Vini Mahajan, an IAS officer from the 1987 batch, has been appointed the new chief secretary of Punjab. She has replaced Karan Avtar Singh, who is going to retire in August later this year.
Her appointment heralds the beginning of several firsts in Punjab’s history - she is the first woman to have become the Chief Secretary of Punjab, and it’s also the first time both Punjab and its neighbouring state, Haryana, have women chief secretaries. Keshni Anand Arora is Haryana’s Chief Secretary.
According to media reports, Vini has superseded several senior officers, including 1984-batch IAS officer K.B.S. Sidhu, who is due to retire in July next year, and 1985-batch officer Satish Chandra, who is set to retire this September. Vini’s husband, Dinkar Gupta, a 1987-batch IPS officer, is Punjab’s director-general of police, since February 2019.
“She can continue for the government’s remaining term. Also, there is nothing wrong in having a husband and wife working together as state’s Police Chief and Chief Secretary. I had nobody other than Mahajan who could carry on till 2022,” Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh told The Tribune, responding to the backlash regarding her appointment.
A glorious career
An Economics graduate from Lady Shri Ram College and an alumna of IIM Calcutta (she has also received the Distinguished Alumnus Award), Vini has held several positions of importance in the past.
As Chairperson, Health Sector Response and Procurement Committee, she has been lauded for her role in Punjab state government’s response to COVID-19.
Vini was the erstwhile Additional Chief Secretary, Investment Promotion, Industries And Commerce, IT and Governance Reforms, and Public Grievances. She has also been credited for her contribution in attracting over Rs 20,000 crore investment annually, during her tenure in Investment Promotion and Industries and Commerce portfolios. In 2019, Punjab participated for the very first time at the World Economic Forum, Davos, thanks to her able leadership.
In Vinia’s capacity as the Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue, Punjab became the first state in the country to roll out the National Generic Document Registration System. She has also served important roles in the Prime Minister’s Office during the term of Dr Manmohan Singh from 2005 to 2012.
(Edited by Athira Nair)