teach economics in the University of Harvard. Born in 1956, Pujari is a post-graduate from the University of Boston, and is a doctorate in economics. And thanks to his sound knowledge of economics, he has for the last three and half years been adroitly handling the job of the Director General of Foreign Trade, for which generalist IAS officers usually bank on trade service officers blindly. He is also an LLB and holds another post-graduate degree on defence studies.
This is just one side of “Professor” Pujari’s unique persona. If you can recognise him, you may sometime spot him driving a scooter on Delhi streets, particularly on weekends. His wife and 1980 batch IDES officer Sundari Subramaniam Pujari often accompanies him as pillion rider. She has recently been appointed as the chief vigilance officer in Air India.
Many say “Professor” Pujari’s austere life style is somewhat extreme. In summer, he does not use air conditioner in officer and switches it on only when he realizes his guests are finding it uncomfortable. He asks his office driver to take the shortage possible route from his residence to office and insists that the driver switches off the engine at the red lights. If he needs to come to office on a holiday, he makes it a point to drive his scooter instead.
Pujari’s peers accept he is a highly efficient officer too. Earlier, he had served in Election Commission and was also Managing Director of Mysore Sugar Co Ltd and Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd. He was a joint secretary in the department of economic affairs under the ministry of finance between 2006 and 2010.
So, when his name did not appear in the first list of 1980 batch secretary-empanelled IAS officers (he was later accorded secretary rank), one reader wrote a long letter to BoI, accusing the entire system itself. “Whether it is efficiency, honesty or integrity, there cannot be any finger raised against him. In fact, he must be among the very few officers, who are very accessible (returns all calls, responds to all emails, meets every one in office), very positive attitude (seeks to solve problems posed to him, rather than find ways to say "no") and calls a spade a spade (does not mince words in stating his position and offering his views). Obviously some bosses may not find this palatable,” the visitor wrote.
The question is: Will young IAS officers follow these golden rules that a few Pujaris have mined so far?