Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXIX No. 20 , February 1-15, 2020
– Remembering T.V. Antony who passed away last week
“Without passion man is a mere latent force.”
T.V. Antony, a celebrated civil servant, joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1956 and was allotted to the Tamil Nadu cadre. His passionate commitment, pioneering and exemplary work, primarily in the important areas of Population Stabilization, as well as Agriculture, earned him the civilian award of Padma Bhushan in June 2004.
T.V. Antony, born in 1933, was the son of another legendary civil servant, T.A. Varghese of the old Indian Civil Service. Both father and son served Tamilnadu with great distinction and both of them retired as Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu.
After graduating from Loyola College, Madras with B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry and from the Madras Law College with a B.L. degree, Antony succeeded in passing the Central Services Competitive Examination with a high rank, which merited his inclusion in the Indian Administrative Service in May 1956. In Tamil Nadu, T.V. Antony worked in several important posts. He was Collector of three districts, viz Madurai, Tirunelveli and Thanjavur, Special Officer of the Corporation of Chennai, Secretary (Planning), Chairman, State Planning Commission, Chairman, Electricity Board and Chief Secretary. In the Central Government, he worked under the Ministry of Commerce as Director, Export Promotion in Brussels, Belgium, and as Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
An amiable officer of integrity and humility, T.V. Antony had the ability to easily communicate with all sections of people, particularly those below the poverty line to exchange information and ideas, mainly to crystallize his thoughts on the problems faced by these persons and their needs. He often visited slums along river banks and “kuppams” along the seashore for this purpose. After these investigations, T.V. Antony was convinced that the top priorities for the nation, if the incidence of poverty is to be reduced in the country, should be (a) population regulation and stabilization and (b) agricultural development. Career opportunities, both in the State and in the Union enabled him to pursue these priorities with missionary zeal and commitment, much beyond the call of duty.
In the area of population regulation and stabilization, age-old mindsets had to be changed to accept the two children per family norm. Not an easy task. Undaunted, T.V. Antony mounted a massive publicity and propaganda program, mainly in Madras City and in the Districts where he was Collector, enlisting the support of the media (print, radio and television), several non-government organizations, besides government and local bodies to effectively spread the message of the advantages of a small family. Simultaneously, he implemented a broad strategy for population regulation and stabilization, which was not limited to surgical procedures and contraceptive devices, but also to literacy, empowerment of women, marriageable age, spacing between children, and nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers. Through official intervention he spread the message for a small family in the marriage halls, as well as through mid-day meal centres. As Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi, T.V. Antony, with experience of population regulation and stabilization was in a position to formulate and influence policy, and also review the progress in the different States in the achievement of national targets on population regulation and stabilization. In this area, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are in the forefront.
In view of his experience and expertise, he was much in demand in several States to advice on the most suitable strategy to be adopted in these areas.
The citation for PADMA BHUSHAN reads, “Shri Antony is best known for his contribution to the very steep fall in the Crude Birth Rate of Tamil Nadu from 28/1000 to 19/1000 during the decade 1984-1994. As Collector of Thanjavur, he created the concept of the “Mass Family Planning Camps” in 1971-72, which was later adopted all over the State. This was also repeated in Madras later, when he was Administrator (1974-76) for which Madras received a National Award, the “for the Sake of Honour” from the Rotary.”
After superannuation, T.V. Antony was invited to be a Member, Chairman or Advisor in the following organizations connected with Population and Family Welfare:
The Rajasthan State Government conferred the State Award “for his outstanding contributions to the State in the field of Population Stabilization and Women Empowerment.”
It was in Thanjavur district, the ‘rice bowl’ of Tamil Nadu that T.V. Antony, who had listed Agricultural Development as the second national priority, exerted himself ceaselessly to maximize agricultural production. I can do no better than quoting the citation from the Padma Bhushan Award, which says, “Shri Antony’s contributions have been primarily in the areas of Agriculture and in Population Regulation. In 1969 – 1972, he galvanized the extension mechanism to popularize high yielding rice varieties, to ensure the use of correct agricultural practices, to ensure abundant supply of inputs and to install more than adequate marketing facilities.”
T.V. Antony was a warm hearted friend with a quiet sense of humour and a ready smile. He used to knock on the doors of friends’ houses, particularly those who were not in the best of health, without prior notice and cheer them with humorous anecdotes. He used to combine such social visits with a brief check on civic amenities in the neighbourhood, and if necessary arrange for remedial action. Invariably, he made these visits on a bicycle for the purpose of exercise, and this habit continued till he was physically unable to use the bicycle.
Mr. T.V. Antony will ever be remembered for his services to India, especially Tamil Nadu. He achieved much with quiet passion.