Monday, February 04, 2013

Pulok Chatterji, Ajit Seth and corridors’ growing tribe of Stephanian secretaries

WHEN 1978 batch IAS officer Vijay Chhibber assumed charge as road transport secretary on Friday, his ministry released a short note to describe the man from Haryana. Among others, the press note said he is an alumnus of St. Stephen’s College under University of Delhi. After all, many movers and shakers in Delhi’s corridors of power including top two bureaucrats,…
principal secretary to PM Pulok Chatterji and his batch-mate and cabinet secretary Ajit K Seth, are Stephanians. Seth who learnt chemistry in St Stephen’s College maintains an excellent rapport with Chatterji, arguably India’s most powerful bureaucrat, and also the live-wire between PMO and 10, Janpath. Another secretary, Ashish Bahuguna of agriculture ministry, studied chemistry in St. Stephen’s.
Both revenue secretary and 1976 batch MP cadre IAS Sumit Bose and tourism secretary and 1977 batch IAS Parvez Dewan were history students in St. Stephen’s. Mines secretary and 1976 batch Andhra Pradesh cadre IAS Rajen Habib Khwaja was also a history student from the same college. Incidentally, Rajiv Mehrishi, 1978 batch Rajasthan cadre IAS and secretary in the ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and Vijay Chhibber, secretary of road transport and highways belonging to Manipur-Tripura cadre too studied history in St. Stephen’s. Later, Mehrishi did his MBA from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and Chhibber undertook a special programme on defence studies.
Another secretary in cabinet secretariat, Dr Prajapati Trivedi who assesses performances of various Union ministries, is also an alumnus of St. Stephen’s College. Two secretary-ranked IFS officers, AK Mukherji and Sanjay Singh, and chief statistician of India and secretary TCA Anant are also alumni of the same college.
Pradeep Kumar Sinha, shipping secretary and 1977 batch UP cadre IAS, studied economics in St. Stephen’s. DoPT secretary PK Misra and minority affairs secretary Sutanu Behuria, both belonging to 1976 batch IAS, also studied economics in St. Stephen’s.
Significantly, chief secretary of West Bengal and ex-PMO official Sanjay Mitra and J&K chief secretary Madhav Lal are Stephanians.


  1. In bureaucracy, it does not matter whether you are from Stephen's or not.

  2. This trend of St Stephenian raj, if not unfortunate,is definitely undesirable.The reforms in the Civil Services (increasing the age limit, doing away with compulsory English paper, changes in curriculum etc)had definitely given that middle class and lower middle class complexion to the Services at the recruitment stage. However, as these recruits move up the ladder of their respective services, this middle class character is lost. People from rural background and also from SC/ST, retire before reaching the top positions. The people left are those with the urban background, St Stephenian et al. This trend is more pronounced at the Center than at the States. The work atmosphere at the Center only promotes officers good in writing notes and pushing files, may be in good oxfonian English, rather than those who have practical experience of the field.There should,therefore,be no surprise if the Central Government has to battle with lack of quality and practical governance.