T. N. Seshan

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T. N. Seshan
T.N. Seshan in 1994.jpg
10th Chief Election Commissioner of India
In office
December 12, 1990 – December 11, 1996
Prime Minister V. P. Singh
Chandra Shekhar
P.V. Narasimha Rao
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
H.D. Deve Gowda
Preceded by V. S. Ramadevi
Succeeded by M. S. Gill
18th Cabinet Secretary
In office
27 March 1989 – 23 December 1989
Preceded by B.G.Deshmukh
Succeeded by V. C. Pande
Personal details
Born Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan
(1932-12-15) 15 December 1932 (age 81)
Palakkad, Kerala
Alma mater Madras Christian College
Harvard University

Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan (born 15 December 1932) is a retired Indian Administrative Service officer, who served as the 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India (1990–96) and the 18th Cabinet Secretary (1989). He is widely known for his commitment to and was largely successful in ending electoral malpractices in India.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

T. N. Seshan was born in a Tamil speaking Iyer family which had migrated from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and settled in Thirunellai, Palakkad district, Kerala on May 15, 1933. He completed his schooling from Basel Evangelical Mission Higher Secondary School and intermediate from Government Victoria College, Palakkad. He obtained his graduation from the Madras Christian College. He then went to study at Harvard University on Edward S. Mason Fellowship where he earned a master’s degree in public administration. (Class of 1968)


Seshan wanted to join the Indian Civil Service. He was accepted into the Indian Police Service in 1953. He wrote the civil service exam again next year and was accepted into the Indian Administrative Service. He joined the IAS as a trainee in 1955.

An officer of the Indian Administrative Service, he held the following posts:-

  • Director, Department of Atomic Energy
  • Joint secretary, Department of Space
  • Secretary, Department of Agricultures, Government of Tamil Nadu
  • Member (Personnel), Oil & Natural Gas Commission
  • Additional Secretary, Department of Space
  • Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Defence, and
  • Secretary, Internal Security

He went on to occupy the post of Cabinet Secretary, the senior most position in the Indian Civil Service hierarchy, and Member, Planning Commission of India, before being appointed the Chief Election Commissioner. He contested for the post of President of India in 1997 and lost to K.R. Narayanan. He is often known for his crisp one-liners, be it during his service to his superiors and ministers or while handling the media. He won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service in 1996.[2]

On 17th Oct 2012, The Madras High Court appointed T.N Seshan as an interim administrator to run the Pachaiyappa’s Trust in Chennai [3]

Chief Election Commissioner[edit]

As the Chief Election Commissioner of Election Commission of India he introduced major electoral reforms and redefined the status and visibility of the Election Commission of India. He was largely successful in curbing electoral malpractices in India and his name became synonymous with transparency and efficiency.[1] T.N. Seshan managed to stamp his authority on the country's electoral system by conducting the cleanest elections in living memory."Nobody dared to violate the law."

Major achievements[edit]

Implementation of revolutionary measures in election process and Abolition of several malpractices:

  • Instrumental in strict implementation election code of conduct
  • Issuance of Voter IDs for all eligible voters
  • Limit on candidates expenditure in his/her election
  • Progressive and autonomous Election commission machinery
  • Bribe or intimidate voters
  • Distribute liquor during the elections.
  • Use official machinery for campaigning.
  • Appeal to voters' caste or communal feelings.
  • Use places of worship for campaigns.
  • Use loudspeakers without prior written permission.



  1. ^ a b "Election Commission of India, Electoral Reforms, TN Sheshan". Zeenews.india.com. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  2. ^ Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation http://www.rmaf.org.ph/index.php?task=4&year=1990
  3. ^ Seshan to take care of Pachaiyappa’s trust http://newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/article1303162.ece
  4. ^ "CEC T.N. Seshan tightens electoral reform screws to clean up entire election process". India Today Portal. 15 December 1994. 

External links[edit]