On a day of enormous flux at the highest levels of India's government machinery, Rajiv Bansal, who was last an additional secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, has been appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India. He will be replacing Ashwani Lohani, who swapped the national flag carrier to take over the Indian Railways as the Chairman Railways Board (CRB).
Bansal, an IAS officer, holds a degree in Civil Engineering from IIT Delhi from where he graduated in 1986. He also has a diploma in Finance from ICFAI and an Executive Masters in International Business from IIFT (Indian Institute of Foreign Trade) in New Delhi.
As per a profile on the website of Maharatna ONGC, Bansal, who isn't related to the other Rajiv Bansal, former CFO of Infosys who is also in the news, was earlier in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) where he looked after the enormously significant areas of Digital Payments, the IT Act, Aadhaar and Internet Governance.
He's also served as the Secretary of the Central Electricity Regulation Commission (CERC), the Department of Heavy Industries and the Civil Aviation Ministry. He's been on the boards of the likes of Maharatna BHEL, Alliance Air and HMT.
Bansal takes over at Air India at what could be a critical time for the government's perennial problem child. His charge would either be to complete the turnaround that his predecessor had championed for the last few years during which Air India reported an operating profit for the first time in a decade, mainly on the back of low aviation fuel prices, or to oversee the airline's much-heralded privatisation.
One way or another, Rajiv Bansal has his hands full.