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Yet Another Opportunity – CDAC
CDAC had just been set up. I had signed the government resolution for this. Dr. Bhatkar, not known to me much the, had more knowledge about me. He wanted the post of Registrar filled up and requested to me for suggesting suitable names. I took 4-5 days. In the meantime, he had already decided upon some name. Actually,I was going to tell him that I myself would be interested. He suddenly regretted that he himself did not think about me, though I had no regrets. However, he was still keen on getting me and said that he would appoint me in a parallel post he had, that of Chief Personnel Officer. This excited me and I gave him the nod.
I joined CDAC, Pune. new atmosphere, new culture, new house, new surroundings, so on… While things were going fine on the office front, and I had already initiated some new moves aimed at enhancing work culture etc.. one major problem faced by CDAC at that time was about the autonomy granted to it on the lines of CDOT to implement which there obstacles even from the Ministry. Immediately after joining CDAC, there was to be a Governing Council meeting, to be chaired by Mr.K.R. Narayanan, who was then Minister of State for S&T. The papers for this crucial meeting were prepared by the Registrar, with the help of Dr. Bhatkar. The latter asked me to go through all the agenda papers. I at once noticed that there were 27 items in the agenda and wondered whether anyone seeing the number of items would really care to go through all these items and notes on them. I then thought of the strategy for the meeting. Being the first meeting to be chaired by Mr.K.R. Narayanan, I told Dr. Bhatkar that he would be needing a proper briefing. And I prepared a one noting sheet briefing on the agenda which could make his task easy to conduct the meeting. Another strategy related to getting Mr. Gopi Arora, Secreatary, Finance, (who was the Member, Finance of the Council) toattend the meeting. Normally, being very busy, they have no time for such meetings. I then told Dr. Bhatkar, to talk to him and invite him for the meeting only for that one item, Personnel Rules, and that this item could be scheduled the moment he arrived, so that he could leave immediately after that. Everything clicked exactly the way we had planned. Mr. K.R. Narayanan liked the brief, Mr. Arora came for that one item, and he said:CDAC being a Mission like CDOT, they should have all service rules exactly like CDOT. no doubt, Dr. Bhatkar was a happy man at that time.
Every thing went fine, except on the domestic front some problems suddenly crept up.
After lot of sufferings,( to be narrated elsewhere), I had to go back to DOE which I did. Well God designs everything good for you, though he himself may be taking time to think about the best solutions for us.
Back to DOE Again
Back to DOE, joined same post of Joint Director, Personnel. In fact, Mr. R. Rajamani, then Secretary, DOE and my immediate boss Mr. Murali (both of whom had hesitation in relieving me to join CDAC earlier) welcomed my return back home. I had applied for a Government quarters in the same place, Mayapuri, which was also allotted to me and my close friends did all necessary steps for making the house ready to live, whitewashing by CPWD, fixing electric meter and so on, as if all these had been told to them by God.
Life went on smoothly for some time. Lot of new challenges. Soon Mr. N. Vittal was to take over as Secretary. Mr. Rajamani introduced me to Mr. Vittal. Rajamani also depended on me to get an appointment with Prof. Menon, and later again, to get a message from the latter for some conference (when Prof. Menon had become Minister of State for S&T. I could manage to get the Message from Prof. Menon just before the deadline.
During Mr, Vittal’s period, I got full encouragement for my writings.Almost every fortnight Financial Express used to carry one of my articles. Work wise also, he gave full support, since he had also understood my approach to problems. Vittal used to be and even now a voracious reader and every now and then, he used to procure latest books on management etc. for the library. He used to even ask me to go through the collection he had ordered every time. I used to also take full opportunity to read most of these books. One thing I found in DOE was on the library cards of most of these wonderful books, the borrowers indicated only two names, Vittal and me. Leave alone administrators, who never bothered about reading, even the higher ups, including technical staff members had not made use of this opportunity.
Vittal is a straight-forward person and always loved suggestions and criticisms from staff members. Immediately after his joining, after studying him and his way of working, I ventured to write an article about the way he functioned, titled Vittalism, an analysis. I do not think any Secretary would allow this freedom to the staff and also whether any one would like to even attempt sending such notes to him. He also replied thanking for the suggestions in my note. I was very happy. Another advantage was that he would also talk in Tamil, without any inhibition.
