Friday, May 11, 2012

Bahuguna or Pati: Who Pulokaseth zeroed in to be new agriculture secretary?

FOR 1978 batch secretary-empanelled officers, there are both anxieties and excitements. There are excitements because every month end, one or more secretaries will retire and the posts have to be filled up from their pool alone. But there are anxieties too: what’s if Pulokaseth (plural of Pulok Chatterji and AK Seth) decide to allot a department to someone which he or she really does not like to go? Also, will the process get delayed if more and more secretaries get extension? DEA secretary R Gopalan got an extension for three months, and coal secretary Alok Perti may get one.
This month, secretaries of agriculture, and food and civil supplies will retire, paving the way of two officers of 1978 batch securing independent departments. Here are the two contenders for the post of agriculture secretary, and why they should or should not be considered:
For agriculture, the choice is between Gokul Chandra Pati of Orissa cadre and Ashish Bahuguna of Rajasthan cadre.
An MSc in physics, Pati is an MBA from University of Wollongong, Australia. In the state, he had served in ministries like industry, finance, education etc. But out of 34 years of his service, he had served 12 years in agriculture and rural development either in state or Centre, making a strong case for him to be Union agriculture secretary. For the last six years, Pati has been in Union agriculture ministry, first as joint secretary, then additional secretary and now special secretary.
If his batch-mate and UP cadre IAS Saurabh Chandra could be elevated in the same ministry, DIPP, why can’t it be done for him? Chandra was additional secretary and special secretary in DIPP before he was named secretary in the same department.
Pati’s main contender for the job is his batch-mate and special secretary in agriculture ministry Ashish Bahuguna. Originally hailing from Uttaranchal, Bahuguna too had over 10 years of experiences in agriculture both at the Centre and the state. Between 2001 and 2009, he held various positions in state’s agriculture, animal husbandry departments.
Also, if commerce secretary Rahul Khullar becomes telecom regulator Trai chairman after JS Sarma’s retirement next week, there will be a vacancy in another very important department. Also, Rudra Gangadharan, a 1975 batch Kerala cadre IAS, will retire as animal husbandry secretary in June.

Action and Appointments
a) Ms Anuradha Prasad, a 1986 batch IDAS officer, has been appointed as joint secretary in the ministry of food processing industries in place of Ajit Kumar, a 1980 batch Bihar cadre IAS who is completing his extended tenure on May 17, 2012.
b) Pradeep Shukla, 1981 batch UP cadre IAS, was on Thursday arrested by CBI for his alleged role in National Rural Health Mission scam. Incidentally, Shukla was the topper of his batch.

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