Pandian completes record eight years at GSPC

Vol 13, PW 10 (22 Oct 09) People & Policy

DJ Pandian (left) made a record of sorts on October 18 when he celebrated eight years as managing director of GSPC.

Government servants in the Indian Administrative Service, like Pandian, tend to get shuttled around from post to post every three years. But Pandian’s stay at GSPC since he took over in October 2001 is the longest that any IAS officer has spent in a single post, say friends.

Pandian joined the IAS in 1981 and before joining GSPC had a plum posting with the World Bank in Washington. “You can either love him or hate him,â€‌ says a senior official.

“But you can’t ignore him!â€‌ Pandian is known for his jovial personality, ability to get along with people and powerful political connections. But many in the IAS are jealous of his success.

“Pandian is definitely lucky,â€‌ says another IAS official. “If I said I’m not envious then I’d be lying.

â€‌ Pandian also has his detractors, including Gujarat energy minister Saurabh Patel who dislikes his independent streak. Even BJP chief minister Narendra Modi, who likes Pandian, snubbed him in January 2009 by asking him to oversee catering arrangements during an investment summit.

Despite his humility, Pandian has a ruthless streak, as IAS colleague Atanu Chakravarty can testify. Chakravarty was appointed joint-MD of GSPC in March 2007 but was then inexplicably removed overnight.

Many suspect the hand of Pandian. Still, Pandian has several fans.

“I have never felt any discomfort dealing with him,â€‌ says an industry source. “He is easily accessible, gives a patient hearing and tries to solve whatever problems we bring to his notice.

â€‌ One chairman of a gas company tells us Pandian is too good to be “wastedâ€‌ on GSPC and that the IAS should have “sharp, sincere and committedâ€‌ officers like him in critical and neglected sectors like public health or education. “What can I sayâ€‌ Pandian replied when PETROWATCH asked how he felt about completing eight years.

“Even I am surprised!â€‌