Vini Mahajan was Punjab’s first female head secretary on Friday.
Vini has been a civil servant of the Government of India (IAS) since 1987 and replaces Karan Avtar Singh. He brings 33 years of experience in key positions in central government and the government of Punjab.
Karan Avtar assumes the position of Special Secretary for Administrative Reform.
The only Punjabi official currently holding the post of Secretary, the Government of India, Vini, has so far held the post of additional Chief Secretary for Investment Promotion, Industry and Trade, Information Technology and Government Reform and Public Complaints. It played an important role in leading the Government’s response to the Covida crisis as Chairman of the Health Sector Response Committee and the Public Procurement Committee.
Blame his predecessor, Karan Avtar Singh, before he assumed his responsibilities in Chandigarh.
Congressional legislators pressured Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to remove Karan Avtar Singh from his position as Chief Secretary after he spoke out against ministers at excise duty meetings. Ministers led by Finance Minister Manprit Singh Badal boycotted the pre-cabinet meeting after comments allegedly made by a bureaucrat. The problem was solved through the intervention of Captain Amarinder Singh and after Karan Avtar Singh’s apology to the ministers.
The Police Commissioner of Punjab, Dinkar Gupta, is also a member of the Indian Police Service (IPS), 1987 This is probably the first time that a few authorities have acted as Chief Secretary and DGP of
Vini is the wife of Punjab Chief of Police Dinkar Gupta, who was also a member of the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1987. This is probably the first time that some authorities have acted both as Secretary of State and DGP of a state.
BRILLIANT STUDENT, BRILLIANT CAREER
Vini graduated in economics from the Lady Sri Ram College of the University of Delhi and a postgraduate student at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Calcutta, where she received a degree of honour and then an Alumni Excellence Award. Vini has played a key role in the success of the state by attracting more than Rs. 20,000 new investments a year, while working on investment promotion, industry and trade.
With her at the head of the department, Punjab first participated in the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2019 and organised a very successful investor summit last December, with a special focus on the MSME.
Under his skilful leadership, the department has significantly improved the infrastructure of the focal points and has also started the construction of new mega industrial parks. A centre of expertise and several incubators have been opened to encourage and support start-ups, and a brand new public complaints policy has recently been introduced as part of the State reform as a result of the State’s innovation efforts.
During his tenure as CHA, Housing and Urban Development, construction began on a new 5,000 hectare settlement near Mohali Airport. Moreover, during his tenure as Secretary of State for Finance, Punjab was the first State in the country to introduce a common national document registration system.
Vini Mahajan worked in the office of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from 2005 to 2012 and was active in the fields of finance, industry and trade, telecommunications and information technology. She was part of the central government group that developed India’s domestic policy response during and after the global financial crisis. It also participated in the overall response to the G-20 mechanism.
In 2004-05 she was director of the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance (MoF), responsible for India’s foreign aid and infrastructure programme.
In Punjab she has worked in various capacities, including as IPDP physician and first director of divestments. In 1997 she was appointed administrative director of the new Anandpur Sahib Development Authority and general director of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, responsible for organising the centenary of Halsa’s birth in 1999. She chaired the Committee for the celebration of Guru Nanak Deva’s 550th birthday in 2019.
FIRST PUNJABI WOMAN DC
In 1995 she became the first female officer to be appointed Assistant Commissioner in Punjab when she took up the post of Assistant Commissioner in the Ropar district, where she led an literacy campaign for which Ropar received the National Literacy Prize for the country.
Vini Mahajan has received numerous academic awards, including the National Talent Scholarship. From 2000 to 2001, she was Hubert Humphrey Fellow at the U.S. University of Washington, D.C. She was perhaps the only student in the country to be admitted to both IIT and AIIMS in Delhi in 1982, after completing Grade 12 at the Modern School, New Delhi.
His father, BBC Mahajan, was also a DSS officer in Punjab. He joined the party in 1957 and is known as an honest man. He held key positions, including that of FCR in Punjab, before resigning from his post as food secretary to the Indian Government.