As the search for a new cabinet secretary — the country’s top-most bureaucrat — enters the final leg, the government is also preparing for a change of guard in key ministries spanning finance, home, external affairs and defence sectors over the next few months.
Nearly half a dozen secretaries handling key ministries on Raisina Hill — the seat of power at the Centre — are due to complete their terms around the same time. This streak of coincidence will bring in a new set of faces at one go — from the cabinet secretariat at the far top end of Raisina Hill in the Rashtrapati Bhavan complex, to secretaries who occupy coveted offices at North Block and South Block down the road to Vijay Chowk.North Block houses the ministries of finance and home; South Block is home to the ministries of defence and external affairs besides the prime minister’s office.
If cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar’s thrice-extended tenure comes to an end in mid-June, home secretary GK Pillai — widely speculated to have the brightest chance to become the next central vigilance commissioner — will retire a fortnight later.
A month later, in July, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and the defence secretary, who work out of South Block, too, would step down.
The other posts that will be up for grabs are India’s ambassador to the US, Reserve Bank governor (September) and the chief of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the post tasked with ensuring that you pay your income tax.
Pulok Chatterji, a 1974 batch IAS officer, who was widely expected to return from his World Bank assignment to take over as cabinet secretary, has opted out of the race.
If the government doesn’t mind some bruised egos, an IAS couple from Delhi — sports secretary Sindhushree Khullar and commerce secretary Rahul Khullar — might become the next power couple and have the last word on matters of finance and security. Sindhushree is a contender for the home secretary’s post while Rahul could be the next finance secretary.