Even as the government today gave Saurabh Chandra, secretary, department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), the additional charge of secretary, Department of Commerce, Dinesh Kumar Mittal has emerged as the front runner for the post.
An Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer from the 1977 batch's Uttar Pradesh cadre, Mittal is renowned in government circles for his straightforward attitude, hard work and diligence. He joined the ministry of commerce and industry as joint secretary and was instrumental in making the government's special economic zone (SEZ) programme a success. Under him, a number of SEZs became operational and exports from these zones grew exponentially.
He earlier had a four-year stint as chief of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services. During his tenure in the department of commerce, Mittal was one of the primary negotiators for India in the global trade talks under the World Trade Organisation.
He later joined the Ministry of Corporate Affairs as secretary before joining the finance ministry as financial services secretary, during which he provided banking facilities to 74,000 villages and moved crucial Bills to the Cabinet.
These included the Banking Bill, the Insurance Bill and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill. The insurance and PFRDA Bills are yet to be cleared by the Cabinet.
Another contender for the post of secretary, Department of Commerce, is Ashok K Mangotra, the director-general of supplies and disposals (DGS&D) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Last month, the Cabinet's appointments committee upgraded his rank and pay of those of a secretary.
In February 2010, Mangotra joined the Ministry of Commerce and Industry as additional secretary. He was also additional secretary and financial advisor in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution from October 2009 to February 2010.
A third contender is Sutanu Behuria, a 1976 Himachal Pradesh IAS cadre officer, who has been in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for three years. Currently, he is secretary in the disaster management department under the home ministry.
He joined the ministry as additional secretary and financial advisor. He then became special secretary in the department, before joining the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers as secretary, Department of Fertilisers, where he kick-started the nutrient-based subsidy policy for balanced fertilisation and reduced the excessive use of urea. He was also instrumental in pushing for decontrolling urea prices to reduce the government's subsidy burden.