Odisha Appoints Manoj Ahuja as New Chief Secretary: A Milestone Appointment

In a significant shift, Odisha has appointed Manoj Ahuja as the new Chief Secretary, marking the first time in two decades that the state has selected an officer from outside its borders. The announcement came on Friday, following the retirement of the incumbent Pradeep Kumar Jena on June 30. Ahuja, a 1990-batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, will also serve as the Secretary of the General Administration and Public Grievance Department.

Manoj Ahuja, originally from Haryana, had been on central deputation since 2017. His repatriation to Odisha came at the state’s request, making him the first non-native to take up the role of Chief Secretary in 20 years. His academic credentials are impressive, with a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in Patiala, an MBA from Punjab University in Chandigarh, and a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on International Development from Harvard University.

Ahuja’s extensive experience in administration includes his most recent position as the Union Agriculture Secretary. His career also spans key roles such as Special Director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration and Chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

The official notification from the General Administration & Public Grievance Department on Friday confirmed Ahuja’s appointment as the new Chief Secretary, effective from June 30, following Jena’s retirement. This transition is noteworthy as Jena had received a six-month extension in his tenure, which concluded at the end of June.

Prior to his return to Odisha, Ahuja served as the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. His previous positions include joint director roles in Personnel Training and General Administration at the Centre, as well as Commissioner-cum-Secretary in the Steel and Mines and Sports and Youth Services departments in Odisha. Ahuja also served as the Chairman of the CBSE under the Ministry of Education.

Ahuja’s appointment is seen as a strategic move by the new BJP government in Odisha, which recently came to power. With many ministers lacking experience in handling their respective portfolios, Ahuja’s role is expected to be pivotal in guiding the new administration. He will be instrumental in implementing the BJP’s election promises and advising on key administrative appointments, including senior IAS officers and district collectors.

As the new Chief Secretary, Ahuja’s advice will be crucial in determining whether the new government will continue the schemes initiated by the previous BJD administration. His repatriation and appointment, recommended by the BJP central leadership, underscore the significant trust placed in him to steer the state’s administrative machinery effectively.

With Ahuja at the helm, Odisha looks forward to navigating the challenges of governance and development under a new leadership framework. His diverse experience and educational background position him as a key player in the state’s future.

(With inputs from agencies)

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