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K Thavaseelan,

(PGP 2009)


  • Thavaseelan has a field Posting in Mon, Nagaland, one of the toughest cadres for any All-India Service (AIS) Officer to serve in.
  • He urged MNCs to deploy their CSR funds to improve health infrastructure and improve Mon’s health infrastructure (equipment & set up a non-profit ward). He set up a price monitoring committee to keep commodity prices in control.
  • He installed IT equipment in colleges and schools to ensure that the teaching faculty and students could access information online and consume the same.
  • With interventions in the Health Sector, medical services were delivered just outside people’s doorsteps unlike before where critical cases were referred outside the district and risked getting serious during transportation.
  • The key takeaway is implementing large-scale initiatives at zero cost to the exchequer in a challenging environment with limited resources.
  • Thavaseelan has won the National e-Governance Award 2020-21 (Silver) for ‘Use of ICT in the Management of COVID-19’ (2022) and Governor of Nagaland’s Gold Medal & Commendation Certificate for meritorious service (2020). He was awarded the SKOCH Award for Response to COVID (Silver) (2021) and the SKOCH Crucible Award for Financial Inclusion (2020).

What does this award mean to you?

It is an incredible honour. The fact I have been chosen amongst such illustrious alumni, is a very humbling experience. It also pushes me to do better and better.

What made you make the move to a career in public service?

This was something that I always wanted. My uncle is also in the IAS so he’s been my primary inspiration. This was something always in the back of my mind. During my engineering final year, everyone started preparing for the CAT and I prepared as well. Then I got selected in IIMA and started here. My internship was with HSBC markets, I was at the structuring desk. Markets are something that I equally love. But then this [IAS] was something that was a very deep calling. You have a very limited window to try [for IAS] and I took the plunge.

What are some of the unique challenges that you have to deal with working in the North-east?

I come from Tamil Nadu where people as a whole have a certain underlying thread of uniformity. When it comes to Nagaland, it has 16 different tribes; every district is inhabited by a tribe which is in majority and each of them has its own set of customs, their own set of customary laws. So you have to empathize and sort of customize your work to what would best suit them. So I think dealing with those complexities and working accordingly has been a bit of a challenge. But for me, the biggest challenge would be in terms of overcoming resource constraints. Nagaland and most parts of the Northeast don’t produce a large amount of revenue on their own. So figuring out solutions, despite resource constraints, is a challenge.

What are the major things that you are working on right now?

I currently hold three portfolios. I am the principal Director of School Education, the project director of a World Bank-funded project in the school education space and also the CEO of the State Health Authority. In school education, there are two major white elephants. One is the foundational literacy and numeracy alongside the management of our teachers and keeping them motivated. Other challenges include bridging the gap between what’s needed and what’s currently there, both in terms of physical and digital infrastructure in government schools. The other would be a constant flux in terms of assessment, pedagogical and curriculum reforms and inclusive education– how do you take care of differently-abled kids, and provide them with the same platform? And then in the health space, as a CEO of the State Health Authority, we have a CM health insurance scheme and we are ironing out issues and its implementation. It’s just been about six months, so that’s a bit of a challenge.

What would your advice be to people who want to create meaningful change and impact in a challenging environment?

You have to be patient and resilient; it can become very frustrating but you must keep at it. Most things in life boil down to your attitude. If you can adopt the problem-solver’s mindset, keep encountering problems, focusing on the process and trying to move things around the bit, the results will automatically follow. It is about taking complete charge of what you are trying to do and being patient and resilient.

What is your advice for management students interested in pursuing a career in public service?

Public service, at the end of the day, is a calling. If doing the maximum good for the maximum number of people excites you, then this is it. There’s no job that’s even remotely comparable, in terms of the scale at which you’d be working. The results are not going to be in monetary terms but in terms of blessings, because every single thing that you do, or you don’t do, is going to affect millions of people daily.

AUTHOR: admin
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