Eye on policy changes, PMO gets new faces

NEW DELHI (TIP): Fresh faces and new thinking has been infused into the Prime Minister’s Office. Manmohan Singh has rejiged his office to bring in some of the brightest bureaucrats from the MEA as part of an administrative shake-up, which promises more policy changes. Vikram Misri has taken over from Jaideep Sarkar as private secretary to the PM, a key job, held by Sarkar for over seven years. Sarkar, a PM;s favourite, will become the new ambassador to Israel that is considered a prized posting. Misri was brought in from Munich, where he was India’s consul-general to become joint secretary, PMO, after his predecessor, Pankaj Saran went on to become High Commissioner to Bangladesh.

Javed Ashraf has taken Misri’s place as joint secretary in the PMO, after serving for almost two years as joint secretary Americas, where he was the custodian of India’s US relationship. His move to the PMO is considered significant, because he would be the linchpin of a lot of policy work cutting across sectors. In the MEA, Vikram Doraiswamy has been given charge of the Americas division, which is generally believed to be one of the key assignments. Doraiswamy, who is proficient in Mandarin, was in charge of SAARC countries after returning from South Africa.

Although the IFS is a fairly small service, certainly in the past few months, both the President and the PM have picked them up for key jobs. Pranab Mukherjee selected Gayatri Kumar, who was posted in Paris and was in charge of Americas division earlier, as his social secretary, and Venu Rajamony, also from the IFS and on deputation to the finance ministry, as his press secretary a few months ago.

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