In the first major bureaucratic reshuffle in its second term, the Narendra Modi government on Wednesday transferred Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg to the power ministry while appointing Atanu Chakraborty as economic affairs secretary. He was in charge of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (Dipam).
In other appointments, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved the name of Anil Kumar Khachi of the Himachal Pradesh cadre as Dipam secretary, according to an official notification.
The reshuffle in the finance ministry comes less than three weeks after the Union Budget was presented in the Lok Sabha and a day after it was passed by Parliament.
The government reshuffled top bureaucrats across 12 ministries, departments and agencies. The posts of secretaries of finance, power, telecommunications, parliamentary affairs, and textiles, among others, will see new names.
Garg will become power secretary, replacing Ajay Kumar Bhalla, who will take over as officer on special duty (OSD) in the home ministry. This means Bhalla could be the next home secretary once the incumbent, Rajiv Gauba, retires on August 31.
Among other changes, Airports Authority of India Chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra will take over as secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade in the commerce ministry upon the superannuation of Ramesh Abhishek on July 31.
Anshu Prakash, additional secretary in the Department of Telecommunications, will be new telecom secretary. Prakash will replace Aruna Sundararajan, who will retire at the end of this month.
Garg’s departure from North Block will also lead to a new finance secretary being named soon. According to protocol, the senior-most officer among the five secretaries in the finance ministry – economic affairs, revenue, expenditure, financial services, and Dipam — is designated as finance secretary.
Currently, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey and Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar are the senior most, from the 1984 batch. Kumar is likely to be designated as the next finance secretary, though a final decision is yet to be taken, an official said.
Expenditure Secretary Girish Chandra Murmu is from the 1985 batch (and could retire in November), Chakraborty is from the 1985 batch, while the incoming Dipam secretary, Anil Kumar Khachi, is from the 1986 batch.
A finance secretary being transferred to a ministry like power is a rare occurrence, though not unprecedented, as they are usually moved to one of the other Raisina Hill posts — defence or home (external affairs is for diplomats) — or given a constitutional post after superannuation, such as the Election Commission or the Finance Commission.
Arvind Mayaram had been serving as economic affairs secretary (EAS) since August 2012, and was designated finance secretary in April 2014. These were the last few years of the Manmohan Singh government. Just five months after Prime Minister Modi took charge in his first term, Mayaram was first appointed tourism secretary and then minority affairs secretary. Before that, EAS Sarma, who was finance secretary in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was shifted to coal ministry in November 2000. Instead of taking up that job, he retired voluntarily before his superannuation.