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N. Vittal (born 31 January 1938), belonging to the Indian Administrative Service 1960 batch, is one of the eminent public servants of India, who has held important positions in the Government of India, most prominent of which was that of the Central Vigilance Commissioner. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's 3rd highest civilian award, in 2012.
A Maharashtrian, he was born in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the Indian state of Kerala, and was educated in Tiruchirapalli and Chennai (then called Madras). He joined the Indian Administrative Service on 16 May 1960.
Shri N Vittal is from the Indian Administrative Services cadre 1960 batch. He has held many high profile posts such as Telecom Commission chairman, Secretary of Department of Telecommunication, Government of India, Public Enterprises Selection Board chairman and Central Vigilance Commissioner.
Shri N Vittal was born on 31 January 1938 in Thiruvananthapuram. He had his early education in Tiruchirapalli and Madras and graduated with BSc (Hons.) in Chemistry from Loyola College, Madras in 1958. After a short time as a lecturer in Jamal Mohammed College, Tiruchirapalli, he joined the I.A.S on 16 May 1960 and was allotted to the Gujarat Cadre. In his career of more than 35 years, Shri Vittal has held a number of assignments at the State Government, Central Government as well as in a joint sector enterprise. Some of the major posts held by him are:-
- Development Commissioner, Kandla Free Trade Zone, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India
- Industries Commissioner, Government of Gujarat
- Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Government of Gujarat
- Chairman, Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation, Government of Gujarat
- Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Gujarat
- managing director, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertiliser Company Limited
- Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Government of Gujarat
- Additional Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India
- Secretary, Department of Electronics, Government of India
- Chairman, Telecom Commission and Secretary, Department of Telecommunication, Government of India
- Chairman, Public Enterprises Selection Board
- Central Vigilance Commissioner
He has been the Chairman of many committees, expert groups and task forces over the course of his career: –
- Chairman, Committee on Guidelines for the Public Sector (1997), Ministry of Industry, Department of Public Enterprises, Government of India
- Chairman, Expert Group on IT in Government, Department of Personnel, Government of India
- Chairman, Task Force on Technology Exports, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India
- Chairman, Task Force on Telecom and Information Technology, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry
- Chairman, Expert Committee on Tamil Nadu Institute of Information Technology, Government of Tamil Nadu.
He attended the 89 Fall Senior Executives Programme in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States.
His experience of more than 35 years covers a wide spectrum with focus on industrial administration, science and technology and security. As Secretary to the Government of India, he initiated policies for boosting software, setting up software technology parks and strategic alliance with the industry. He was successful in introducing the electronics hardware technology Park scheme, whereby, mini Hongkongs and mini Singapores could be created in India to boost manufacture of electronic hardware. He made the Department of Electronics a frontrunner in adjusting to the new industry-friendly policy, encouraging Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from IBM, Motorola etc. As chairman, Telecom Commission he initiated the process of liberalisation in the telecom sector and played a major role in getting the National Telecom Policy 1994 approved and announced.
Few more major achievements during his career are:-
- Revival of the Kandla Free Trade Zone
- Opening of the Dahej Port in Gujarat
- Emergence of the Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertiliser Company (GNFC) not only as an efficient business enterprise but also as a model for what a public sector unit can do for backward area development especially in education, health, culture and environment, management. GNFC was a zero pollution plant.
- Setting up the Narmada College of Science and Technology and Commerce, Bharuch, the first English medium college in South Gujarat, teaching electronics, computer science and chemistry.
- Setting up of new organisations e.g., as Industries Commissioner in Gujarat, responsible for Gujarat becoming the first state in the country to be fully covered with District Industries Centre; Setting up of the single window service for industry promotion bureau (IndexTB) which was adopted later by other states; Setting up of Entrepreneurship Development Centre; As Secretary (Civil Supplies), set up Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation; As Additional Chief Secretary (Home), initiated proposal for setting up the Gujarat Police Housing Corporation.
