Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Will senior most IAS Sutanu Behuria be India’s next cabinet secretary? And ifs and buts?

IF bureaucratic seniority is respected by the next government at the Centre, Himachal Pradesh cadre IAS of 1976 batch and current secretary of heavy industries department Sutanu Behuria will become India’s next cabinet secretary replacing Ajit K Seth whose extended tenure ends on June 13. Behuria, originally hailing from Odisha, retires on July 31, 2014, but according to rules, the officer needs to be below 60 years of age at the time of appointment, and once appointed as cabinet secretary, he will get a…
fixed two-year term. The only other 1976 batch IAS who has not retired till now is Bihar chief secretary Alok K Sinha. It remains to be seen whether the new government would stick to seniority, or it would be willing to bend the rules and appoint someone much junior for this coveted post. Among those belonging to 1977 batch, there are a number of IAS officers, like corporate affairs secretary Naved Masood or water resources secretary Alok Rawat, who could give a competition to Behuria if the new government has any reservations against the heavy industries secretary.
Also, if Narendra Modi becomes India’s next prime minister, his confidant K Kailashnathan, a retired IAS officer three batches junior to Behuria, is tipped to become the principal secretary to PM. In that case, will the new government break all conventions and pick up someone from 1979 or even 1980 batch, to become the next cabinet secretary?
The other combo could be former principal secretary to Gujarat chief minister PK Misra as principal secretary to PM with Behuria as cabinet secretary.
A post graduate in economics, Behuria took teaching assignment in America’s Southern Methodist University between 1979 and 1982, i.e. even before he became a collector. He then became collector in Bilaspur and Solan districts of Himachal Pradesh. In 1987, Behuria joined as deputy secretary in the department of economic affairs on a Central deputation. Then, for five long years (1989 to 1994), he went to Manila to join Asian Development Bank (ADB) before returning home and began a new innings as Member (finance) in Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board.
In the year 2000, when NDA had its government at the Centre, Behuria joined the union ministry of coal as a joint secretary and remained in that position for three years. He then moved to Mauritius in 2003 to join the Commonwealth Secretariat as a senior policy adviser. During UPA-I, he was an additional secretary in the ministry of commerce where he moved up in the ladder to become a special secretary.
In September 2010, Behuria became fertilizer secretary but he was moved to National Disaster Management Authority as its secretary. In September 2012, Behuria became minority affairs secretary, and then, since April 2013, he has worked as secretary, heavy industries department.
Behuria’s wife, Parvinder Sohi Behuria, is a 1977 batch Indian Revenue Service officer with a doctorate degree in macroeconomics. Mrs Behuria who was instrumental in developing a database of IRS officers though web, is also a keen golfer too.
Behurias have two children, Supreeti and Pritish.


  1. Was he also CMD of IOC in 2002?

    1. No. His brother Sarthak Behuria was CMD of IOC from 2005-2010.

  2. Whoever becomes the Cabinet Secretary, all that we can pray for is that he is able to restore rule of law. The bureaucracy has gone out of control and no rules are being followed. It is a free for all situation. Thanks to MMS govt. there was no fear in the hearts of higher bureaucracy. Let us hope new Cab. Secy is able to ensure Accountability, discipline, punctuality and efficiency. Of course Ajit Seth and his predecessor had converted the post of Cab Secy to that of Hon'y confused Postman between SG via RG & MMS. Let us hope things will change under NaMo regime.