<p>It may be coincidental, but the 1978 batch Rajasthan cadre IAS officer, Arvind Mayaram, took charge as secretary, department of economic affairs (DEA), on the same day that P Chidambaram assumed office of the finance minister.
The clearance of Mayaram’s name for the critical job last week was seen as another step indicating the return of Chidambaram in the ministry, with whom he had worked as joint secretary, infrastructure, in his previous tenure as finance minister during 2004-2008.
He took over as DEA secretary from R Gopalan today, who retired yesterday at a critical time when the possibility of a rating downgrade by S&P, falling rupee and fear of fiscal deficit again overshooting the target loom over the department, considered the core of policy-making in the country.
Born on October 13, 1955, Mayaram was earlier special secretary and financial adviser in the department of rural development.
Known to be the brain behind the public private partnership (PPP) projects’ framework in infrastructure, he has another critical job at hand now, with the prime minister himself taking charge of pushing infrastructure sectors by fixing specific targets and putting in place problem resolution mechanisms.
A doctorate in finance, Mayaram’s job would be to actively co-ordinate with the prime minister’s office in its endeavours to fix the problems of infrastructure sectors. As JS (infrastructure), he was instrumental in creating the PPP module. As secretary economic affairs, he will have the opportunity to steer critical infrastructure projects being implemented through the PPP mode.
He will also have to expedite the implementation of budget proposals which need immediate attention, including external commercial borrowings in affordable housing and clearance of final guidelines for the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme.
With a three-year stint ahead and enjoying the trust of the minister, those who have worked with Mayaram earlier feel his acumen to find solutions for difficult problems in a non-conventional manner would help him sail through tough times, formulate long-term plans and implement these.