Published: 11th November 2019
He studied till 3 am to become an IAS officer: MCC batchmate remembers T N Seshan
S Raghavan, a classmate from Madras Christian College recalls the former CEC's determination towards achieving his dreams, hours after he passed on
As news of TN Seshan's death streamed in on Sunday night, social media was flooded with the words 'Honest' and 'Brave' -- qualities that no one could deny the former Chief Election Commissioner had.
He was fondly remembered for his democratic values and his efforts towards ensuring non-corrupt autonomy of the institution. He was 87 when he passed away at his home in Chennai.
A graduate of Physics from the Madras Christian College, Seshan went on to join the college as a lecturer. But the one thing that his classmates remember about him was his single-minded determination to become an IAS officer.
S Raghavan, a classmate of Seshan from the 1949-52 batch says, "Seshan was someone who was confined to himself. He was very keen on joining the IAS. That was his steady goal for very long and he achieved that."
He adds, "We were residents of different halls. I was from St Thomas' and he was in Selaiyur hall. He used to work very hard. He used to tell us that he would study till 3 am right from class IX. That kind of dedication to just one cause without getting distracted probably helped him. I don't remember him having any other hobbies. He was just into academics."
Raghavan, a retired Deputy Director-General of Meteorology, India Meteorological Department goes on to say that he met him about three times after leaving college. "Once, we watched a movie in Delhi. The other time, I met him in Bengaluru after the 1976 floods, where he attended as the Industrial Secretary and I attended on behalf of the Meteorology Department," he says.
During his tenure as the CEC, Seshan identified more than a hundred electoral malpractices and reformed the electoral process. Some of the reforms he implemented include enforcement of election code of conduct, Voter IDs for all eligible voters, limit on election candidates' expenditure, appointing election officials from states other than the one facing polls. He curbed several malpractices like bribing or intimidating voters, distribution of liquor during elections, use of government funds and machinery for campaigning, appealing to voters' caste or communal feelings, use of places of worship for campaigns, use of loudspeakers and high volume music without prior written permission.
Due to his efforts, 1,488 candidates were disqualified for three years for failing to submit their expenditure accounts during the 1993 general elections. Such was the extent of his contribution towards election reforms. A true pillar of democracy