The telecom sector may be in a mess and regulating it may appear to be a thankless job but scores of former bureaucrats and a few specialists are eager to take on the challenge.
With incumbent Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman RS Sharma demitting office on September 30, after a two-year extended period, the government has received as many as 80 applications for the job. Of these around 35 are from IAS officers, either retired or close to superannuation, trying their luck for a position which has mostly been held by someone from amongst their tribe.
According to sources, former telecom secretary JS Deepak, former commerce secretary Rita Teaotia, who also served as additional secretary in the department of telecommunications and former steel secretary Aruna Sharma, are the notable bureaucrats who have applied for the job. Some professional candidates with a background in management and telecom have also applied but their names could not be confirmed by FE. The search-cum-selection committee will soon shortlist the names and call the selected candidates for personal interviews. The DoT had come out with an advertisement for the post on June 4, 2020, asking interested candidates to apply by July 10.
Apart from the applications received, the committee has the power to consider other names also for the post.
Since its inception in 1995, barring two chairmen, the post has always been held by a former IAS officer. Justice RS Sodhi, the first chairman and later MS Verma, former State Bank of India (SBI) chairman, have been the only two non-IAS chairman of the regulatory body so far.
The tenure of the Trai chairman is three years or 65 years of age whichever comes earlier. The Trai Act does not have a provision for extension of tenure of the chairman. However, in August 2018 when Sharma’s three-year tenure ended, the government offered him a fresh term of two-years, that is till he attained 65 years. This way, he became the first chairman to have a tenure of five years. BCS Bureau