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Odisha Appoints First Chief Secretary from Outside State in Two Decades

Manoj Ahuja

In a significant administrative shift, the new government in Odisha has appointed IAS officer Manoj Ahuja as the chief secretary, marking the first time in two decades that an outsider has been given the role. The 1990-batch officer from Haryana will take over following the retirement of incumbent Pradeep Kumar Jena on June 30. Ahuja, who has also been named secretary of the general administration department, brings extensive administrative experience to the position.

Ahuja, previously on central deputation since 2017, has been repatriated to Odisha at the state’s request. He most recently served as the Union agriculture secretary and has held key positions such as special director of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration and chairman of the Central Board of Secondary Education. During his tenure with the Odisha government, Ahuja has served in various significant capacities, including secretary of departments like cooperation, steel and mines, sports and youth affairs, and food supplies and consumer welfare, as well as commissioner of commercial tax.

The repatriation and appointment of Ahuja are particularly notable as the new BJP administration in Odisha features many ministers with limited experience in managing portfolios. Ahuja’s expertise is expected to be instrumental in implementing the BJP’s election promises and assisting in the selection of senior IAS officers and district collectors in the Mohan Majhi government. His academic credentials include a B.E. in mechanical engineering from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, an MBA from Punjab University, and a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University.

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