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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Remembering TSR Subramanian: One of UP’s finest chief secretaries

Even after his retirement, TSR continued to be the crusader for causes dear to him, and actively and relentlessly pursued issues connected with better governance and civil service reforms.

opinion Updated: Feb 26, 2018 23:37 IST
Ravindra S Mathur
Ravindra S Mathur
A file photo of former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian.
A file photo of former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian.

TSR or Raman to his friends, was a quintessential bureaucrat. He joined the IAS in 1961,opting for the Uttar Pradesh cadre. His first posting as district magistrate was in Ghazipur, and he was one of the first senior officers I met when I reached Lucknow in 1966 for our initial orientation. He was visiting Lucknow at the time and we had met at the Mahomed Bagh Club,where the then chief secretary, KK Das, had invited the probationers. I was immediately struck by his extremely friendly and helpful approach in making all of us feel comfortable in what was then an entirely unknown environment to many, specially those like me who had never had any exposure to the Civil service,no one in my family having ever worked in the civil services.

TSR worked on many important positions in the state and the Centre with utmost distinction going on to reach the highest post that a civil servant can aspire for, that of cabinet secretary. I had opportunity to work closely with him on two occasions in the state-first in 1979 in the industries department when he was director of industries and I was special secretary in the Secretariat. In spite of being quite senior to me, I still remember that he made it a point to attend meetings called by me personally, even though the prevailing practice was to send an additional. The second time I worked closely with him was when he was the chief secretary of the state and I was secretary in the state government. I would rate him as one of the finest chief secretaries that UP has had, extremely supportive of his subordinates.

I do recall a couple of instances when I had problems with my minister on some issues, and he interceded on my behalf with the chief minister to resolve matters. One thing that stood out in his style of working was his result-oriented approach and a tremendous capacity to get things done. As a true civil servant, he forcefully put forth his view point before the political executive, but once a decision was taken, even if it was contrary to his advice, he would implement it with utmost speed and dedication.

My last official interactions with him were when I had become the chief secretary of the state and he was the cabinet secretary in the Government of India. After having gone through particularly tumultuous times in the state in 1997, I had gone to request him for a posting at the Centre and during conversation, I told him how lonely I was feeling professionally in the state: I still remember what he told me then “Ravi, just remember, you are not alone, there is somebody here who is always with you”.

Even after his retirement, he continued to be a crusader for causes dear to him, and actively and relentlessly pursued issues connected with better governance and civil service reforms. His untiring efforts resulted in the historic Supreme Court ruling on a minimum tenure for civil servants and checking whimsical transfers.

In his death, the country has not only lost a civil servant of great eminence but also an activist pursuing causes of National concern.

(The writer is a retired IAS officer, former chief secretary, UP, and former secretary to GOI)

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 23:36 IST