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Mallika Srinivasan, chairperson and managing director of Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd, has been named chief of the Public Enterprises Selection Board, which appoints the top managers of state-run firms. This is the first time a private-sector executive has been asked to head this key government body, and it speaks well of the Centre’s approach to picking management talent.

The move is in consonance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s view, as articulated in Parliament while discussing privatization, that career bureaucrats can’t be expected to have expertise in every field of business. Our administrative officers may be highly qualified, but they tend to be generalists rather than specialists in a world of increasing domain complexity. The public sector’s induction of managers from the private sector could bring in fresh ideas, a burst of vibrancy, new perspectives on weighing returns against risks, and speedier decisions. So long as conflicts of interest don’t arise, a revolving door between the two sectors would hasten the adoption of good business practices across all Indian commercial ventures and help raise our overall competitiveness.

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