Tuesday, April 25, 2017

PK Sinha gets one year extension as cabinet secretary; why he’s likely to get one more extension?

IN AN one liner order, the government on Monday said the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved the extension of cabinet secretary and 1977 batch Uttar Pradesh cadre IAS PK Sinha’s tenure for one year beyond June 12, 2017. That means, Sinha will get a tenure of three years as India’s top bureaucrat. Though cabinet secretary like home and foreign secretaries gets a fixed tenure of two years, the top bureaucrat usually gets extension mainly because PM does not want to take risks in experimenting with a new hand at the level. Two of Sinha’s predecessors —
KM Chandrasekhar and Ajit K Seth — were given extensions multiple times, giving them a chance to serve for four long years each. There’s is nothing wrong in giving extension to the cabinet secretary up to four years, but it denies the bright and performing bureaucrats of at least three successive IAS batches to reach the top of the bureaucratic echelon. It will be problematic if union secretaries too are given extension for a year or two!
When Chandrasekhar, a 1970 batch IAS, was given extension for the fourth year, BoI in a post dated June 1, 2010 wrote: “The serial extension of India’s top bureaucrat KM Chandrasekhar for one more year as cabinet secretary could surprise some analysts in Delhi’s babudom, but the 1970 batch Kerala cadre IAS played his card so well during the last one and half years in particular that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh preferred to give him a four-year term though cabinet secretary’s post like those of home and defence secretaries has a two-year fixed term…if the spurt of extensions in PMO during the last one year is any indication, Dr Singh definitely prefers to bank on his trusted war-horses than experimenting with a new recruit”. Chandrasekhar’s first one-year-extension dashed the hope of Sudha Pillai of 1972 batch IAS to become India’s first woman cabinet secretary. (There has not been any woman cabinet secretary as yet). 
In June 2011, Ajit K Seth of 1974 batch became India’s top bureaucrat. He first got one year extension during the UPA-II, but the real surprise came when new PM Narendra Modi decided to retain him as the cabinet secretary. BoI in a post dated June 3, 2014 wrote: “Corridor’s speculation on who could be Narendra Modi’s pick for cabinet secretary ended on Monday, at least for now, after the government in a surprise move extended incumbent Ajit K Seth’s term for six more months till December 13, 2014, his second extension after getting appointed as cabinet secretary in June 2011. Many believe Seth was originally handpicked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s confidant and his own batch-mate Pulok Chatterji who eventually became principal secretary to PM”. 
Significantly, Seth later got yet another six months’ extension, thereby completing a four-year-term as India’s top bureaucrat. 
If the current trend continues, incumbent cabinet secretary Sinha too may end up getting a four-year-term. A post graduate in economics, M.Phil in social sciences and certificate holder of the French language, Sinha was union power secretary before moving to the cabinet secretariat. In mid-1990s, he was Commissioner in Varanasi, now the constituency of PM Modi.

1 comment: