Former TCS chief Ramadorai quits govt bodies as Tata Sons looks for new chairman
Reuters | Photo Credit: Reuters

Tata veteran S Ramadorai has resigned as chairman of the government's skill development agencies -- NSDA and NSDC -- sparking speculation that he might be headed back to India's largest conglomerate.

Ramadorai, 71, quit sometime last month and his resignation has been accepted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources privy to the development said.

Rohit Nandan, Vice-Chairman of the Governing Body and Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, has been appointed interim head of the National Skill Development Agency till a full-time chairman is appointed.

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) Board is likely to meet tomorrow to discuss the future road map, post the resignation.

The former Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) chief was appointed chairman of the skill development agencies in May 2013 with Cabinet rank. He is also the Chairman of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and AirAsia India.

His resignation triggered talk that he might be headed back to the Tata Group where a search committee is looking for a full-time chairman after the board of Tata Sons ousted its first non-family chairman, Cyrus Mistry, last month.

Meanwhile, top sources in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship said the government is scouting for a replacement.

The Modi government, which has taken the skill development initiatives on top priority, wants to scale up skilling efforts and has set a target to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022.

To achieve the objective, the government is eyeing revamp of key bodies, including NSDC and NSDA. Ramadorai's resignation paves the way for a major shake-up of the bodies.

Ramadorai was not available for comments at the time of filing the story. Sources close to him said the 71 year-old, who was appointed by the UPA government, had cited health reasons for putting in his papers.

Last year, NSDC's then managing director and CEO Dilip Chenoy and its COO Atul Bhatnagar, who were appointees of the previous UPA government, had also resigned.

Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy had expressed displeasure at the way NSDC was run in the past and lashed out at its failure to meet the industry's needs for trained manpower.

The National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) is an autonomous body under the skill development ministry, which coordinates and harmonizes the skill development efforts of the government and the private sector to achieve the skilling targets.

Mistry defends handling of DoCoMo case

After the Diwali lull, war of words between Cyrus Mistry and Tatas appeared escalating today, with the ousted chairman saying it was 'false and mischievous' to suggest that he acted on his own or without the knowledge of Ratan Tata on the Tata-Docomo matter.

Mistry also asserted that "insinuations that Docomo issue was handled in a manner inconsistent with Tata culture and values are baseless".

A statement issued by his office said the suggestion that Ratan Tata and trustees would not have approved of the manner in which the litigation against Docomo was conducted was contrary to what transpired.

All decisions on Tata-Docomo deal were taken with approval of Tata Sons Board and actions were consistent with every such collective decision, it added.

"Insinuations that the Docomo issue was handled under the watch of Mistry in a manner inconsistent with Tata culture and values are baseless. The suggestion that Ratan Tata and the trustees would not have approved of the manner in which the litigation was conducted is contrary to what transpired," the statement said.

Stating that a number of discussions on the Docomo situation had been held in the Tata Sons board, the statement added: "Mistry had always mentioned that the Tatas should honour all commitments within the law. This stance is based on Tata Sons' board view and was always consistent with the series of board meetings in which the Docomo issue was discussed."

Reiterating that the agreement with Docomo had been executed before Mistry became executive chairman of the Tata Group, the statement said: "All decisions were taken with the unanimous approval of the Tata Sons board. In fact, all decisions were collective decisions and the actions were consistent with every such collective decision."

Tata Group is entangled in a legal tussle with Japanese firm, NTT DoCoMo. DoCoMo had in November 2009 acquired 26.5 per cent stake in Tata Teleservices for about Rs 12,740 crore (at Rs 117 per share) with an understanding that in case it exits the venture within five years, it will be paid a minimum 50 per cent of the acquisition price.

DoCoMo, in April 2014, decided to exit the joint venture that struggled to grow subscribers quickly and sought Rs 58 per share or Rs 7,200 crore from the Tatas.

But the Indian group offered Rs 23.34 a share in line with RBI guidelines that states that an international firm can only exit its investment at a valuation "not exceeding that arrived at on the basis of return on equity".

The Japanese firm then dragged the Tatas to international arbitration where it won a USD 1.17 billion award.

Tata Sons has said they will resist enforcement of the arbitration award in India as also other jurisdictions as it has been barred by Indian law and public policy. 

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