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.