October 5, 2021 4:56:27 am
Shakti Sinha, a former IAS officer and private secretary to the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, died on Monday. The 64-year-old was honorary director at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Policy Research and International Studies at MS University, Vadodara and also involved in setting up the Delhi School of Public Policy and Governance at Delhi University. He previously served as Director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library for three years.
Sources close to Sinha’s family said he died of cardiac arrest while asleep. “He was talking to his family till 2 am. When he didn’t get up till 11 am, family members tried to wake him up only to find he was no more,” a family friend said.
BJP leader Ram Madhav tweeted, “Shocked to hear about Shakti Sinha’s demise. He was a member of the Governing Board of India Foundation and was scheduled to address a conference going on at Leh this afternoon.” In a Facebook post, Madhav said, “Shakti returned from Russia last week and was having some health issues but not really serious to take his life.”
“How fragile the life is! Met Shakti Sinha ji only yesterday and had a long and enriching interaction…” tweeted Ajay Singh, Press Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind.
A 1979 batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre, Sinha opted for voluntary retirement in 2013 while he was serving as Finance Secretary in the Delhi government led by Sheila Dixit. He earlier served as private secretary to Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 1996 and 1999 and later went on to become his OSD when Vajpayee became the Prime Minister. He recently wrote a book on the former PM – Vajpayee: The Years That Changed India.
During his stint in the NMML between 2016 and 2019, Sinha oversaw the PMO’s pet project – the Rs 270-crore Museum of Prime Ministers. Even as his selection met with strong resistance from the NMML executive council, with one of its members Pratap Bhanu Mehta resigning in protest saying the terms and conditions for the director’s office were modified to accommodate him, the Centre had put its foot down.
Post the expiry of his term at NMML in 2019, Sinha had become a bit of a recluse, mostly focussing on academics and not meeting many visitors. Weeks before he passed away, he had told The Indian Express, “I am happy not being bound by any timelines and not reporting to anyone; I have lots of books to read and write now.”
Between 2010 and 2012, Sinha served as the Chief Secretary of Andaman and Nicobar.
With an MA in history of modern India and China from Delhi University, Sinha also pursued a mid-career course in International Commerce and Trade from George Mason University and was also known to be an expert on Afghanistan.
While serving in the government, Sinha took time off to work with think tanks in India and Singapore where he analysed subjects such as how badly designed state structures and distorted policies cause or exacerbate conflict and why economic policies did not work in the absence of supportive governance ecosystems. He also took leave to work for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (April 2006-December 2008). For a short period, he was also with UNDP, Afghanistan, as Strategic Policy Advisor.
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