AT THE inaugural session of economic editors conference in New Delhi, televised by some TV channels, finance minister Arun Jaitley got puzzled for a moment. “Kya” (what?) — he asked his officials sitting next to him, as one of the editors from Tamil Nadu began by asking a question in English before shifting to Tamil language. The question was on investment awareness among common people. The media person from Tamil Nadu got a reply from union secretary of the department of economic affairs (DEA) Shaktikanta Das who hails from Odisha but...belongs to Tamil Nadu cadre. He knows Tamil language and can speak that language. Das smartly answered the question in Tamil. As this 1980 batch IAS officer completed answering the question in Tamil, there was a huge appreciation from the audience and Das’ colleagues present there, even though none of them actually understood what Das had explained. Arjun Ram Meghwal, IAS-turned minister of state for finance who was sitting next to Jaitley, highly appreciated Das.
The video of the Das' Tamil moment is available in You Tube.
IAS Association in its Twitter handle said: “This is awesome stuff by @DasShaktikanta Secy DEA. Language skills are one of the many strengths of the IAS.”
In fact, it’s mandatory for IAS officers to learn the language of one’s cadre. In this case, Das hails from Odisha but being a Tamil Nadu cadre officer, he is fluent in Tamil as well. Das who was joint secretary, additional secretary and then special secretary in the ministry of finance between November 2008 and December 2013, was first union fertilizer secretary before he was brought in to the ministry of finance as revenue secretary in one of the first major bureaucratic reshuffles by the Narendra Modi government in June 2016. Later, he was shifted to the DEA. In Tamil Nadu, Das worked as industry and revenue secretary.
Das will retire from service in February 2017.