New Delhi: To augment commercial links with countries like US, China, the Philippines, Switzerland and Belgium amid ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the Centre on Thursday approved six major appointments to foreign posts for a period of three years.
The appointees include two senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers who have been working with the Prime Minister's Office for long.
Senior bureaucrat Brajendra Navnit and young IAS officer Rajeev Topno, who are among the six, have been currently working with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and have been given tasks to achieve success in their field as expected by the government.
The others are Ravi Kota, Lekhan Thakkar, H. Atheli, Anwar Hussain Shaik, and N. Ashok Kumar.
Brajendra Navnit, a 1999 batch Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, has been chosen as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the WTO, Geneva. The Joint Secretary-level post is under the Commerce Ministry. Navnit was last year given an extension in service as Joint Secretary in the PMO. He was appointed as Joint Secretary in PMO in a massive mid-level reshuffle in 2016. Before that, he was then working as Director in PMO.
Topno, a 1996 batch Gujarat cadre IAS officer, has been appointed Senior Advisor to the ED, World Bank, Washington DC. The post, also at Joint Secretary level, is under the Department of Economic Affairs. The 46-year-old officer is currently working as a Director to the Prime Minister's office. He was appointed private secretary to the Prime Minister on July 16, 2014.
Kota, a 1993 batch Assam Cadre IAS officer, has been appointed as Minister (Economic) in the Indian Embassy in Washington DC. The Joint Secretary-level post is under the Department of Economic Affairs.
Takkar, a Central Secretariat Service official, has been appointed Counsellor (Economic) in the Indian Embassy in Beijing. The Director-level post is under the Department of Economic Affairs.
Atheli, a 2000 batch Indian Civil Accounts Service officer, has been appointed Advisor to the ED, Asian Development Bank, Manila. The Director-level post isunder the Department of Economic Affairs.
Shaik, a 2000 batch Indian Railway Traffic Service official, has been appointed Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of India to the WTO, Geneva. The Director-level post is under the Department of Commerce.
Ashok Kumar, a 2004 batch Manipur cadre IAS officer, has been appointed Advisor (Industry and Engineering) in the Indian Embassy in Brussels. It is also a Director-level post under the Department of Commerce.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the appointments to foreign or captive posts under the Department of Economic Affairs and Department of Commerce for a period of three years for the date of assumption of charge or until further orders, whichever is earlier, said a Ministry of Personnel order.
As per the subject to the condition, the diplomatic equation of Kota, Thakkar, Navnit, Shaik and Kumar will not be upgraded during the course of their posting abroad due to any reason, such as revision of pay scale from the prospective or retrospective date, earning of annual increment (s) and promotion in parent cadre, said a memorandum issued by the Ministry.
The order has been circulated to the Secretaries of the Departments of Economic Affairs and Commerce. A similar copy has been forwarded to the PMO, Cabinet Secretary, Secretary, External Affairs, and other departments concerned.
This seems India's plan to kick-start exports once the country emerges from the shadows of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The task for these officers includes cutting down import dependence, especially from China, by focussing aggressively on substitution while improving safety compliance and quality goods to gain global market share and boost commercial activities with the US, Philippines, Switzerland and Belgium, said sources.
The move comes as India is mapping out post novel coronavirus pandemic plans to boost India's economy as well as making it self dependent. The Commerce and Industry Ministry is mulling setting up groups to draw up strategies for sectors where China has vacated space and countries are looking to diversify suppliers.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)