Ratnakar Gaikwad, the state’s new chief secretary, is an ardent practitioner of the Buddhist meditation technique of Vipassana.
The 58-year-old believes this age-old meditation technique has been instrumental in transforming him, a Dalit boy born into a teacher’s family in a village in Dhulia district, into the man who now heads Maharashtra’s bureaucracy.
An Indian Administrative Services officer from the 1975 batch, Gaikwad started his career at 23 and became one of the youngest members of his batch to enter the bureaucracy.
An alumnus of Siddharth College in Mumbai, Gaikwad holds a Master’s degree in Geography. Starting his career as the assistant collector of Nashik district, Gaikwad has worked in most of the coveted positions in the state bureaucracy because of the goodwill he enjoys across the political spectrum.
Gaikwad has headed the MHADA and the Pune municipal corporation. He was also an additional commissioner in the municipal corporation and also served in the Prime Minister’s office in the early 1990s.
When he was cooperation secretary in 2002, he had initiated action against the Jalgaon District Cooperative Bank for alleged irregularities. Then food and civil supplies minister and Jalgaon strongman, Suresh Jain, controlled the bank during that time. In 2007, the Congress-NCP government made Gaikwad the head of the MMRDA to push for infrastructure projects in Mumbai.
During his stint at the MMRDA, Gaikwad brought in projects like the monorail, skywalks, the multi-modal corridor and the innovation park to Mumbai and its adjoining areas.
When he is not working, Gaikwad likes listening to Hindi music. An ardent cricket fan, he idolises Sachin Tendulkar.
Gaikwad and his wife, Shivganga, have two children. His son, Abhijeet, is a software engineer, who works in the US and his daughter, Shivanjali, works for a private bank.