Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A year later, 1979 batch IAS topper Hrusikesh Panda empanelled as secretary; batch-mate Kusumjit Sidhu elevated too

Hrusikesh Panda, 1979 batch Odisha cadre IAS who most people in the state know more as a fiction writer than an administrator, has finally got his due. Panda, who was incidentally the topper of his batch, was empanelled on Thursday as Union secretary after the secretary-empanelment of his following batch, (1980 batch), got over. Almost a year ago, BoI wrote a piece on how…“Corridor forgets 1979 batch IAS topper and Oriya fiction writer Hrusikesh Panda”. Panda’s batch-mate Kusumjit Sidhu of Punjab cadre was also empanelled as secretary on the same day. Ms Sidhu is currently working as an additional secretary and financial adviser in the Union ministry of commerce.
When 1979 batch IAS officers were empanelled over a year ago, the names of Panda and Sidhu were missing. It was widely speculated that Panda, an additional secretary in Panchayati Raj department, would be heading towards his home state Odisha as chief secretary equivalent.
As an administrator, Panda did not enjoy a smooth journey. He had, in fact, some of the major showdowns with politicians in Odisha including chief minister Navin Patnaik. A number of court cases were slapped against him, and he was transferred frequently. He refused to toe the line of Patnaik while raising retail prices of milk in 2008 when he headed the state milk cooperative, OMFED. In 2003, there was a serious allegations against Panda when then Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Welfare minister Balabhadra Majhi and legislator Saharai Oram complained that they were misbehaved by the IAS officer in a state guest house at Keonjhar district.
“But people in Odisha have always admired Panda as a litterateur. The man who boldly handles social themes and passionately depicts humanism is showered with a number of awards including prestigious Sarala Samman in 2012,” BoI wrote earlier. As many as seven novels, eight collections of short stories and four plays are to his credit.
Like the incumbent cabinet secretary Ajit K Seth, Panda too did MSc in chemistry before joining as IAS. He is a doctorate in English with a thesis on relationship between society and literature: a study in creative writing. Later, he went to Australia and studied business management.
Apart from Panda, there were five other IAS or IFS officers from Odisha who topped the civil services examinations. They were Sitakanta Mohapatra of 1961 batch, Purna Hota of 1962 batch, Lalit Mansingh of 1963 batch, Prafulla Chandra Mishra of 1982 batch and Ms Roopa Mishra of 2004 batch. Lalit Mansingh, who was India’s ambassador to US, climbed up in the ladder to clinch the foreign secretary’s job.


  1. On December 23, an ACC order said Hrusikesh Panda would be the new secretary in the ministry of tribal affairs in place of Smt Vibha Puri Das, a 1976 batch Uttarakhand cadre IAS who is retiring on December 31, 2013.

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