Wearing the home secretary’s hat is never easy, even if it is a headgear every Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer dreams of. And in the heat of summer, the growing discontent in the country is only going to add to the troubles of the new boss in North Block.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has picked one of the senior-most bureaucrats of Jammu & Kashmir cadre, Anil Goswami, to handle the affairs at North Block as the country’s new home secretary.
Born on January 14, 1955 in Jammu, Goswami is not new to the battleground that is the Ministry of Home Affairs. He had earlier served in the sensitive ministry as additional secretary from April 2010 to April 2012 and also as special secretary (internal security) for three months before joining the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on July 2, 2012. A 1978 batch officer, Goswami has taken over as officer on special duty (OSD) with immediate effect till June 30 when he takes charge from incumbent R K Singh.
A history buff, Goswami has authored a book on the famous Vaishno Devi shrine, drawing experience from his previous stint as the first Chief Executive Officer of the shrine board after it was taken over by the government in the early 1990s. A former colleague on condition of anonymity said, “he likes to get into details of issues and appreciates formal background notes of the matter put up before him.”
“Although he is media-shy, his style is in fact quite similar to a journalist. He wants facts before tackling any issue,” he said.
Interestingly, Goswami is popular among politicians from Jammu & Kashmir, cutting across party lines, for his unmatched contribution to the state. A seasoned hand in Jammu and Kashmir affairs, he was appointed as the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister in November 2005 by former CM Ghulam Nabi Azad just weeks after he took over the reins of the state on November 2, 2005. For almost three years during Azad’s tenure as CM, Goswami handled the state’s health, and information and broadcasting departments, apart from looking after general administration.
A reformist to the core, Goswami earlier served as a secretary to governor, principal secretary in the departments of industries, power, health and home, and served as financial commissioner and divisional commissioner of Jammu during his cadre deputation. One of Goswami’s biggest achievements early in 2004-2005 was ensuring complete turnaround of the tourism sector in the state. Appointed as principal secretary, tourism, on June 29, 2004, he revamped the Gulmarg Development Authority by creating unparalleled tourist infrastructure including roads, parks and sewage plants for one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the valley.
On June 30 when R K Singh will hand over charge of the North Block office to Goswami, comparison between the two would be inevitable. Singh, a 1975 batch IAS officer from Bihar, is a hard-nosed secretary who loves to speak his mind even at the cost of criticism. But Goswami is an old-styled gentle bureaucrat who believes in quiet though highly intense work culture.