Monday, July 30, 2012

President Pranab and his 3 trusted non-IAS officers in Rashtrapati Bhavan

FOR the next five years, President Pranab Mukherjee will bank on three trusted officers, two men and a woman, while performing his duties at Rashtrapati Bhavan. India’s new President, known for his political craftsmanship and four decades of rich experiences in high-voltage political activities, has carefully chosen the trio himself. Significantly, or rather co-incidentally, none of the officers is an IAS. They are…
the ones who he knew in and out, and who he trusts as capable and loyal.
One of his long associates Ms Omita Paul was appointed as secretary to the President by PM-headed Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on July 24, a day before Pranab Mukherjee took oath as President. The appointment of this retired Indian Information Service officer was made public on July 25, immediately after Mukherjee took over as India’s 13th President leading to speculations how come the ACC met, decided and even announced Ms Paul’s name as secretary just in a couple of hours’ time. When Christy Fernandez was appointed as secretary to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil five years ago, it took the government more than 10 days from the time then President was sworn-in. The usual procedure is that the President is given a list of three names, all secretary level officers, from which the President picks up one. Many officers in finance ministry found Ms Paul to be “authoritarian” but no one doubted her efficiency and eye for details.
A day before Mukherjee was sworn-in as President, the ACC also approved the appointment of Pradeep Gupta, a 1986 batch Indian Ordinance Factories Service officer, as President’s private secretary. He will be a director level officer appointed “on co-terminus basis with the tenure of the President”. Gupta is also Mukherjee’s close confidante who as his OSD in finance ministry played critical roles in many issues including tackling Anna movement.
The third officer who the new President chose as his key hand in dealing with press matters is a career diplomat who can speak Chinese fluently. Venu Rajamony, a 1986 batch IFS officer currently working as a joint secretary in finance ministry, has been picked up as press secretary. As media team of former President Pratibha Devisingh Patil goofed up in many fronts particularly towards the end of her tenure, President Mukherjee did not want to take any risks from day 1. Mukherjee has personal rapport with prominent media persons in the country, but he has probably chosen a diplomat as press secretary also keeping in mind the global press.
Very few people now remember that Rajamony was the Kochi correspondent of the Indian Express before joining the service. He topped the civil services examination in 1986 leading to huge jubilation in Kerala.
Rajamony was posted in UN office of Geneva, Indian embassy in Washington DC where he had handled press, and also in Dubai, as Consul General. Rajamony also authored a monograph titled “India-China-US Triangle”.

Action and Appointments
a) Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday transferred 10 IAS officers and 18 IPS officers, in one of the major administrative reshuffles in recent days. Some of those appointments include:
• Principal secretary, Panchyati Raj, BM Meena was transferred to stamp and registration department.
• Principal secretary rural engineering department Manoj Kumar is sent to Panchyati Raj department.
• Anil Garg, divisional commissioner of Aligarh, has been transferred to rural development as commissioner.
• Balrampur district magistrate Sunit Chaturvedi has been elevated as secretary in urban development department.
• DM of Lalitpur Nidhi Kesarwani has been put on a wait-list.
b) Odisha Government too did a major bureaucratic reshuffle and transferred 11 IAS officers.


  1. President Mukherjee will do a good job as Rashtrapati. His team must not let him down.

  2. President will have another private secretary. Rajneesh, a Himachal Pradesh cadre IAS will also be his private secretary. This 1997 batch IAS will hold the rank of a director. He had joined as PS to Mukherjee as finance minister last year after Manoj Pant left for US to join as senior adviser to India's ED in World Bank.

  3. It's heartening to see that our politicians choose their officers on merit and on the basis of their past track-records. After all, President Mukherjee is one who values his performance and impression above everything else.

  4. The selection of top 3 or 4 officers on the President's staff from the civil services raises some eyebrows. One of the most important lesson to all bureaucrats at the IAS/IFS/IPS/IRS/IES/IES, etc. is to always butter the right side of the bread of their political masters and be on the right side. This will ensure them ascension because of loyalty and trust and in times of need taking the heat for their political masters and even taking a fall for their political masters. This does not bode well for good governance and an efficient administration. The political masters should not select their immediate personal staff from the civil services. If immediate personal staff are selected from the civil services, then proper, ethical, legal, moral, and good governance takes hit and the professionalism amongst the civil services staff makes way for back stabbing, infighting, and other conduct, to gain the attention of the political masters. The final casualty is bad and inefficient governance, and for this we the people pay a hefty price, in terms of poor service, bad governance, corruption, illegality, and other unwanted things. Only GOD can save us. All the service cadres have failed India and its citizens big time, resulting in loss of lives (especially for the 900 millions amongst us), no food, shelter, clothing, no healthcare, and other basic amenities which humanity needs.