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Post-retirement jobs just a handshake away for finance ministry officials

The appointment of chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes, Sushil Chandra, as election commissioner takes forward a well-known trend in Delhi’s bureaucratic circles. Finance ministry mandarins are almost always in a favourite position to get these posts compared to officers from other ministries.

The trend has also accelerated in each decade. While outgoing finance secretaries have bagged post-retirement assignments for decades, other service officers were not so lucky. There were some major exceptions like N Rangachari, who became the first chairman of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India in 1996. Not too many chiefs of direct and indirect taxes followed in his footsteps, till Ravi Kant became a member of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.  

Similarly it was Dhirendra Swarup from the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, who moved from expenditure secretary to become the first chairman of Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India. IAS officers were clearly happy to give space to colleagues from other services to fill up new types of positions. The trend has not changed even in the current decade.

In the nineties there were not too many places for even an IAS officer to move post retirement. While the table is not exhaustive but it does show the trend well. Only five officers from the finance ministry at the secretary or special secretary level got a post-retirement billet.

But by the end of the noughties, 17 officers from North Block after their term ended there, found another innings. It has expanded as the number of regulatory institutions has expanded creating more scope for the finance ministry officers.  

In the current decade, 12 officers have already made it into various posts. If one adds officers like Rajiv Mehrishi, who served as finance secretary then as home secretary before joining as CAG, or Bimal Julka, who after a long stint as director general, currency became I&B secretary before joining as member CIC, or Ajay Tyagi, who has moved to Sebi from the finance ministry, the numbers are already comparable. Also, there is a difference in the nature of these posts. Many of the earlier ones were clearly sinecure, like executive directors at multilateral institutions or as independent directors at state-owned companies. Those handed out in the current decade are mostly executive positions.

Among those, both Sushil Chandra from direct tax and Vanaja Sarna, his counterpart in indirect tax, have set a record. It is the first time both outgoing chiefs have landed post-retirement jobs that are executive in nature and carry clear functional responsibility. For instance, there are two positions, the chairman of UIDAI and of GSTN which are held concurrently by revenue secretary, Ajay Bhushan Pandey. The trend looks set to intensify.

Name Post Retirement

Post retirement Year of

N Rangachary CBDT Chairman 1996 Chairman, IRDA 1996
Ravi Kant CBDT Chairman 2000 Member, Trai 2000
Berjinder Singh CBDT Chairman 2005 Chairman, DERC 2006
R Prasad CBDT Chairman 2008 Member, CCI 2006
Anita Kapur CBDT Chairman 2015 Member, COMPAT 2016
Sushil Chandra CBDT Chairman 2019 Member, ECI 2019
Vanaja Sarna CBEC Chairman 2018 Member, CIC 2019
J M Shanti Sundharam CBEC Chairman 2015 Independent Director, BPCL 2017
Praveen Mahajan CBEC Chairman 2014 Member, CAT 2015
P C Jha CBEC Chairman 2009 Independent Director, SAIL 2011
S D Mohile CBEC Chairman 1997 Reappointed 1998
M K Zutshi CBEC Chairman 2003 Member, TARC  
Montek Singh Ahluwalia Finance Secretary 1998 Deputy Chairman, Plan Com 2004
N K Singh Revenue Secretary 1998 Principal Secretary, PMO 1999
Vijay Kelkar Finance Secretary 1999 Executive Director, World Bank 1999
Piyush Mankad DIPP Secretary 2001 Executive Director, ADB 2001
C M Vasudev Finance Secretary 2002 Executive Director, World Bank 2002
S Narayan Finance Secretary 2003 Principal Secretary, PMO 2002
C S Rao Revenue Secretary 2003 Chairman, IRDA 2003
Vineeta Rai Revenue Secretary 2004 Member Secy, Administrative Reforms Commission  2005
D Swarup Expenditure Secretary 2005 Chairman, PFRDA 2005
Adarsh Kishore Finance Secretary 2006 Executive Director, IMF 2006
Ashok Lahiri Chief Economic Advisor 2002 Executive Director, ADB 2007
Arvind Virmani Chief Economic Advisor 2007 Executive Director, IMF 2009
K M Chandrasekhar Revenue Secretary 2007 Cabinet Secretary 2007
Vinod Rai Financial Services 2006 CAG 2008
D Subba Rao Finance Secretary 2007 Governor, RBI 2008
Sanjiv Misra Expenditure Secretary 2006 Member, 13th FC 2007
Ashok Chawla Finance Secretary 2011 Chairman, CCI 2011
R Gopalan DEA Secretary 2013 Member, Public Enterprise Selection Board 2013
Sushma Nath Finance Secretary 2011 Member, 14th FC 2012
Ashok Lavasa Finance Secretary 2016 Member, ECI 2018
Ratan Watal Finance Secretary 2016 Principal Adviser, Niti Aayog 2016
Shaktikanta Das DEA Secretary 2017 Governor, RBI 2018
Neeraj Kumar Gupta Disinvestment Secretary 2017 Member, CIC 2018


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