The ministry of external affairs will see a flurry of changes during this year. With as many as nine senior IFS officers due to retire, observers expect a lot of shuffling as well. In fact, it has already got underway with Indian high commissioner to South Africa Ruchi Ghanshyam moving back to MEA headquarters. The 1982-batch IFS officer is most likely to be appointed secretary (West) in place of Sujata Mehta who is retiring and joining the Union Public Service Commission as member. Prior to her South Africa stint, Ms Ghanshyam was additional secretary, Western Europe in the MEA headquarters.
While Ms Ghanshyam will return to Delhi in March, Ranjit Rae, a 1980-batch officer posted in Kathmandu, is retiring this month and is tipped to be replaced by 1985-batch officer T.S. Tirumurti. Also due to retire in March are India’s ambassador and permanent representative to UN offices in Geneva Ajit Kumar (1979 batch) and India’s ambassador to Germany Gurjit Singh (1980 batch). Interestingly, the extension to foreign secretary S. Jaishankar dashed the hopes of Anil Wadhwa, currently ambassador to Italy from vying for the top slot. He is due to retire in May. Another hopeful, Navtej Sarna, currently ambassador to the US, will also retire by December this year.
Stuck in Bihar
Like Didi, his feisty counterpart in West Bengal, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar is reluctant to allow IAS officers in the state to go on Central deputation. Sources say that out of the sanctioned posts of 141 IAS officials from Bihar cadre for appointment on Central deputation, only 41 are posted at the Centre. Among these lucky few are Girish Shankar, secretary, ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises; Navin Verma, secretary, ministry of development of north eastern region; C.K. Mishra, additional secretary, ministry of health and family welfare; Amarjeet Sinha, secretary, ministry of rural development and Sandeep Poundrik, joint secretary, ministry of petroleum and natural gas.
However, for the majority of officers, who are empanelled in the GoI in additional secretary rank, the door seems to be closed for Central deputation. Applications for Central deputation are always pending with the state government. Sources say that unless the official has high-level connections in the office of the chief minister or chief secretary or at least in the general administration department there is little chance of the application being cleared. It is pointed out that much of the deputation blues of babus in Bihar could stem from the bureaucracy being split between those close to Mr Kumar and those allied with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. Besides, there is a shortage of IAS officers at the senior level in the state, and the state government therefore is keen to retain senior and efficient officers.