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Sunil Arora is new I&B secretary

NEW DELHI: Sunil Arora, senior IAS officer and former Air India chairman and managing director, has been named as the new secretary of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB).

Arora will succeed Bimal Julka, whose tenure ends on Monday.

A 1980-batch IAS Sunil-Arora1officer of Rajasthan cadre, Arora is currently serving as secretary of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.

His appointment coincides with e-auctions of Phase III FM radio stations. He will also have to steer the Phase III of digital addressable system (DAS), which is currently moving at a snail’s pace. The deadline for DAS Phase III is 31 December.

Another major task on Arora’s hand will be breaking the two-month deadlock at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), which arose following the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the institute’s chairman.

Earlier, Julka was given a farewell at a function organised by Press Information Bureau (PIB) officers on 27 August. A 1979 Madhya Pradesh batch officer, Julka had taken charge as MIB secretary on 1 July 2013.

Interestingly, Julka had also applied for the post of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman and was even considered a frontrunner for the post. However, the government finally zeroed in on Ram Sewak Sharma, who was earlier Tthe secretary of Department of Telecom, as the TRAI chairman.

As secretary, Julka worked under two different governments. He took charge of the ministry at a time when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was at the fag end of its five-year term in office. A major part of his tenure, though, was spent under the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

Some of the major initiatives of the MIB under Bimal Julka include the notification of TV ratings agency guidelines, pushing back the deadline for Phases III and IV of digital addressable system (DAS), launching of DD Kisan channel, enforcing ad cap, extending the facility of ‘C Form’ to domestic set-top boxes (STBs), FM Radio Phase III auction and more.

However, there were also times when the MIB seemed on a collision course with the industry, most notably in the case of direct-to-home (DTH) operators, who were issued notices to cough up Rs 20.7 billion in licence fees. When the matter finally reached the courts, the MIB was asked not to take coercive action.

Prior to his appointment as I&B secretary, Julka had held the post of special secretary and financial advisor in the Ministry of External Affairs. He had also served as additional secretary and DG in the Directorate of Currency under the Ministry of Finance.

Julka also served as joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence. He also worked in the Ministries of Finance, Civil Aviation, Commerce and HRD in his earlier stints at the Centre.

In Madhya Pradesh, Julka had served as commissioner, Gwalior, resident commissioner, MP Bhawan, and as director of public relations in the Directorate of Public Relations, government of MP. He also served as collector of Guna.

Julka had undergone several professional training programmes including a 39-week training at Queen Elizabeth House at the University of Oxford.