Tamil Nadu

K. Shanmugam appointed as new Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary

K. Shanmugam   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The State government on Saturday announced the appointment of K. Shanmugam as Chief Secretary.

The officer, belonging to the 1985 batch, is expected to take charge formally on Monday, succeeding Girija Vaidyanathan.

Several officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), across age groups, described Mr. Shanmugam’s elevation as “natural and logical”.

The new Chief Secretary, a hands-on and accessible officer, is seen by many of his colleagues as having problem-solving skills. In December 2017, when Ms. Vaidyanathan sustained a leg injury after a fall at the official residence of Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, in Chennai, it was he who officially functioned as Chief Secretary.

Hailing from a modest background in Vazhapadi, Salem, Mr. Shanmugam is an alumnus of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, with a post-graduate degree in agricultural economics.

Career history

In the early part of his career, he served as Sub-Collector of Cheranmahadevi of Tirunelveli district. He was Collector of Sivaganga and Pudukottai districts from October 1995 to April 1998.

On completing collectorship, he was made Director of the Rural Development (DRD), a post he held till the AIADMK government returned to power in May 2001. As DRD, he was responsible for carrying out several schemes, including laying cement concrete roads in villages. For a brief period, he worked at the office of Union Minister of State for Finance, S.S. Palanimanickam, in New Delhi and returned to Chennai to become Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) in February 2005 during the AIADMK regime.

His next assignment came in November 2007, when he was made Food Secretary.

Agriculture and rural development schemes

Under the then DMK government, he had to negotiate with the Central authorities for getting lakhs of cooking gas connections sanctioned out of turn, as part of the implementation of an ambitious scheme of free cooking gas connections for below-poverty families. His innings at the TNCSC and Food Department stood in good stead as the State government, led by Jayalalithaa, had shaped its position in the run-up to the Centre, enacting the law on food security in 2013. By then, Mr. Shanmugam had become Finance Secretary. Thanks to Jayalalithaa’s strong reservations, the Centre had to make certain concessions to States.

In May 2010, when M. Karunanidhi, as Chief Minister, picked him for the post of Finance Secretary, the decision surprised many in the bureaucracy as Mr. Shanmugam had not worked in the department till then.

Known for his passion in matters concerning agriculture and rural development, Mr. Shanmugam would often say, even in his early days as Finance Secretary, that the next post he would like to hold was that of Agriculture Secretary, but it has not happened.

In the midst of a tight schedule a few months ago, he, along with Principal Secretary (Agriculture), Gagandeep Singh Bedi, undertook a low-key trip to Chinnamannur in Theni district to oversee the application of modern trends in banana cultivation and post-harvest practices.

There were occasions when he received brickbats too. A section of Dalit activists had publicly accused him of having gone against the interests of students in the wake of amendment to rules governing the post-matriculation scholarship scheme.

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Printable version | Jul 22, 2021 6:31:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/k-shanmugam-appointed-as-new-tamil-nadu-chief-secretary/article28224917.ece

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