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.