Adieu to a top bureaucrat
Sunday,11 July 2021 02:57 PM IST
K.P. Sasi Nair (email@example.com)
K Nalinakshan was a rare breed among bureaucrats who championed a hands-on approach in any job he was entrusted with. He would eagerly roll up his sleeves and wade into a crisis with abandon. Little surprise his affable character and boundless energy rubbed off on his team and enabled him to accomplish many success stories.
The aloof laid-back style preferred by many civil servants was not his cup of tea.
When the Shipping Corporation of India tanker Lala Lajpat Rai caught fire in the 1980s while anchored at the oil jetty of Mumbai port, he was the General Manager of Bombay Port Trust. He swung into action on a war footing to organise rescue and other operations, working through the day and late nights untiringly. The fire was eventually put out after foreign experts were called in, but it was the Nalinakshan-led team’s proactive action to tug the burning tanker away into a deeper sea that prevented a major disaster to the harbour.
Nalinakshan, aged 79, passed away in Mumbai on Friday, leaving behind a legion of admirers in the corridors of power and beyond. As Urban Development Secretary from 1995-1999, the 1967-batch IAS officer of the Maharashtra cadre was the architect of several innovative policies in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) such as development control rules. He later became the BMC Commissioner.
In a colourful career spanning more than 35 years, he was the chairman of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Nhava Seva and adorned several top-level positions including Additional Chief Secretary of Transport and Excise in Maharashtra.
“His smiling face, pleasant disposition, proactive approach to problem-solving were all praiseworthy qualities,” P.S. Nair, CEO and Executive Director of GMR Airports in New Delhi, told Mediaeye. “We shall greatly miss him.”
Nair, who was earlier a top official at the Airports Authority of India, recalled Nalinakshan’s efforts as the Chief Executive of City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to speed up the ground for the international airport that is now coming up in New Mumbai. Known for his “ever readiness to help the needy at all times”, Nalinakshan was always anguished about wasted opportunities caused by the prolonged decision-making process.
“I vividly recollect the passionate discussions we used to have on the undue delay of the second airport when I was posted as the Mumbai Airport Director in the late 1990s,” he said.
Speaking to Mediaeye, Dhanalaxmi Bank Director P.K. Vijayakumar said Nalinakshan was a “deeply spiritual and blessed person with a heart of gold”. Vijayakumar, who had retired as the Director-General of Income Tax, based in Kerala, had a long association with Nalinakshan.
Vivek Nair, Co-Chief Executive Officer of HLV Ltd that owns the Hotel Leela in Mumbai, knew the veteran bureaucrat well. “He had an uncanny knack to untangle knotty issues. His quick decision-making and foresight played a big role in the developments you see in this big city and beyond.”
A native of Kozhikode, Kerala, Nalinakshan was a brilliant student through school and college, in both studies and extracurricular activities such as public speaking, debates and dramas, retired Kerala High Court Justice N. Hema recalled about her favourite cousin. A product of Malabar Christian College, he was also a keen football player.
He worked as a lecturer at Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College, affiliated with the University of Calicut, where GMR’s Nair was one of his students.
When he first cracked the civil services exam, he was picked in the Indian Police Service and did a stint as Assistant Superintendent of Police in Kerala. He got into the IAS later.
Popular with his colleagues, Nalinakshan headed the IAS Association for many years. After his retirement in 2002, the veteran bureaucrat settled down in Churchgate near Mumbai’s picturesque Marine Drive. Always jovial he was often seen hitting the gym. A deeply spiritual man, he leaves behind his wife, three sons, their spouses and grandchildren.
“He was a role model for us,” Anil Sukumaran, a businessman from Kozhikode and close acquaintance, told Mediaeye. “The light has gone out.”