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Wajahat Habibullah is the chairperson of the National commission on minorities and was the Ex Chief Information Commissioner of the Government of India since October 26, 2005. He was an officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) from 1968 until his retirement in August 2005. Before his retirement and his subsequent appointment by the President as the Chief Information Commissioner, he was Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (Local Government). He has been appointed as new head of minorities commission.
He was divisional commissioner of nine districts in the state of Jammu and Kashmir between 1991 and 1993, which was abruptly terminated by a near fatal road accident, while negotiating with militants occupying the Hazratbal shrine in Kashmir. He resigns on October 20, 2009, from the post of Chief Information Commissioner to take up his new assignment as Right to Information watchdog in Jammu and Kashmir.
He also serves on the International Advisory Council of the Brookings Doha Center.
Wajahat Habibullah was born on 30 September 1945. He is the son of Enaith Habibullah, DSO (founder of NDA, Khadakwasla). He did his Senior Cambridge from Doon School Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand, India, in 1961; Bachelor of Arts (Honours)History from St Stephens' College, University of Delhi, Delhi, India in 1965; and Master of Arts (History) from University of Delhi, Delhi, India, in 1967. He received famous Lala Ram Mohan History Award; from Delhi University in 1967. He also did a Certificate, Frontiers in Infrastructure Finance, from the World Bank Institute, Goa, India, in the year 2002. He was a member of Indian Administrative Service from 2 July 1968 to 30 September 2005 when he superannuated. Wajahat Habibullah is married and has 2 Sons, Amar ul Waris Habibullah and Saif ul waris Habibullah.
Member, Advisory Council, Brookings Doha Center, International Advisory Council, Doha, Qatar Member, Advisory Council, USIP Education and Training Center, Washington DC Chairman, Board of Governors, National Institute of Technology, Srinagar(J&K)
Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in Secularism-1994 Gold Medal for Distinguished Service; Governor of Jammu & Kashmir-1996 Lala Ram Mohan History Award; Delhi University-1967
October 26, 2005, Chief Information Commissioner of India December 9, 2004-September 30, 2005 Secretary,Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India August 1-December 9, 2004, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles Government of India October 1, 2003-July 31, 2004 Senior Fellow, United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC, working on “Kashmir: The Problem & its Resolution”(See Publications)
January 15, 2003-Sept 24, 2003 Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Consumer Affairs, New Delhi
September 11, 2000-January 10, 2003: OSD and then Director, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. Responsible for training recruits into All-India Civil Services, and running in-service Courses for various levels of serving IAS Executives
September 1999-August 2000: Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of J&K Lakes & Waterways Development Authority, Srinagar, focused on ensuring restoration and maintenance of ecological health of J&K water bodies, particularly Dal Lake, under the Dal Lake Conservation Plan (DLCP).
Nov 1994-August '99: Minister, Community Affairs, Embassy of India, Washington DC. Also Minister Education 1998-'99.Interacted with the Indian American community and other sections of American society, addressing issues of concern within government and helping promote a better understanding of India. Piloted Bill in Congress and subsequent clearances for establishment of Gandhi Memorial in Washington DC.
June 1994-Nov '94: Officer on Special Duty Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, New Delhi: overseeing programs for urban poverty alleviation.
July 1993-Nov'93: Second tenure as Divisional Commissioner, heading the administration of the six districts of Kashmir Valley and two of Ladakh. Tenure abruptly terminated by a near fatal accident while engaged in peacefully settling the confrontation between militants and security forces at the Hazratbal shrine, the premier shrine of J&K Muslims, by negotiation.
Oct 1991-July '93: Secretary, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, set up after the assassination of the former Prime Minister. This is today a premier NGO in India.
June 1991-Oct'91: Joint Secretary, Department of Industrial Development, Ministry of Industry, Government of India; helped frame liberalized industrial policy of India and restructuring of the Ministry in view of new requirements.
Feb 1990-June '91: Special Commissioner, Anantnag and then Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir (Jammu & Kashmir). Helped revive government interaction with the public after the administration’s initial crippling by a civil insurgency, through partial revival of development programmes, administration of relief measures, motivation of administrative machinery and improved public access through extensive touring.
Sept 1987-Jan'90: Administrator of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, South India. Helped reorient the administration to the specific requirements of an environmentally fragile island area, promoted greater public participation in governance through the setting up of elected island councils and drew down increased Plan funding by the Union Government.1989 Parliament elections conducted smoothly with full public participation.
June 1982-September'87: Director and then Joint Secretary, Prime Minister's Office, New Delhi. Dealt with public relations, with the special programmes for poverty alleviation and relief programmes, environmental conservation and with overseeing the Ministries concerned with development. Participated in ensuring the smooth transition of functioning after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (October 1985). Accompanied the Prime Ministers on tours in India.
July 1968-June 1982: served in the State of Jammu & Kashmir in various capacities, including Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar (1977) when I was in charge of organizing the Assembly election in the capital District of the State, which brought the National Conference to power defeating the coalition led by the ruling party at the Center; and of the border district of Poonch (1973-'77). In the latter capacity and in coordination with the army the areas along the Line of Control, depopulated after the war of 1965, were repopulated. Also headed public sector corporations, including one implementing a World Bank financed horticulture project (JKHPMC), and rural development departments
July 1967-May'68: taught Ancient Indian history and modern Constitutions to students of BA in St. Stephen’s' College, Delhi.
The Problem Kashmir Today, a Symposium on a Troubled State; Seminar 392-April 1992, New Delhi
Kashmir 1947; Burdens of the Past, Options for the Future: Five Perspectives; Offprint from the Center for Asian Studies, the University of Texas at Austin, 1997
Kashmir, Rajiv Gandhi's India Vol. I Politics Ch. I the Problem Areas pp. 58–60, UBSP
The Islands, Rajiv Gandhi's India Vol. I Politics, Ch. II The Geographic Periphery pp. 237–39, UBS Publishers, 1998, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, London
Siege: Hazratbal, Kashmir 1993, India Review, Volume 1, No.3 July 2002, pp. 73–98, Frank Cass, London
The Protection of Human Rights in a Disturbed Situation, Searching for Common Ground in South Asia. Center for Pacific Asia Studies, Stockholm, 2003 pp31–42
The Political Economy of the Kashmir Conflict, Special Report 121, USIP Washington DC June 2004
“Kashmiris and the Kashmir Conflict” Review Essay, India Review, Vol 3 No.3 July 2004, pp 230–253. Frank Cass, London
“Government to Citizens Relationship in the Chaning Economic Scenario”, Promise of e-Governance-Operational Challenges ed MP Gupta pp 1–4, Tata McGraw Hill, New Delhi, 2004
“My Kashmir-Conflict and the Prospects of Enduring Peace” USIP Press, Washington DC, May 2008
Mr.Habibullah's elevation as Chief Information Commissioner has thrust him into the centre of many controversies.
- In 2004 he was accused of asking for US mediation in Jammu & Kashmir.
- "Wajahat Habibullah is new head of minorities' panel" February 03, 2011 , accessed July 19, 2011
- Backwoods Babus | Anjali Puri
- Boys will be boys - Hindustan Times
- The Sunday Tribune - Books
- If the government is not satisfied, they dont have to kill me; they just have to transfer me
- National Commission for Minorities
- CIC chief appointed member of World Bank's info appeals board - Times Of India
- I did not ask for US mediation: Habibullah
- CIC web site, Government of India