- As Secretary to the Government of India, initiated policies for boosting software and set up software technology parks and forged a strategic alliance with the industry. Also was successful in introducing the Electronics Hardware Technology Park scheme, whereby, mini `Hongkongs’ and mini `Singapores’ can be created in India to boost manufacture of electronic hardware. Made Department of Electronics a front runner in adjusting to the new industry friendly policy, encouraging foreign direct investment from IBM, Motorola etc.
- As chairman, Telecom Commission initiated the process of liberalisation in the telecom sector and played a major role in getting the National Telecom Policy 1994 approved and announced.
- As chairman, Public Enterprises Selection Board initiated measures for greater transparency and speed in the functioning of the PESB. Headed the committee on guidelines which resulted in the cancellation of 696 obsolete guidelines hampering the autonomy of the PSEs.
Awards and honours
N. Vittal received the Padma Bhushan in 2012. Among other honors, he received the following:
- Honorary Fellow, Computer Society of India (1992)
- Honorary Fellow of the IETE.
- Citation of gratitude from Electronic Component Industry Association (ELCINA), New Delhi
- Dataquest IT Man of the Year 1993
- Honorary Fellow, Asia Electronics Union (1995)
- Honorary Fellow, Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (1997)
- The hidden talent of India award by the Organisation for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) International, a UN Status Category I NGO
- The Great Son of the Soil Award 1998 by All India Conference of Intellectuals
- For the Sake of Honour, Rotary's highest Award (April 1999)
- Honorary Member, Indian Institute of Industrial Engineering (December 1999)
- Honour of "Desa Seva Ratnam", conferred by Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam (April 2001)
- H H Sri Paramacharya Man of the Year Award (2000), awarded by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai. (April 2001)
- V Krishnamurthy Award For Excellence (June 2001) – by the Centre for Organisation Development, Hyderabad
- Giants International Award for public administration (September 2001)
- Tamil Nadu Governor Late Dr M Chenna Reddy Award (March 2002) for outstanding service by Federation of Doctors, Hospitals & Health Care Industry (FEDDHI)
- Included in the list of "Fifty men and women who shaped the economy" in the fifty years after India’s independence by the Business Today magazine (August 1997)
Personal life and interests
Married, he has a son and a daughter. Interested in reading, writing, classical South Indian music and long walks.
He is actively interested in management and cultural activities and has membership in the following social / cultural / professional associations: –
- President (1994–1997) Loyola Alumni Association (North India Chapter), New Delhi
- President (1991–1997) Shri Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha, New Delhi
- Member (1991–1998) Board of Governors, Academy of Human Resource Development, Ahmedabad
Books and publications
Widely traveled, he is also interested in application of management principles in organisation in the public and private sector. He has written more than 400 articles on various subjects relating to management, public relations, human resources development, management of technology, public sector management etc. in many journals and magazines. These include Economic and Political Weekly, Economic Times, Financial Express, times of India, Business India, Journals of IIMA, LBS National Academy of Administration, HCPS, RIPA, IIFT etc. He is a regular columnist for The Economic Times and the Web magazine "Rediff on the Net." (www.rediffindia.com) The books written by him include:
- India Incorporated: Reflections on the Indian Electronics Industry (1994)
- The Vicious Cycle of Vittal's Law,(1994)
- The Red Tape Guerrilla(1995)
- Fighting Corruption and Restructuring Government (2000)
- Public Sector Management & Governance (2001) – with S. Mahalingam
- Information Technology: India's Tomorrow (2001)
- Ideas for Action (2002)
- Vittal’s Vital Management Mantra (2004)
- Maharastrians in Tamil Nadu (2004)
- Musings on Governance, Governing and Corruption (2004)
- Technology and a Vision for the future (2004)
- More musings on Governance, Governing and Corruption (2005)
- Roots of Effective Governance (2007)
- Corruption in India : The Road block for national prosperity (2002)
- Roots of effective governance (2007)
- Saadhanayaalar N. Vittal, a biography of N. Vittal