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BN Yugandhar, The Legendary IAS Officer From Andhra Who Dedicated His Life to The Poor

BN Yugandhar, The Legendary IAS Officer From Andhra Who Dedicated His Life to The Poor

Mentor to generations of civil servants, hero to the poor, father to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ⁠— #IAS officer BN Yugandhar was a man of true integrity who actively worked for the marginalised throughout his storied career. #Tribute #RIP

Bukkapuram Nadella Yugandhar, a 1962-batch IAS officer, passed away last Friday at the age of 82 at his residence in Hyderabad after battling asthma for more than a year, as per reports.

Many knew him as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s father, but for generations of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers, he was a mentor, institution builder and a man of true integrity who actively assisted the poor throughout his storied career.

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A postgraduate in economics, Yugandhar’s family hailed from rural Andhra Pradesh. Known as an upright and honest officer who abhorred red-tapism, he occupied many vital offices at the Centre and undivided Andhra Pradesh.

In his capacity as Secretary to the then Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh NT Rama Rao, “the bureaucrat who stood for values and principles” played an instrumental role in formulating and implementing important welfare measures including the popular Rs 2-a-kg-rice scheme.

He would go on to serve as the Secretary in the Union Ministry of Rural Development under the prime ministership of PV Narasimha Rao in the early 1990s, where yet again he delivered for the poor and the marginalised.

He was also the IAS officer who was instrumental in institutionalising the flow of funds for watershed development projects to the districts directly from the Centre, bypassing State governments.

“He was [a] pioneer in Centrally-sponsored watershed development projects, decentralised planning, [and] believed in passing direct benefits to rural populations from centrally sponsored projects. His commitment to serve the poor was exemplary. I happened to work with him to develop one of the largest projects of ISRO’s ‘space-based information support for decentralised planning.’ He wanted to take the space input to grassroots with language localisation. It was great learning to work with him. His words still echo in my ears [stating] ‘space can not be elitist. It has to be simplified to reach villages,'” says Dr Parth Sarathi Roy in a recent Facebook post, paying tribute to the legendary IAS officer.

Yugandhar was appointed as the Director of Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration from 1988 to 1993, besides serving as a member of the Planning Commission during the first United Progressive Alliance government (2004-09).

BN Yugandhar (Source: Twitter/Anil Swarup)
BN Yugandhar (Source: Twitter/Anil Swarup)

“He was our Course Director when we joined the IAS and reported to the LBSNAA Academy, and later the Director of the Academy when we were posted there as Deputy Directors. A towering figure, and as Collector Srikakulam in the heydays of Naxal movement, just before he joined as Deputy Director, he was an inspirational figure for us probationers, highlighting the grass root reality of poverty and deprivation in rural India of the 70s. His fervour and impatience on related issues will remain etched in our minds forever. He was to my mind one of the most intense and sincere IAS officers of his time on the issues of rural poverty……worked relentlessly with PN Haksar and the then Prime Minister on the legislation…around Minimum Wages, Bonded Labour and Debt Relief for the rural poor. He, along with D Bandhopadhyay, Dr BD Sharma, KB Saxena and AR Bandhopadhyay and Mr SR Shankaran, were a band of unforgettable officers of the IAS who went beyond the call of duty in the service of the poorest people of India,” says Anita Das in her tribute to BN Yugandhar on Facebook.

One such example of an act in the service of the poorest came during his stint as the collector of Anantapur district.

“He was instrumental in 30,000 acres passing on to farmers in Anantapur when he was the collector. The issue had festered for years with farmers tilling the land that was on paper classified as government land. Once we brought the issue to his notice, it was solved in three months,” said Poguri Chennaiah of AP Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union, a state-level trade union, speaking to The Hindu.

Despite his many contributions, Yugandhar stoically sought to maintain a low profile in the media and never flaunted his political connections. This was best exemplified when his son Satya Nadella got married to his IAS batchmate’s daughter in 1992.

At the height of his powers, he didn’t even choose to invite then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao to the wedding. But Rao was keen on surprising one of his most reliable officers and ended up showing up for the wedding in an ordinary ambassador car with little fanfare.

Another example of his characteristic modesty came on show when Satya Nadella was appointed Microsoft’s CEO. Despite all the fanfare surrounding his son’s elevation, Yugnadhar told the media, “Yes, I wish him well, but that’s all I have to say.”

Following his career in service, he would also go onto write important books and essays on the Indian polity including, ‘Land Reforms in AP’, ‘Readings in Decentralised Planning’ and ‘Three Essays on Constitutional Morality’.

In his passing, Yugandhar leaves behind a legacy marked by a sincere dedication to the very essence of public service, erudition and helping generations of civil servants make their mark.

Also Read: Chhattisgarh IAS Officer Sends Bike Ambulances to Tribal Door Steps, Reduces Medical Costs by 90%

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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