Friday, February 21, 2014

Know Your Babu: New Petroleum secretary Saurabh Chandra

Saurabh Chandra, 1978 batch UP cadre IAS and secretary in department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) has finally clinched a bigger ministry. Chandra will be India’s new petroleum secretary at a time when the row over gas price increase that would benefit Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has taken a political turn with the Aam Admi Party making it a big electoral issue ahead of Lok Sabha poll. Earlier, Chandra missed two ministries,…
department of economic affairs (DEA) and commerce, where his name cropped up as potential secretaries. Chandra held additional charge as commerce secretary in May 2012 when Rahul Khullar had joined the telecom regulator Trai as its chairman. But Chandra’s batch-mate and Gujarat cadre IAS SR Rao turned out to be the dark horse and became commerce secretary demolishing speculations of Raisina Hills. Many were then convinced that Chandra would be made secretary in the department of economic affairs. But when the then DEA secretary R Gopalan’s extended tenure ended on July 31 2012, finance minister P Chidambaram instead hand-picked Chandra’s batch-mate Arvind Mayaram who incidentally had worked with PC during UPA-I. In fact, many then thought DIPP secretary would make into DEA as it was a convention that no officer used to get the post of DEA secretary straight-away. Whether it was Ashok Jha, Ashok Chawla or R Gopalan, everyone had moved from one small ministry to the DEA. Chidambaram broke the convention and appointed Mayaram instead who joined the DEA straight as a secretary.
An electrical engineer before joining as IAS, Chandra had worked as a joint secretary in the department of disinvestment under the ministry of finance when UPA-I government began its journey with the support of the Left that opposed any disinvestment tooth and nail.
Earlier, he was a district magistrate first in Banda and then in Varanasai. Chandra will retire in April, 2015.


  1. Well by the end of the article you are very confused why he got the positing. It seems the 'connected' ones dont want to be associated with the petroleum secretary posting after the 'hot' Gas pricing policy. Well somebody has to face the media/nation on the rationale of the $8.4 price. Suprising no strong defence/explaination for that price apart from the 'expert report'. Sad

  2. Mr Saurabh Chandra was DM Varanasi in 91 and by his unique style of working he was able to impress people of Varanasi.His crisis management was excellent as shown during the period of curfew. He had excellent support and coordination from then SSP Mr Karambir Singh who later became DGP UP Police. Ultimately only very good only make it to top.