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Former TRAI chief and commerce secretary Rahul Khullar passes away

After a prolonged illness, Rahul Khullar — former Trai Chairman and Commerce Secretary — passed away early Tuesday. A 1975-batch IAS officer, Khullar’s first deputation with the central government was as Deputy Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office back in 1985. In 2009, he was appointed the Commerce Secretary, a post which he held till 2012, when he was selected to head the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

When he took charge as the Trai chief, the industry was undergoing severe regulatory scrutiny in the aftermath of the 2G spectrum scam. According to telecom industry officials, who interacted with Khullar on a regular basis, he insisted on playing by the book.

Towards the end of his term, Trai — under his chairmanship — was responsible for sparking the debate on net neutrality for the first time in India through a consultation paper on regulating over-the-top services — an exercise that saw record participation from stakeholders.

“Just heard very sad news of Rahul Khullar’s passing away. Known him since 1969 when we were together in St Stephen’s, then in MoF & again in ADB. One of the sharpest minds with impeccable integrity. Deepest condolences to Sindhushree. May his noble soul rest in eternal peace,” NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said in a tweet Tuesday.

Former Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu tweeted: “Sad news–the passing of Rahul Khullar. He was the topper of my batch at St. Stephen’s College. Super brilliant, Rahul joined the IAS. He was an asset to the government, knew every aspect of policy & most importantly was fastidiously upright & principled. And he was a dear friend”.

Prior to joining the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) in 1975, Khullar briefly taught at Delhi University’s Hansraj College, after finishing his MA in Economics from Delhi School of Economics in 1974. He also got a PhD in Economics from Boston University while serving in the IAS. Lately, Khullar had been teaching mathematics at a Delhi school.

He is survived by his wife Sindhushree Khullar — also a former IAS officer of the 1975 batch, and a former CEO of NITI Aayog — and two daughters. Indian Express

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