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NTA Chief Subodh Kumar Singh Removed Amid Allegations, Pradeep Singh Kharola Takes Over amid Controversies Surround NEET and NET Exams Paper Leaks

Subodh Kumar Singh, head of the National Testing Agency (NTA), faced removal from his position, and Pradeep Singh Kharola has been given additional charge as director general of the National Testing Agency (NTA); amidst allegations of irregularities in the NEET-UG and UGC-NET examinations and Paper Leaks.

This decision, announced Saturday night, placed Singh on compulsory wait within the Department of Personnel and Training. In his place, retired officer Pradeep Singh Karola, from the 1985 batch, was appointed temporarily until further orders or a regular chief is appointed.

Who is Pradeep Singh Kharola, the new Director general of the National Testing Agency (NTA)?

Pradeep Singh Kharola, a senior IAS officer from the Karnataka cadre since 1985, assumed leadership of Air India in November 2017. His tenure oversaw the government’s initial unsuccessful privatization attempt of the airline, as reported by Mint. In 2019, Kharola transitioned to the role of civil aviation secretary. Since 2022, he has held the position of chairman at the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO). Currently, he has taken on additional responsibilities at the testing agency until a permanent appointment is made.

Who is Subodh Kumar Singh?

Subodh Kumar Singh, aged 50, hails from Uttar Pradesh and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Additionally, he earned an MBA from the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi. Before assuming his role at NTA in June of the previous year, Singh served as the additional secretary in the Department of Food and Public Distribution under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. His administrative career also included nine years at the Chhattisgarh Secretariat, serving under BJP Chief Minister Raman Singh in various capacities from 2009 to 2018.

Subodh’s Career Highlights

During his tenure in Chhattisgarh, Singh was noted for his contributions to digitizing the Chief Minister’s Office, enhancing the state’s mineral sector, and expanding transportation infrastructure in Naxal-affected regions. His efforts included pivotal roles in developing airports and extending rail networks across the state. Despite his association with Raman Singh, which led to perceptions of political alignment, Singh maintained a reputation for competence and diligence.

Subodh’s Political Perceptions

Singh’s tenure in Chhattisgarh coincided with controversies surrounding the BJP government, including allegations of corruption in mining contracts and a significant Public Distribution Scheme scandal. Despite these issues, Singh’s name remained clear of direct involvement, a point noted by political observers from both BJP and Congress camps. His last position in Chhattisgarh, as Secretary in the labor and registration department, ended in January 2020 with his move to a central deputation.

Subodh’s Public Perception

Throughout his career, Singh garnered recognition for his contributions. Notably, he received national awards for excellence in implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 2002 and for digital transformation in mineral auction transparency in 2019. Colleagues and contemporaries described him as honest, straightforward, and dedicated to public service, highlighting his professionalism and contributions despite political affiliations.

Why Subodh Kumar Singh’s removal is a much needed step? 

Subodh Kumar Singh’s removal from the NTA amidst exam controversies marks a significant development in the administration of competitive examinations in India. While allegations and controversies continue to swirl, Singh’s career reflects a commitment to public service and administrative excellence, despite the challenges and political associations that accompanied his tenure.

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