On late Wednesday evening, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) announced that Telecom Secretary JS Deepak will now be India’s representative to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The order for his transfer which is effective immediately was issued by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This transfer of power has sent shockwaves in the industry as previously, the representatives of the WTO were lower ranked officers.
Until May, he has been posted as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the DoT and will maintain the rank and pay as a secretary. This has been a surprise transfer for the reason that this position has been created temporarily for him by upgrading a director’s post which is currently vacant.
He will assume his new position as the “Ambassador/Permanent Representative of India to the WTO” starting from June 1st and until his retirement dated for July 31st, 2018.
The main reason behind the surprise regarding his transfer has been because of the way it unfolded. There were swirling rumours regarding his transfer for quite some time now, but Deepak has been attending a Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and his transfer has been finalized even before his return to India.
Although the reason for his transfer has not yet been made clear, sources speculate that Deepak’s letter addressed to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) could have been the trigger. In his letter, he had sought action against Reliance Jio that has been allowed to offer its promotional offer beyond the 90 day period. He had mentioned that Reliance Jio’s promotional offers was the reason for the ongoing tariff war between telecom operators in the country, who already collectively owe more than Rs.4.5 lakh crore to numerous banks.
This letter was drafted after members of the Telecom Commission unanimously agreed to convey their concerns regarding TRAI’s decision to allow Jio to extend their promotional offer beyond the previously agreed upon 90 day period followed by another promotional offer. Deepak is the chairman of this commission.
The government has yet to name a new secretary for the DoT along with other ministries including tourism and tribal affairs.
Director General of Cellular Operations Authority of India, Rajan Mathews, has congratulated JS Deepak for his dynamic and action-oriented role in the DoT and has wished him well for his new position.