T V Antony
In a long list of civil servants, some are remembered for their passion, commitment and effectiveness. A few of these are admired for their rich contribution and advocacy of specific programs. I remember former finance secretary, K P Geethakrishnan, referring with awe to the prolific contributions of T A Varghese, ICS, who had a long stint as the finance secretary and later as chief secretary of Madras State (Tamil Nadu). He used to command the respect of the ministers. His demands used to be sanctioned instantly at the annual discussions on allocations to the states at the Planning Commission, Delhi. He trained many in the IAS on fiscal administration.
His son, T V Antony, IAS, served (even while his father was in service) Tamil Nadu in various capacities and also rose to the position of chief secretary. Many will remember his passion for family planning, which he promoted with tremendous energy as the Commissioner, Corporation of Chennai. Throughout his career, he promoted this concept with zeal and dedication. The several meetings addressed by him invariably had sufficient portions devoted to the virtues of a small family.
Within the country, population control is effective in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu but grows unrestrained in states like UP and Bihar. Antony’s stint at Delhi as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health, his early tenures as the Collector of Madurai, Tirunelveli and Thanjavur districts and later as Commissioner of the Corporation of Madras have been remarkable for their focus on rural development, health, cleanliness and population control.
When he was appointed as the Head of the State Planning Commission in August 1986, I suggested changing the name of the Commission as the State Family Planning Commission.
Sadly, more than three decades later, the importance of this vital subject is not sufficiently recognised at the national level. IE has pointed to what the success of such a focus has meant to the widening gap between the Chinese and Indian economies. In the 1990s, the Chinese population was much higher at 117 crore when India’s was 87 crore. The rigorous implementation of the small family norm that stipulated a one child per family diktat had contributed to the saving of around 400 million births in China, contributing to a near flattening of population growth. China’s population today is an estimated 140 crore against India’s 130 crore plus. In two years India will overtake China.
The population in China would be stable at this level, whereas India’s will continue to grow.
The effect of this is reflected in the growth in the per capita income of China’s to $10,153, against India’s $2199. When comes another TVA?
The ‘frugal’ manager…
It was the 1960s and 1970s. BHEL – Tiruchi was expanding fast under a strong team of young leaders – V Krishnamurthy, S V S Raghavan, M R Naidu… The unit earned fame for its efficient operations and marketing thrust: even before the first BHEL boiler was fired at Ennore in 1971, the unit sold its boilers to Malaysia years earlier!
I was deeply impressed by the frugal management. The unit hired a modest flat at the Nandanam Towers, Chennai, at a rental of around Rs 250 per month. Senior executives, including VK and Raghavan, used to transit through this modest office.
The management of the Chennai office was in the hands of a brilliant engineer, A Narayanaswami, known for his efficiency and economy. He had excellent liaison with the state government that helped BHEL win large space in Chennai for residential accommodation as also for expansion, later into project offices and a production unit.
The frenetic growth of BHEL-Tiruchi was instrumental in merging with it the older and bigger Heavy Electricals India to form a single large corporation in 1972. This was due to the success of the Tiruchi unit and also to the brilliant team at Tiruchi.
After retirement, AN shifted to the US and settled with his children at Cupertino in California. For close to 30 years, he was actively involved in religious and social activities in new communities. I remember the profuse emails he used to send on men and matters long before the advent of Facebook. AN died on 5 January at the age of 92. A grateful San Jose diaspora organised a thanksgiving meet.