The Ministry of External Affairs has moved a cabinet proposal seeking a two-year tenure for the post of Foreign Secretary.
As of now, Home and Defence secretaries, chiefs of Research and Analysis Wing, Intelligence Bureau and the Central Bureau of Investigation have a tenure of minimum two years, which the cabinet had decided upon in 2005. And cabinet secretary can have a term not exceeding four years.
“The guiding principle for our move is that like other important secretaries, Foreign Secretary too should have a minimum tenure of two-years for ensuring some certainty of service before retirement. But cabinet will take the final call”, explained a senior MEA official.
In 2005 the tenure of cabinet secretary was also fixed for a minimum of two years, but after two subsequent changes it has become four years.
Initially, the tenure had been extended to three years when then cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi, on a two-year-term, got a year’s extension. But then it was made to not exceeding four year in July this year.
Present Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, 1973-batch Indian Foreign Service officer who took over on August1, 2009 and is due for retirement in December this year.
Her predecessor Shivshankar Menon had a tenure of nearly three years (from September 1 2006 to July 31 2009). Shyam Saran too had a long tenure (from July 31 2004 to August 31 2006), but there have been occasions when foreign secretaries have remained in office for less than two years.