Have you heard of the CMATN?

The Corporation of Chennai recently advertised a position at what is called the City Managers Association of Tamil Nadu. We already have a surfeit of administrators in India whose contribution to life in our cities is as yet unclear. If anything, it has complicated our lives terribly.

So when the Commissioner of the Chennai Corporation, who, we understand from the advertisement is the President, CMATN, and the Additional Commissioner (H and E), who is Member, CMATN call for applications from candidates for the post of “coordinator” at the CMATN, we would be justified in feeling puzzled.

So what is the need to add to our already morbidly obese bureaucracy with one more job? The whole idea of a city manager is American, and as a little reading shows, the current activity is a result of some USAID packages that require the formation of associations of managers. The first of these apparently was tried out in Gujarat nearly eight years ago.

Of course, we would like to know from the Commissioner of the Chennai Corporation who Chennai’s city manager is, if there is one; presumably, the Commissioner and City Manager are one and the same. If that is indeed the case, what is the need for a dual — and confusing — nomenclature? And what has the idea of a CMATN achieved so far?

Just to give an idea of what the Corporation is looking for, the coordinator’s position is a contractual one for one year, and the candidate must be a postgraduate in development studies, management or hold a doctorate in public administration, economics or similar field. Good oral skills, facilitation and presentation skills and ability to represent the organisation at seminars, workshops and other events is necessary. Knowledge of Tamil is essential, the advertisement says.

Strangely, the CMATN does not have a website. The advertisement in a newspaper says “Visit us at www.tn.gov.in / www.southindia.com. The latter website is a commercial portal with no indication of the CMATN activity.

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