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Manmohan's ex-advisor, scribe Baru joins FICCI

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NEW DELHI: Sanjaya Baru, former official spokesman and media advisor to the former prime minister Manmohan Singh, will take over as the secretary-general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) from 1 September 2017.

This follows the completion of the five-year term of Dr A Didar Singh who had joined FICCI after his retirement as secretary in the government.

A former journalist, Baru – who was attached to PMO from 2004 to 2008 – is a political commentator and policy analyst, currently serving as director for geo-economics and strategy at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Singapore.

FICCI president Pankaj Patel said: “Dr Singh, nearing completion of five years as the secretary-general of FICCI, has been for some time been looking for a relatively lighter role within the organisation and in view of this, the FICCI Committee has decided to appoint Baru.”

FICCI has completed 90 years of its glorious existence growing from strength to strength. With Dr. Singh’s personal efforts, FICCI has shaped up extremely well during the last five years and has been extremely resilient in dealing with domestic and global challenges as well as supporting Indian industry in capitalizing on new emerging opportunities,” Patel added.

Patel said Dr. Singh would now be holding the position of the principal advisor to FICCI president from 1 September.

Earlier, he had served as associate editor at The Economic Times and The Times of India, and then as the chief editor of Business Standard. His father B P R Vithal served as the finance and planning secretary during Manmohan Singh's stint as the secretary of finance in the early nineties.

In April 2014, his memoir The Accidental Prime Minister, about his time at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) alleged that the prime minister was completely subservient to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who wielded significant influence in the running of the Singh administration, including the PMO itself. The book had sparked off a controversy, with the PMO officially denouncing it as "fiction". Baru, however, has said he set out to show an empathetic portrait of the prime minister.

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