KM Chandrasekhar who is retiring on June 13 this year. And if the sources in power corridors turn true, it also means an early retirement, or getting a better assignment for the present incumbent.
The calculation works like this. Ms Pillai, who was born on May 1, 1950 will retire on May 31, 2010 which means she ceases to be a contender for the top bureaucrat’s post by just 13 days. According to the rules, no retired bureaucrat can be considered for cabinet secretary’s post, but once someone is in, he or she would get a fixed tenure of two years if not more.
If the sources are right, the appointment for the next cabinet secretary could be done in May itself making Ms Pillai eligible for the top bureaucrat’s post, and creating a history in Independent India to have women both as a cabinet secretary and a foreign secretary. Already, Nirupama Rao, a woman IFS from 1973 batch, is the country’s foreign secretary or the top diplomat.
However, it’s a pure discretion of the Prime Minister to have his own cabinet secretary and there are instances in which PM did not necessarily pick up the senior most candidate, and preferred someone who he thought would do the best. Though there was a buzz earlier that finance secretary Ashok Chawla, 1973 batch Gujarat cadre IAS, is also a contender for the cabinet secretary, his name is virtually ruled out now because two senior secretaries of 1972 batch --- home secretary GK Pillai and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar --- who are on fixed tenure of two years are unlikely to be subjected to a junior IAS as cabinet secretary. GK Pillai who was the second most senior bureaucrat of 1972 batch in merit-cum-seniority list after his wife Sudha Pillai, cannot be a contender for the cabinet secretary’s post now as Mr Pillai who turned 60 on November 30, 2009, is on an extended posting.
That means, only two other government of India secretaries, urban development secretary M Ramachandran and tourism secretary Sujit Banerjee, both 1972 batch officers have remained in the reckoning, out of which Mr Banerjee is not considered to be even a contender for the post.
So, the battleground is drawn. Either Sudha Pillai by virtue of an early appointment or M Ramachandran will be the country’s next cabinet secretary.
a) Pati, Patni and Post: It's Pillai vs. Pillai for cabinet secretary (May 11, 2009)
b) Chandrasekhar gets extension; Ramachandran and Chawla to be key contenders now (June 2, 2009)