The longer Mr Kumaraswamy takes to decide, the more the rumour mills will keep turning.
With digital transactions taking off and at the same time growing concerns about the safety of personal data, the government has reconstituted the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) by including secretaries from the revenue department as well as the ministry of information technology. The FSDC is chaired by the Union finance minister and comprises the RBI governor, Sebi chairman, finance secretary, and secretaries in the departments of economic affairs, financial services and corporate affairs. The FSDC also has chief economic adviser and chairpersons of insurance regulator IRDAI, pension regulator PFRDA and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board as members.
According to sources, the move to include revenue secretary in FSDC follows increasing safeguards being put in place by the department to check tax evasion in both direct and indirect taxes. The inclusion of secretary, information technology, in the FSDC comes at a time when there is increasing public gaze on the issue of data protection and privacy. Last year the government had set up a committee under Justice B.N. Srikrishna to provide a framework for securing personal data in the increasingly digitised economy as also addressing privacy concerns and building safeguards against data breaches.
Filling a key gap
The appointment of Pankaj Saran, a senior diplomat and current ambassador to Russia, as deputy national security adviser is the first of the many ambassadorial changes that will take place in the coming months. Mr Saran, a 1982-batch IFS officer, has been appointed for two years. It is also the second time that the National Security Council will have two deputy NSAs. Earlier this year, in January, former RAW chief Rajinder Khanna was appointed deputy NSA, replacing Arvind Gupta, a former IFS officer who completed his tenure in September 2017. It is the first time that both national security adviser Ajit Doval and his deputy are former intelligence officers.
Sources say that more changes are in the offing at the ministry of external affairs. Indian ambassadors Y.K. Sinha (UK), Sujan Chinoy (Japan) and Gautam Bambawale (China) are set to retire. The government is expected to announce their replacements soon. Similarly, the ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna, who is on a one-year extension, is going to finish his tenure in December. Mr Saran’s appointment, reportedly, is on deputation basis until he retires in November and subsequently on reemployment on contractual basis for the rest of his two-year tenure.
Chief secretary conundrum
There is much speculation in Karnataka over the successor to outgoing chief secretary K. Ratna Prabha who is ending her extended tenure this month-end. Sources believe that newly-elected chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is likely to pick T.M. Vijay Bhaskar for the top job. The other contender in the race is D.V. Prasad, former principal secretary to Mr Kumaraswamy during his earlier stint as chief minister. Both Mr Bhaskar and Mr Prasad are in the rank of additional chief secretary.
On paper, there are several IAS officers who are senior to Mr Bhaskar, and who some observers believe could well spring a surprise. However, G. Latha Krishna Rau retired last month and S.K. Pattanayak has three months’ service left before retiring. Another senior officer K.P. Krishnan is on Central deputation as secretary, ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship. It is unlikely that Mr Kumaraswamy will dislodge the babu and bring him back to the state. The longer Mr Kumaraswamy takes to decide, the more the rumour mills will keep turning.