Chaturvedi takes up his seat as new oil secretary

Vol 14, PW 22 (05 May 11) People & Policy

‘Informal’, ‘unpretentious’, and ‘down to earth’: these are just some of the epithets being used to describe Girish Chandra Chaturvedi (left), the new oil secretary and most powerful bureaucrat in the Indian oil industry.

Chaturvedi took up his new seat in Room 206 on the second floor of Shastri Bhawan on (Wednesday) May 4. A glimpse of his easy-going nature was soon on display to colleagues and subordinates alike.

Just after 10am, hardly 30 minutes after reaching the office, Chaturvedi insisted on a whirlwind tour of his new ministry, visiting even the third and fifth floors, home to under-secretaries and section officers, the lowest ranks in the bureaucratic pecking order. “This is the first time in my career I am seeing a secretary come into my room,” said one startled junior officer, after Chaturvedi, smiling, made his impromptu entry.

“Normally he would call us to his room.” Another junior official adds.

“He hardly spent one minute in my room. But the way he talked you could see he is a very down to earth person.

” Initial sadness at the departure of well-liked Sundareshan was soon replaced by relief about Chaturvedi and his relaxed manner. During his walk-about, Chaturvedi devoted most time to special secretary PK Sinha, spending around 20 minutes in Sinha’s room.

Close friends, Chaturvedi and Sinha are ‘batch mates’ and joined the IAS from Uttar Pradesh in 1977. Asked why he was touring the ministry, Chaturvedi replied: “I want to get familiar with this place.

Before I used to visit Sinha only and then leave.” During their meeting Chaturvedi and Sinha might have exchanged banter on how Chaturvedi was ranked 2nd in the 1977 ‘batch’; while Sinha was ranked 17th.

Slim and of medium height, 58-year old Chaturvedi is a keen squash and badminton player. He holds a post-graduate physics degree and also has an MSc in social policy from the London School of Economics.