developed an interest in bird watching as a 10-year-old child visiting his mother’s village in Kerala’s Quilon, actually roamed around in Rashtrapati Bhavan between 5 to 9 in the morning and also two hours in the evening for almost a year spotting birds and clicking their photos. The idea came when he was with President Pranab Mukherjee in Mughal garden when the Prez turned to him and said: “It will be nice if you can record the species here”, Mathew told in an interview to Hindustan Times. And then secretary to President Omita Paul gave him enough pressure to complete the book on time. The book published by the government's publication division was launched on President's Mukherjee's completion of two years in office. Mathew found photographing migrant birds like Asian paradise Flycatcher as they sit on the canopy of the tree where lighting is an issue, he said in the same interview.
In fact, this 58-year-old Mathew had a long association with President Mukherjee. The officer who is an MA in international studies and PhD on US foreign policy, both from Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, was a joint secretary in the ministry of defence when Mukherjee was India’s defence minister in UPA-I regime. Mathew was a member of the task force that formulated India’s new Defence Acquisition Procedure (2006).
In his cadre, he was a collector and mayor of Cochin. He also pioneered a number of public private partnership projects including one that involved an integrated development of outlying islands of Kerala at an estimated cost of $400 million, without any government assistance.
Later in 2007, Mathew joined Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) as its deputy director general. In August 2010, he joined the department of economic affairs under finance ministry when Mukherjee was India’s finance minister. And in 2012, he was one of several finance ministry officials who migrated from North Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan when Mukherjee became India’s 13th President.