Monday, June 09, 2014

Who is hinting at Alok Rawat as India’s next cabinet secretary in December?

Alok Rawat
NO ONE knows what's in Narendra Modi’s mind. Yet, there are reasons to believe that prime minister who had surprised everyone by giving the current cabinet secretary Ajit K Seth an extension till December 14, is probably zeroing in on 1977 batch Sikkim cadre IAS and current water resources secretary Alok Rawat for the cabinet secretary’s post six months down the line. The first hint emerges from Rawat’s recent…
appointment as the head of inter-ministerial Committee of Secretaries (CoS) for developing river Ganga as a tourism destination, means of transport, fisheries development and power generation. It is proposed to conduct a dredging to provide a width of 45 meters and for a three meters draft (depth) to enable transport of passengers and goods between Varanasi, incidentally Modi’s parliamentary constituency, and Hoogly on river Ganga in the first stage of its development.
Now, let’s understand what do all those developments mean? First, CoS is usually headed by cabinet secretary and not by one ministry’s secretary. But water resources secretary Rawat is given that responsibility of heading the CoS that will have secretaries of tourism, power, shipping etc. as members. Secondly, plans on the river Ganga are very much a part of Narendra Modi’s top agenda, particularly after his decision to retain UP's Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. Modi won from Gujarat’s Vadodara too, but he left that seat after registering victories in two seats.
Thirdly, Rawat had experiences in both defence ministry and cabinet secretariat. Post graduates in physics and national security, Rawat had worked as joint secretary in the ministry of defence in mid-1990s. Between 2011 and 2013, he was secretary (co-ordination) in cabinet secretariat under Ajit Seth.
And with Seth’s six-months extension as cabinet secretariat, many of today’s senior most IAS will retire. If Seth is not given any more extension, and Modi decides to go by seniority while appointing the next cabinet secretary in December, he has to choose someone from the list of four 1977 batch IAS: Alok Rawat (water resources secretary, Sikkim cadre), PK Sinha (power secretary, UP cadre), Naved Masood (corporate affairs secretary, Manipur-Tripura cadre) and Madhav Lal (MSME secretary, Jammu and Kashmir cadre).

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