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  Opinion   Columnists  10 Jan 2024  Dilip Cherian | Decoding the Railway Board reshuffle

Dilip Cherian | Decoding the Railway Board reshuffle

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Published : Jan 11, 2024, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Jan 11, 2024, 12:00 am IST

Roopa Srinivasan is set to serve as the DG, NAIR, from the Railway Board in Delhi

The railway ministry has dispelled speculation by devising a unique arrangement to formalise the role of the newly appointed director-general (DG) of the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) in Vadodara. (Image: DC)
 The railway ministry has dispelled speculation by devising a unique arrangement to formalise the role of the newly appointed director-general (DG) of the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) in Vadodara. (Image: DC)

The question had arisen after the recent reshuffling of the Railway Board with the appointments of Seema Kumar, Naveen Gulati and Satish Kumar. While these were anticipated, the crucial role of member, finance, was shrouded in uncertainty. Now, the railway ministry has dispelled speculation by devising a unique arrangement to formalise the role of the newly appointed director-general (DG) of the National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) in Vadodara.

In a new order, Roopa Srinivasan is set to serve as the DG, NAIR, from the Railway Board in Delhi. Interestingly, Ms Srinivasan will also continue to manage the responsibilities of the post of member, finance, on the Railway Board, a role she has taken on effective this month following the retirement of Anjali Goyal last month.

The order has far-reaching implications, note sources. The complete infrastructure of NAIR has now been placed under the control of the newly appointed vice-chancellor of Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya (GSV) in Vadodara. This infrastructure was previously directly overseen by the DG, NAIR.

Observers have informed DKB that the ministry’s decision not only streamlines the administrative structure but also reflects the adaptability and foresight necessary to steer the railways into a new era. As the dust settles on the recent changes, the Railway Board’s ability to navigate complexities as well as its commitment to efficiency and strategic leadership will be tested.

New Rajasthan chief secretary’s swift rise

The suspense is over with the appointment of former Union health secretary Sudhansh Pant as the new chief secretary of Rajasthan, succeeding Usha Sharma. This is Mr Pant’s third successive shift within a year, indicating the Centre’s strategic placement of a seasoned bureaucrat. Those in the know say that the repatriation of Mr Pant from the Centre to his home cadre state had already indicated that he would be the next chief secretary of the state.  

Such seemed to be the Centre’s urgency to push for Mr Pant that he has superseded six IAS officers to take on the role of chief secretary. Not surprisingly, the decision to bring him back to the state, despite other capable officers, has left many babus questioning the Centre’s rationale, but quite clearly the Centre hopes that Mr Pant’s vast experience will be of immense use to the new chief minister Bhajan Lal Sharma, who is relatively unknown and an untested administrator. His strong credentials and administrative skills positioned him as the Centre’s preferred choice for assisting the newbie chief minister to steer towards a pro-people administration, away from a resource and power-centric approach. His journey from being appointed OSD in the ministry of shipping in October 2022 to his recent stint as Union health secretary has been swift. As he assumes this pivotal role, the expectations are high for Mr Pant to bring about positive changes in the state bureaucracy.

Fair probe priority: SC halts DGP transfer

The Supreme Court’s decision to stay the order of the Himachal Pradesh high court regarding the transfer of Sanjay Kundu from the position of director general of police (DGP) marks a significant development in the ongoing case of alleged harassment against Palampur businessman Nishant Sharma. The Supreme Court has urged the high court to expedite the disposal of the recall application within two weeks.

The high court’s initial directive to shift Mr Kundu from his position was to prevent any potential influence on the investigation into the harassment allegations. However, the Supreme Court’s intervention has temporarily halted this transfer, granting Mr Kundu the liberty to approach the high court for a recall of its earlier order.

In response to the initial order, Mr Kundu has already been removed as DGP, being reassigned as principal secretary in the Ayush department. The high court order also included the transfer of Kangra SP Shalini Agnihotri to other posts, to prevent any potential influence on the ongoing investigation.

The businessman, Nishant Sharma, who raised the concerns prompting the high court’s intervention, had cited the need for protection from powerful individuals. As the legal proceedings unfold, the apex court’s decision to stay the transfer order aims to ensure a fair and impartial probe. Meanwhile, the state government had already announced Satwant Atwal Trivedi, a 1996-batch IPS officer, as the officiating DGP, which decision now will have to wait until the Kundu case is resolved.

Tags: railway board, administrative restructuring, roopa srinivasan, indian railways