|Union steel minister, officials at Canada (File photo)|
would be the obvious choice as the next Union steel secretary. The other name that cropped up as Machendranathan's contender was Assam cadre IAS Jitesh Khosla. Some mainstream media also published the rumours. But, in the end, when steel minister Beni Prasad Verma cleared the files only four days before incumbent DRS Chaudhary was set to retire last weekend, he gave his nod to Kumar’s appointment. Machendranathan and Khosla are empanelled as secretaries, and they would be posted in other ministries in the coming months. Those who know the dynamics of the power corridors well, say the posting of 1979 batch IAS officers as secretaries would continue till December this year, after which 1980 batch will begin.
Kumar will have a relatively long innings in the steel ministry, as he would retire only in May 2015. Hailing from Kerala, Kumar had worked as district magistrate of Odisha’s Sambalpur district in late 1980s. In mid-1990s, he was a director of Marine Products Export Development Authority. In 2000-2001, he had a foreign posting when he worked as an expert in United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). For the last three years, this Odisha cadre IAS has been working with the ministry of water resources, first as additional secretary and then a special secretary.
A post-graduate in chemistry, Kumar is also an MBA from UK’s University of Hull. It’s another matter that current cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth is also a post-graduate in chemistry before joining as IAS. After all, a good chemistry with Seth will help Kumar succeed as the steel secretary.