Bahukutumbi Srinivasa Raghavan, a former bureaucrat, intellectual, speaker and columnist who served as the Chief Secretary of West Bengal, passed away today at the age of 96.  

Raghavan was a regular columnist with businessline and contributed greatly to the paper’s creation in 1994. For many years, he was an informal adviser to the newspaper, which immensely benefited from his suggestions, such as bringing out a special page on Information Technology at a time when IT was just beginning to happen in India. 

Raghavan, an Indian Administrative Service officer of the West Bengal cadre, served the country between 1952 and 1987. During that period, he held leadership positions in West Bengal and the Government of India, as Secretary to many departments, Chairman and Managing Director of several public sector enterprises, and as the head of the vigilance set up of Indian Railways. He was also either the head or part of several committees of the government of India, such as the Committee on Synchronous Communications Satellite, the All-party Committee on Political Defections and the Expert Committee on Energy. He was also part of every notable Indian delegation to several UN organs and formations, such as the GATT, the International Wheat Council, CHOGM and NAM.  

Raghavan, known for his fluent and flowery English speeches, was interestingly also a member of the International Society of Poets. 

During his tenure as a bureaucrat, he served under several Prime Ministers—Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi. In his memoirs published last year, presciently named Fading Footprints, Raghavan writes: “I enjoyed their confidence to such a degree that, combined with the vast range of my responsibilities touching every aspect of national life, I came to be regarded as the fly wheel of the (Home) Ministry.” 

An extremely affable and compassionate person, Raghavan could engage in conversation with anybody, regardless of age or stature, in at least four languages: English, Tamil, Hindi, and Bengali.