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Two of Modi’s trusted officers will now head empowered groups to tackle Covid-19 crisis

The 11 groups, formed to fight Covid-19, were reconstituted by the MHA Friday following retirement, transfer or appointments of some of the secretaries heading those groups.

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New Delhi: Tarun Bajaj, economic affairs secretary, and A.K. Sharma, MSME secretary — both considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi —  will now head two of the 11 empowered groups constituted as a quick response team of the government to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

The 11 groups were reconstituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs Friday following the retirement, transfer/appointments of some of the secretaries heading those groups.

Each of the Covid-19 response groups, under the charge of a secretary, has been assigned specific tasks, ranging from medical emergency management to strategising on economic and welfare measures to deal with the impact of the pandemic.

While Bajaj will head the 7-member group on economic and welfare measures following the retirement of his predecessor Atanu Chakraborty, Sharma will lead the 8-member group to augment human resources and capacity-building. He is replacing Arun Kumar Panda, who retired as the MSME secretary Thursday.

The empowered groups were constituted on 29 March.

Also read: Covid hasn’t gone viral in India yet, but some in the world & at home can’t accept the truth

Other changes & additions

Besides Bajaj, rural development secretary N.N. Sinha is also a new addition to the economic and welfare measures group as one of its members.

He has replaced Rajesh Bhushan, who has been appointed as the Officer on Special Duty in the health ministry. Bhushan will replace health secretary Preeti Sudan when she retires in July.

Information and Broadcasting secretary Amit Khare has replaced Ravi Mittal, who was appointed sports secretary last Sunday. Mittal headed the 7-member empowered group on information communication and public awareness, which will now be headed by Khare.

Khare was earlier heading the 4-member group on public grievances and suggestions. He has now been replaced by K. Shivaji, secretary department of administrative reforms and public grievances.  

The group on facilitating supply chain and logistics management for availability of necessary items such as food and medicines has two new members. 

The 8-member group is headed by secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer.

The two new members are newly-appointed consumer affairs secretary Leena Nandan, who has replaced Pawan Kumar Agarwal, and food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, who has replaced Ravi Kant.

While Agarwal has been transferred to commerce ministry as the special secretary, Kant has been appointed as the secretary, ex-servicemen welfare, which is under the defence ministry. 

Each of the 11 groups works in close tandem with the state governments and has made several recommendations to tackle the outbreak. Many of the suggestions have already been implemented by the government.

Also read: Coronavirus has brought India’s almighty Centre back, and Modi’s unlikely to give up control


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  1. In the Indian Context, the IAS is an inheritance from the ICS of British “Indian Civil Service” which was the diplomatic army of the Queen to rule India. With Independence the clever former ICS officers manipulated it as IAS to hold on to the power center and the politicians at that time were happy to see some other group take responsibility and run the country. Only issue is they should have created the IES for engineering services, IMS for medical services and ILS for the legal people. The IAAS cleverly fended this is off. This is thebane of today so glaringly exposed in the Corona crisis.

  2. We have no shortage of intelligent and innovative manpower to head any body in the country, The shortage is of honest and incorruptible. The Babu culture which prevails in the different services, in fact trains them for the arrogance and sycophancy which gets reinforced when they work and watch the seniors.
    It will be generations before we build a culture of ” I will not take, what is legitimately not mine”

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