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The Cabinet Secretary is the top-most executive official and senior-most civil servant of the Government of India. The Cabinet Secretary is the ex-officio head of the Civil Services Board, the Cabinet Secretariat, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), and all Civil Services of India work under the rules of business of the government.
The Cabinet Secretary is the senior-most cadre post of the Indian Administrative Service, ranking eleventh on the Indian order of precedence. The Cabinet Secretary is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister. Since 2010, the Cabinet Secretary's term length was extended to a maximum of four years.
The precursor to the cabinet, the Executive Council of the Viceroy, used to have a Secretariat, which was headed by the Private Secretary of the Viceroy. At first, the role of this Secretariat was merely to take care of the paperwork related to the Executive Council but when the work of the individual departments under the Council increased, the work of the Secretariat too became more complex. The Private Secretary came to be known as the secretary of the secretariat. And this post became more powerful over time as the Secretariat's main role became coordinating the work of the departments. In 1946, the secretariat became cabinet secretariat and the secretary became the Cabinet Secretary.
After Independence in 1947, the functions of the Secretariat underwent major changes. Being the seniormost secretary, he doesn't belong to any ministry. A series of committees on economic, defence and intelligence matters was constituted under the Cabinet Secretariat. Most of the departments created after Independence functioned under the Cabinet Secretariat and were later seconded to the respective ministries. The position holder is accountable for ensuring that the civil service is equipped with the skills and capability to meet the everyday challenges it faces and that the civil servants work in a fair and decent environment.
Functions and power
The following are the functions of the Cabinet Secretary:
- Heads the Cabinet Secretariat.
- Acts as the chief coordinator of the central government.
- Acts as the chairman of the Civil Services Board, which among other things, recommends empanelment of officers (except officers under the Ministry of External Affairs), for the ranks of secretary, additional secretary and joint secretary.
- Act as the chairman of the Committee of Secretaries on Administration.
- Act as the chairman of the Conference of Chief Secretaries of States.
- Recommends postings of officers (except officers under the Ministry of External Affairs) of the rank of secretary and additional Secretary to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
- Acts as the chairman of Senior Selection Board, which recommends postings of officers of the rank of joint secretary in the Union Government to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).
- Acts as a senior advisor to the Prime Minister.
- Provide assistance to the Council of Ministers.
- Prepares the agenda of the cabinet and minutes its meetings.
- Provide an element of continuity and stability to administration during crises.
In the Government of India Allocation of Business Rules, 1961, the Cabinet Secretariat finds a place in the First Schedule to the Rules. The subjects allotted to this Secretariat are, firstly, secretarial assistance to Cabinet and Cabinet Committees, and secondly, the Administration of the Rules of Business.
The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Transaction of Business Rules, 1961 and the Allocation of Business Rules, 1961 of the Government of India, facilitating smooth transaction of business in ministries/departments of the Government by ensuring adherence to these rules. The Secretariat assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination, ironing out differences amongst ministries/departments and evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/ad hoc Committees of Secretaries. Through this mechanism, new policy initiatives are also promoted.
The Cabinet Secretariat ensures that the President of India, the Vice-President and Ministers are kept informed of the major activities of all departments by means of a monthly summary of their activities. Management of major crisis situations in the country and coordinating activities of the various ministries in such a situation is also one of the functions of the Cabinet Secretariat.
The Cabinet Secretariat comprises three wings: Civil, Military and Intelligence. The Civil wing is considered to be the main wing and provides aid, advice and assistance to the Union Cabinet. The purpose of having the Military wing is to have better coordination in Intelligence and to provide secretarial assistance to the Defence Committee of the Cabinet and the National Defence Council. The Military wing is represented by an officer of the rank of major general, or its equivalents in the Indian Armed Forces, who is designated as a joint secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat. The Intelligence wing deals with matters pertaining to the Joint Intelligence Committee of the union cabinet. The chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) also officially first reports to the Cabinet Secretary, and is designated Secretary (R) in the Cabinet Secretariat.
The First Administrative Reforms Commission (1966–70) found that the average tenure of the Cabinet Secretary was two years and eight months, which was considered to be inadequate. It recommended a tenure of three to four years. It also wanted that Cabinet Secretary to act as the principal staff officer to the prime minister, the cabinet and the cabinet committees for important matters.
Head of the All India Civil Services
As head of the Civil Services, the incumbent position holder is accountable for ensuring that the civil services are equipped with the skills and capability to meet the everyday challenges it faces and that civil servants work in a fair and decent environment. The Cabinet Secretary is arguably India's most powerful bureaucrat and the right hand of the Prime Minister of India.
Emolument, accommodation and perquisites
The Cabinet Secretary to Government of India is eligible for a diplomatic passport. The official earmarked residence of the Cabinet Secretary is 32, Prithviraj Road, New Delhi, a Type-VIII bungalow.