Some time after about six months of his joining, while he was just about to enter the hall where we had arranged DOE’s Annual Day function, on seeing me he introduced me to some senior person and his wife, as CVS is a writer. At that function I also sang one of Yesudas’s classical songs, vanee vagadeeshwsri, which he appreciated and asked, isn’t it raga vagadeeswari?
He once asked me, are you not ripe yet for promotion. I said Mr. Murali is aware of this. When the time came, my case was processed for the post of Director, and the ACC approved this also. When the approval came, Mr. Vittal had tried to contact me on intercom to congratulate, though I had left by then. Believe me, he was the first to contact me at my residence the next morning and talked to me ‘Congratulations, CVS, your approval has come. You deserve it for your hard work. What a joy. I thanked him and also God. I at once called Mr. Murali, my immediate boss, at his house and informed him also, naturally, he was happy too.
New Initiatives in Personnel Division of DOE
We had made several new initiatives during the period I was handling the Personnel Division. Some of these are:
A full-fledged review of the Personnel Policies for the Scientific Staff members was made by a Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. Sampath, a former Director of IIT Kharagpur and the then UPSC Chairman. I was closely involved, along with my superior, Mr. S. Murali, Joint Secretary, in arranging meetings of the Committee and drafting different versions of the Policy after each meeting and then finalizing the same. This was also got approved by the then Minister of State for S&T, Mr. K. R. Narayanan.
On my own initiative I brought out an Orders Digest, a compendium of various orders from Government on different subjects, which gave a gist of the contents, apart from the order number, date etc., so that, apart from immediate awareness creation, , anyone wanting to see the full order can call for the actual order based on the reference given.
A SMART (Simplify, Methodical, Adapt to requirements, Review and Think) approach was initiated, for simplifying processing of various cases, through standard processing sheets. A regular checking of service books by employees, which is a must for every employee to avoid last minute hassles at the time of retirement was initiated and vigorously practiced. The DOPT newsletter Civil Service News contained a write up on all these initiatives.
For the first time the scheme of merit promotion was Implemented, though this was contained in the Personnel Policy Document. Until that time, this particular process had remained only on paper.
Similarly, a total review of the Recruitment Rules for administrative personnel was made for the first time under a committee chaired by Mr. Y.S. Rajan, then Advisor, DST.
During the time when Mr, Vittal was Secretary of DOE, again, through the initiative of myself and Mr. Murali regular technical seminars were arranged, which could be attended by non- scientific personnel also. This also helped each division knowing more about the activities of the other divisions in the Department.
Again, once in a while, an Open Session was arranged with the Secretary in the chair, where anyone could talk of any problems, or raise any questions aimed at getting clarifications, etc.without the hierarchy coming in the picture.
A well planned induction program foe Scientific personnel, was prepared and implemented; this enabled new entrants to gain knowledge about the activities of the various divisions of the Department. This also included a short stint for them working with the PSUs under the department. The program was for two months.
It was during the period Mr. Murali and I were in the Personnel Division, that we initiated conducting of annual sports events and Annual Day Celebrations of DOE which became a regular event from then on.
Many of these may appear simple, though initiating some of these steps for the first time and implementing these, within the governmental system is not that easy, though.
All this had the desired results and could improve the functioning within the Department as a whole. Of course, all this could be achieved only with the cooperation and support of all my colleagues in the Personnel Division, and with full support and encouragement from my immediate superior, Mr. Murali.
Many a time Mr. Murali had told me as to how he was impressed by my analysis of the issues, clarity of thought and fast action. In one file he remarked: ‘as usual, fast work, good work’. When he returned to his cadre after the tenure if his deputation in DOE, this is what he had to say about me:
‘Shri C.V. Subramaniam has been with me in the Personnel Division right from the time I joined the Department in April 1988. He was earlier in the personal staff of Prof. M.G.K. Menon and was that way new to Personnel Division work. The division also was in need of a clear guiding hand. Shri Subramaniam set about his tasks with a missionary zeal. His innate ability to learn quickly the requirements of the job, no doubt, helped him in setting right the problem areas and chart a new course for the Division. The success achieved by the Personnel Division in the last few years has been made possible in no small way to the leadership abilities shown by him, coupled with a touch of class and a fierce determination to improve. I was able to devote my time to many areas, secure in the knowledge that the Personnel Division was being looked after admirably by him.
