Modi govt extends tenure of two top bureaucrats

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Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, whose tenure was to end on January 28, on Monday got a one-year extension. The government also extended the tenure of Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das by three months till May 31.

The two high ranking bureaucrats have been at the helm of top affairs in this government. While Jaishankar was also involved in planning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to United States in September 2014, the latter has been the most visible face post the demonetisation move.

The nod for the extension of Jaishankar’s tenure till January 28, 2018 was given by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), official sources said. A 1977-IFS batch officer, Jaishankar was appointed Foreign Secretary on January 29, 2015 just few days before his retirement replacing Sujata Singh, whose term was abruptly curtailed by the government.

With Jaishankar getting the extension, many senior diplomats including India’s ambassador to Italy Anil Wadhwa (1979-batch) and Secretary (West) Sujata Mehta (1980-batch) will retire without getting a shot at the top position.

India’s ambassador to China, Vijay Gokhale, seen as one of the main contenders to replace Jaishankar, is retiring in the end of January 2019. And with Jaishankar getting a one-year term, it leaves Gokhale in the race for the top diplomatic position in the External Affairs Ministry.

In a related move, Centre extended Shaktikanta Das’ tenure by three months on Monday. He will now serve till May 31 this year.

“The Appointment Committee of Cabinet has approved the proposal for extension in service in respect of Shaktikanta Das, IAS (TN: 1980), Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, for a period of three months w.e.f March 1, 2017 to May 31, 2017,” an official statement said.

The Finance Ministry is scheduled to present the Budget for the financial year 2017-18 on February 1, instead of the usual date of February 28. From this year, the government has decided to merge the Railway Budget with the General Budget.

(With inputs from the PTI)