Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation Tuesday | Photo: ANI
File photo | Prime Minister Narendra Modi | ANI
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New Delhi: The Modi government has appointed two members of the Prime Minister’s Office, senior IAS officers Rajiv Topno and Brajendra Navnit, to the the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), respectively. 

The appointments come at a time when both the organisations are expected to play a key role in helping developing economies recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and revive global trade.

Topno has been appointed senior advisor to the Washington-based World Bank, and Navnit as the Ambassador to the Permanent Mission for India (PMI) at the WTO in Geneva. 

Both the posts are considered plum, and hold the rank of joint secretary in the Government of India.

Topno, a 1996 Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, is private secretary to PM Narendra Modi, while Navnit, a 1999 Tamil Nadu-cadre officer, serves as joint secretary in the PMO. 

A highly-placed source said the post of the ambassador to the Permanent Mission for India has traditionally been held by officers of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS), saying Navnit’s appointment “in that sense is aberrational” and in the nature of a “reward”.

Also Read: New PMO faces and 11 non-IAS joint secretaries in Modi govt’s 3rd lockdown reshuffle

A greater role

Given the global pandemic and the scale of its economic fallout, the World Bank and the WTO could assume greater significance in the process of economic and trade revival in countries, and the Modi government would, thus, require trusted officers in the institutions. 

Between April and May, the World Bank approved two aid tranches of $1 billion to support India’s efforts for providing social assistance to poor and vulnerable households as part of its Covid-19 response. 

There were other appointments too Thursday. An Indian Railway Traffic Service (IRTS) officer of the 2000 batch, Anwar Hussain Shaik, has been appointed under Navnit as the counsellor in the PMI to the WTO.  

Ravi Kota, an IAS officer of the 1993 batch of the Assam and Meghalaya cadre, has been appointed as minister (finance) at the Embassy of India in Washington DC, under the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA). Kota is currently serving as joint secretary in the 15th Finance Commission under the DEA. 

Also Read: Over 80% of households in India lost income due to lockdown, says study


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  1. Fact check guys. The appointment to the post of Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to WTO has always been held by senior IAS officers ever since the start of our membership in the WTO and IFS officers have never, and I repeat never been appointed to head our mission in WTO. Of course you have junior officers from Deputy Permanent Representative and downwards being IFS officers but never the Head of Mission. The only deviation if any from an apparent normal is the fact that Shri Brajendra Navnit is a PMO man whereas previous Heads of Mission to WTO had been senior IAS officers with the Department of Commerce at the rank of Additional Secretary or Secretary. One of our former HsoM even went on to become the Cabinet Secretary, Shri K M Chandrasekhar. So whoever “highly placed source” that you are quoting as saying that the appointment is “aberrational” or a “reward” is either not a “highly placed source” as s/he claims to be or is a horrible liar lying through his teeth. And FYI, the HoM post at the WTO is not a permanent joint secretary level post. It had previously been held by even more senior officers at the rank of Additional Secretary or even Secretary to Government of India. The status of posts are upgraded or downgraded as the government of the day seems fit.


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