His sense of commitment, ability to learn and adapt, and his leadership capabilities have stood him and the Department in good stead. I am confident that he would continue to exhibit these tendencies in whatever post he holds in his future career’.
Time to leave DOE
Happy journey continues. Just a little more than a year as Director in DOE and a year and a few months remaining for my retirement. Since I wanted to be active, even after retirement, I was thinking of what I could do. May be God had decided not to trouble me and he had already drawn out a plan.
Dr. Bhatkar, Executive Director, CDAC enquired whether I could join them to manage the Delhi office. He was badly in need of me and hence wanted me to take voluntary retirement so that I could join them soon. Well, this is something God-sent, I thought and readily agreed. I wouldn’t have to approach someone after retirement, here it is ready for me. I was to get the same emoluments plus the extra perks of CDAC.
The work, Centre Coordinator, in charge of the Delhi centre involved managing day-to-day affairs, liaison with Government, advising them on a variety of matters, like Governing council, personnel.company formation, business policy etc. In all these I could contribute immensely, and even beyond expectations, I don’t think they would have got a person like me, since my long association with DOE gave me the added advantage for liaison etc. In fact, Dr. Bhatkar used to tell CDAC people in Pune, they could contact CVS, if any of them wanted to get anything in Delhi. The vast contacts I had built up in various Ministries and Departments really helped me a lot in this In Delhi, when you are in the Government, without contacts, generally it is difficult to get things done easily. In several crucial matters I was invariably consulted and I could resolve many problems too. After three years I was given a very decent jump in salary and I was also provided pick-up, drop facility and for all my official activities.
While in CDAC, I was asked to represent Dr. Bhatkar in various important meetings in Delhi, various meetings of DOE with international delegations etc. I was also deputed for a presentation to the President, Mr. K.R. Narayanan,about CDAC’s Teleprompter, when the latter even talked to me in Malayalam.
While riding high like this, there was a sudden change of guard in CDAC and Mr. Arora from DoE was inducted as interim E.D. Here again, I was mainly responsible for processing his regular selection, passing through hurdles her and there.
Calling it a Day?
The change in my family life changed the scene already one son was away at Bombay, studying at IIT and by now the second son, who was ready for a job also left us and joined his duties Pune. This left a sudden vacuum in the family life, my wife and myself being alone in Delhi. This made me think of settling somewhere finally and we opted to move to Mumbai, to join all our relatives. I did not know at that time whether this was the correct decision, since the mental condition did not easily adjust to a new life in Mumbai, and I would be without a job also.
With short stints at Aplab and Sameer, I joined Micro Technologies, an IT firm where also I could prove my talents, they also used me to the full advantage, and here too, I more than enjoyed the job. The end of the career was nearing, and so as bad luck would have it, I had an angina attack and I had to forget going to work again. Thus ended a long working life spanning almost four decades.
Based on my experience, I would like to give the following tips to be successful.
1. One has to work hard always
2 You have to believe in your abilities and feel confident.
3. Think always as to how you can improve continuously
4. There could be several obstacles, but you should not feel let down.
5. There is no need for prior experience in any field, only you should be
serious to learn.
6. When opportunities come, do not hesitate, grab them
7. When you feel you are right, be bold to express you views.
8. Try to work in different sections, divisions, get deputations to other departments.
9′. Make efforts to see that people remember you,your character and your
10. Most important, keep your integrity in tact.
This article is a part of the book “74 Not Out and some cheeky singles” written by Shri C.V. Subramaniam. He retired as Director in the Department of Information Technology, GOI and has held several important positions in the Government including the Science Advisory Council to Prime Minister. He has published 70 plus articles in various leading news papers and has published a book on Human Resource Management.