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Dilip Cherian | As Modi govt eyes final lap, latest secretary rejig is critical


Published on: October 26, 2022 | Updated on: October 26, 2022

As the Modi govt enters the final turn of its tenure before the 2024 general elections, the Budget and the next few months may well set the course for the future. (Photo: PTI)

The fact that this is its last effective Union Budget may have weighed on the government’s mind when it appointed financial services secretary Sanjay Malhotra, a 1990-batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre, as the new revenue secretary after incumbent Tarun Bajaj retires at the end of November.

At a time when the global economy is still struggling and India is facing rising food, fuel and fertiliser subsidy burden, with the rupee declining, additional forces are now being rushed to aid the rescue efforts. As the top babu of the revenue department, Mr Malhotra will be responsible for giving the final touches to all tax-related matters for the Budget. He will need to augment tax collections when Mr Malhotra’s appointment comes along with over a dozen senior appointments in the latest reshuffle ordered by the appointments committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

Notable among these is the appointment of Aramane Giridhar, a 1988-batch IAS officer of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, who will be the next defence secretary; Alka Upadhyaya, a 1990-batch IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, who is the new secretary of the ministry of road transport and highways; and Nagendra Sinha, a Jharkhand cadre officer who will take over as steel secretary after the superannuation of incumbent Sanjay Kumar Singh in December.

This is the latest in a rapid series of babu reshuffles announced by the Modi Sarkar. As it enters the final turn of its tenure before the 2024 general elections, the Budget and the next few months may well set the course for the future.

J&K’s solution to severe senior IPS crunch

The scarcity of IPS officers in Jammu & Kashmir is so acute that the government has reportedly decided to promote 13 SSPs as officiating DIGs, without completing their mandatory service of 14 years for eligibility, to fill vacancies at the higher levels. Sources have informed DKB that against the 29 sanctioned posts of DIGs, there are 20 vacancies! Three IPS DIG-rank officers including Amit Kumar, Tejinder Singh and Abdul Jabbar are on Central deputation.

It is said that most likely, three officers from the 2009 batch and 10 from the 2010 batch may be promoted as officiating DIGs. The officers of the 2010 batch likely to be promoted include R.M. Bhat, SSP Baramulla; Sridhar Patil, AIG Technical Headquarters; Altaf Ahmed Khan, SSP CID; Vikas Gupta, OSD, Prisons; Nisha Nathyal, commandant, SDRF 2nd Batallion, and Javed Iqbal Mattoo, AIG Building Police Headquarters, among others.

From the 2009 batch, the officers likely to be promoted include Imtiaz Ismail Parray, Shailendra Mishra and Rahul Malik. These officers are being promoted as officiating DIGs after 13 and 12 years, respectively, and will be confirmed after they complete 14 years of service.

Jodhpur post bad mojo for young IAS officers

The arrival of an awaiting postal order (APO) is the kiss of death for an IAS officer, in career terms. It is considered a blot on their escutcheon, so to speak. So, there was much consternation in Rajasthan, when a young 2017-batch officer Avdhesh Meena, who is currently posted as commissioner in the Jodhpur Development Authority, received his APO orders while he was holding a meeting with other officials.  

Babus in Rajasthan are split over why this has happened. Depending on whom one talks to, it is said that Avdhesh Meena’s performance was sub-par; others say that the babu did not field calls from the ruling Congress netas, and reportedly the APO order has come at the direction of the chief minister’s office (CMO).

Apparently, the action was so swift that even the principal secretary of the urban development and housing department, K.L. Meena came to know of it after he returned from a meeting with the state chief secretary. It is also interesting that Avdhesh has been transferred five times during the current government of Ashok Gehlot. He had been in his current assignment for only three months.

Sources say that this post has seen a quick turnover of officers in a short span; it saw three officers, namely Gaurav Agrawal, Q. Choudhary, and Inderjeet Yadav, before the appointment of Avdhesh Meena. And it seems that it will see a new babu soon.