P K Sinha: A soft-spoken man, listener who cannot be 'accused of passion'

Pradeep Kumar Sinha brings with him experience of not just leading two ministries as secretaries but also of balancing and coordinating views
Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha is moving to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as an official on special duty at a time when reviving the economy has become the biggest challenge for the government.

A soft-spoken man, Sinha brings with him experience of not only leading two ministries as secretaries but also of balancing and coordinating views and plans of various government departments that are often contradictory to each other.

“It’s an appropriate decision, since he (Sinha) can bring in continuity because he has been Cabinet Secretary,” said Anil Razdan, a former power secretary, who worked with Sinha in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Razdan added, “One of his assets is that he is a patient listener who will decide after listening to all.”

Of his 42 years in Indian Administrative Service, Sinha has spent about 20 in the energy and infrastructure sectors. He moved from the petroleum ministry to head the shipping ministry and later the power ministry.

In 2015, he took over as Cabinet secretary from Ajit Seth. After two extensions, he got a third one for three months ending this September.

A retired IAS officer of 1977 batch, belonging to the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Sinha cracked the highly competitive civil services examination in the first attempt at the young age of 22 years.

A senior official, who interacted with him in the ministry of petroleum, said, “He cannot be accused of passion; he takes decisions after thinking through.” Sinha is a typical officer, who follows rules and “thinks the role is more important than the person”.  

Sinha’s contemporaries describe him as an extremely pleasant person who is known to back his juniors to the hilt. “As the financial advisor in the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, I always found his inputs very useful. He was the government director on the board of many state-owned petroleum companies but unlike joint secretaries, who were also in the same positions, he had a grasp on the operational matters of the companies,” said S C Tripathi, former petroleum secretary.

Sinha’s appointment also indicates that there could be a complete overhaul of the team that looks at the country’s economy at the PMO. His experience as head of a high-level committee on stressed power assets could come in handy.

An economics graduate from Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College and a postgraduate from the Delhi School of Economics, he can now oversee the government’s ambitious plan of investing Rs 100 trillion in the infrastructure sector in the next five years as part of the plan to make the economy grow to $5 trillion by 2025.

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