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First woman Cabinet Secretary?

Perhaps yes, if Reva Nayyar succeeds BK Chaturvedi in June, report Vinod Sharma and Rajnish Sharma.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2006 03:04 IST

Is a glass ceiling about to be broken in the country's highest echelons of bureaucracy? Perhaps yes, if Reva Nayyar, a 1968 batch Haryana cadre IAS officer, succeeds BK Chaturvedi as Cabinet Secretary, in June.

Sources say Nayyar, the Secretary in the Department of Women and Child Development, is a frontrunner for the post, which has never been occupied by a woman officer.

Among the other frontrunners for the post Nayyar’s batchmates World Bank executive director Dhanendra Kumar and home secretary VK Duggal and finance secretary Adarsh Kishore (1969). Also in the ring are NHAI chairman Santosh Nautiyal (1968), health secretary PK Hota (1969) and DoPT secretary Pratyush Sinha (1969). Nayyar is the senior-most in the 1968 batch.

Though she has the advantage of being a woman contender, Nayyar, however, has not headed any key ministry, a yardstick applied in the past to the cabinet secretary's post.

For his part, Duggal is on a fixed two-year tenure as home secretary that will end in March 2007. Another two years for him as cabinet secretary would be a sure recipe for disaffection among peers.

As for Nautiyal, he's senior to Kishore but quite junior within the 1968 batch. The finance secretary is rated highly by the political bosses and could emerge the surprise winner despite Nayyar's advantage as a woman contender.

Well-placed sources say the Government's short-list could include Kishore and even Dhanendra Kumar, who's quite keen on the job and would not let the opportunity slip easily despite the fact that he retires before Chaturvedi in June.