Architect of India’s Kashmir policy made cabinet secretary

By on 22/08/2019
Gauba was the key figure behind the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act under which Jammu and Kashmir was recently divided into two union territories. (Image courtesy: Kashmir Pictures, flickr).

Rajiv Gauba has been appointed India’s next cabinet secretary, it was announced on Wednesday.

Gauba, who is currently home secretary, will take up the post on 30 August for a “tenure of two years or until further orders, whichever is earlier” according to an order released by the Department of Personnel and Training.

He will be Officer on Special Duty in the Cabinet Secretariat before he assumes his role as the country’s top civil servant next week, taking over from Pradeep Kumar Sinha, who has been cabinet secretary since 2015.

Gauba has wide-ranging experience in policy making and programme implementation in senior positions in both central and state government and in international organisations.

He began his career in the Jharkhand cadre of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1982 before moving into central government, including a stint at the ministry of environment and forests. He returned to Jharkhand when he was appointed chief secretary of the state in 2015, and then returned to central government to take up the position of urban development secretary the following year.

He has been home secretary since August 2017 and has handled issues such as internal security, and conflict in the north east of the country.

He was the key architect of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act under which Jammu and Kashmir was recently divided into two union territories following the abrogation of the special status given to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution, according to The Times of India. The loss of Kashmir’s special status resulted in widespread protests in the disputed territory, prompting a government crackdown.

Gauba also represented India on the board of the International Monetary Fund for four years.   

Rising to the occasion

“I keep telling my colleagues not to take it for granted that you will continue to occupy [your positions],” Gauba told Indian financial daily newspaper, Mint, in an interview in 2015. “Governments will not patiently wait for delivery and performance. They are accountable to people. They should have the freedom to appoint the best man for the job and if we don’t arise to the occasion, we have no business to crib.”

While Gauba has been appointed for an initial period of two years, under the present rules there is an enabling provision for an extension granting four years of tenure.

Power secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla will replace Gauba as the home secretary. 

Since the Bharatiya Janata Party – part of the National Democratic Alliance, a coalition of right-leaning political parties – assumed office in 2014, there have been several reshuffles at the top levels of bureaucracy, including secretary appointments, as well as a number of dismissals on the ground of misconduct and misbehaviour and officials being prematurely retired on the basis of their performance appraisal reports, according to Mint.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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