Pradip Biswal

As reported in the media, Manoj Ahuja, a 1990 batch IAS officer of Odisha cadre, has been picked up to be the new Chief Secretary of Odisha in the new dispensation.

Mr. Ahuja is a technocrat turned bureaucrat who believes in innovation and efficiency in public service. He is a graduate in mechanical engineering from the reputed Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala and MBA from Punjab University, Chandigarh. He did Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University, USA. His spouse Arti Ahuja is also an IAS officer of 1990 batch belonging to Odisha cadre.

During his distinguished career as a civil servant spanning over three decades, he held many important positions in the State Government as well as the Union Government. He was Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, Secretary, Steel and Mines, Secretary, Food, Supplies & Consumer Welfare, Secretary, Cooperation in the state government.

As Secretary Steel and Mines Department he had taken stern action against illegal mining in the state. As Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, he was instrumental in initial drafting of GST and played a very crucial role in the deliberations at the national level.

A very hardworking and dedicated person, he is liked by all for his no-nonsense attitude and silent approach to achieve the goal. At a time when the morale of the bureaucracy in the state has reached the lowest ever and an over centralised system has proved to be damaging for the democratic institutions, he is the best person to regain confidence among the bureaucrats and bring back a true democratic approach in governance.

On deputation to the central government, he was Joint Secretary, DoPT, Joint Director, LBSNAA, Chairman, CBSE and finally Secretary, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare before his repatriation to Odisha for the crucial assignment.

As a person he is honest, upright and humble. He doesn’t hold any grievance against anybody and always remains engaged in his own assignment. He takes things in a very sportive way and looks forward in a positive way. His polite personality endears him among his colleagues and subordinates.

While he was Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, he used to tour extensively throughout the state but never bothered his subordinates for his hospitality. He always carried fruits and biscuits with him and takes his lunch and dinner on the way in the roadside eateries.

A man of principle, Mr. Ahuja believes that charity begins at home. He has inspiring leadership qualities that impresses his colleagues to work for him.

He is a sportsman who was an active member of the Bhubaneswar Cycling and Adventure Club.  On the weekends he used to visit places like Puri, Konark, Chandikhol by cycle along with members of the Club which included some senior officers like Police Commissioner Sanjib Panda.

Even on working days once in a week he used to attend office in Cuttack by cycle from Bhubaneswar. He had participated in various expeditions in cycle to distant places and hills in company of his fellow members. His presence in Bhubaneswar once again may boost the activities of the Club.

I had a cordial relationship with him during his tenure as Commissioner, Commercial Taxes and Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department. He had the tendency to discuss important issues and sort out things amicably.

When he was Joint Secretary in DoPT I met him in Delhi for some personal issues and he was prompt in arranging things for me although he was not directly dealing with the issue. Whenever we meet, he was always warm and affectionate as a colleague and I never missed his personal touch in our conversation.

Last time when he left for Delhi on central deputation, we both traveled in the same flight from Bhubaneswar Airport. At the airport he wanted me to join as the Director of the department he was holding on but he was no more the Secretary. I missed the opportunity to work directly with him. Of course, it doesn’t matter now. I have already completed my innings in government quite successfully without any regrets.

Manoj Ahuja has barely six months to go to complete his glorious innings in Civil Service. May I wish him splendid success in his new assignment!

(The author is a poet & columnist and a former bureaucrat. Views expressed are personal)

4 COMMENTS

  1. You have written so nicely, remembering past details with admirable accuracy.
    Simple prose that touches the mind & heart instantaneouslly.

  2. Very very nice and prudent article on one brilliant IAS officer Sj Manoj Ahuja .We feel proud for him on his highest assignment as Chief Secretary of Odisha.

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