I met V Ramachandran (VR) during 2001 when he was Vice Chairman of the State Planning Board in Kerala. It was a cabinet position and he held it in an honorary capacity.
Just before my interview with Chief Minister A K Anthony, I had a scintillating two-hour discussion with VR on the state’s economy. I remember the simple terms in which he explained: “the state’s budget size is Rs 15,000 crore. Remittances amount to another Rs 15,000 crore.” That explained the prosperity of a Keralite despite the modest level of economic activity in the state!
VR was an IAS officer of the 1953 batch and retired from service in 1989. He handled a variety of economic portfolios and rose to the position of Chief Secretary. He also served as the Advisor to Governor P C Alexander when Tamil Nadu came under President’s rule in1991. He also served at the PMO as Joint Secretary during the tenures of Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai during 1972 to 1978.
At the international level, VR was consultant to UNCHS, UN Economic & Social Council as well as UNDP and was Vice Chairman of the UN Committee on the Right to Development.
Except for a few ICS Officers like L K Jha, there were not many civil servants from the IAS especially from the south, who were given important assignments spanning six decades at the state, national and international levels.
VR’s services were sought after for decades after his retirement in 1989.
He was Director of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation during 1992-96 and was closely associated with committees on the Panchayat Raj, NDDB, IRMA and the Centre for Management Development, Thiruvananthapuram.
VR’s interests extended beyond administration and management. He was deeply interested in music.
After taking his MA and MSc, from the
Madras University, VR obtained his Masters in Public administration from Harvard. His wife, Padma, is also a member of the IAS and was Chief Secretary to the Government of Kerala. In the demise of VR, we have lost a multi-faceted leader.