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.”
However, HRD minister Raju called for all the CVs on December 12 and approved Usha Kumari’s appointment on December 19. “I have gone through the bio data of the candidates and I find Ms Usha Kumari MC most suitable,” he noted on the file.
Meanwhile, Vashisht has moved the Delhi High Court against the government order appointing Usha Kumari as NBB director. He refused to comment, saying “the matter is sub-judice now.”
Usha Kumari joined as NBB director on January 22. Minister Raju’s personal staff said he was out of station and was not available for comment.