The earliest memory of my civil services years dates back to 1989 when the then Cabinet Secretary and Home Secretary addressed our batch during the Parliament attachment. Later I was informed that both the top civil servants of India were from Rajasthan cadre, the State cadre, I was assigned to. The desert State imbibed young officials with its unique characteristics of valor, nobility and chivalry, simplicity and humility, easy accessibility and strong inter-personal relations. The cadre’s officials also displayed a deep and abiding commitment to poverty alleviation programs, school education, prudent financial management, drought management and rainfed agriculture, tenancy reforms and irrigation. Working in a desert State where VinobaBhave’sBhoodan movement left a lasting imprint, poverty alleviation through people’s participation was the path adopted by the State administration.
V.C.Pande, IAS (1955) and Naresh Chandra, IAS (1956) were remarkable men in their own rights. They served as Cabinet Secretaries and then went on to serve as Governors of Bihar and Gujarat respectively. Naresh Chandra was conferred the Padma Vibhushan and served as Ambassador of India to the United States for 5 years. He was closely associated with the India-Unites States dialogue post India’s nuclear tests. For a man of his distinction he remains remarkably simple enjoying solving puzzles in the Times of India or playing Sudoku.
In the late 1970’s, the “Antyodaya” program conceptualized and designed by Rajasthan was replicated on a pan India basis as the Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP). Padma ShriM.L.Mehta, IAS (1963) was a key official behind the formulation of the Antyodaya. M.L.Mehta was the force behind the Watershed Development &Soil Conservation programaimed at drought moderation and drought proofing by development of watershed through people’s participation. Anil Bordia, IAS (1957) did seminal work in School Education in his 12 years in the Ministry of Human Resource Development as Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and Secretary. He was associated with the formulation of the New Education Policy. On retirement Anil Bordia conceptualized the LokJumbish Program of Rajasthan. So inspired was Dr. B.Sekhar, IAS (1987) by the challenges of School Education that he named his son, Akshar and participated in several PadaYatras as District Collector Banswada.
Rajasthan successfully implemented one of the largest irrigation projects of modern India, the Indira Gandhi NaharPariyojana (IGNP). Most of the senior officials who served in the IGNP subsequently worked in the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development and Planning Commission. Krishna Bhatnagar, IAS (1967), AmarjeetAhuja, IAS (1972), GajendraHaldia, IAS (1973), and AshishBahuguna, IAS (1978) served in the Planning Commission, Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development. AshishBahugunais one of India’s longest serving Agriculture Secretaries, responsible for India’s agriculture growth revival under the RashtriyaKrishiVikasYojana.GajendraHaldia formulated and implemented India’s public-private partnership (PPP) policy in his 10 years in Planning Commission bringing in huge investments into the road sector. AmarjeetAhuja, amongst the first lady officers to serve in Rajasthan, and her years as Colonization Commissioner in the IGNP were marked by efforts to rehabilitate Pong Dam oustees in Phase I of IGNP. These efforts were subsequently seen in her years in implementation of the IRDP program in the Ministry of Rural Development.
The Rajasthan cadre officials worked in the key economic Ministries of Finance, Commerce& Textiles and Petroleum. A.V.Ganesan, IAS (1959) is amongst the finest Commerce Secretaries India has seen. His contribution was marked by conceptual clarity to protect India’s trade interests.D.R.Mehta, IAS (1961) served as Chairman Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) after a long and distinguished career in the IAS. Three outstanding individuals from the Rajasthan cadre served as Finance Secretaries – Dr. Adarsh Kishore, IAS (1969), Dr. ArvindMayaram, IAS (1978) and Rajiv Mehrishi, IAS (1978). They served on the Reserve Bank of India Governing Board and contributed to macroeconomic stability and growth through their policy endeavors. Rajiv Mehrishi has the unique distinction of serving as India’s Finance Secretary and Home Secretary.Anil Kumar, IAS (1965) and SudhirBhargav, IAS (1979) served in the Ministry of Textiles contributing enormously to export promotion and employment in a critical sector. Their subsequent tenures in the Ministries of Telecom and Petroleum were marked by high visibility.
Rajasthan cadre officials have contributed immensely to India’s policy making in key international organizations. Naresh Chandra and Anil Kumar served as Ambassador of India to the United States and Minister Economic Embassy of India to the United States, at critical junctures in India-USA relations.B.K.Zutshi, IAS (1961) served as Permanent Representatives of India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) promoting India’s commitment to multilateralism and free trade. Dr. Adarsh Kishore served as Executive Director of India to the International Monetary Fund during the2008 global recession. SubhashGarg, IAS (1983) and Umesh Kumar, IAS (1983) have served as Executive Directors of India to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. It is the first time in India’s administrative history that 2 officers from Rajasthan cadre have held the highest administrative positions in multilateral Developmental Banks.Further ShailendraAgarwal, IAS (1986) served in the Embassy of India to the WTO Geneva and YaduvendraMathur, IAS (1986) served in the African Development Bank at Abidjan.
A number of officials from the Rajasthan cadre have taken up permanent positions in the Asian Development Bank. SukhdeepBrar, IAS (1979), InduBhushan IAS (1983), AnjanaBhushan, IAS (1983), DiweshSharan, IAS (1984), Dr. B.Sekhar, IAS (1987), Dr. ManjuSekhar, IAS (1992), Manoj Sharma, IAS (1991) are amongst the officials who have been absorbed into senior positions in the Asian Development Bank.
The Rajasthan cadre’s contribution to Indian administration can be gauged from the strength of institutions that its officials have served in with high distinction. Their contributions have enriched India’s governance and contributed to nation building efforts.