Dharmendra Pradhan-I: What is his legacy going to be?
Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has done some good work in the petroleum ministry. 8He has figured out, eventually, that everything can only run smoothly if there is a further delegation of power. 8The minister has convinced the cabinet to delegate the decision making for all exploration related issues, including award of contract for new acreages, to the ministry itself. 8He finally realized that delegating powers away from himself is also as important and he did devolve some financial powers down the line to the DGH last week. 8But he can do more. 8All politicians love power and Pradhan is surely no exception to the rule. In fact, the amount of centralization seen in the ministry is probably as bad as in a dictatorial regime. The whole system in the vast ministry slows down dramatically as a file proceeds from the DGH to the ministry, climbing slowly up the serpentine ladder, from the desk of the deputy secretary onwards to the minister. 8The biggest service he can do to the industry is to make the DGH a statutory body, with a technical arm, which can stay affiliated to the ministry or if that is not possible, the Center for High Technology can plug that gap. 8Pradhan is nearing the end of his tenure as the petroleum minister and, in the political roulette game subsequent to the general election, we may not see him back in the seat in Shastri Bhavan, even if the BJP is able to claw back into power. The job can go to a power ally of the BJP. 8Keeping this context in mind, he must look for a place in history rather than quibble over small administrative matters. Further empowering the PNGRB, freeing up the DGH and splitting up GAIL to liberalize the Indian gas sector are areas where he needs to bring in more reforms. And he has the power and clout to do it. 8Subir Raha was unceremoniously fired by Murli Deora, but ONGC built a museum not in the name of Deora but Raha because of the far reaching changes he brought about in the E&P giant.. 8Pradhan however will not go through the ignominy that Raha was subjected to, and though a museum will never be named after him, he can still leave a mark for posterity by pushing the envelope a little more than he has done so far. Click on Reports for more