Monday, July 10, 2017

Naresh Chandra: Former defence, home and cabinet secretary, and ex-ambassador to US died in Goa, aged 82

THIS former Rajasthan cadre IAS officer is often addressed as ambassador thanks to his five years long eventful innings as India’s ambassador to US. Ambassador Naresh Chandra is no more. He died at a hospital in Goa late Sunday, aged 82, due to multiple organ failure. BoI presents here 10 facts that summarize life and career of one of the most influential and impactful civil servants of post-independence India:

1. Naresh Chandra was born on August 1, 1934 in Allahabad. 
2. An M.Sc in mathematics, Chandra joined IAS in 1956 and was allotted Rajasthan cadre. 
3. In the state of Rajasthan, he held some important posts; he was secretary in the department of industry and mines, the chairman of Rajasthan Electricity Board, finance secretary and then chief secretary of Rajasthan.
4. At the Centre, he served as joint secretary in the industry ministry between 1977 and 1981. Later (1987-1989), he was union water resources secretary. 
5. But Chandra became a very powerful bureaucrat in the country thanks to his back-to-back appointments at key posts: Defence secretary (1989-1990); Union home secretary (March-December 1990) and cabinet secretary (1990-92). In August 1992, he was appointed senior adviser to Prime Minister, thereby continuing his clout in the corridors in PV Narasimha Rao era.
6. For a brief period — for eight months since July 1995 — he was Governor of Gujarat. 
7. But most people remember Chandra more for his 5 years tenure as India’s ambassador to United States of America (1996-2001) so much so that he became Ambassador Chandra thereafter. India’s ambassador to US is a key post usually held by an Indian Foreign Service officer, not by an IAS. 
8. As former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao tweeted after the news of Chandra’s death: “Will never forget his virtuoso handling w/calm, cool and conviction fallout of our 1998 nuclear tests in Washington. His finest hour”. 
9. Former chief election commissioner and retired IAS SY Quraishi tweeted: “I was lucky to once work closely with him in IAS Association that produced CSOI and Sanskriti school”. CSOI is Civil Services Officers' Institute, a society registered under the Societies Registration Act and was set up in February 1998.
10. Chandra was conferred Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian award, in 2007.


  1. How can an ias hold the post of an Indian ambassador?

    1. Lt. Gen (R) KapoorJuly 14, 2017 at 3:03 AM

      In the past, Central Secretariat Service (CSS) cadre officers have been given posts in the embassies.

      - L R Sethi, 1964, Cultural Counsellor, Indian Embassy, Washington
      - Raj Kumar, 1964, Financial Adviser, High commission, London
      - J N Moniaive, 1966, counsellor Embassy of India Rome
      - K Shankar, 1969, FA High Commission of India London
      - H K Kochar, 1970, DG ISD London

      All members of the civil services, serve at the pleasure of the President of India. However all selection, appointment and promotion/empanelment is done by the then Government of India (Central Cabinet of India).

      The Cabinet of India (Government of India) in its wisdom can appoint anyone to any post in the civil service.

      No where in the constitution of India, does it say that a |"Position of Ambassador" shall be appointed from only the Foreign Services.