The salary and emolument in this rank is in pay level 18 which is equivalent to Chief of the Army Staff, but in precedence the cabinet secretary is listed above all other government officers including those from armed forces. It is however a fact, that the warrant of precedence is not an indication of functional or inter-se seniority, and is only referred to for seating at official functions, with no relevance to the day to day business of government.
|Base salary as per 7th Pay Commission (Per month)||Pay matrix level||Sources|
|₹250,000 (US$3,500)||Pay level 18|||
List of Cabinet Secretaries of India
In 1950, N. R. Pillai, ICS was appointed as the first cabinet secretary.
|S.No||Name||Assumed office||Left office||Tenure||Notes|
|1||N. R. Pillai||6 February 1950||13 May 1953||2 years, 7 months, 8 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service. He was the inaugural head of the civil service when India's sovereignty was established.|
|2||Y. N. Sukthankar||14 May 1953||31 July 1957||4 years, 2 months, 17 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service.|
|3||M. K. Vellodi||1 August 1957||4 June 1958||10 months, 3 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service. He earlier served as Chief Minister of Hyderabad State.|
|4||Vishnu Sahay||1 July 1958||10 November 1960||2 years, 4 months, 9 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service.|
|5||B. N. Jha||10 November 1960||8 March 1961||3 months, 26 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service. He is the shortest serving Cabinet Secretary ever in the history of Independent India.|
|6||Vishnu Sahay||9 March 1961||15 April 1962||1 year, 1 month, 6 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service.|
|7||S. S. Khera||15 April 1962||18 November 1964||2 years, 7 months, 3 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service. He is the first Sikh to become Cabinet Secretary. He is known for use of tanks against rioters at the Meerut riots of 1947.|
|8||Dharma Vira||18 November 1964||27 June 1966||1 year, 7 months, 9 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service.|
|9||D. S. Joshi||27 June 1966||31 December 1968||2 years, 6 months, 4 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service.|
|10||B. Sivaraman||1 January 1969||30 November 1970||1 year, 10 months, 29 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service.|
|11||T. Swaminathan||1 December 1970||2 November 1972||1 year, 11 months, 1 day||He was in the Indian Civil Service.|
|12||B. D. Pandey||2 November 1972||31 March 1977||4 years, 4 months, 29 days||He was in the Indian Civil Service. He is the longest-serving Cabinet Secretary in the history of a sovereign India.|
|13||N. K. Mukarji||31 March 1977||31 March 1980||3 years||He was in the Indian Civil Service and the last ICS officer to become head of the civil service of a sovereign India.|
|14||S. S. Grewal||2 April 1980||30 April 1981||1 year, 28 days||She was from the Indian Administrative Service (PB:1947 batch). First IAS officer to hold the post of Cabinet Secretary of India.|
|15||C. R. Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib||30 April 1981||8 February 1985||3 years, 9 months, 9 days||He was in the IAS (AP:1949 batch).|
|16||P. K. Kaul||8 February 1985||22 August 1986||1 year, 6 months, 14 days||He belongs to the IAS (UP:1951 batch).|
|17||B. G. Deshmukh||23 August 1986||27 March 1989||2 years, 7 months, 4 days||He belongs to the IAS (MH:1951 batch).|
|18||T. N. Seshan||27 March 1989||23 December 1989||8 months, 26 days||He belongs to the IAS (TN:1955 batch).|
|19||V. C. Pande||23 December 1989||11 December 1990||11 months, 18 days||He belongs to the IAS (RJ:1955 batch).|
|20||Naresh Chandra||11 December 1990||31 July 1992||1 year, 7 months, 20 days||He belongs to the IAS (RJ:1956 batch).|
|21||S. Rajagopal||1 August 1992||31 July 1993||11 months, 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (MH:1957 batch).|
|22||Zafar Saifullah||31 July 1993||31 July 1994||1 year||He belongs to the IAS (KA:1958 batch).|
|23||Surendra Singh||1 August 1994||31 July 1996||1 year, 11 months, 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (UP:1959 batch).|
|24||T. S. R. Subramanian||1 August 1996||31 March 1998||1 year, 7 months, 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (UP:1961 batch).|
|25||Prabhat Kumar||1 April 1998||31 October 2000||2 years, 6 months, 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (UP:1963 batch).|
|26||T. R. Prasad||1 November 2000||31 October 2002||1 year, 11 months, 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (AP:1963 batch).|
|27||Kamal Pandey||1 November 2002||14 June 2004||1 year, 7 months, 13 days||He belongs to the IAS (UK:1965 batch).|
|28||B. K. Chaturvedi||14 June 2004||13 June 2007||2 years, 11 months, 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (UP:1966 batch).|
|29||K. M. Chandrasekhar||14 June 2007||13 June 2011||3 years 11 months 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (KL:1970 batch).|
|30||Ajit Seth||14 June 2011||13 June 2015||3 years 11 months 30 days||He belongs to the IAS (UP:1974 batch).|
|31||P. K. Sinha||14 June 2015||30 August 2019||4 years 2 months 16 days||He belongs to the IAS (UP:1977 batch).|
|32||Rajiv Gauba||30 August 2019||Incumbent||He belongs to the IAS (JH:1982 batch).|
- Defence Secretary (India)
- Foreign Secretary (India)
- Home Secretary (India)
- Chief secretary (India)
- Principal Secretary to PM
- National Security Advisor (India)
- As chairman.
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