The process of selecting the Member of the Insurance Regulatory Authority of India (IRDA) has caused heart-burns in the upper echelons of the insurance sector.
Out of 25-30 candidates who applied for the high paying IRDA job, only 10 were called for the interview which was held on Tuesday. “What really raised eyebrows is that out of the three chairmen and MDs of public sector non-life insurance companies who had applied, only one was called for the final interview,” said a top insurance sector official who didn’t want to be named.
Two of the high-ranking CMDs in the industry — GIC Re Chairman AK Roy and United India CMD Milind Kharat — were not called for the interview, he said, adding, “they would never have applied if they had known that they wouldn’t be even called for the interview.”
Industry sources said no specific reason was given by the finance ministry as to why these CMDs who have been holding the top posts for last three years and with an experience of over 35 years were excluded from the selection process at a time when the IRDA Member post needed a professional with long experience. This is also for the first time that CMD-level officials had applied for the post of Member, IRDA. The post had always been filled up by a general manager level official.
Joseph Plappallil J, chief managing director, Agriculture Insurance Corporation and the acting CMD of National Insurance, was called for the interview.
The panel which interviewed these senior officials included Financial Services Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Department of Personnel & Training Secretary Sanjay Kothari, Insurance Regulatory Authority of
India chairman TS Vijayan and former Chairman of LIC and Sebi GN Bajpai.
Sources said the finance ministry had indicated that they will prefer an official who can serve IRDA for a longer term, effectively hinting that it may not shortlist officials who are on the verge of retirement as they will just get a two-year term — Insurance Regulatory Authority of India Member retires at 62. “But this stipulation has not been observed as several officials who will be retiring in the near term were also called for the interview,” said a source.
The post of CMD at National Insurance Company has been lying vacant for over one year. Although the UPA government had completed the interview and even shortlisted the candidates, no announcement has been made so far, causing disappointment among senior officials of the industry.