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Roundtable on Government Reform: Lessons from India’s Experience

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Jun 19,2017
IBM Center for the Business of Government, Washington, DC.

On June 19, 2017, Prof. Prajapati Trivedi, Senior Fellow (Governance), Bharti Institute of Public Policy, also a Visiting Fellow at The IBM Center for The Business of Government, Washington, DC, helped organize a roundtable discussion with Mr. Ajit Seth, former Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, Washington, DC.

Roundtable was chaired by Mr. Dan Chenok, Executive Director of the IB Center. Mr. John Kamensky, Senior Fellow at the Center and Prof. Prajapati Trivedi were the two discussants to initiate the roundtable discussions. The roundtable was well attended by many Washington-based think tanks (Brookings, Campbell, etc.), US Government officials, World Bank, and academics. 

The Cabinet Secretary in India is the top most executive official and senior-most civil servant, who is also head of all civil services under the rules of business of the Government of India. As the head of civil services in India, Mr Seth was responsible for driving a large range of reforms in the Government. For example, he chaired the Core Group on Administrative Reforms and finalized recommendations to the Cabinet on the Reports of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission. He is the Founding Chairman of the recently created National Centre for Good Governance. 

Mr. Ajit Seth served as Cabinet Secretary of India between 2011 and 2015, after a distinguished career in civil service spanning four decades.  He was among the longest serving Cabinet Secretaries, with the unique distinction of having served two successive administrations – both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For more details on his career, please see the attached profile.

Given his experience in leading large-scale government reform in a dynamic system, he provided valuable insights that many felt may help inform the approach to the current reform efforts in the US government.  In addition, it also provided useful context to Prime Minister Modi’s forthcoming visit to Washington, DC.