Dear Shri Goel,
With reference to the subject, I write this appeal to you as part of my duties under Article 51A of the Constitution of India (spirit of inquiry and reform so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour etc) and as someone closely associated with the evolution of the competition regime and the institutions involved in promoting a healthy competition culture in India.
I believe that following the likely appointment of Shri Ashok Chawla as the new Chairman of CCI you may wish to resign as he is one batch behind you in the IAS. If my hunch is right then this mail is relevant. If not, then this mail has its own value for the healthy functioning of our regulatory regimes.
First of all, seniority is an issue when you or he were still in service and the same cannot be carried forward as a legacy forever, and particularly in post-retirement jobs such as at the CCI etc. Personally, while there are merits in the seniority system, I find the same repugnant, because it does not recognise merit. However, this is not only my view but several others, who believe, that once you have retired from service, and sought appointment as a Member ardently, the seniority principle is exhausted. Having interacted with Shri Chawla for many years, I am confident that he will make an excellent skipper. I am aware that you were also a contender for the Chairmanship but the selection committee in its wisdom weighed in favour of Shri Chawla, as they did in your case when you sought the appointment as a Member.
Even Sachin Tendulkar has been the skipper of the Indian cricket team and now is another player in the team and his reputation continues to climb. His prestige or performance has not been lowered when someone much younger than him have been skippers. There are similar examples in politics as well when CMs have served as Ministers after their earlier term as a CM. Or another contemporary example is that of Dr Manmohan Singh, PM, who had served as Finance Secretary under Pranab Mukherjee, when he was the FM, and is now his superior, but Pranab Babu has not resigned.
In the area of antitrust regulation, Bill Kovacic has been the Chairman of US FTC and is now one of the Commissioners, due the political geometry of US institutions. He will continue to serve his full term and then revert to academics. As you know he is one of the best competition practitioners in the world. There are other such examples as well.
The Indonesian competition authority has a good system like our universities, where the Chairmanship of KPPU is rotated among members, with each having a term of only one year. In our universities, and abroad, the head of the department is certainly not always the seniormost faculty member.
The government has invested much resources in you and others and that cannot be wasted on specious grounds. I have also interacted with you on several occasions and have found you to be an excellent person. Your handling of the Satyam fiasco as Corporate Affairs Secretary was exemplary. Now with the merger regulations coming into force and your own leadership of the subject in the CCI, can we have another person to oversee this critical activity at this crucial juncture.
I hope you will heed my appeal and acknowledge this mail, and/or share your views, for which I will be very grateful.
Pradeep S Mehta,
Secretary General, CUTS International, and
Chairman, Mng Committee, CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition