Call of Service : The Official Troubleshooter

Call of Service : The Official Troubleshooter

Former Home Secretary, IAS officer Padma Bhushan K Padmanabhaiah shares the memorable years of his service Dr R A Padmanabha Rao Naga Insurgency is...

Former Home Secretary, IAS officer Padma Bhushan K Padmanabhaiah shares the memorable years of his service

cal2Dr R A Padmanabha Rao

Naga Insurgency is the oldest in the world and it started way back in 1946.The Naga tribe is based in Nagaland, half of Manipur, some districts of Arunachal Pradesh and to some extent in Assam. Their main demands were independence to Nagaland and creation of Greater Nagaland by reorganization of certain areas of four North Eastern states.

Naga insurgency was earlier treated as a military or law and order problem. For the first time in 1997 Government of India and underground Naga leaders met for a political settlement. National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) headed by Issac Swu and Th.Muviah agreed for meetings outside India. Till then it was a banned organisation and the leaders went underground.

Padmanabhaiah, the then Home Secretary, acted as the interlocutor and led the peace talks for over a decade from 1999 to 2009. The 1961 batch, Maharashtra cadre IAS officer is from Krishna District of Andhra Pradesh.

Your contribution in bringing peace in North East as interlocutor is laudable. How did you achieve it? I led the peace talks from June 1999 onwards with the leaders. The objective was to hold peaceful political negotiations to arrive at a mutually acceptable and honourable solution. The efforts resulted in establishment of peace in Nagaland and in the Naga areas of North East. It is world's longest surviving cease fire agreement lasting for 16 long years. This led to other insurgent groups in the North East to sign similar agreements with Government of India.

After some meetings abroad, we persuaded the NSCN (IM) leaders to come back to India for talks. They are now in India. They travel now with Indian Passports. In the beginning, any mention of Indian Constitution was anathema to the NSCN (IM). However, they were persuaded to see the flexibility of the Indian Constitution, which can take care of any regional aspirations. They ultimately came to a position to accept a special position within the Indian Union.

As Home Secretary you were at the helm of affairs in Government. What were the major events during your tenure? I was Home Secretary for three years during 1994-1997. SB Chavan and Inderjit Gupta were Home Ministers. I worked with both H D Devegowda and Gujral. I was Secretary Jammu and Kashmir affairs too and this was during the President's rule in J&K (1989 to 1997). Gen KV Krishna Rao was the Governor then with whom I shared cordial relationships. Due to militancy there was a large vacuum in Kashmir valley. Many political leaders and important functionaries moved to Jammu, Delhi and some even left to foreign countries. We were successful in reviving the political process in J&K. We were able to conduct parliament elections followed by assemble elections, three months later. Farooq Abdullah did not participate in parliament elections but contested in assembly elections. National Conference came into power with Farooq Abdullah as Chief Minister. Civil adminstration was restored. It was a major achievement.

cal3How was the whole process of election handled? Holding elections in itself was a major challenge. The officers from other states were posted for election duties from other states and protection was given to them. It was heartening to note that people believed that credible elections were held. Voters were provided security and the turnout at polling booths was 50%. We said - you vote to any one of your choice but please do exercise your voting right. We invited International Commission for Red Cross to visit J&K to assess the situation. Three ambassadors representing European Union were allowed to visit the valley. International press was allowed to visit.

As administrator in different capacities in Maharashtra you did exceedingly well! I am fortunate to work in three different capacities in the state successfully. During the regime of VP Naik as Chief Minister, I was Director of Sugars for five years, from 1970 to 1974. During my tenure, 49 sugar factories were started. Sugar industry recorded fastest growth in comparison to the rest of the world. As the Dairy Development Commissioner from 1977 to 1980, we had to deal with huge milk deficit in the state. Within three years, Maharashtra became a surplus state in milk production. Special refrigerated milk trains were arranged to transport milk to Delhi. Cross breeding was possible in cows and it helped in increasing milk production, tenfold. In both these posts, I had the privilege of working with some of the most illustrious and committed leaders of the co-operative movement in the state. As Municipal Commissioner, Bombay (1990-91), I had this rare experience when the employees of Maharashtra went on strike for 60 days. Even essential commodities, except for water were not exempted. It was a major challenge to run the city dairies throughout the strike period, which we overcame successfully.

(The interviewer is former Additional Director General, Doordarshan)

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